When 189 becomes 800
In 2012 I found myself in a tiny, remote village holding a child and falling deeply in love with the people, culture, and beauty of Bukibokolo. Many of you know this story, but for those who don't..as I held a tiny child in my arms, Moses told me that the child I was holding would not be alive the next time I came due to extreme poverty and hunger. Infact, they had identified 189 children who were not expected to live due to these menacing conditions. This is how the ministry and the school was birthed. God led us to open a school and feeding program for these little ones and to feed their hungry bellies, their eager minds, and their beloved souls.
By 2020, 189 became 800+ eager to learn, hungry for Jesus (and food) children! What an honor, and a responsibility. Everything was growing well, and our plans to expand our support base was in full swing. We were invited to several churches outside of our community, even outside of Minnesota to share our story and to invite churches and individuals to partner with us. The basics at our school were covered, and we had a plan in place to fund the growth.
Then, Covid hit. We were stunted with not only no opportunities to visit churches and expand our reach, but our monthly fundraisers also were no longer possible. Our ministry had to figure out how to navigate these changes and barriers while moving forward for the children and families who depend on us not only for a safe place to learn, but also for what is often the only meal these children get to eat each day. When the schools in Uganda were forced to shut down in March, we faced an even greater problem. Now we had the extra expense of trying to develop, manage, and run a weekly emergency food distribution program to prevent widespread starvation of our beloved children. This program is the only hope to prevent these children from dying from lack of food. To put it bluntly, this emergency food is keeping the children alive while they wait for school to re-open.
The cost to feed a child at home per month is really not much. Just $5 a month provides mostly posho (cornmeal) and some beans for protein. The families rely on this food not only for the students that attend our school, but also for the other little ones and grandparents living with them. Covid not only shut down the school, it shut down nearly everything in Uganda. We happily add just a little extra to each bag to make the rations stretch just a little further. Now here's the problem. With 800+ kids, $5 becomes $4000 every month. This is not money we have coming in at all, this is money I have had to raise in addition to our usual needs every month.
I know we are all tired of living this way. Covid has created so much stress, stretching, and hardship on each of us in different ways. But, for me personally I can still feed my daughters and granddaughter. I have not had to tuck them in at night, as they cried themselves to sleep on an empty belly. I don't have to wipe away tears as they ask when they can eat. I have not had to think about funerals for them due to lack of food and hope. But, I do not have an extra $4000 a month to feed 800 more children. I can do one or two in addition to what we are already doing..maybe even 5 if I give up something in my life. But, I need help to feed the rest.
We are short $2700 of the $4000 for November. That means that either all 800 can eat for just over two weeks, or 540 eat all month and 260 simply do not eat. My heart is just sinking as I write this.
School is scheduled to start up again in February 2021, barring no major problems in Uganda with Covid spread. So we have 3 months left to cover this extra food, then I pray we can go back to our usual budget and kids can eat at school instead of through this program. Until then, I shamelessly ask you to partner with me. Partner with them. Together we can change their story.
To Donate, simply hit the Donate button on our website and specify emergency food or go to our GoFundMe page here: gf.me/u/y5zuki
Much Love, Jenn