Smiles Abound

Picture of 11-month-old David smiling
David, 11 months, was born with an abnormal urinary tract. A hospital in Kijabe, Kenya, just outside Nairobi, specializes in repair of the condition. Heaven’s Family’s Critical Medical Needs Ministry’s director, Laura Croft, has assured David’s mom we will help. I really appreciate how our supporters’ contributions bring smiles, but this guy already has the market for smiles cornered!

Smiles Abound

Carmen’s 3rd blog from East Africa

Dear Family,

Kenya is now behind me, but the joy of my fruitful visit remains fresh in my mind. I followed up on dozens of projects, and results are encouraging. The opportunity to speak in 3 churches, spreading our Savior’s message of salvation, was amazing! Praise the Lord for opportunities to serve Jesus!

On to Uganda I go. The trip from where I was staying in Kitali, Kenya, normally requires a one-hour flight to Nairobi (still in Kenya), followed by another hop across Lake Victoria (which straddles the border between Kenya and Uganda) to Entebbe (I guess in that the plane has props, and we are crossing a lake, it’s going to be a “puddle jumper”). BUT…all that changed when the car I hired to take me to the tiny airport serving Kitali broke down and never arrived at my hotel. So I had to take a quick jaunt in the tuk-tuk (an appropriately-named 3-wheeled cart with a 2-cycle engine that seems to say tuk, tuk, tuk, tuk at idle), and then a couple hours in the matatu (van) to the airport. Once in Nairobi, however, I was informed my flight to Uganda was delayed 5 hours—we are now officially on “Africa time.”

Uganda is a relatively small country about twice the size of Pennsylvania. It comprises a large portion of the Lake Victoria Basin, the second largest freshwater lake in the world, following Lake Superior. The country, much of it above 3,000 feet elevation, sits on the equator so it enjoys fantastic climate year-round, contributing to the unparalleled quality of the fruits and vegetables: avocados, pineapples and jack fruit are terrific.

Victoria Namusisi, my host in Entebbe, is affectionately known as “Mummy.” She has been a valued partner of the Disabilities Ministry the past few years. After a short night we set out early for Noah’s Ark, a school for children with special needs. Unlike children with challenges that live in western culture, kids with disabilities in Uganda are outcasts. They are not provided education, therapy or the opportunity to participate in programs with peers. One of the realities that truly breaks my heart is how they are often shunned, isolated and considered cursed.

There are presently 38 children at Noah’s Ark with disabilities ranging from mental and physical challenges to autism and epilepsy. Ten children are currently sponsored, 5 of them through Heaven’s Family. The Disabilities Ministry also provides the salary for a physical therapist 3 days per week. During my visit joy abounded as the children laughed, ran around and carried on as one would expect of any group of happy children (it’s Saturday, so no classes). It is only when one begins to read the case histories and delve into the back stories do emotions sear….abandoned at hospital, delivered by police, dropped at doorstep, found in Kampala slum—horrors abound.

Victoria has a huge heart for kids and simply will not refuse anyone; she searches to find the parents at every opportunity, but turns no one away.

Pictures of Joseph, Jovia and child abandoned by father
At left, Joseph, 19, has a few learning issues that have made it impossible to attend school. We are working on enrollment in an appropriate trade school (possibly tailoring) so he can eventually take care of himself and his mum when she is older. He is an incredibly fun guy and quite excited to learn he needed the pencil to go back to school. At center, Jovia, one of the children sponsored by the Disabilities Ministry at Noah’s Ark, is a girl you can’t help but love, but she can be a handful and moves pretty fast. At right, this little guy was dropped off at the gates of Noah’s Ark by his father with these last words: “Never call me, attempt to locate me, or get in touch with my family, I don’t produce disabled children, and do not want to ever see him again.” (I’m not certain it is always the child that has the disability.)

Soon we were off to Platinum Hospital in Kampala to check up on 16-month-old Josephat. This little guy comes from a village in northern Uganda where over 40 individuals were born without a rectal opening. Surgery can resection the colon and create a normal opening enabling the reversal of the colostomy, but at a cost. Josephat is the second case Heaven’s Family’s Critical Medical Needs and Disabilities Ministries are jointly funding to undergo this surgery. We are raising funds for 9 more. (If you’d like to contribute to the fund to help Josephat and other children awaiting this life-changing surgery, click here.) A few weeks ago Victoria accompanied the surgical team to that village to evaluate other candidates. Ten were chosen as most appropriate for the procedure. We know God is our Healer but I want to tell you He is also our accountant. The surgeon was so deeply moved by the circumstances the patients were suffering he agreed to do 2 surgeries for the price of one! Praise be to Jesus for compassionate surgeons and BOGO deals!

Picture of Jospeh and Winnie who were born with the same disability
At left, little Joseph pre-surgery; at center, Winnie Acen, the first patient to undergo the colostomy reversal, before her surgery last summer; at right, Winnie today with Mummy (Victoria). I guess she likes America!

My journeys through East Africa were amazing. It was inspiring to see the work God is doing through the generous donations to Heaven’s Family. I heard and witnessed many fantastic stories of redemption, recovery and joy. Not only in regard to the Disabilities Ministry, but many other projects accomplished though Heaven’s Family: wells drilled for safe water, children receiving educations, market stalls constructed for widows and abandoned women, micro loans lifting the poor, national missionaries spreading the gospel, and so much more.

We all play a role in making this stuff happen. We all do our parts as the hands and feet of Jesus until His return. I thank you so much for pouring into people’s lives in so very many ways. Slowly by slowly smiles are coming to faces and hearts for Jesus’ sake. Thank you!

Because of Him,

Carmen Parise
Director, Disabilities Ministry

Donate to the Disabilities Ministry

The smiles are catching…I hope these make you smile too!

Pictures of Pastor Cleophas Makona in Kenya and smiling child
At left, Pastor Cleophas Makona in Kenya is doing whatever it takes to reach his “end” of the earth with the gospel. We are blessed to have him as a partner of Heaven’s Family—not only helping the Disabilities Ministry, but also these other Heaven’s Family’s ministries: Widows and Abandon Women, Critical Medical Needs, Education, National Missionaries, Microloan, Food, and Safe Water. Talk about economies of scale! When you find a gem you tend to hold on to it. At right, this little guy also has a great smile! Ready to hear the Word of God…front and center. Raise up a child in the ways of the Lord…AMEN

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