Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Reason to Smile

I'll be leaving for Uganda tomorrow and wanted to post a blog before I go.  It's always been our intention to keep you updated monthly and I must apologize that this blog is the shortest I've written in nine years.   It doesn't mean that little has happened.  It only means that Edwin has been so busy that he hasn't had the time to concentrate on taking pictures.  There have been some recent changes in Uganda concerning homes for children and the government has been trying to clean up the damages. Many homes have been closed due to corruption and child trafficking.  Home of Angels is safe of course, but this has caused a lot of extra work for Edwin, and until it's completed, we will have to be patient.  I am arriving with two cameras, so be prepared.

I'm leaving a little early to help Edwin setup for a team of young adults from Northview church that will be coming to stay with us.  We'll be bringing in the last of the 20 abandoned children that Richard, a donor in Canada has fed and housed since November 2017.  What better way than to have our team from Canada handle this task? We will be baptizing the older children and going out into the community to hand out solar lights. The Gleaners have also donated 50lbs of soup for the hungry.  Perfect timing because we will also have the opportunity to spend a day with my friend Renee and her team, who are breaking the cycle of malnutrition just a few hours north of us.  It will be a very exciting time for everyone and I already know there will be many reasons to smile as we take all these memories back home to Canada.

Check out the old chicken houses.  You are now looking at "Morning Star" nursery school, a school for our 31 new little people (donated by Tsawwassen Rotary Club).  The grass has been planted, the latrine is ready and most of the painting completed.  When we originally built our Home of Angels, 3 young boys and their father painted our entire compound.  Ben, one of the sons, age 17 came to help us paint the nursery school, but tragedy happened as he left for home one evening.  He was on a boda-boda, the main mode of transportation when they were hit head-on by a car.  Both Ben and the driver died instantly.

The building on the left of "Morning Star" school will be called "Rachel's House" and will be opened next year for classes.  This has been donated by two amazing "Rachel's" that made banana bread at UBC last Christmas and sold enough to finish the building.  I will update you upon completion.

As you can see, Ben was a wonderful artist.  The rooms are beautifully painted with animals and the alphabet along with many other teaching tools.  R.I.P. Ben.

Ben is on the left in the jeans.  Since the accident, both brothers have stepped up to help finish the other building also.  They wanted to honor their brother, bless their hearts.  We have a very loving community and so many want to help us make this home a warm and happy place for orphans.

We recently received many solar lights from Thomas in Hong Kong.  These lights are not for sale but rather for the children to distribute to the poor.  When the team arrives, they will also witness the reactions of the people to such a simple thing as light.  Children will now be able to do homework at night and there will be fewer accidents just trying to get around in the dark.

Meet the team from Northview church.  Pastor Ezra Okoti will be bringing them to Uganda where they will be visiting both Word of Life and Home of Angels.  Ezra, originally from Kenya, will then return home via Nairobi giving them a chance to go on a short Safari before boarding their plane.

Thanks once again everyone for following our story.  We just know that God is at work in a very big way with all the exciting things currently happening.  I promise to keep you all updated by sending pictures and stories.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What Matters Most

God's love and His message are certainly at the heart of our Home of Angels.  A love so strong that we can step into each day knowing that the good things are gifts from His hand and the challenges can be faced with His strength.  He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.

Our children are taught about Jesus and how He died on the cross for them.  They know Him and truly believe they will meet Him one day.  Thank goodness, because we recently had a terrible death.  Our precious John-Mark went to be with Jesus this week.  He was wrongly diagnosed with Hepatitis B when in reality, he had full-blown AIDS.  We pray every day that there will come a time when all these children know Him and will not be afraid.

Our Aunty Joy, Lovisa, and Yasin did an amazing job acting for the "Human Project" series.  It was
released on March 2nd and a box of tissue was in order for me.  Thank you Apologetics Canada and Power to Change for showing everyone the sadness of our world and the wonderful things that can come out of it.

John Mark was so happy the last time I was there.  He had received a new T-shirt from his sponsor and  I had also brought a soccer ball for the boys.  I lost the pump along the way so he decided to make it his hat as it matched his shirt.  R.I.P. sweet boy...we all miss you

Our Aunty Joy and Yasin strolling down the road.  If I could explain the love she has for these children, I would only have to show you this picture.  She is truly their mama.

