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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Step Into My World: Central Uganda

Happy Independence Day, everyone! It may seem odd to out take a step out of the United States today, but that is exactly what we are going to do. Today we travel to Central Uganda. I write to one young man, who lives in this region:


Abbas

My boy, Abbas lives in the city of Hoima, which is considered Central Uganda. However, most of Compassion's project in the Central region are located around the capital city, Kampala. The line on this map is between Hoima and Kampala. Compassion also serves in a few other cities, above the line. 


Central Uganda is mostly an urban region and people either live in the cities, in government housing, or live right outside the cities, in slum conditions. Homes are made out of wood, iron, or other found materials. City slums typically have electricity, but not running water. Water is typically purchased from water vendors. 


Those people that live inside the city, live in one-room, rented shacks, that line the city streets. These homes generally hold a large family and are definitely not adequate to meet family needs. 


Most working adults in central Uganda work as day laborers, which is usually manual labor. For men, that can include traveling to rural locations to work on plantations or in quarries. For women, that can include working in factories or running errands/carrying loads. Parents work long hours, leaving their children at home. The oldest sibling (even if they are still a child themselves) is in charge of younger siblings. 

Sadly, because of the stresses of poverty, domestic violence and child abuse is a very regular occurrence. Due to neglect or abuse, children can often search outside of their home for a family, which leads them to violent, urban gangs. Central Uganda has many homeless children living on the street, often because children have left home to join gangs. 


Schools in Uganda are not free and families often are just not able to afford to send their children to school. Schools are often overcrowded and supplies are not readily available. Even the best teachers struggle to help children learn in these difficult situations. Due to this, only 66% of people over age 15 are able to read and write. 

Thanks to Compassion, all children registered in a Compassion program attend a local school, with all of the supplies they need. Children are also given tutoring after school to help in any subjects they may be struggling with. 




Of course, the Compassion project is a place for a child to just be themselves. It's not all work and no play at the project. Children are given plenty of time to play with their friends, in a safe environment, where they don't have to worry about negative, outside influences. 


Like in all countries, children are given a quality, Christian education, as well. All children are provided with a bible and regularly learn bible stories and Christian songs. They are also taught how to pray and regularly pray for their project, their community, their country, and their sponsors. 


For Central Uganda, Compassion asks sponsors to pray for the following:

- Pray that God will protect children from negative influences that may lead them to harmful practices, such a gang involvement, drugs, theft, and premarital sex. 

- Pray that children's caregivers will be there for them, love them, and be good role models in their lives. 

- Pray for children's good health and ability to do well in school. 


Currently, there aren't any children from Uganda on the website, to share with you. I'm guessing the children have all been requested by advocates or they are out at events. Or maybe they're all sponsored! Wishful thinking. :) 





Thursday, July 2, 2015

First Letters of July!

I'm sure every sponsor thinks that, but I think I have some of the best letter writers there are. Especially my kids from India and Colombia. They are really just great. Agree?

First up, my letter from Lina. I can just imagine that Lina is Miss. Personality in person. I'm sad to hear that something is going on with her mother. I will definitely have to ask her about it.

Lina is 16 years old and lives in Colombia. She wrote her letter May 4th, 2015.

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Dear Kayla, 

Hello, my dear sponsor. I want to tell you that I feel very happy to be able to write a letter to you, once again. Through this letter, I want to express my gratitude to you for everything you do for me because you're such a great blessing in my life. I also want to dedicate the following bible verse to you: Isaiah 60:1 and I hope you like it. I want to tell you that the situation at home is not very well and I ask you to please send me prayer for this situation to improve with my mom. I want to take this opportunity to talk to you a little bit more about my household. My mom, my sister, and I get together to talk. I want you to know that my favorite place in my house is my bedroom because I spend time alone with God in that place. I want to tell you that my house is made of bricks and cement. What is your house made of? I help to do our house chores. In response to your questions, I received Jesus as my savior during one of our retreats. I do know a popular story about children within our community, it is named "Rin Rin Renacuajo". I say goodbye for now and I pray for God to bless you. I forgot to tell you that I feel deeply grateful to you for the bonus you sent me because I was able to buy a pair of Converse tennis shoes and a blouse. 

Lina

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My other letter today was from Chintada. He seems like such a good young man. Just like with all of my kids, I sent Chintada a list of 11 questions about his home, project, and community. Some of my kids answer all of them, some answer a couple, and some don't answer at all, haha. Chintada picked a couple and answered them for me. 

Chintada is 19 years old and lives in India. His letter is dated April 11th, 2015. 

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Dear Kayla,

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I and my family members are doing well by the grace of God. I hope and pray that you are also the same over there. 

I am so glad to get four letters and hear about your family. I am very happy you have asked the questions about me and my community. So, answering the questions you have asked me. There was eleven questions in your letter. But, sharing of two answers: My house is made of cement and bricks and there is electricity connection in my home. 

I am attending the project center regularly. I am learning new things at the project center, like good behavior, small group prayer, etc. The weather here is very hot. What is the weather in your area? Please pray for me and my family. I am praying for you everyday. 

