Starting up a nonprofit was never a life goal. I didn’t have the ambition to try and change the world. I avoided business classes in college like Kira avoids bugs. What I do is proof that God can do anything with anyone. Some days I scratch my head and wonder how is this possible that we are indeed committed to running a nonprofit? There’s no doubt that we feel called to follow our passion for the cause of the orphan in Uganda and to do something about it. Our first step was adoption. Our second step was to begin a charity to help orphans in her home country. Our sense of responsibility to this passion is written with indelible ink in our hearts. But that means we have to do it in official ways with structure, boundaries and procedures and it cost us sweat, blood and tears.
Truthfully, we could have hooked up with another existing organization and worked with them. And in hind sight that might have been a much easier path towards satisfying our need to do good for the orphans. But that wasn’t how we got started. We followed the crooked path God lead us down to be able to now serve the fifteen children in our home. I don’t regret the hits we took on that road because I wouldn’t want to miss what we are able to do now!
Our first encounter helping in Uganda was with a big crowd of kids who were filthy, not eating and sleeping on the dirt floor of a church. We thought simply, let’s feed them and get them sponsors to go to school. To collect funds we had to become a charity, so we went through the long process to become a registered 501 © 3 organization. We worked with a group of fraudsters in Uganda who misused funds thinking they could do it without our awareness. Most people go to Africa, get worked up by the poverty, motivated, go back home, send money and don’t ever come back. The fraudsters know this and they capitalize on it. They can be anything and anyone they need to be for the two weeks we are there to get us motivated to send help and then after we go they do whatever they want with it. They see people come and go all the time. We have essentially taught them to do this. But I know how hard it is to raise money so I kept a hawk eye on those dollars and when it didn’t add up I crossed the world and showed up with a bright light. Like cockroaches everyone fled to the dark. I learned I can’t trust anyone with my good intentions.Unfortunately, we had to learn that twice. There are a LOT of cockroaches in Uganda, but they can’t scare away my good intentions, they can only make me smarter.
We didn’t give up. Our calling to help orphaned children was clearer than ever. What we had is a good education on how to do it without the help of criminals hoping to get fat on the money we raise. That’s when we opened our own charity in Uganda. So our charity in America serves our charity in Uganda. The people we work with there are hand selected by us, these are people who have proven their integrity and honesty through the long hard trials we have endured. The way the children are able to benefit in our care is based on our ideas of what their needs are. We were able to take an investigator to each child’s home to know for sure that the child lost both parents and were truly orphaned. Some children in the beginning were not included in our program after the second round of investigation because we were lied to about their parents being gone. They were gone, just not gone to the grave. Our mission is to care for the children who really don’t have a parent on this earth to teach, protect, and love them. We are not about to encourage abandonment.
Kirabo Seeds is able to provide in the ways we believe will give a child the opportunity to discover their God given potential in life. We believe children should have a safe home to live in, be surrounded by people who love them and will teach them moral values from the bible, and listen to their hearts. We believe children should have three meals a day and have the opportunity to get a good education. We believe children should get medical and dental care when they are sick. Children should have clothes to wear and shoes on their feet and books to read. There should be counseling to help them sort out the emotional traumas they have endured. And children should have opportunity to go to church and learn about the God who did all of this for them because He loves them and keeps his promises.
Some organizations boast about how many children they serve. We have a small group of fifteen children, and though we are not spread out far and wide, we are going deep deep deep into their care. Not only are we able to minister to these orphaned children, but also the grandmother’s, aunties and the villagers from where they came. Most importantly we can break a cycle and influence the future generations that will come from these fifteen children. We hope to break them out of the cage of poverty and teach them so they can become teachers to the generations after them.