Meet our Lovisa, our special actress in the Human Project series.  The story behind this is about Aunty Joy in her youth in Rwanda.  Lovisa portrayed her as a child when she had to escape the genocide in 1994.  She did an excellent job in showing the panic of escape right down to the tears.

Our nursery school is finished.  One building is open for our children to attend in 2018 and if successful, we will open both buildings to the community in 2019.  This time next year you will see a full compound of grass, shade trees, and a playground.

Early 2009, Edwin found Hope and Desire on the side of the road selling charcoal with their blind grandmas.  Both girls were the caregivers for these women at a very young age.  They would come to our property asking to pick weeds to cook for survival.

They asked God every night in their prayers for a chance to help others when they got older.  Prayers were answered as they were invited to attend a girls boarding school just south of us.  A school that would give them a very good education to make their dreams come true.  Thank you Clark for this great gift.

The Head Master of Victoria Academy allowed the other children to come home to say goodbye to their sisters before they left.  For the little ones, it was difficult, but once the older children explained they would be home in May, the tears stopped.

Over the years, we slowly destroyed the roads in our community with the many trucks bringing construction material to build our Home of Angels.  I remember almost falling off a boda-boda (motorcycle) because it slipped into a hole on the side.  Others struggled to walk home with heavy jerry cans of water, so we decided to do something about it.  A friend helped with his excavator and the roads were finally leveled.

When we first started building in 2009, there were few homes or businesses in this area.   Currently, there are many families building all around us expanding our community.  We feel very connected to these people as we have provided work, water, solar lights and just a lot of compassion.  Our last big dream is to build a church where the children and community will have the true Word spoken.

We are so blessed in North America.  Over and over I get asked, "what can I do to help"?  All
of you, whether you encourage Edwin and I not to give up, sponsor a child or just pray for the situations we get ourselves into....you are a HUGE part of our Home of Angels.  We thank you for making a difference for supporting us all these years.

I want to send you a trailer teaser of the Apologetics conference but I'm not sure I am bright enough to do this.  Here goes......


Just remember, it's only a teaser and the first part is about us but the rest is amazing too.  We hope you enjoy it.

Monday, January 29, 2018

From Weakness Comes Strength

We are all made weak in a variety of ways.  When we've suddenly lost something that was dear to us, our strength slowly leaves us.  In times of fear or worry, we find ourselves weak in spirit, or just getting old like I feel sometimes and we are reminded of our feeble bodies.  No matter what the situation, God always reminds us of our deep need for Him.

Edwin was reminded of his deep need just this week when he underwent an MRI, followed by an immediate surgery.  That was his time of fear and worry, but with his deep faith, I know he will recover and be the better for it in the future.  Right now, I would like to be his voice and use this blog to thank the many people who prayed for him.  He is recovering at his fiance's family home in Kampala and told me he is "putting his tools down" until he's healed.  David, his brother will be handling all issues until Edwin can get back on his feet.

We recently admitted 3 more little ones into our Home of Angels from the abandoned orphanage.  This makes a total of 7 children to date with 13 more to come in the near future.

We also have a new nursery school donated by the Tsawwassen Rotary Club.  It will be completed and opened in time for the start of the 1st term in February.  This is the first building where our 33 children under the age of 6 years old will attend.

In 2019, we intend to open a second building with children from the outside community.  Many parents are wanting their children to attend.  Our dear friend Rachel, a student at UBC, not only raised money on GoFundMe but also baked and sold banana bread for Christmas fairs to finish the construction.  Thank you Rachel.

Aunty Joy and Aunty Jennifer hard at work preparing Christmas dinner for our 45 kids to enjoy.

Sam and Sula passing out the sodas before the food arrives.

Each year we invite the community children for Christmas dinner, but this year we decided to have only our new family of 45 children attend.  They may not all be living with us at the moment, but it won't be long.  We felt it was important for them to bond as a family at this special time of year.

Meet our new guard, Richard.  He's come from the north of Uganda and is doing a good job of protecting the compound and helping the aunties with the children.

Apologetics Canada and Power to Change filmed for the Human Project series at our Home of Angels in 2017.  This film will be released on March 2nd and 3rd of 2018 at the Apologetics conference at Northview church in Abbotsford.  I was told to bring a box of kleenex to watch it so I'm really excited, but know I'll probably break when I see our kids in acting mode.  It was a surprise for us too.  They're also selling the "Human Project" mugs online to raise money for our home.  What a blessing.

Thank you, Stephanie, for all the hard work you did by baking banana bread for 30 days.  Stephanie and her helpers raised enough money to put in the septic, sock pit and the latrine for our new nursery school. School starts in a week and the men tell us it will all be completed by then.

When we started in 2009, this was all banana, mango and papaya trees.  There were only a few houses, but very few.  In this picture, you can see the growth over these nine years which includes a hospital and large school.  Beside the telephone pole, is our farm compound where our new nursery school is located.  Picture of opening day to follow on the next blog.

Let me introduce Rob, the manager of a Save on Foods in North Vancouver and my trusty promoter of banana bread, Roma.  Between the two of them, we sell out in hours.  Rob dresses in his favorite banana costume and greets everyone while Roma passes out samples to the customers.
What a team..... I only need to stand and smile.

We have a wonderful friend Thomas in Hong Kong who purchased a few goats for us in 2014.  We named it the "Chew Project".  We took them up to Malindi village where Edwin's father and his community friends raised them.  Today we have 325+ goats that we just started selling on the international market.  Sheds have been built to control disease and for separating the males, females and the babies.

It was difficult to get good pictures because we had to hire someone to go into Malindi by boat and take them.  The roads are either washed out or so dry, you can't get there very easily.  We are hoping to go early June and will capture good pictures to show you how large the "Chew Project" really is.

Meet Yiga, one of our newest children.  He's 4 years old but very small due to the tragedy in his life.

This is Sam, another new brother who is 4 years old.  Sam was left to fend for himself at 2 years old.  He was abandoned and now abandoned again. It will take a little extra work to make him understand we will never leave him.  Hard to believe what he's been through with this beautiful smile.

Meet 5-year-old David.  This little one has never had anyone in his life.  His parents died when he was a baby and who knows what happened to him after that. All we want him to focus on now is that he has a very loving family who cares for him very much.

These kids have really come from difficult places, but we know in time they will also come out of their shell as the others have and understand that God and all of us love them very much.

I would also like to remind everyone that if you want to donate to us online, you must use this link below.  Kuwasha (KIDS) has been kind enough to connect us to their website but you must go to the following link as it identifies our Home of Angels account.


Thank you so much.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Grateful to Everyone

It's been almost 9 years since we started our Home of Angel's dream, and throughout these years we have been blessed with many people that have come alongside to help us.  Edwin and I are so thankful to many of you who encouraged us; sent funding and just believed in us that we could accomplish this project by selling loaves of banana bread.  We still have some projects to complete before getting ready for the new children to move in and figure we will reach our maximum capacity before school starts in February 2018.

This is our hundredth blog and we're proud to say that we've documented our journey every step of the way.  I have to be very honest with you all.  I am not a very wise person when it comes to business, but God provided people to guide me and provide wisdom every step I took.  He provided people to come into our lives that believed in us and trusted we would do the right thing.

We thank our dedicated funders who made such a difference in the lives of the people in our community and in our children.  Thank you to the people who help me with fundraisers, baking banana bread, sewing clothes, providing food and water and so much more.  There are no words to really express the gratitude that we have for you all but, my biggest fear is that I will forget someone.  Always know that I mean every one of you who made this dream come true. You are ALL truly special whether I mention your name or not.

Stephanie set up a Facebook page called 30 Days of Banana Bread.  We created some funny videos to explain the project.  When people give a minimum donation of $30 to Jaaja Barb's Home of Angels http//www.kuwasha.net/jaaja-barbs-home-of-angels/ she will bake them 2 loaves of banana bread plus give 2 loaves to the Cyrus Center that helps the homeless youth in Abbotsford.  Search 30 Days of Banana Bread on Facebook to get involved.

Thanks Stephanie for your huge heart to help us in this way and help our local kids also.

To date, we have taken in 4 children from the abandoned orphanage.  This little one is named Joweli.  She's 3 years old and loving the fact that she has brothers and sisters who care for her.  Her big sister Lovisa is making sure she is learning the routine.