Thanks in Christ's Love, 
Chintada

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sagitaria's New Photo!

I am so happy to have Sagitaria's new photo. On July 1st, her photo would have been exactly 2 years old. It's great to see how much she has changed, which isn't too much, haha. She doesn't seem to have grown too much as she's wearing the same shirt that she wore in her last photo, though you can definitely tell she's grown some. Her hair is what has grown the most!

Sagitaria is from Indonesia.



Monday, June 29, 2015

Chatty Boys this Weekend

On Saturday, I received two letters, from two of my young men. They both had a lot to say and Emanuel's letter even had an extra piece of paper attached, to give him more space. I certainly have some chatty boys.

First up, a letter from Kalpesh. He always does a great job responding to the letters that I write to him. There is always quite a big delay because Kalpesh lives in a remote rural village. It typically takes 4 months for my letters to get to him and another 4 months to hear back from him. For example, my friend Kristin got married in October. Kalpesh read the letter and responded in February. It is now June.

Kalpesh is 13 years old and lives in India. This letter is dated February 21st, 2015.

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Dearest Kayla and Family, 

Greetings to you in the matchless name of Jesus, from me and my family. I received your letters with beautiful pictures. I'm very glad to see 6th grade class picture. Really it is great to see each student have a separate bench for sitting and students using laptops and there is a nice library to study. I'm also pleased to see your friend's marriage pictures. First of all, congrats to sister Kristin and her husband. My best wishes to their future life. 

Here, by the Lord's grace and through your precious prayers, I'm doing fine. Right now, my 2nd term exam is going on, so I'm doing hard work. In my class, there are more than 50 students and it is sometimes difficult to sit and learn. We have 3 languages at school; Marathi - first language, Hindi - 2nd language, English - 3rd language. Other than these, we have math, science, social studies, drawing, and physical education. At the project, we are learning computers and our regular school syllabus. At the project, our teachers are always helping us, so we find it a little easier at school. 

Thank you so much for loving and caring for me. Take care. 

Much Love,
Kalpesh

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Onto Emanuel's letter. He's never outright told me, but I think that Emanuel lives in a Maasai area of his country. He always draws me a picture and so far, I've gotten a Maasai woman carrying water and now an elephant on the plains. In this letter, just like the letter that Emanise that I shared the other day, Emanuel told me a story he likes. 

Emanuel is 18 years old and lives in Tanzania and he wrote this letter on April 25th, 2015. 

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Dear Kayla, 

I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ. My family and I are doing great. I hope you are fine. 

I proceed well with my school studies and prepare for my mock exams. Thank you for the nice letter you sent to me. I enjoyed it much. Our house is made up of bricks. There are three rooms and a sitting room. I stay with my parents, my sister, and my younger brother. My sister is called Evaline. She is in teacher's college. My younger brother is called Bildadi, he is in class 7. I sleep with my younger brother. In our home, there is no electricity because electric pillars are far from our home. Also, we get little water. We travel by using cars and in a place where there is no car, we use motorcycles. 

My country has many great things. There are more than 40 million people. Our capital city is Dodoma and our famous animal in our national emblem is the giraffe. Our national language is Kiswahili and our independence day is December 9th. There are two religions; Christianity and Muslim. When I was 16 years old, I went to the Easter concert with my fellow students. We sang, prayed, and worshiped God. 

I also learnt the story of David and Goliath. Goliath spoke bad words to Israel. He said to David, "Come to me and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beast of the field." But David had the power of God. He took out a stone and slung it and struck Goliath on his forehead and he fell on his face to the ground. 

I would like to share with you Psalm 102:1 "Hear my prayer, O Lord, let me cry come to thee".

I would like to ask you, why do you receive Jesus as your personal savior? 

I wish you a good life which pleases God. 

Emanuel



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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Step Into My World: Urban Philippines

Today is the day to share about another region where some of my sponsored kids live. Today, I write about the urban region in the Philippines. I have two boys who live in this region:


Nikko and Jhonrex


Where Compassion works, these urban regions mainly consist of huge, sprawling slums. Homes in this region are built closely together and are typically made out of found materials, mainly wood scraps and tin scraps. These slums typically have electricity, but no running water and no sewage system, making good sanitation nearly impossible.



Children are often left to their own devices during the day, while parents are out working, usually as laborers or market sellers. Even before children are old enough to attend school on their own, they are left to care for themselves during the day. In slum areas, it is common to find violent gangs, alcohol, drugs, and other dangerous activities. Still, small children wander the streets, looking for ways to entertain themselves. 


In the Philippines, school fees are free for primary and secondary schools. However, many parents can't afford the fees associated with school uniforms, books, and other supplies. In these cases, Compassion purchases these things for the students. Sadly, still many teenagers, especially boys drop out of high school to work and earn money for their families. In fact, both of my boys, Nikko and Jhonrex are no longer attending school for that reason. Thankfully, Compassion is tutoring them at the project, so they are still receiving a good education. I don't know where my boys would be without Compassion. 


