Feel Good Friday: Reunification in Uganda

It was only yesterday that we welcomed baby Grace into our home.  She was born a preemie at 7 months and her mum plus sibling both passed away at birth. She weighed only 1.2 kgs and was still very under-developed, even the hospital didn’t expect Grace to make it.  She was feeding through an ng tube and her skin was so pale.  We spent the whole night praying that she would survive.  She was severely dehydrated and needed lots of care and feeding.  We fought, prayed and believed for Grace’s miraculous survival.  Little did we know that Grace was as much determined to make it as we were.  She was a fighter.

Today we celebrate a miracle as we see grace being reunited with her biological father.  We are in awe of this great and amazing journey of hope. Grace has grown into a beautiful and happy girl who is full of energy. She is a feisty girl and will fight her way through any crisis.  She is very strong willed, fearless, and opinionated.  She has a smile which is contagious, when she chooses to show it. 

Who knew that this little girl could actually be here to tell her story?  Who knew that this tiny baby would grow into a lovely and flamboyant beauty?  Who knew that even when people give up on you, God can actually redeem and restore?

Grace was loved by many.

We are so proud of the girl she is today.  We are so thankful for what God has done and continues to do in her life.  We are so grateful to God for giving us the opportunity to change her story.  We are so grateful that our hope was not in vain.

Grace was inconsolable on the day of reunification.  It was difficult to see her in tears as we said our farewell, but we were comforted that she was in the hands of her parents who were excited and very grateful to have her home.

It was a hard day for grace and her nanny as they bid farewell

Grace will always be loved and remembered in the home.  Her smile and energy are missed every day.  God has indeed been good and we can boldly say Ebenezer. 

—-Ken and Cathy Nganda (Tender Hearts Baby Home)

A Uganda Adoption Story

Did you know that Nightlight is not just involved in adoption but also family reunification? This sometimes happens in our US foster care programs and also in our orphanages oversees. Whenever it is possible for a child to be raised safely in their biological family, we champion that! Here is one such story from Ken and Cathy, directors of Tender Hearts Baby Home in Uganda.

“David was rescued by concerned neighbors after being abused and neglected by his mother and maternal grandmother. They claimed he was demon possessed and did not deserve to live. He was only 7 months old.

We placed him on nutritional care. He has grown to be a sweet and healthy boy. He was a darling to many in the home, in spite of him being very timid around strangers.

We were finally able to reunite David with his paternal grandparents. They were very excited to receive him and for all the love and care we had given to their grandson. Even though we miss him already, we are forever grateful that he is home with his family.
We would like to appreciate everyone who prayed for him, loved him and took care of him, especially his nanny Patricia who loved him extravagantly. God is still at work. “

Compiled by Peace Okongo and Catherine Nganda

Tender Hearts Grand Opening Celebration

I am not even sure where to begin.  The trip to Uganda last week and the grand opening of Tender Hearts Baby Home was overwhelming to say the least.  First, I want to thank all the mission team members from Nightlight’s team and Grace Life Fellowship for working so hard to get the final touches complete before the event.  Everyone worked so hard.  Over 200 people attended the event.  A few attendees were from the US, but many were from the local community.  Those in attendance included probation officers, police officers, friends and family of the Ngandas, church members, grandparents of children adopted through Tender Hearts into the US, and families who had been reunited with their children.  All in all, it was a great day and a great celebration!  We all sat back in amazement observing what God has done since 2009, when I made that first trip to Uganda and met Ken and Cathy for the first time.  We want to give God all the glory and honor.  He is able!

Uganda 1

The Entrance Gate to the Baby’s Home

Uganda 2

Twenty-three team members from two teams

In Uganda, when you are excited about something, you dance!

Uganda 4

Ken and Cathy honored all of the Tender Hearts staff.

Uganda 5

A few of the children performed for us.

Uganda 6

Ken and Cathy gave speeches and thanked everyone who had helped bring the Baby Home to this point.

Uganda 7

One story that really touched my heart was of a father whose son had gone missing for 10 months.  He had left his son in the care of relatives while he traveled.  When he returned, the relatives told him they had abandoned the boy because they thought he would not be returning.  He searched for him for 10 months.  He went to radio stations and ran advertisements to no avail.  That young boy is named Alex.  He is 6 years old.  Alex was found by local police and sent to Tender Hearts.  He was old enough to tell his caretakers some things about his family.  The social workers were able to locate his grandfather who called his father.  Alex’s father spoke at the grand opening and said, “Can you believe that these people cared for my son for 10 months, and they did not ask me to pay anything?”

Uganda 8

Alex and his Dad

Their story is one of many reunifications that have happened in Uganda through Tender Hearts.  In 5 years, they have had 90 children come through their doors.  Of those 90 children, 18 have been adopted into loving homes in the United States.  Tender Hearts is currently carrying for 28 children.  Thank you Ken and Cathy for your heart for children and for answering God’s call to care for orphans.

Nightlight Volunteers turn Tragedy into Hope

Three months ago and on the other side of the globe, a 2-year-old African orphan named Vivian died of bacterial meningitis. While the news might not seem so out of the ordinary considering the continent’s state of affairs, Vivian’s death was a blow to two local residents who had met and come to love the Ugandan toddler.

Temecula residents Kellie Falk and Courtney Atnip had traveled to Uganda last October to visit the orphanage where Vivian lived and deliver supplies and comfort to the toddler and others staying at the facility. There, they fell in love with little Vivian, Falk said.

Uganda Mission Trip June 2011

The Nightlight team has been in Uganda for 3 days, and I am just now getting around to updating the blog. We have had 3 very busy days and last night, we had a black out in the evening. There are so many wonderful stories to share of God’s grace and love and, I’m certain there will be many more throughout the week.

We began work at the baby’s home on Monday by painting murals on the walls and turning the garage into an office. Everyone has worked very hard and the results are quite impressive. We have all grown more attached daily to the children at Tender Hearts. The children warmed up to us much faster this time as well. We are constantly humbled by their sweet faces and the love they show us which is so innocent and tender. Today, we gave the nannies the afternoon off and cared for the children under Cathy’s direction. We learned that the nannies are amazing women who accomplish much every day. By the time they returned, we were exhausted and the baby’s home was in disarray.

Our team is truly wonderful. Everyone has worked very hard and has shown the love of Christ to everyone we have met. We have had devotion each night and been unable to avoid tears each time. We are so blessed by the presence of the Lord each day.

Tomorrow we are going to survey the land where the future baby’s home will be built. We will also be visiting Vivian’s grave and will hold a mini memorial service. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for our team. We have been blessed by God’s favor and provision. We only lost two bags of luggage, and we should receive them tomorrow. Please pray for continued health for our team members and for our continued safety.

God Bless,

Lisa Prather

Adopting the HIV Positive Child, Part III: Telling Your Family and Friends

(Also read Adoption and HIV, Part 1: Know the Facts and Adopting the HIV Positive Child, Part II.

You can study and learn lots about the HIV/AIDS, how a child may become HIV positive, how the child will fare, what medications are available, and even how contagious the child is to other family members. But all the facts still do not answer the questions that every prospective adoptive parent must ask: “What is it like to raise an HIV Child?”; “What does the future hold?”; “What will others think?“

Before you adopt a child—any child—it is only natural to consider what the response of friends and family will be. After all, this is one of the steps in the adoption process—telling others.

As with all adoptions, your family members may expect that you will adopt a child who will be like a birth child. But instead of announcing that you are adopting a healthy, newborn infant, you may then be explaining to them that you are adopting a child of another race, an older child, or a child with special needs. Continue reading

Adopting the HIV Positive Child, Part II

Because HIV infection is so serious, and children and adults alike are more prone to other infections, keeping a child strong and healthy is very important. And because children do not have the same reserves as adults, good nutrition is especially important for them.  In poorer countries and in orphanages, where children oftentimes receive less than optimum nutrition, their bodies are further compromised and more prone to infection.

That is why in other countries, orphanages dedicated to the care of HIV positive children receive extra funding  and attention so that the children can receive the extra medical and nutritional care that they need.

If you are considering adopting an HIV positive child, most likely you are adopting a child who is a true orphan and you will truly be giving a child the gift of life. We at Nightlight will be featuring children from Eastern Europe and Africa who are HIV positive. There are certainly considerations that need be taken before you and your family decide to adopt a child who is HIV positive and you will want to be well educated regarding HIV and AIDS in general and the issues you and a and HIV-positive child will face. Continue reading

The Pearl of Africa

Pearl of AfricaUganda is known as the Pearl of Africa, and we have certainly found the pearl of Uganda.

Heart of a Child Uganda is the NGO that runs Tender Hearts Baby’s Home.  The directors are Kenneth and Cathy.  Each time that I have traveled and gotten to know Kenneth and Cathy better, I am so thankful to God for putting them in my path.  Kenneth and Cathy truly love each and every child that comes into the home.  To quote Kenneth, “Each child is special and each child has a story.”

Kenneth and Cathy are so in tune with the needs of the children that they are able to identify each child by the sound of their cry from another room.   Tender Hearts Baby’s Home now has 11 children between the ages of 5 weeks old and 5 years old.  There is one little boy who has truly won Kenneth’s heart.   Continue reading

Uganda Update

Finished Gazebo

Finished Gazebo

First, let me apologize for taking so long to send a new update.  November was a hectic month. I wanted to let everyone know that the gazebo (started by the mission team) has been completed, as well as, more progress made on the playground.  (Please see pictures below.) We still need to add swings but will have to take those over with the next team.  Kenneth and Cathy are doing well.  Cathy is in the last few weeks of her pregnancy and is hoping the baby will come before Christmas.  Ken and Cathy have sent a heart felt thank you to all the mission team members and everyone who donated to the trip below.  They have also sent some updated photos of the children.

Continue reading

2010 Uganda Mission Trip Summary

It is difficult to find words to express the experience of Nightlight’s first Uganda Mission Trip.  We took a team of 22 people and each person had a story about how God lead them to be on the trip and confirmed his direction many times.  There were many stories regarding fundraising miracles, details working out, and even team members being healed of illnesses.  While we were in Uganda, our hearts were touched in so many ways, and there were many tears shed.  We had loads of donations, such as, medical supplies, diapers, clothes, toys, teddy bears, blankets, and so much more.  Kenneth and Cathy, directors of Tender Heart’s Baby’s Home, said that they were overwhelmed that 22 strangers would take time out of their lives to bless them.  Kenneth said at times he just stopped and looked around at all of us working.  He said it was very humbling to see that the dream God had given him was coming true and that so many people were helping. Continue reading