“This Internship is far beyond what I could have imagined or even asked for. It is my passion lived out. I find ROWAN to be in line with what Christ’s calling is for His people. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27 This is the verse the Holy Spirit laid on my heart in 2008 to live by, and now the Lord has blessed me with an internship exactly with the same goal in mind. ROWAN staff are living out the gospel in word, deed, and the result is witnessing miraculous movings of the Holy Spirit. I have experienced these things first hand in my visit to Mawanga, the village ROWAN is based out of.
I find ROWAN unique to other organizations in many ways. The organization functions and runs because of local Ugandans who have voluntarily been working with orphans and widows to build relationships, help with education, health care, raising awareness and comfort with those infected or affected by AIDS, provide income generating projects, and most importantly, lead people to salvation in Jesus Christ. These locals are dedicated, motivated, passionate, and serving these people out of their own free will. Their mission statement says it well, they use holistic approaches, partnering with other organizations, and their goal is to make each person self reliant. I am very impressed with the integrity and passion Pastor Paul, the founder, has. He began this organization with one orphan who was in critical condition in desperate need of help and through gathering widows to encourage them under a mango tree. There was an obvious need, so he started acting on that need. These orphans and widows are building friendships and having fellowship, some for the first time in their life! Imagine what it would be like to work and dig in the garden all day long, go home to cook, go to sleep and wake up to do the very same thing the next day with no interpersonal interaction practically all day long. The women are now able to come together, after a devastating loss of the family provider, the husband, to learn how to earn an income, together. They have friendships that they have lacked since the time they were in school, that is if they even had the school fees to be able to have gone to school. When visiting them at their house in the village some of these people explained how they were hopeless, many ready to give up on life, but now they have a whole new reason to live.
I am convinced their is no program quite like this one: the integrity and love of the leaders, the heart change and lifestyle change of the people, hope being brought to the hopeless, and a holistic networking approach that is progressing forward at an astonishing rate. To have met these people, serve along side of them, encourage them, and learn from them has been a gift that is simply priceless.” -Christine Elsas
Insights from Current ROWAN Intern
HIV status in Uganda: The Big Picture
From Daily Monitor Newspaper
September 17, 2010
“Mr. James Kibanga, the coordinator of National Forum of People Living with HIV networks in Uganda, said there is no reason votes should be given to people who will not mind about their health. He said a successful battle against HIV/AIDS is best fought at the pinnacle of government through disbursing funds, commitment and leadership.
‘The 2010/2011 national budget was virtually silent on the HIV/AIDS crisis, yet only one-third of hte people in need of HIV treatment have access to it, and more than 100,000 people are infected with HIV annually,’ said Dr. Stephen Watiti, the chairman of National Network of People Living with HIV.
Although new data show that HIV treatment reduces HIV transmission by 90%, clinics in Uganda are turning away thousands of patients in urgent need of treatment because of insufficient funding.”
In the small village of Mawanga, the local clinic is also turning away people because of the lack of funds for HIV medication. How will ROWAN respond?
Before ROWAN decides exactly how to serve people living with HIV, the organization will take time this year to research, conduct focus groups and bring HIV stakeholders together within the eastern region of Uganda to gain a better understanding of the current conditions.
On October 2nd, ROWAN members living with HIV were invited to a brainstorming meeting. In the end over seventy people showed up from twenty different villages! They shared with ROWAN staff about their struggles, needs and challenges. ROWAN earnestly asked them:
“How can we help you?”
“What are other organizations doing to help you?”
“If we could do one thing to support you, what would it be?”
The responses were overwhelming with social, economic, medical, physical and spiritual needs. So far no other organizations are helping them besides one which gives basic medications, and they are excited to see how ROWAN will play a role. And it wouldn’t be a meeting without some dancing and laughing (see video above).
We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Pray with us as we find out how.