Category Archives: Uganda

Blessed by JOY

Recently, something pretty amazing happened.  Something that surpassed any expectation I ever had for any of our HOPE+ sisters.

Meet Gertrude.  ???????????????????????????????

I met Gertrude the first time in March 2012.  She was an HIV+ widow whose life was hard….very hard.  She often didn’t have enough to feed herself and her son and she struggled to pay school fees.

gertrude2

In January 2013, we launched the Uganda HOPE+ sisterhood and Gertrude was one of the first women that entered our program.  She stood out to me because when we visited her, she prayed for me.  She prayed for God to bless the program and to help me find sisters for all of the sisters.  She was so excited to be part of this program. 

I have literally watched hope grow inside Gertrude over the past 2 years.  Her eyes speak a joy I could only dream of having.

She has been blessed with Joy.  And I mean that literally.  Gertrude has become our first foster mom to a precious young girl named Joy who was desperately in need of a mother to love her.

gertrudejoy[1]
I often find myself stepping back and saying “is this really happening?  Did an HIV+ widow who was destitute just 2 years ago open her home to a broken little girl?”  The answer is YES….and she did it with delight.

Gertrude’s faith and YES is truly and inspiration and a personal challenge for me.  Am I trusting that God will provide for my every need.  Am I taking Him for His word?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Matthew 6:26

It was a YES on this side of the world that allowed Gertrude to be in a place to become a foster mom.  The lives of these beautiful women are literally being transformed.  You can see the hope in their eyes and feel the joy from their spirit.  Please take a moment to learn about the HOPE+ sisterhood and pray about becoming a sister.  http://projecthopeful.org/uganda/

Have “Faith”…

Faith Uganda
by Dawn Patterson

When I accepted the position of Director for the HOPE+ sisterhood, Uganda, it wasn’t probably 10 minutes later that I thought “what have I gotten myself into?” I was comforted slightly by the fact that there wasn’t an immediate need to get the program up and running and there was much grace extended on the timing due to our adoption.

When I returned from Uganda and started thinking more about the responsibility and my “skills” (or lack thereof), I panicked. Enter the voice of doubt. I quickly called Deb and said “look, I am not cut out for this. I don’t have the skills to do this. I MAKE JEWELRY. That is what I’m good at. I don’t “direct” anything. Deb was kind, patient, wise & encouraging. She said 2 things that really stuck. The first was “I tell everyone to not make any major decisions until 6 months post adoption” and the second was “and for the record…you are cut out for this. You are exactly who God wants for this”. Enter the voice of truth.

It didn’t take 6 months….only about 4 when I heard God say “go…the time is now”. God perfected every detail, funds were raised almost effortlessly and we were on our way to Uganda. And I felt a tremendous amount of peace.

When I left the U.S. I was under the impression that there were 18 sisters. So, when I asked “how many sisters do we have” and the response was “about 35”…..I panicked. Again. But this time it lasted all of about 30 minutes. God had perfected every detail of this trip and I knew He had this. Peace came over me as I heard the words “Trust me, Dawn”. I’m quite sure I was even wearing my “It’s not about me shirt”. That really should have been my first clue ;o)

And so I trusted Him.

I have been home for 11 days and there are only 2 women left who need sisters. TWO. And by the time you read this blog post….there will probably only be 1. He truly paved the way. He did the work. All He needed from me was obedience. There is no special skill set you need for obedience. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:17

I am so encouraged by the plans I believe He has for these women. One of them is Faith. She is beautiful, amazing and talented. Faith is a trained tailor, but she lacks the funds for a sewing machine. She’s going to use the funds she receives to purchase a sewing machine so she can make more awesome creations like this! This is one of the bags Faith made…..and this was her first attempt! Aren’t they adorable??

Please join me in praying for these beautiful women and that God will make perfect His will for their lives.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

So What is the HOPE+ Sisterhood?

HOPE+Sisterhood post 1The HOPE+ Sisterhood program was developed in honor of the mothers of
the children of Project HOPEFUL volunteers who have died of
complications related to AIDS. This program seeks to offer HOPE to
HIV+ mothers and to prevent unnecessary loss for their families. The
original HOPE+ Sisterhood started in Ethiopia with 14 mothers. It was
a residential facility that brought hope to mothers by offering them
skill training, jobs and even micro-loans to start small businesses.

Project HOPEFUL has wanted to have a presence in Uganda for some time
but simply didn’t know where to start, but because our God is such an
awesome God….He paved the way.