Compassion in the urban regions of the Philippines are open all day, everyday. Children are only required to come to activity days, but the projects keep their doors open all day, to act as a safe haven for children. It is not unusual to see children spending their time at their project to stay away from the dangerous streets or to escape difficult things at home. Children know they can come to the center for help, homework help, or just to spend time with their friends, in safety. 


From young children to teens, every child is taught age-appropriate lessons on a wide variety of topics including: bible studies, health & hygiene lessons, songs, poems, games, nutrition, education, etc. The list truly goes on and on. There is something for all ages! 



The urban projects in the Philippines request for sponsors to pray for the following: 

- Pray that children and youth stand up to peer pressure to join gangs for use drugs. 

- Pray that God will protect the children from the diseases and dangers that go along with living in a crowded slum. 

- Pray that children will be motivated to stay in school and that parents will allow their children to remain in school, to allow them a better future. 



I have two boys to share with you today, that I am pretty sure live in the urban regions. It's hard to tell, specifically, but I judged based on information provided in their info blurbs. Either way, I'm praying for these boys to be sponsored: 


6 year old Carl loves to play basketball with his friends. 




5 year old Edgardo lives in the Naga City slums, which is a huge slum, with over 250,000 people living in it. Edgardo lives with his mother and 3 siblings. 



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Taye Answers a Question

This month, I hit the 2nd anniversary since I started writing to Taye. In that time, I have only heard from Taye 4 times. Well, 5 times, if you count the letter I received today. The letter I received today is the first time that I've had Taye respond to any of my questions. Perhaps a breakthrough, if even just a small one? 

Taye is 18 years old and lives in Ethiopia. His photo is nearly 2 years old, so I'm looking for a new one everyday, now. This letter was written on March 12th, 2015. 

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Dear Kayla, 

My dear sponsor, peace & grace be with you. How are you doing? Are you fine? I and my family are fine, praise God. Thank you for your helpful letter requesting me on what I am doing in my free time. Accordingly, I play football and other sports in my free time. I also attend Sunday school classes in church every week. May the Lord bless you for all your support. I and my family are praying for you. See you next time in peace. 

Your Child,
Taye

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Three Weekend Letters

On Saturday, I received three letters from my kiddos. No fancy intro here, just letters. 


First up, the letter from Xhuliano. This is a shorter letter for him, but I am glad that it's school keeping him busy. Both of my Albanian boys told me that they study a lot. Good for them! 

Xhulinao is 14 years old and lives in Albania. 
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Hello My Friend!

I'm so happy that you always send me letters and beautiful thoughts. You are so polite and nice to me. I'm glad for you that you are so happy. I celebrated my birthday with my family and my two sisters. Thank you a lot for your wishes. 

I don't have much free time because I study a lot and I read a lot of books. The weather here is getting warm. 

Thank you for the painting and the stickers you sent for my sisters. They love you a lot. I'm ending this letter, wishing you a lot of beautiful days. God bless you! 

Love,
Xhuliano

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Next up, a letter from Emanise. In a recent letter, I asked all of my kids if they had an stories they could share from their country. You might recognize Emanise's story. :) 

Emanise is 15 years old and lives in Haiti. 

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Dear Kayla, 

Today I am happy to write you this letter. How are you, your health, your friends, and your activities? As for me, everything is going well, thanks to God. Did you hear about Arielle's story? I want to share it with you. 

Once upon a time, a father siren had his daughter called Arielle. On her birthday, her father decided to celebrate to honor her. By the time the ceremony is starting, the master of the ceremony was calling Arielle and they could not see her. Her father got angry and he ordered his servant to find out where Arielle could be and the servant did not see her either. However, Arielle goes out with a friend of hers. All of a sudden, they both saw a boat passing and Arielle stated, "Let me go and see what that is." Once she arrived, she saw a young man submerging. She quickly went and tried to rescue him. Since her father was so angry, she explained to him how it happened and she told him that she loves the young man. Her father agreed with her and she helped him come out on the surface of the water. The feel in love and got married. They gave birth to beautiful children. 

In your next letter, I would like to know whether or not you love the story. I wanted to share this story with you. Please keep me in your prayers and then I will be praying so that God can bless you. 

Thanks!
Emanise

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Lastly, a letter from Jhon. Jhon is always good at describing his latest activities to me. I always enjoy hearing from him. 

Jhon is 16 years old and lives in Bolivia. His letter is dated March 25th, 2015. 

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Dear Kayla, 

Hello beloved sponsor! I greet you with the peace of the Lord. I thank you for the letter and pictures you sent me. In answer to your questions, I discovered my sponsor when my tutor at the student center told me. My favorite book of the Bible is Genesis. I am doing well in my exams. Yes, I could do the pyramids without falling. (Jhon told me about a gymnastics contest he was in and him and his friends made a human pyramid. I asked if they did it without falling.) 

Past Sunday, I went to the swimming pool with my family and I had a good time. The next Friday we will remember Father's Day in our country. We organized a celebration that our fathers can enjoy it and have a good time. 

I say goodbye with the peace of the Lord and I wish God blesses you. 

With Love,
Jhon

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