Why Build a Hall?

This week the world watched as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, caught fire. Part of her centuries-old structure was destroyed, and her grand spire burned away. 

Notre Dame Cathedral

Historian Yvonne Seale writes at vox.com:

Notre Dame de Paris was never the preferred cathedral of kings. Notre Dame was instead the cathedral of ordinary Parisians. Since the Middle Ages, it’s been the backdrop against which the city’s inhabitants have lived their lives. The building, which stands on a small island in the Seine River, was a constant amid the upheaval of the French Revolution and the terrors of the Nazi occupation. As one 14th century scholar wrote, the cathedral was “like the sun among stars.”

There’s been a church on the site now occupied by Notre Dame since at least the sixth century. In 1163, Bishop Maurice de Sully launched an ambitious project to build a new cathedral for the city’s growing population.  For centuries, the cathedral has been a tourist draw, a meeting spot, a place of refuge in times of crisis. It fostered both the beginnings of the University of Paris and, quite literally, the city’s abandoned children in the orphan home it ran.

“It’s just a building,” some say. “It can be rebuilt.” This is true. However, people bond with places. And the longer a building exists, the more memories are housed there and in the people who make it part of their lives.  The cathedral has stood for centuries as a symbol of beauty, help, and refuge.  Sometimes a building matters.

ROWAN is building a Hall of Hope.  Why build a hall?  Ten years ago ROWAN began under the Ugandan trees.  Most organizations start up and fairly quickly look for a building.  Widows and orphans began gathering with ROWAN staff under the trees, in harsh weather, rain or shine, with no thoughts of a building.  But God began to bring more women and children to ROWAN and ten years later the family is overflowing!  The Hall of Hope will have two large classrooms for tutoring, literacy, Bible studies, tailoring, jewelry-making, and much more. There will be additional office space; most of us know the value of a desk or table to work from.  What might be most exciting though is that the Hall holds 600 people and will be able to house the entire ROWAN family, at once. The ROWAN family has never had a place where they can all gather together.  In the past, it was difficult to even get people to come on the property, as the word AIDS is in our name. The shame and stigma are high.  But God lovingly brought dignity to those who came, and more came, and it became clear it was time to give them a place, a beautiful building, their “sun among stars”.  They can look at their Hall of Hope now and think, “WOW, that is for me.” People will pass by and see who this beauty is for.

We know that Notre Dame began as a place for ordinary Parisians to worship God.  “If anyone is worth a beautiful building, let it be the widows and orphans. ROWAN is their family and the Hall is our family room.”— Co-founder Kelsey Hargadine

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”—Psalm 91:1-2

The Hall of Hope will be dedicated on May 26, 2019.


Help Furnish the Hall

Government Update – What the Amendment Means to Ugandans

At 73 years old, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was only two years away from the constitutional age limit to serve as president. However, he just signed into law a new amendment, which abolishes the age limit, thereby allowing him to extend his presidency.

Since the beginning of his presidency, Uganda has seen many notable improvements. In addition to greater relative stability, his leadership has allowed for increased economic growth decreased HIV/AIDS, as much of his programming has prioritized education and prevention of the disease.
Continue reading “Government Update – What the Amendment Means to Ugandans”

Fears We Don't Have To Face: Eddy's Response to Election Violence

How the Kenyan Re-Election Affects Our Student, Eddy

Eddy (pictured above on the right) is currently finishing law school in Nairobi. During Kenya’s recent presidential re-election, which was scheduled after the annulled results from the questionable one in August, Eddy shared with us that he was feeling very nervous about the political climate and fearful about the implications of this re-election.
Continue reading “Fears We Don't Have To Face: Eddy's Response to Election Violence”

Ugandan Politics: One Man's Climb from the Ghetto to Pop Music to Parliament

As of late June, Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu was elected as the newest member of the Tenth Parliament of Uganda. He has long been known by his performing name, Bobi Wine, but before he was known as Bobi Wine, he was not well-known at all.

After transitioning from his humble beginnings in the ghetto to a career as a successful musician, Kyagulanyi has ventured into yet another unfamiliar domain: politics. Rather than seeing his musical and political careers as entirely separate entities, however, Kyagulanyi sees a significant overlap in that they constitute different ways of representing the hopes, fears, and feelings of his people, the poverty and injustice they endure, and their prayer for peace.
How can a man move so seamlessly from the ghetto to an elected position in the government?
According to Kyagulanyi, it is precisely his history of hardship that secured him a seat in Parliament. After winning 77.7% of the votes in his constituency (Kyadondo East), he reflects, “The resounding victory is a testament that the people of Kyaddondo and indeed the people of Uganda are ready for a new kind of leadership—a leadership which truly represents them.” The success of his campaign is largely due to the frustrated and employed youth whose desires Kyagulanyi represents. Young voters came en masse to the polling stations, portraying their support for and hope in their new leader. “The youth” are not a small portion of the population, either. In fact, more than 70% of Ugandans are under the age of 25, and the youth unemployment rate is about 83%.
“This is the leadership of the common people,” he said. His written pledge emphasizes his commitment to listening to the priorities of constituents and bringing these priorities to government.

His vision? “Building a better future for Uganda, which means standing up against bad governance and corruption, and concentrating on the needs of the youth.”

The following video depicts Kyagulanyi’s heart for his people. In it, he explains:
“I grew up not wanting to associate myself with politics…. Politics meant trouble, meant death, meant division, meant all negative things. However, as I grew up, I started seeing things—I kept hoping that somebody would stand up [against injustice]. But again, I’m getting older and older, and nothing is changing. So I realized: If I want some change, I have to be that change.”
“I am not going to Parliament to fight with anybody… I am going to Parliament to represent my people. To speak exactly what is being spoken on the street. [I want to] connect the common man to the Parliament… And I want people from other constituencies to start demanding their MPs [Members of Parliament] to do the same.”
“I’m not saying I will be the solution to everything. I just want to evoke [a] spirit of involvement… for these people to own their country. To give them more confidence that they can actually stand up for what is right, and they can be supported.”

All information collected from and available here: