In the eastern part of Africa, close to the equator and in the Nile River basin, lies a country about the size of Kentucky and Tennessee. Lush with natural resources, Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world, with 37.7% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. I invite you to come learn more about this country and the street children of Uganda.
Uganda was the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. In the 1980’s, 30% of the adult population was HIV positive. In the mid 80’s, a huge public health initiative stressed education and preventative practices, thus dropping the incidence to around 7% by latest statistics. It has been touted as one of the success stories in HIV prevention. Seemingly quite a feat for a country so devastated by years of extreme poverty and civil war.
Uganda currently has a population of about 30 million people. Fifty percent of its population is 15 years old or younger. Entire generations were wiped out due to war and HIV. The average life expectancy is 54 years.
There are 190,000 children ages 0-14 who are living with HIV, and 1.2 million children in Uganda who have been orphaned by AIDS.
The total number of orphaned children is estimated to be closer to 2.7 million. . . or nearly 10% of the total population of the country.
And yet . . .
Uganda’s greatest resource and its hope lies in its children.
Because of the poverty, war, and deaths cause by HIV, there is a staggering number of street children in Uganda.
Within the largest and capital city of Kampala, next to the slums, you’ll find a home filled with 72 of such children. Children orphaned or unable to live at home, former street kids, being cared for by Pastor Innocent Byaruhanga (a former street kid himself) and his small staff. On the other side of the world, in a small town near Louisville, KY lives a family who, only by God’s sovereign grace, is intimately involved with their care.
Their story is quite inspiring. Laura White, a pediatrician (Ben’s pediatrician, in fact), and her husband Mark, along with their children, are a pretty normal Christian homeschool family. They were going about their day-to-day lives like many of us, oblivious to street kids in Uganda. I recently heard Laura say that her bucket list never included being a missionary, visiting Africa, or adoption.
God had other ideas.
And within just a few short years, this family grew by one sweet little African boy and partnered with the orphanage run by Save Street Children Uganda and Pastor Innocent Byaruhanga, from where he came, creating what is now Future Hope Ministries.
The goal of Future Hope is to “protect, sustain, and equip children in impoverished areas, first in Uganda, and as God leads, in other part of the world.” They are striving to break cycles of extreme poverty and hopelessness to empower a new generation to be self-sustaining adults, good parents, and the leaders their nations need.
You might wonder how they are doing this. Currently they are doing it by supplying the finances needed to care for these 72 children in Kampala.
But it’s not something they can do alone. They know this, because they’ve tried. And it’s too much. They need people to partner with them to care for the basic needs of these children — housing, food, healthcare, and education.
Education is not free in Uganda. So right now, not all of the children are going to school. Food is not cheap. Despite the fact that so many live on so little income, the cost of food is not much cheaper than what you and I pay. There are rent and utilities and a staff to pay. Currently, the children are living next to the slums in this urban city. Future Hope has dreams of buying land out in the coutry, raising livestock, growing food, and starting a bakery — all for the purpose of caring best for the children and giving them the ability to teach them skills that will ultimately change the course of their lives, maybe even the life of Uganda.
To meet the basic needs of these kids, Future Hope has started a sponsorship program. You can sponsor one of these beautiful, joyful children, who are being loved on, nurtured, and taught about Jesus, for $50/month. That amount will meet their basic food, health, and education needs. It doesn’t cover all of the costs, but it sure does help.
The really wonderful thing about sponsoring a child through Future Hope Ministries is that you can rest assured that every penny is being used to care for the children. Mark and Laura take none of it for administrative costs. And, you can build a relationship with your sponsored child through exchanging letters, email, sending gifts, even by visiting on a short-term missions trip. Uganda is wonderful country to visit. The government is relatively stable now and the people are gracious. As an added bonus, English is the national language.
Won’t you consider sponsoring one of these beautiful kids, or consider making a donation to Future Hope Ministries? They are set up to accept Paypal donations. In fact, for your convenience, your sponsorship money will be automatically deducted each month through your Paypal account.
More than anything, please pray for Future Hope Ministries and these wonderful kids! Pray for the financial needs of the ministry, the staff who cares tirelessly for them, and for the children. And please pray about how you can help.
Read more of Mark and Laura’s story, get to know the children available for sponsorship, and learn about future goals and needs of Future Hope Ministries on their website. Learn more about Save Street Children Uganda and meet Innocent Byaruhanga, it’s founder on the SASCU website.
You can also follow Future Hope Ministries on Facebook.