The first phase of the HOPE+ Sisterhood, Uganda will begin with 34
“Sisters”. Each woman is HIV+, on the proper medications and is in
need of a “hand up”. With your support, these sisters will begin
small business, expand their existing business or become educated in a
trade they wish to pursue.

We had the honor and privilege of meeting each and every one of these
sisters in early January. We were even able to visit many of them in
their homes and see their precious children. Their stories were
heartbreaking and touching. Some were still grieving and some were
exclaiming “I am HIV+ and I have no shame”.

The sisterhood program costs $40 a month for 6 months. We are calling
this phase 1 because we want to leave the door open for God to
determine the next step.

At Project HOPEFUL we believe in the beautiful gift of adoption but
recognize this isn’t always the answer. This is a wonderful
opportunity to walk along side a precious woman and help her preserve
the family that God has blessed her with.
HOPE+Sisterhood post 2

If you are interested in becoming a sister or if you have any
questions about this program please email me at
dawn@projecthopeful.org


To God be the Glory…..ALWAYS!

Game Changer – The End of Stigma

From Dawn Patterson.

The best laid plans are plans at best. I’ve heard this quote many times. It’s held true so often in my life. This trip to Uganda was no different. I went there with a plan…many plans in fact. But one of my plans took a turn, a radical turn.

The HOPE+ sisterhood has always been about enabling HIV+ women to live longer, fuller lives through a Jesus centered relationship with a sister here in the US. But, because there is so much shame & stigma surrounding HIV, many of these women wanted….and needed….to remain private. Although Project HOPEFUL stands by the TRUTH “No shame in our game”….we needed to respect this. It’s so important for these women to understand that they have a disease….but they are NOT the disease! But, to help them….we need to understand them first.

I went to Uganda fully expecting each woman to want their “status” to remain private to everyone except to their sister.

I can joyfully tell you, that was not the case. AT ALL. Were there women who had not shared their status publicly? Yes. And we will respect that. But there are women who are joyfully sharing their stories and I would be doing them a disservice if I did not share them with you.Uganda Day 5 b

Take for instance Lazia. I met Lazia 2 years ago for the first time when I traveled to Uganda with my friend Cathy. She was one of our home visits. She was not strong, she was not physically well and had a relatively new relationship with Jesus. Lazia was a muslim and after her husband died from AIDS, she discovered she was HIV+. A few years later, a local pastor heard about this very sick woman and ministered to her. Through that relationship, she accepted Jesus. But because of her illness, she was very weak and wasn’t able to attend church often. It was around this time that we met her.

I met with Lazia several times on this trip and joy literally seeps out of this woman. She never stops smiling and continually praises Jesus. We had a standard format of questions that we would ask each woman and one of them was “have you shared your status with family and friends”. I wasn’t prepared for her response. With a huge smile on her face, she threw her hands up in the air and joyfully shouted “The whole town knows I have HIV! I have no shame.” You know that moment when your favorite team scores the winning touchdown and you jump in the air and shout “yes”. Well, that perfectly described how I felt AND how I reacted.

There is still so much stigma surrounding HIV. There is still much ignorance and fear. But for a small group of women, in a little town in Africa….there is no shame. They are proud. They are living positively. They are in love with Jesus. And I believe they will be the game changers.

Uganda Day 5 aThe HOPE+ sisterhood Uganda is a 6 month commitment to be a “sister” to one of these precious women. You will encourage her, pray for her and financially assist her through a $40 per month donation. This donation will be used by your sister to start a small business so that she can obtain proper nutrition (which is absolutely essential for their ARV’s to work) and care for her children.

To learn more about this amazing ministry, please email me @ dawn@projecthopeful.org

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another – Proverbs 27:17

Uganda Day 5: The Health Clinic

555185_10200345354986626_1181363538_nTheir hope was empty just like these rooms. But soon, both will be filled.

Last June, our church, Grace Covenant of Austin Texas raised funds to build a much needed medical clinic in Mukono, Uganda. When we adopted our son this past summer, we broke ground.

Yesterday we visited the almost completed clinic. It’s been amazing the progress that has taken place.

Why am I sharing this and what does it have to do with the HOPE + sisterhood? The board members of the medical clinic have decided that every sister will receive a card that entitles them to free health care!

The blessings just keep coming and I look forward to sharing what God does for the HOPE+ sisterhood, Uganda over the next few months.

I am en route heading back home to beautiful Austin, Texas. I’ve received several emails asking about becoming a sister. I PROMISE that as soon as I am home, rested and have my brain on straight…..I will email each and every one of you.

