Shalom Ministries 2021 Annual Report
I have given the year 2021 the name, “THE YEAR OF NEW HOPE.” I do not mean to remind us of all the negative events caused by Covid19 but to remind us that God alone is the only hope left even though it’s a very foreign hope to those who only had hoped in witch doctors, scientists and government.
2021 has not been so easy as we witness the continued impact of Covid19, lockdown and drought in our Country and Karamoja region, so many negative results , raiding of animals and killing people along the road or from their homes resumed as it was 20 years ago, and insecurity is now a big threat, poverty level has increased with children and elderly people starving to death, malnutrition among adult and children is overwhelming, rate of mothers dying during birth or committing suicide due to stress of not being able to provide food for their children on the increase, more children and youth living on the street in urbans centers and so many migrating to other districts where they are actually seen as security threat, some taken as slave by business men and women etc. We are overwhelmed at Shalom with the number of children, youth and parents and seeking for shelter and education, mothers seeking for food and medical for their sick children. It has become difficult to choose who to help and who to say no to.
I want to say thank you for all the different ways God has used you to support and be part of what he (God) is doing in Karamoja through Shalom. Your friendship and relationship with our team, prayers, giving inform of time, physical and mental energy, materials, money etc., God was, is and will always be glorified! We are blessed to witness how he is working through Shalom daily, saving the most vulnerable children and youth from physical and spiritual death.
On behalf of the team,
Okidi Rainbow Mike
New Color in the Rainbows!
We praise God for adding another color to the Rainbows, our son was born on 19th July 2021, at Nakasero Hospital, Kampala. It was a difficult process, but we were blessed to be in a hospital where there are trained doctors and working tools that helped our son to be born through Cesarean. We are sincerely grateful to all your prayers and support to our family before, during the birth and after. Our dearest friends Mike Barbee and Jodi Hill were able to come and support us before, during and after birth.
We gave our son 4 names, (RUBANGAONENA) that identifies him with my tribe (Acholi) and Uganda, (WOOD) identifies him with my wife’s family & Americans, (RAINBOW) that identifies him with our family and clan, and finally (JOSIAH) that identifies him with the body of Christ.
These names are very meaning full to us in so many ways. Rubangaonena, means “You are the God who sees me/us” taken from the book of Genesis 16:13. Besides the biblical meaning to the name, my grandmother went through many challenges to her legal rights to her land and would stand to speak before men (court) she would lift her hands and eyes to heaven and pray, ask God to defend her, a widow. “God sees me and judges between me and these men” One of these words that later became her nicked name is “Rubanganena” which is the female version of the name for our son. If it was not for her endurance, my Dad and his brothers would not have had the land that they now own as our ancestral inheritance, my mother would not have got farming on the land, my grandmother shared the land with every one of her sons.
Denise has been in Oklahoma since the end of the year with Rubangaonena. We had hope to travel all of us, but it was not possible since US embassy in Kampala is not issuing tourist visas.
A growing family of staff
Am glad to let you know God has continued to icrease the number of our team. Five women were added to our team at the end of 2021. These women were being supported by our missionary friends Andrew and Kerri Meador. For about 8 years these women were handing making journals which the Meadors would sell and give back the money to them so they can provide food, medical and other basic needs for their children. The Meadors physically left Karamoja though they continued to work with Akiru women. We then welcome them into the team. These women are surely blessing our team and the children we serve at Shalom home, they have lifted the workload off the two mothers who have been serving over 57 children and youth each day. Please pray that God provides for their wages and that God show us how to continue caring for 2 members of Akiru women who are unable to work due to physical limitations caused by illness.
And with joy I praise God that 4 of the former beneficiaries/ youth of Shalom joined our team. These youth understands our history, our heart, vision and goal, what a blessing to have them on board. We join together with these youth to fight the culture of “men don’t work” that contributes to unemployment and poverty in Karamoja.
Otim Wilfred Demello; Been a beneficiary under school sponsorship program, graduated in 2021 with degree in social work and administration and now serving as a social worker.
Okello Christopher Lopeyo; Been a beneficiary of Shalom under school sponsorship and Agape; graduated in Dec 2021 with degree in social work and administration.
Lokure Godfrey; Been in Agape since 2009, joined Shalom Hopes Agriculture project as a internee.
Logwee Benjamin; Been in Agape since 2017, Now serving and working hand in hand with Denise under Hopes program (economic strengthening /seed loan project), he is supporting youth who have completed vocational training both from YRC and other institutions to come up with realistic business plan and process the funds to get them started with seed loan or purchase work tools.
Shalom Transition Home and Ag Program
God provided funds just before year 2021 ended and am glad to report that we are continuing with the building project, We just finished roofing the first big house (it contains, the kitchen, dining, living area, and food storage. Fitting windows, doors and finishing work is in progress, we hope the work is completed at the second week of February and then we start constructing latrine and smaller houses for accommodation next.
We purchased land in 2021 and welcomed Papa Adrian Stott who is volunteering his expertise and experience starting small youth-led agriculture programs to help us start the Shalom Hopes Agriculture Project. The vision of the agriculture project is to empower and equip youth in Kotido to live subsistence lifestyles connected with God and with others. In 2022 we hope to fence the land and see begin interning for the management and beginning training courses for youth in the area.
Karamoja is Bleeding!