The staff in Uganda who works with these children give all day every day of the year. They each work for less than four hundred dollars a month. They love what they do and they work hard to be part of the change in their culture. They see what they are doing as their ministry first, and their job second. My job is to help them, guide them, and provide resources to do their jobs well. I can’t do that without help. I know God has people whose hearts break for the cause of the orphan, just like mine. Our organization is set up so that people who want to make a difference in a child’s life can participate in doing that, trusting that those dollars go right to the child. We have fought hard to understand the culture we are working in and the schemes that are played to redirect those dollars into the paws of greedy selfish people. We know how to protect these funds. We have all of our accounts checked and balanced by outside accountants. We are small on purpose so that there is a greater impact on the children. If we ever have opportunity to grow we will make another family rather than grow this one. But first, we need partners willing to help us love these children, to encourage them both with a financial sacrifice and an emotional investment.
We’ve dabbled in ways to raise funds. We have many items to sell at shows and in shops and we can get our new website going to make that easier to do. I love working with shops who not only sell our things, but help us share our ministry. I can hope for churches to support us. I can apply for grants and seek out corporate sponsors. But the way I personally feel it touches the children the most is to connect sponsors with their lives. The children love knowing a new sponsor has joined us and they are eager to know about them and see their pictures. And these children pray for the sponsors.
There is a sponsor who is so devoted to helping our family in Uganda that she took on an extra tutoring job to pay for the $25 a month it costs to sponsor a child. When the child she sponsors began to show evidence that he was having a learning disability despite how hard he works I contacted her. She is a special education teacher. She wrote him a letter of encouragement that was so beautiful it made me cry. I sent it to him through our team in Uganda, and he sat down and answered her letter letting her know how loved he feels knowing she cares about what he is going through. I can do this through email, and it is almost in real time. I am able to update what the family and children in Uganda are doing through my blog as well. Making these connections possible is what thrills me about running a nonprofit. I also enjoy sharing about the cultural differences and going in a direction with the children that is a Ugandan model, not so much American. What I mean by that is we have made a family so all of the children know all of the sponsors. They don’t get caught up in “mine” and so likewise, though I match a child up with a sponsor for specific concerns, we ask the sponsors to try and get to know the whole family. This idea has been well received and I’m excited to see it develop.
Phiona made little videos from each of the kids saying hello to their sponsors, and I was able to email these videos! It was so enjoyable for me to receive all the happy responses from the sponsors as they were able to see the children that way. As we keep our family in Uganda small we are able to do so much more for both the children, and those who help us help the neediest of needy children in Uganda.
As we get to know our children better they are opening up to us and we are discovering the deep hurts, the traumas, and the obstacles they have faced in their lives. They need more than dollars to get better. They need to know they are loved, and not just by Mama Tonya who visits most often, but by the people in the photos and letters they receive who are committed to making their lives better. They need most of all to know the love of God the father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The truth is we aren’t fully funded. Craig and I put in over two thousand dollars a month of personal finances to meet the costs of operation there. And, uh, on this continent no one gets paid for the work they do for Kirabo Seeds. I volunteer my full time focus on raising the support we need to help these kids. So YES absolutely every dollar is going there to make a difference in the lives of these children. If this excites you, I am inviting you to consider becoming a sponsor for our family at Kirabo Seeds in Uganda.
What that means is a minimum donation of $300 a year and we can arrange for you to break that up anyway that works best for you. Some sponsors choose to give a thousand or more. We in turn will help customize the relationship with the family in Uganda in creative ways. From what I can see, the more you get involved, the more you will take away. But ultimately what is vital is not what you get from us, but what you can do for that child. If this excites you, email me and we’ll get started. firstname.lastname@example.org If it doesn’t please don’t think I’m trying to influence anyone by guilt. I don’t want guilt offerings. Those people can be more trouble than they are worth! I invite those who truly care about making a difference in a child’s life and are ready to make a commitment. We have room for you! And what’s best is you CAN trust us with your good intentions.
As I get to know you a little better I will match you with a child in our home that I think you might connect well with and that’s how it gets done. I shy away from posting their photos up to pick from because that’s what they do to sell puppies. And it isn’t a match making sight either. These are real children I know and love and I protect them from looking like they are to be chosen for how cute they can look in a photo. And the kids who are well adjusted need as much support as the ones who have endured horrific suffering. I work to keep a balance. Shrug. That’s how I feel about that, what do you think?