If you are interested in becoming a sister, please email me at dawn@projecthopeful.org.

To God be the Glory…..ALWAYS!

Uganda Day 4: For the King!

Follow along with Dawn Patterson, our Director of HOPE+Sisterhood Uganda as she visits Uganda this week.

I have been so inspired by these women. Each and every woman has hopes and dreams. Every woman prays for “health and long life”. They want to have work so they can take care of the children God has blessed them with. Even the ones who have small business that provide just what they need desire to grow their business. Not because they want nicer “things” but because they want to leave a legacy for their children. Every mama wants what is best for their children….the sisters of HOPE+ are no different.

Some women are trained to be tailors….but lack a sewing machine. Some women know how to rear pigs…but lack the funds to purchase piglets. Some women have homes in perfect locations to set up small stores…but lack the funds to purchase inventory. One woman is a trained baker….but lackes the funds to purchase baking supplies.

Every woman we met WANTS to work. None of them expects anyone to “fix” their situation or desires someone to take care of them. The one thing I heard over and over was “no capital”. Most people have just what they need to “survive” so trying to plan for any future is impossible. Most of these women do not husbands. They have either passed away, abandoned them or are very sick themselves.

They just need a hand up. That’s where YOU come in. You can partner with a sister and help to make a difference in her life. Be the change these women so desperately need. For 6 months you can walk with your sister, encourage her and offer the financial support she needs to better her life.
Uganda Day 4
The sisterhood program lasts 6 months and costs $40 a month. Not sure you can cover $40 by your self? Considering pairing up with a friend and do $20 each. I am faithful that God will provide each and every woman with a sister.

While I can’t guarantee every story will have a happy ending, I know this. If you are reading this post and are feeling our heart stir then you are probably being called to do something. You know that feeling. The one when your heart pounds and you just KNOW you are supposed to act? Maybe it’s not about what you are going to do for your sister. Maybe it’s about what your sister is going to do for you. Or maybe it’s just about obedience to the Lord. Either way, I believe with my whole heart that you won’t regret it.

“The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for me or the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

To learn more about the HOPE+Sisterhood in Uganda, contact Dawn at dawn@projecthopeful.org.

Uganda Day 3: HOPE and a Future

Follow along with Dawn Patterson, our Director of HOPE+Sisterhood Uganda as she visits Uganda this week.

Today was an amazing, unbelievable and powerful day. The women of the HOPE+ Sisterhood are truly inspirational. Their stories were heart breaking yet somehow their spirits spill over from the love of Jesus. Seriously, you can see Jesus in the eyes of some of these women.

One of these women is Rose. I wish each and every one of you could meet Rose face to face so she could inspire you the way she inspired us. Rose has given me permission to share her story with each and everyUganda Day 3 Dawn and Rose one of you. She is courageous and strong in ways I can’t even explain. She loves Jesus with everything she has and spends her time encouraging other women with HIV to “live positively”. She speaks to large groups to educate them about the TRUTH of HIV. She is so proud of the work she does and can’t believe the things the Lord has done in her life.

Today she shared with us about her life before Jesus. She was a bartender and owned 3 bars. She had men in every village she would go to. She had a very promiscuous lifestyle even though she was married and did not know the Lord. In 2005 she gave her life to Christ. Shortly after, she discovered she was HIV+. In 2007, her husband died of AIDS.

Ladies doing a skitToday she is the leader of the Mamas of HOPE. These are the mamas who are entering the HOPE+ sisterhood. She encourages all the women to live positively and ministers to the women daily. She says “I am so happy with Jesus”. Rose attends church regularly and is also a leader in her church. The women of her church come together and perform “skits” in front of large groups to help them understand HIV. We had the privilege of seeing one of their skits yesterday and they are all amazing actresses!

Rose has remarried and her husband remains negative. Rose is on ARV’s and is very healthy. She understands the importance of adherence and says she has good nutrition. Rose is a wonderful mother to five children, the oldest is 20 and the youngest is 1 year old. She is also expecting a baby.

Rose and her husband have a very small home but they do not have a good income. She is able to live off of the land but wants to be able to provide for her children better. Because she lives in good location to set up a store, she would like to open up a small store in front of her home so she can have a better income.

I am continuing to pray that God will bring forward each and every woman who is meant to be a sister to these dear women. I hope you will join me in that prayer and consider being a sister yourself. You will not regret it.Uganda Day 3 Taking a walk

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Interested? Please email me at dawn@projecthopeful.org