With my heart heavy and bleeding, 2021 has not been so easy as we witness the continued impact of Covid19, lockdown and drought in our Country and Karamoja region, so many negative results , raiding of animals and killing people along the road or from their homes resumed as it was 20 years ago, and insecurity is now a big threat, poverty level has increased with children and elderly people starving to death, malnutrition among adult and children is overwhelming, rate of mothers dying during birth or committing suicide due to stress of not being able to provide food for their children on the increase, more children and youth living on the street in urbans centers and so many migrating to other districts where they are actually seen as security threat, some taken as slave by business men and women etc. We are overwhelmed at Shalom with the number of children, youth and parents and seeking for shelter and education, mothers seeking for food and medical for their sick children. It has become difficult to choose who to help and who to say no to.
Here are some of the prayer needs.
Pray that peace and reconciliation between the Jie, Dodoth, Bokora, Turukana, and all the neighboring tribes and group of people in Karamoja.
Pray that political leaders and security personnel finds proper strategy and a more sustaining solutions for Karamoja situation.
Pray for rain to come so people can grow vegetables and have food.
Pray that the Church would fulfil their duties to care for the most vulnerable persons, continue to be the light in the midst of darkness and preach a practical gospel of peace and love.
Pray for wisdom and discernment as we continue to recruit teachers to teach our children and that God continues to direct us on how to build the school.
Pray for our new and international volunteer (Papa, Adrian) and the new Agriculture project, we started this month. We need prayers for rain, funds to fence the farm and other related cost.
Pray for Shalom restaurant and Vans to be able realize more business and profits.
Pray for Shalom team, that together we grow spiritually and learn how to function as team with the system while serving the vulnerable children and youth.
Pray for protection from raiders as we come in and go out to serve children and youth in the community.
Pray for Agape, that the team shall not get discourage in our effort to promote peace and reconciliation in Karamoja through sport.
Pray that our donors would continue to be engage, and connected with the people and need in Karamoja, while also asking God to send more laborers to his field (Karamoja).
And finally pray that the international, national and local NGOs in Karamoja would use their resources to really meet the real needs of the poor, and to be willing to get to the real root of the problem rather than covering the wounds, or dealing with leaves and branches of the tree.
Shalom Home News
The effect of Covid19 and the longest lockdown in Uganda continues to overwhelm the community in various ways. According to report by ministry of health girls aged 14 -19 were getting pregnant each month. This was because school were closed for 2 years, and parents didn’t know what to do with their children. In Uganda 55% of the population are children and youth under the age of 18 and most of these are unable to complete secondary education. It sad to think about the future of these children and their babies since most do not even have father to care for them. Some of these teenage mothers are even abandoning their babies in publics places, so other Good Samaritans can take them to places they can be provided with care.
Youth Resource Center
We are grateful that God provided Shalom Youth Resource Center (YRC) just at the right time. The negative effects of lockdown and government keeping most schools closed for 2 years did not greatly affect the children and youth under our care like it did to the children and youth in the community. Instead, they got the opportunity to learn and acquire practical skills such as tailoring, computer basics, book-making, haircutting, music, and access to academic support through a library at the resource center. Above all, we realized even greater change in their lives since we used the time to do more group discipleship 1-1 mentorship. Some of the youths now operating their own businesses (tailoring) and finding jobs locally.
Shalom Classroom Starts!
In October, we hired primary school teachers who gave 100% of their time to teach the primary children just like they were in formal school. The 5 teachers really appreciated Shalom for not only keeping them busy but for allowing them to serve the children and youth and get some money to feed their own families, opportunity to study the bible during staff devotion, some of these teachers were struggling financially and what a blessing that they got this job so they can continue to provide for their families. One of the single female teachers (Winnie Acan) said that she gained her weight back while working at Shalom and her parents really were pleased to see her looking very happy and healthy.
The children enjoyed the home school so much, they were able to learn more as they also have more freedom to express themselves from home and loving environment, the teachers were introduced to the culture of Shalom from day one, teaching with passion and relating with each child at a personal level, making each child feel valued, loved, heard, and respected. Some of these children we care for at Shalom home are above the age level in their classes. Out there, they are made fun of for being so old for their classes, the truth is many of their basic needs were not being met while on the street or with relatives who didn’t care about them and then at Shalom their basic needs are being met including education. At Shalom none of them think about their age and class and we strongly encourage teachers and class children to build each other, not destroy each other.
More Plans at Shalom Home
Because of the many benefits we have seen through the Shalom Home school and being cheaper to provide primary education to even larger numbers of children, opportunity to keep the flow of spiritual support, instruct and monitor teachers to work within Shalom culture, we prayed and felt it’s right to continue with the home schooling, we therefore are hiring more teachers and shall continue to look into transitioning to a formal primary school at the course of time (hopefully soon).
Since 2012, we have been planning, praying, and hoping to provide and support as many Karamojong children as possible and youth to access formal education. Education is one of the tools that we believe will transform Karamoja, socially, economically, politically and in connection with spiritual change as more and more youth are able to read the Bible. Our hope is to be able to provide formal education that focus on the development of each youth holistically, rather than the current system in our country that only focus on academic progress and passing exams with no practical Knowledge that applies to real live. Please pray that God provides the resources we need to build the school already named “Beyond the Rainbow” and build on the small beginnings in 2021.