The film crew was hard at work every day filming the Human Project.  Our Aunty Joy, Yasin and Lovisa were the main characters and all three couldn't have been more professional.  Even though they didn't understand English, Edwin translated everything that the crew requested and it was acted out beautifully.

The kids were so excited when they saw something strange in the sky.  

A drone from Canada, something they have never seen before.  The drone was used to film and when this documentary is released in March, I will be able to show you what it was filming.   

We decided to have a birthday party for Mariam and Yasin's Jaaja who turned 96 years old.  He had never had a birthday before, so the kids and I baked cakes, blew balloons up and decorated the grass hut.  Meanwhile, James, our worker took a motorcycle over to pick him up because he couldn't walk.
Everyone sang Happy Birthday as he sat and watched, feeling so happy that someone cared.  Thanks Jane for providing this party.

Mariam and Yasin showed him the cake.  He had never seen one before and I must say loved the taste.  He had three large pieces.  Our children normally have no living relatives but Jaaja wasn't able to feed or take care of them so we offered to help him.  It's these two that now take care of him by helping him fetch water and making sure he's got everything he needs.

There was also another surprise.  Lovisa, Mariam, and Desire had a birthday that week and we secretly prepared for that one also.  Tradition says....buckets of water thrown over them but the fun part was that they had no idea we remembered.  It was a happy day all around.

We recently added 4 more little people to our home and they really are a happy bunch.  Always playing well together, never fighting and the one thing that I really notice is, they share everything they have with each other.  One skip rope will be shared between everyone and they all get a turn.

It's been a wonderful year and so much to be thankful for.  Thank you, everyone, for following our story and encouraging us along the way.  We truly have a family of children that love God and will help others because of the love they have been shown by many of you.

We would also like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year 2018.

I apologize for this video below.  It was supposed to show you our compound but it didn't work and I don't know how to remove it.  Just ignore it and chalk it up to a grandma that isn't too good at technology.  :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Simply Trusting

We live in a fallen world and we see and hear of many situations that just break our hearts.  For Edwin and I, we feel pain witnessing the children suffering.  Without worrying about how we will do it, we pray that God will find a way to use unexpected encounters to bring unexpected blessings to help us, and He always does.

I will be leaving for Uganda this week with Andy Steiger, President of Apologetics Canada and a group of men from Power to Change.  They will be filming at our Home of Angels for the "Human Project" series and we couldn't be more blessed to have been chosen.

I wanted to let you know that the children are all doing well and preparing for their new 20 brothers and sisters to arrive in 2018.  Thanks to Richard and his family, they are being taken care of until we can get them all checked at the hospital and make sure they're healthy enough to move into our Home of Angels.

As you can see, they have been working very hard to build the nursery school to have it open for the new school year.  Thanks to the Tsawwassen Rotary, we have been able to finish one house where we will be teaching our 33 children under the ages of 6 years old.  The entire farm compound has been divided in half.  One side for the school and a playground and the other end for the vegetable gardens.

I'm excited that the children will all be on holidays when we're there so I can take lots of pictures to update you all before Christmas.

Meet Aunty Jennifer.  She's a wonderful woman that loves children and works very hard to teach the young ones how to work.  It's very different from our country Canada.  These children start learning about survival when they are 3 years old.  They learn to wash clothes, to cook and to clean but have nothing to use but their hands.  

At one time there were 1,000 chickens in these houses with 24 goats and massive gardens on the other side of the property.  Everyone's chickens in our area died one day from a disease and the gardens stopped producing many vegetables when the rains came last year.  No one knows what it was, but we now see people spraying chemicals.  It's very sad because they have no idea the damage of what chemicals can do to the human body.

So we brought in many truckloads of clean dirt and started to convert the chicken houses into a nursery school.

Our faithful workers, Sula and James, once again planted the grass, one root at a time, 2" apart.  They planted shade trees where it was necessary and they say I'm in for a big surprise next week when I see these changes.  I can't wait.....

A rock wall and a sidewalk have been made for the children to enter their new school.  There will be a playground on one side and gardens at the other end of the compound.  Once the sock pit and latrine are done, the entire compound will be completed.

