On March 2, 2016, the mission team left the U.S. for their annual mission trip to Ntandi, Uganda. The team was comprised of ten persons including Marriam, a young person from the Ntandi orphanage who had been in the U.S. for medical treatment since June 2015. Of the nine Americans, four had been to Ntandi before (Ron Gladden, Brenda Hudson, Arlo Mellish, Duane Twiss) while five visited Uganda for the first time (Tim Geisler, Craig Millar, Ed Staley, Joy Staley, Connie Teo). We returned to the U.S. on March 15.
Our team had three primary objectives: (1) Connect with and bless the 57 children in our orphanage including Marriam whom we returned to Uganda after her medical treatment in the U.S. (2) Establish the Ntandi Wellness Club; and (3) Assist the primary and secondary schools in their quest to achieve a higher level of scholastic excellence.
We enrolled Marriam in a wonderful school for the disabled in Fort Portal called Good Shepherd Special Needs School. She is adjusting to her new environment, learning a trade, and preparing for her future. We keep in touch with her by phone almost daily. Each of the 57 children who are part of our orphanage family has a sponsor in the U.S. Each sponsor prays for his/her son or daughter each day, contributes US$40 a year, writes four letters a year, and sends a small gift to his/her child with the mission team when they travel to Ntandi in February or March of each year.
During our March 2016 trip, we presented each child with the gift from their sponsor, then arranged for them to travel to Fort Portal for a day of shopping, food, and fellowship. Each child received 70,000 shillings which they were allowed to spend however they chose. The children were invited (not required) to return a tithe on the 70,000 shillings that they received. Almost half of the young people returned 10% of their money, and the sum was given to Baluku who will select a needy person or family in the Ntandi area who will be blessed by the young people’s generosity. We also provided a special meal (including ice cream!) for the orphan children and the caregivers who accompanied them to Fort Portal.
In 2015, we established the “Investment Year” program that helps the students develop a long-term life plan. Our first student, Malikewa Thembo, spent his investment year in the Ntandi area and is now enrolled in nursing school. Our second student, Joseph Bwambale, completed his S4 education in 2015, is apprenticing this year, and will continue his advanced education in 2017.
We are committed to improving the hygiene and health of everyone on the Ntandi campus.
- We established a Wellness Club President who oversees the various initiatives, supports the staff and students as they establish new habits, and reports to us monthly. The president of the club is Maate Iddi, a teacher at the primary school.
- We presented the primary and secondary schools with US$2,000 to pay down the loan on the water purification systems they had already installed.
- We purchased 1,200 spoons, one for every adult and child on campus.
- We paid for eleven hand washing stations to be installed throughout the primary and secondary campuses. These include running water, water containers and stands, and liquid soap dispensers at each of the stations.
- We purchased two jerry cans filled with liquid soap.
- We gave Baluku enough money to create a concrete platform around each station upon which persons can stand as they wash their hands. We also gave Baluku US$200 for repairs and maintenance to assure that all eleven stations will continue to be in service. One of our registered nurses gave instructions regarding hand washing. The children took a quiz to learn about the importance of hand washing. The children formed teams of four or five friends who will hold each other accountable to wash with soap and water after each use of the latrine and before handling or eating food.
- We gave each of the 57 children (and a number of adults) a high-quality water bottle with the instructions to drink at least one full bottle of clean water per day.
- We gave each of the 57 children (and a number of adults) a vitamin tablet that they will take every day for a year.
- We presented incentive gifts for all of those who faithfully participate in the hand washing routine. The first month, up to 1,000 children and adults will receive the gift.
- For the next ten months, the 57 children and their immediate caregivers who fully participate in hand washing, drinking water, and taking their vitamins will receive incentive gifts.
- We presented US$2,600 to the primary and secondary schools for the purchase of textbooks.
- We purchased new school shirts for every teacher and support person on campus.
- We presented each teacher and staff member with supplies for their personal and classroom needs.
- We provided new footballs, volleyballs and nets, and basketballs for the primary and secondary schools.
- We interviewed all of the secondary students from our orphanage to learn more about what they need to be successful in life and in school.
- We interviewed most of the teachers at the secondary school and asked how we can help them and also help the school achieve higher scholastic excellence.
- We replaced the worn out top boards on the bridge between the orphanage and the primary school.
- We painted one of the rooms in the Ebenezer Medical Clinic. In addition, our team visited the church and school at Nyakasohe. We gave them two footballs and pump, US$200 for text books, and paid for two recent graduates from their primary school to attend the 3 Angels High School.
Brenda Hudson and Arlo Mellish plan to return to Uganda later this year, possibly in August. Our next official mission trip to East Africa is scheduled for March 2017.