29th January, 2017

Dear friends,

Homes of Promise (HoP) started 2016 still feeding between 80-100 boys in Kisenyi three times a week, sadly we needed to find another venue and for a short while we were feeding the boys at Ballykuddembe, in the grounds of a Roman Catholic Church. The police insisted, quite rightly that we had NGO status to continue feeding and so reluctantly in February we had to stop. We now have NGO status (this came through at the end of March) we would like to restart the Meals for Kids Project in 2017 and ask for your prayers, for a good venue to be found and the resources to carry out this work. The cost of feeding a boy a nutritious meal three times a week is about £1.00; sometimes they need medical treatment at clinics for bad cuts, malaria, typhoid. This obviously puts our costs up.

HoP also support other Christian organisations in Uganda and in March we paid for two classrooms to be painted and decorated at the Mission of Hope School on the outskirts of Kampala which works with and supports children from poor families. A young boy there needed an urgent operation, and we funded the operation and hospital fees.

Inside doors were also provided for the Mother’s Union hostel in Bududa that we have been helping to build and a second-hand sewing machine was donated to them by an MU member from the UK which we paid for shipment.

HoP provided funds for a brick built house and latrine for a widow looking after two grandchildren, and a latrine was built for a very elderly man who we built a house for last year, both in Nabumali. A simple brick built house costs just over £2,000 – a brick built latrine approx. £100.

Boarding School Fees were paid for a very bright intelligent boy studying at Teso College in Soroti who I met through CLIDE (An American charity). These cost £600 for the year.

‘For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29 v11

We have been very aware of God’s providence in our work, and He has gently guided us each day. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed with the needs and the various issues, with authorities, structures, administration, etc. but every time there seems an insurmountable ‘issue’ the right person to resolve it appears. Your prayers have been so vital to us, underpinned by prayer we carry on each day. One of the ways God blessed us was with our NGO registration; we had been told it could take months, years even to get registered. Amazingly when I was at the airport returning to Uganda, following my mother’s death, we had confirmation that Homes of Promise had been registered as an NGO. The full impact of this cannot be over stated, but suffice to say it enabled us to get ‘George’s Place’ up and running. In faith (I had at times doubted!), we had rented and equipped a house, and within weeks of my return, the first boys arrived.

In April we opened the home, George’s Place, a short-term residential home for street boys. Two boys who had been staying with me (one initially very ill as he had not been taking his ARVs (drugs for HIV/AIDS), and the other very vulnerable were the first boys to go into the home). After only a couple of weeks we had 10 boys staying there, (mostly known to us through our work in Kisenyi). They receive education – English, maths and science each week in-house, which helps them concentrate, some have never been to school, or stopped in the early primary stage.

They are instructed in keeping themselves, their belongings and environment clean and tidy. We have strong links with the local Anglican Church, St. Paul’s, Katuuso, where they attend with the Warden weekly, there are also daily times of worship and prayer in the home.

Each boy receives a welcome pack when he arrives, a new mattress, towel, blanket, sheets and lock up box for their belongings on entering George’s Place. A mattress costs £15, plus a medical and dental check costing approx. £10. Metal box £8, sheets £10, blanket £5 – also clothes, shoes and flip flops.

We also work at counselling the boys and all except one, who comes from near Rwanda, have visited or seen their relatives, who live all across Uganda. This has been costly in time and money – diesel is not cheap, a tank full is £55 but our aim is for the boys to be reconciled to their families, wherever possible. Six of them visited their homes at Christmas to build up reconciling relationships with family members.

The boys medical and dental needs have been met, they have all be screened for HIV/AIDS. They have a good balanced diet and have gained weight. One boy attends primary school and 5 more will attend when school starts at the end of January, it costs approx. £300 for the year, for a boy to attend school in Kampala, which includes uniform, school shoes, pencils, school bag, brooms, toilet paper etc.

We are paying for four of the older boys to receive vocational training in Mbale at CCP a Christian charitable organisation from Holland, learning skills from building skills to hairdressing, all with a purpose of providing a future. They stay in a hostel during term time and return to George’s Place for the holidays. It costs £225 per term (£675 per year) to send each boy to vocational training. Plus hostel costs £60 a term plus buying the equipment they need: clippers for hairdressing, baking utensils for the cookery course, motor mechanic tools etc.

Sadly as many of you know there was a tragic accident at Wonderworld in October (when I was in the UK) and one of our boys drowned – although he was a good swimmer and could stand in the depth of the water. There has been a police report but no one seems to know exactly what happened. Many of the staff and boys attended the funeral in his home village and HoP made all the arrangements. He is missed by us all.

Sadly as many of you know there was a tragic accident at Wonderworld in October (when I was in the UK) and one of our boys drowned – although he was a good swimmer and could stand in the depth of the water. There has been a police report but no one seems to know exactly what happened. Many of the staff and boys attended the funeral in his home village and HoP made all the arrangements. He is missed by us all.

We’ve set up a management committee with the local vicar, Local Councillor 1, Probation Officer, The Warden, Social Worker and CEO Adviser all being members. The Warden and Social Worker also attend meetings run by Crane who we are linked with bringing NGOs working with street children together. Links are being developed with the local Probation Officer who is looking into providing Court Orders for the boys. Staff members have attended local meetings and are advising on the work of HoP.

The website was produced, thanks to my son James, and a video was produced of George’s Place which can be seen on our website: www.hopuganda.org

We currently have seven paid staff at Georges Place and also, volunteer students who come in to teach the boys during the day. We employ a local security company with an armed guard nightly to ensure the boys and staff are safe.

As we enter 2017 we are praying and thinking about what next? What does the Lord want us to do? In the last few days we have enrolled two young boys into George’s Place. The atmosphere is always joyful, noisy and bubbling – the boys get along so well. Our hearts are with the street boys and if possible we would like to restart a feeding programme, but at present don’t have a way forward – prayer please. I’d like all the boys to have the opportunity to education or vocational training – depending on age and suitability.

So thank you for your generosity in gifts, support, love and prayers. This last week I was concerned as one of the boys really wanted to go to school but I wasn’t sure we could afford to pay for him, thankfully donations were received for this, I didn’t mention it to anyone just prayed and our gracious Lord provided through your gifts – Simon Peter is delighted. We have a ‘blessings box’ in the office and we always make notes to remind us how we have been blessed by God. We simply couldn’t do this without knowing we are surrounded and uplifted by your prayers and love.

God Bless.