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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
…and if you know anything about the people of Mawanga, they know how to party.
For those of you who don’t know what a party in Mawanga looks like, here’s what you would have seen if you were there. There were 2000 community members, ROWAN members, spiritual leaders, government officials and an international team of 17. The ROWAN women and children danced and put on skits. ROWAN honoured the 32 students who have worked hard and graduated the program. These students were awarded certificates. But the celebrations didn’t stop there.
Tom Dluzak and Troy Nibbelink, who were instrumental in the design of the Hall of Hope were able to make the trip to ROWAN and see the completed project. They were excited to see the work that had been done. With over 8,000 square feet of space, the Hall of Hope will be a pillar in the community and ROWAN will be able to host all their programs and events within these walls!
Help is still needed
The Hall of Hope still needs some work to be fully completed and ready to serve the people the way it was designed. If you are willing to help fill the need of a solar panel and a water pump, please click here and donate.
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.
People are often motivated by good intentions. Christians can be doubly-motivated by good intentions and a nudge or call from God. Wonderful things can happen when intentions are good.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”—Peter Drucker, world-renowned author, educator and management consult who was driven by a desire to build effective and responsible institutions
Whoa. Read again, what Peter Drucker said:
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
What happens when we rush to do good and the result is not so great? ROWAN co-founder Kelsey Hargadine tells a story about something that happened in Haiti and has happened in many mission settings. Kelsey shared that, when westerners travel to areas of need, we step out of the van into the village and immediately see the torn clothes, no shoes, poor housing, etc. We quickly want to bring tons of clothes, shoes, and material things that can help that tangible image of poverty. That is exactly what we shouldn’t do. One time a group of people brought hundreds and hundreds of shoes to Haiti. They gave all the shoes out and felt so good for doing that. What they didn’t think about was the shoe seller in the village trying to make a living, and just putting him out of a job. They didn’t think about how a small child having a new pair of shoes puts them at risk of theft and abuse. We don’t like thinking about those things, but they are what we need to remember above all.
This is why the ministry of ROWAN works, because they don’t rush in. Rushing in with good intentions is perfectly understandable, but it may not be the best way to make lasting change. This doesn’t mean we don’t do anything, and sometimes needs are immediate. But in all those situations, ROWAN works because ROWAN IS:
~Widows and orphans as leaders in their own communities, creating and sustaining their lives with support from the village leaders
~Pastor Paul and ROWAN leaders discussing, listening, and deciding what to do. They are the drivers.
While we as supporters may be bursting with ideas and heartfelt emotion, it is our job to work alongside and empower those whose home is the village. It is our job to trust God and seek His patient, faithful guidance in partnership on their behalf. Peter Drucker says:
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
ROWAN does this so well. They aren’t perfect at it and they make mistakes, but there is grace and forgiveness and learning during those times. And for the most part there is effective action when Pastor Paul and Kelsey and you and I trust God together and commit to see people’s lives changed for good. And in the village there is so much happening that is good.
Peter Drucker was an Austrian-born American author and educator who Business Week called, “the man who invented management”, right before his death at 95 years old in 2005. Drucker, motivated by
Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. Peter Drucker
Peter Ferdinand Drucker was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation.
Shortly before he died in 2005, Peter Drucker was celebrated by BusinessWeek magazine as “the man who invented management.” Naturally, when most people hear that description, they think of corporate management. And Drucker did, in fact, advise a host of giant companies (along with nonprofits and government agencies). But he came to his life’s work not because he was interested in business per se. What drove him was trying to create what he termed “a functioning society.”
Drucker had, after all, seen firsthand what happens when society stops functioning. This was the central theme of the first of the 39 major books that he would publish over the course of his extraordinarily long and productive career. The End of Economic Man traced the rise of the Nazis in the aftermath of the Great War and Depression.
“These catastrophes broke through the everyday routine which makes men accept existing forms, institutions and tenets as unalterable laws,” Drucker wrote. “They suddenly exposed the vacuum behind the façade of society.” Looking for a miracle, he added, the masses turned toward the “abracadabra of fascism.”
Drucker was determined never to let things break down like that again. And the only way to do that was to build effective and responsible institutions, including those that by the 1940s were emerging to be the most powerful in the world: big American corporations. Management, practiced well, was Drucker’s bulwark against evil.