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Sponsoring Cyrus

When our son, Jake, was at Dartmouth College, he spent part of a summer working with ROWAN in Uganda. Read more about that here!  As a result, we began our first sponsor relationship with a young man named Mugabi Cyrus. Jake met Cyrus in the village and said Cyrus was a strong and eager participant in the leadership training sessions. As we prayed about someone to sponsor, God spoke swiftly and clearly that is should be Cyrus.

 

Mugabi Cyrus

And here’s the thing—while we felt good about helping Cyrus, we had no idea that he would give us far more than we could ever give him.  He loves us without reservation and calls us family. As we pray for him he prays for us. He worked hard in school and got an art degree—he is very talented.  He calls our sons, Jake and Jonah, his brothers, and my husband and I, mom and dad. He is our “son” that we’ve never met.  He has taught us uniquely more about the love of God. His faith in the most difficult circumstances has been a light to our family.

Mugabi Cyrus, the artist, in Uganda!

Cyrus graduated out of the sponsorship program but he is still our son, friend, and prayer partner. When co-founder Kelsey Hargadine visited Uganda in May, Cyrus gave her a backpack he made for us—made fully by his hand.  She mailed it to us in Washington state and I cried and smiled at the beautiful stitching, the hand embroidered message, the thoughtfulness of a young man who works hard as an entrepreneur and who is now a volunteer for ROWAN.  We are humbled and proud to know Cyrus and excited to see how God loves and leads him in the days ahead.  

Jonah Casale, in the USA, holds the backpack handmade by his brother-in-Christ, Mugabi Cyrus!

I invite you to consider sponsoring an orphan or widow today. More than one life will be changed!

Post Author: Shelly Casale

Breaking News: NGO’s in Uganda

ROWAN would like to share with you some breaking news from Uganda.  The Ugandan government is tightening up their demands and requirements on NGO’s (non-governmental organizations that are nonprofit). There have been too many briefcase NGO’s (fraudulent nonprofit organizations set up only to obtain money from donors but having no programs on the ground) in the country, so the government is making every NGO, including ours, go through complex hoops to re-register and confirm our legitimacy.

 

 

The good news is, ROWAN has favor in the government and goes above and beyond with financial integrity and with our our local work in our districts. The only difficulties we face are that this process takes time and money; local leadership must travel to Kampala and spend time gathering data and filling out all the paperwork to meet deadlines.

 

 

ROWAN used to  be a community-based organization (based upon our size), but since we have grown across four Districts, we are now an official NGO. ROWAN has been registered locally since we started in 2008.  We value the importance of local authorities and laws regulating our work. We pray this intensive process will only further validate the work and ministry happening at ROWAN!  Please join us in prayer for a smooth process and positive outcome as we continue to serve our many members. Thank you!

Kelsey Hargadine honors local ROWAN leaders. May, 2019.

Post Author: Shelly Casale

The Coming Joy

It doesn’t matter if you are from the west and have never been to Africa. It doesn’t matter if you are from Africa and have never been to a western country. Our circumstances may be vastly different but our capacity to grieve and care for one another are human capacities.

Will you let me introduce you to Daniel Okola? The ROWAN team met Daniel less than than four months ago when they visited Uganda. Daniel’s wife just died in March, in childbirth. While this pain may be unfathomable to many of us, Daniel continues to love and care for his eight children. Daniel had no livable house and his biggest challenges were finding places for his children to sleep at night and his inability to work due to caring for his children. When the team visited Daniel, he told them he receives strength from looking up at the face of God.

     

ROWAN put out a call for help to build Daniel and his children a house. Many people donated and the money was raised. Today, Daniel’s house is under construction and soon he and his family will be living together in their very own home! ROWAN thanks everyone who donated for  helping Daniel in this difficult time and transforming his sorrow to hope with a house for his family. There is a long road ahead but a safe home for his family to live and sleep in together is life-changing for each one of them.

Daniel and most of his children have now been sponsored and we praise God for that. The last child that needs sponsoring is sweet Godfrey. Would you consider changing Godfrey’s life and supporting Daniel in his desire to be a father that stays with his children? There is so much strength in a father to stay with his children in such a dire situation. In addition to the loss of a mother, culturally, many men run away or send the children to family members. Daniel is choosing to stay and we want to support and bless that! Thank you for considering sponsoring Godfrey:

https://loverowan.reachapp.co/sponsorships/godfrey-othieno

Look for an update soon on the Okola house and family and please continue to pray for them as they navigate the loss of a wife and mother.  Thank you very much for reading their story and comprehending that no matter where we live on this earth, we are bound in compassion, grief, and love, as the family of God.

“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.”

—Tim Keller

Post Author: Shelly Casale

What are people saying about ROWAN?

If you’re anything like me, you occasionally or more than occasionally like to research things based on online reviews. I’ve made a lot of decisions based on said reviews: what books to read, what movies to watch, which restaurants to try and which vacuum to purchase! Practically every public figure and organization receives reviews. At ROWAN, we learn a lot about ourselves by listening to those who interact and spend time with us; they have good insight into who we are.

 

It is exciting to share with you that the reviews are in, and ROWAN is a top-rated non-profit organization!

Listen to what this ROWAN donor has to say:

“ROWAN has truly impacted our hearts and minds through sponsorship and Christmas giving. To be able to correspond with our sponsor children online and through mail is such a blessing. I truly feel like I am part of their journey. I can rest easy knowing the funds we donate are used for exactly what is intended. The clear communication between ROWAN and their supporters allows us to not only completely trust their vision but to be proud of what is being done.”

 

Brandon, an Ivy-League graduate, shares this powerful story about ROWAN:

 

“This is an utterly amazing organization that builds up leaders in the communities it operates within. I have never come across a group that more fluidly engages local leaders, donors, and teams from around the world in a partnership that values and maximizes the skills that each individual brings to the table. I volunteered with ROWAN in the summer of 2014 and met a group of Ugandan men and women who care very passionately about their community, especially widows and those suffering from HIV/Aids. They made it a priority to not only coordinate the administration of necessary medication, but also bring impactful change into the lives of individuals in the village by teaching them skills that they could use to build a business and thrive. Treating every person with respect and a implementing a tangible, long-term plan for success are hallmarks of this organization and things that really set ROWAN apart from other organizations I have worked with in the past. I would recommend ROWAN to anyone if they are seeking to donate or volunteer for a group with an impeccable track record who is changing the lives of hundreds of people and growing at an impressive rate. From the top down, I want to stress the character and integrity of the men and women who are a part of ROWAN and the life-changing work they are doing.”

 

Sometimes those who work inside an organization have the most to complain about.  This is not the case at ROWAN. Listen to what Lauren has to share:

“I have been working with ROWAN for five years now, and have visited the village three times. Each time my understanding of cultures, nonprofits, and foreign aid has increased exponentially, and each visit has changed my life in a different way. The people and experiences impacted by ROWAN have greatly influenced my career path and the motivations behind it. The people in Mawanga, Uganda have even greater stories to tell, however! It has been a great joy to see the growth over the years, and to see and hear the success stories in both the children and the adults! It’s a rare nonprofit that can focus on empowering every aspect of a person’s life (again, child and adult), and ROWAN does it so well in so many pioneering ways! Pastor Paul Nyende and Kelsey Hargadine are two of the most humble and committed people I know, and their teamwork has created an incredible organization!”

 

I encourage you to read more reviews at greatnonprofits.org. 

 

Would you consider joining us and sponsor an orphan or widow today? Thank you!

Post Author: Shelly Casale

Meeting Face-to-Face in Uganda

Do you ever wonder if you’re making a tangible difference in the world? I know I do. Due to the nature of a 24/7 news cycle, social media, and a constant state of being “plugged in”, we are faced with information about a groaning world seeking help.  We are presented with daily multiple needs and requests.  It can get pretty overwhelming, even when we give money, labor, time, prayers, or other resources in answer to God’s call.  Sometimes we don’t even answer because of that overwhelmed feeling.  There is something that happens, though, when we obey God.  Matthew 22:34-40 says:

 

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they met together in the same place. One of them, an expert in the Law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus told him, “”You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and most important commandment.  The second is exactly like it: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

 

Amber Thurow is a ROWAN sponsor who recently returned from visiting Uganda with a team of people led by co-founder Kelsey Hargadine.  Amber sponsors a widow she has never met named Rachel.  Amber was looking forward to meeting Rachel in Uganda.

 

A little while ago, before the trip, Rachel became very ill with infected kidneys.  Her condition was serious, and Amber sent some extra money to help cover her medical fees.  Soon after the team’s arrival in Uganda, Amber and Kelsey were helping out in the village clinic. A woman came through the doorway and it was Rachel!  She was there for her check-up—Amber was stunned to see how well she was doing!  Both women were filled with joy.  Rachel couldn’t stop telling them how happy she was that she was feeling better…so she can take care of her children.

Amber found out what happens when we obey God.  We are first to love Him with everything we are and everything we have.  And we are to love our neighbor as ourself.  Amber does that and doesn’t have to worry if she is making a tangible difference.  God gives blessing, joy, and peace to those who love and obey Him.

 

Amber, Kelsey and the team visited Rachel in her home and spent time in fellowship and prayer.  Rachel shared her favorite verse, Luke 14:13:

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…”

 

Would you like to join us?

Post Author: Shelly Casale

What’s In a Name?

As someone who loves to read and write, I love words. A perfectly-turned phrase can make my heart go zing. String those phrases and sentences together and we can read or listen to something that makes us laugh, cry, fume, gasp, and absorb.

In 2019, there are A LOT of words out there. Because they are available to us 24/7/365, they can overwhelm and cause us to turn away. Or cause us to only turn to memes about dog, cats, and Marvel movies.  

We can get desensitized to what we read and hear and it’s understandable. This can cause us to take in diluted meaning and truth, or put a hand up to say, “Stop”. Sometimes a break is good. And sometimes forcing ourselves to slow down and ponder the truth of what we are reading is also good. We’ve known for a long time now what AIDS is, but have you read the definition lately?  I looked at the meaning of each word in the name ROWAN and it stopped me short.  Please read what each of the words in the ROWAN title means.  From Webster’s Dictionary:

RURAL: of or relating to the country, country people or life, or agriculture

ORPHANS: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents

WIDOWS: a woman who has lost her spouse or partner by death and usually has not remarried, or whose spouse or partner leaves her alone

AIDS: a disease of the human immune system that is characterized cytologically especially by reduction in the numbers of CD4-bearing helper T cells to 20 percent or less of normal thereby rendering the subject highly vulnerable to life-threatening conditions (such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia) and to some (such as Kaposi’s sarcoma) that become life-threatening and that is caused by infection with HIV commonly transmitted in infected blood especially during illicit intravenous drug use and in bodily secretions during sexual intercourse

NETWORK: a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons; a fabric or structure of cords or wires that cross at regular intervals and are knotted or secured at the crossings 

Whether you are part of the ROWAN family or just learning about Eastern Uganda, to pause and understand what ROWAN is, what each word in the name means, is a good thing. It helps us remember in the 21st century glut of words that we can look clearly at the people in the village, at their pain and their hope, at their knotted and secure relationships with God and each other, and know the truth. The words of ROWAN allow us to learn and help and not turn away.  

Would you like to join us?

Post Author: Shelly Casale

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