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World AIDS Day 2016: Access Equity Rights Now!

“World AIDS Day is observed each year on December 1 and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and remember those who have died. Started in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.” ( This past July the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) was held in Durban, South Africa. The theme this year is Access Equity Rights Now — in other words, everyone, regardless of their economic situation, gender, geographical location, etc should receive the same opportunities to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS.

21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), Durban, South Africa. Sunrise Branding Images of Durban ICC Photo©International AIDS Society/Abhi Indrarajan
21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), Durban, South Africa.
Sunrise Branding Images of Durban ICC
Photo©International AIDS Society/Abhi Indrarajan


Access Equity Rights Now

When Nelson Mandela addressed the 12,000 participants at the XIII International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, no one knew what the future held for the AIDS response. Access to lifesaving antiretroviral drugs in 2000 was sharply limited, and donor spending on AIDS activities amounted only to a small fraction of current funding levels.
More than a decade later, the global AIDS response has been transformed. We’ve reached the goal of providing 15 million people with access to life-saving HIV treatment by 2015. Additionally, UNAIDS estimates that from 2002 to 2012, expanded access to HIV treatment averted 4.2 million deaths globally and contributed to a 58% reduction in new HIV infections.
However, many of the obstacles that impeded effective HIV prevention and treatment programs in 2000 still exist today. More than 60% of people living with HIV remain without antiretroviral therapy; including women and girls…

Access Equity Rights Now is a call to action to work together and reach the people who still lack access to comprehensive treatment, prevention, care and support services.
Access Equity Rights Now is a call to action to strengthen the commitment to HIV research evidence-based interventions.
Access Equity Rights Now is a call to action to all HIV stakeholders to unite and overcome injustices caused by violence and the exclusion of people on the basis of gender, class, race, nationality, age, geographic location,
sexual orientation and HIV status.
Access Equity Rights Now is a call to action to repeal laws that infringe on people’s human rights and deny communities the ability to participate in the world as equals.
Access Equity Rights Now reminds us that all our gains will be lost if we do not continue to push forward and build a strong global movement to change the course of the epidemic.


In eastern and southern Africa, for example, three quarters of all new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10–19 years are among adolescent girls. Adolescent girls are often prevented from accessing HIV services owing to gender inequality, a lack of age-appropriate HIV services, stigma, a lack of decision-making power and gender-based violence. In 2014, only 57% of countries globally (of 104 countries reporting) had an HIV strategy that included a specific budget for women. It is estimated that worldwide only three in 10 adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 years have comprehensive and correct knowledge about HIV. Reaching adolescent girls and young women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will be a key factor in ending the AIDS epidemic. (

We are passionate about bridging the gap, providing education and necessary treatment through our programs in ROWAN and have seen so many success stories. But the unfortunate truth remains that there is still discrimination and basic human rights denied to so many. Help us to continue to reach out to Mawanga and surrounding communities to share the love of Jesus and give hope for the future while serving this demographic by taking care of medical, social and spiritual needs in their lives.
Donate to ROWAN!

Post Author: Kelsey

What is #GivingTuesday all About?

Thanksgiving has come and gone; the frenetic shopping for bargains on Black Friday followed swiftly after and there is even an option for those who wish to buy things online in the comfort of their own home called Cyber Monday. Social media has turned into a platform for so many things such as human connection, coming together for a shared cause, uniting voices for change…and that is where #GivingTuesday originated. The founders of this movement were looking for a creative way to encourage and celebrate giving back — in all its forms.

Everyone has something to give, whether it be time, resources, money or themselves. And that is what this day is all about.

After giving thanks and getting so much, why not turn that around and find a way to give something to a worthy cause?

#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.
As a global movement, #GivingTuesday unites countries around the world by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another.

So, this #GivingTuesday, look for something you can donate. Give time to volunteer in your community, give up your skills as a pro bono for a non-profit in your area, give kind words and raise your voice to bring awareness to a situation that you are passionate towards, you can even give part of your paycheck! Whatever it is that you decide to do, let’s keep this movement going strong. In a world so full of greed and hate, instead we can spread love and joy by using our social media platforms to make a difference.
Want more ideas on how you can get involved in your neighborhood and around the world? Check out the website for #GivingTuesday and join in the chorus to promote generosity and unselfish living. Comment and share how YOU chose to participate in #GivingTuesday 2016!
Donate to ROWAN!

Post Author: Kelsey

Hearts of Thanksgiving


Even though Thanksgiving is an American holiday, the principle of having hearts full of gratitude can be universal. At ROWAN we have so very much to be thankful for and today, in preparation for the upcoming holiday, I would like to share just a few things on our list.