It was sad for the chicken to go, but at the same time, a school for our kids is also a great idea.  This will save us school fees for 3 years and with 33 little ones under the age of 6 years old, they will get much better individual attention this way.  A good start for grade 1 ahead of them.

For nine years, Save on Foods has donated all the ingredients for the banana bread we bake to raise money for our Home of Angels.  Together with the firefighters at Hall #7 and volunteers, we sell hundreds of loaves.  There are no words to thank these people for what they have done to help these children.  Thank you Save on Foods for standing with us all these years to make a difference to so many children.  I want to thank Christina, Kaelin and Levi for volunteering and to the firefighters who came out to spin the wheel for SOF points.  You are all amazing.

We live in the Busoga kingdom which is the 2nd largest kingdom in Uganda.  Edwin was offered the position of Trade and Development Minister, of which he accepted.  You are witnessing the official swearing-in for this position.  Congratulations Edwin (holding the blue papers).  It goes to show you how many people trust and love you there.

Edwin and I want to also thank all of you for participating in this journey with us.  You not only encourage us to keep on going; you donate for everything that it takes to make our home function.
We are so grateful to all of you.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Power of Empathy

Empathy is the power to understand and share the feelings of others.  Whether it be in our Home of Angels or out in our community where suffering is severe, we ask God every day to give us the grace to stand with others who are in need.

That's exactly what has happened to us in these past few months.  Before I came home in September,
Edwin and I found 20 small children, ages 3 to 5 years old wandering the garbage dumps very hungry.  These children had been abandoned 3 months earlier with no water, electricity or food.  It was difficult for Edwin because this is the same orphanage I found him working at in 2009.

We always make decisions as a family so we had a meeting with the children and staff.  It was unanimous... We decided to stand with these children in need and raise them with enough love to give them hope for the future.

Our wonderful friend Richard donated funds to keep them fed and in a home for 6 months while we will do background checks and have their medical issues taken care of.   I honestly have no idea how we are going to do this except for the fact that we know He will not abandon us or these kids.  If you or anyone you know would like to sponsor one of these precious children, please contact me at barb@jaajashomeofangels.com and I'll guide you through the process.  Thank you so much.

Edwin found this little girl looking for any kind of scraps to eat in this dump but the only thing she found was a piece of sugar cane that someone else had already chewed up.  These little tears really touched my heart.

Another child was trying to find water but there was nothing except for this dirty ditch.

We wanted to bring the new children in to live with us but there were many issues to deal with before we could.  In the meantime, they needed food, so our older children started preparing a very special meal as they remembered the day that we did this for them.  Most of these kids you see here picked weeds on our compound in 2010 to survive and we made weed, tomato, and hot rice stew to fill them.  They never forgot and continue to do the same for others that have nothing.

Our Lovisa said a prayer before the meal and everyone bowed their heads to give thanks for the food.

As you know, the soil on our farm compound had previously been contaminated by the rains.  We've lost all our chickens and the vegetable gardens.  Edwin's friend was kind enough to lend us an acre of land to plant maize, sweet potatoes, bananas, and cassava.  All these foods will be ready at different intervals throughout the year.  James and Sula are currently in the process of working the land and planting while the rains are in progress.

We have written about our special Jaaja many times.  When I go back in November he will be turning 100 years old, but in the meantime, the children bring him 10-litre jerry cans of water when they can.  We plan to celebrate his very first birthday party with balloons and cake.  I'll bet that cake is going to be a banana bread.

Every day the little boys take a goat to a grazing site, returning home in the afternoon to bring them back into the compound.

These are our neighbors who have a small piece of land across from us.  They both work many hours a day clearing the land and eventually plant ground nuts.  Our little guys had taken their goats home after grazing and noticed they didn't have water.  They came to Uncle Edwin and I and asked if they could take them a banana bread and water.

The paving stone project is almost finished.  The driveway to the gate has now been completed with only the parking lot remaining.  Over the past five years, we figure a total of 40,000 paving stones have been handmade and laid.

Our "Home of Angels" started with 12 children in 2013.  We knew by the end of this journey we would be able to house almost 50 children.  Today, in 2017, we will have fulfilled our dream and plan to stay at this number unless God calls us to continue.