1) Our Great God who called us and gave the vision to the founders of ROWAN
2) 30 villages we are privileged to serve in
3) 337 widows and orphans in our programs
4) A growing ministry focusing on 4 main areas:
Train members with business skills, savings and loans, and agriculture
Sponsor orphans through higher education; empower widows with literacy and life skills
Respond to crises and emergencies
~Health Care
Routine medical check-ups; healthcare training & seminars for ROWAN & the larger community
5) Our partners in this ministry
(see a list of our partners here)
6) YOU!

We couldn’t do any of this without our loyal supporters! We have so many that fiercely believe in our cause, champion for our widows and orphans and give sacrificially toward our programs. They have become part of our extended family. Everyone who has been there knows that once you have been to Mawanga, there is always a welcome waiting for when you return. And all are welcome — so come and visit. Thank you for your part in this incredible journey of serving God by being the hands and feet of Jesus to those in Uganda. We are so thankful for YOU!

Want to know how you can get involved?

Join our family at ROWAN!

Post Author: Kelsey

Why Mattresses Make a Difference

Give a sleep bundle today!

Can you imagine having never slept on a mattress before?

For many that is a harsh reality…and it carries more consequences than you might consider. Although Uganda is a country with a fairly temperate climate year round, temperatures still drop in the evenings. During wet season the dirt floors in the huts turn to mud and sleeping on the ground puts people at risk for disease. There are also jiggers — a burrowing sand fly that lays eggs in exposed skin and can cause pain infection and lead to deformities.

This year, we asked our widows and orphans what they want for Christmas, and they humbly asked for a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, over 90% of our members have never slept on their own mattress! At the ROWAN 2016 Christmas party we will be surprising every single member with a sleep bundle; which includes a new mattress, a blanket and a mosquito net. Everyone deserves a safe, comfortable place to sleep. To make this gift possible, we need YOU more than ever!

{photo credit: Nathan Downey, Kait Downey}
So how do these sleep bundles help our families within ROWAN?

Mattress — A mattress provides a good night’s sleep which allows orphans to focus on their education and widows on their families.
Blanket — A blanket provides warmth and security to rest after a long day.
Mosquito Net — Mosquito nets provide safety from insects and truly save lives by reducing the cases of malaria.

Together we can gift these precious people with a safe place to dream.

{photo credit: Nathan Downey, Kait Downey}
These sleep bundles can literally change lives for the better. We can help decrease the risk of disease, enable students to learn better by gaining adequate rest, empower widows to have the energy to care for their families and show the love of Christ by providing these items for our ROWAN members.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
~Psalm 4:8

Give a sleep bundle today!

Post Author: Kelsey

Making Cakes to Turn a Profit

One of the things I love about our leaders in ROWAN is their willingness to lead by example. They never ask our members to do something they are unwilling to model first.

And this is no exception. In Rural Uganda, often finding a way to create a steady income can be a struggle. But we continue to see fruit from the business module that was taught last year in Mawanga. Read about how Pastor Paul is making cakes for supplemental income.
Pastor Paul and Mama attended the business training last year and decided to start a side business of making cakes — similar to Mendazi. They started with a limited amount of money and a vision to build a guesthouse for married couples on their property. With only 20,000 Ug shillings they were able to start buying ingredients and begin making their cakes. The cakes are very similar to the East African version of a doughnut (see recipe here). Over time and with loyal customers they hope to build their business and make a profit to reach their goals.
“Well the way the oven works is start a very hot fire inside. That heats the bricks. Once the bricks are hot then the fire dies down start by roasting meat dish even a whole goat chicken, etc. Then perhaps after that something like spaghetti casserole and finally bread, cakes and rolls.” ~ Pastor Paul
The key to a successful business plan is to use something that they already have, rather than having to come up with extra capital. In this instance, it happens to be a functioning oven and the ability to make cakes. We are excited to see Pastor Paul and Mama Edith reach their goal and realize their dreams!
Contribute to Micro Enterprise Projects Here

Post Author: Kelsey

2016 Top Rated Non-Profit Organization

We can’t do what we do without our supporters and are truly thankful for each donor, volunteer and partner in this ministry.

God is so good to us! For another year we have been awarded as one of the top rated non-profit organizations on Here is a sampling of the reviews we have received recently.

During my time living in Uganda I had the privilege of spending time with ROWAN. The leadership are faithful, authentic, and serve with integrity. I experienced a community marked by joy and hope. The leadership and staff of ROWAN are inspiring the whole community to pursue lives of wholeness.


ROWAN is a reputable organization empowering the local community towards transformation, and it’s happening! Local leader Pastor Paul is a man of integrity and humility – and after 15 years of serving in ROWAN the fruit has come! Highly recommend!


I have watched ROWAN grow from a dream and passion to a fully operational and professional international non-profit. They combine a rare combination of indigenous led on the ground programming with US based support and accountability. The program is driven and owned by local leaders with “skin in the game”. ROWAN reflects the best of a local culturally appropriate approach that is designed for social and economic sustainability.

Read more reviews about ROWAN and add yours here!

Post Author: Kelsey

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