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In a small four-room home in an urban community in Uganda, Jesca gets ready to go to church. Jesca is twelve and loves going to Sunday school, but her favorite thing to do at church is help serve porridge to the younger children. Jesca wants to learn about baking and catering so that she can become a professional chef when she grows up.
Jesca lives with her grandmother, Dorothy. In addition to caring for Jesca, Dorothy supports six other grandchildren as well as one of her three adult children.
Before the lockdown, Dorothy supported her family through her poultry business. When the open markets shut down during the pandemic, Dorothy lost her business and her only source of income. The children, ranging in age from thirteen down to three, were unable to attend school for lack of tuition fees. Without proper education, employment opportunities for Dorothy’s grandchildren will be much more limited and the cycle of poverty could continue for generations to come.
Maggie Kyewalbye and her husband are pastors at Arise and Shine Community Church in Kanyanya, a neighborhood in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Maggie met Dorothy at a church outreach event in the community and began visiting her with Food Paks.
Although it’s only been a few months since she and other members from the church began visiting the family, Maggie can already see a change. In addition to the children’s improved health, Maggie can see an emotional, behavioral, and spiritual shift, as well.
“Their social life has greatly changed,” Maggie shared. “They are no longer bitter, as they used to be. They are so welcoming.”
From the simple act of caring for Dorothy’s family, the church helped give Dorothy hope. Though she came from a Muslim background, Dorothy began attending church fellowship and participating in a discipleship class. She and her daughter have developed a love for God and trust in the church. Maggie anticipates that she will make a declaration of faith soon.
The children have also gotten actively involved in Sunday school. Jesca is not the only one to find a place in the church community; the whole family enjoys coming to church and looks for ways they can help. The children all know the church leaders by name and know that they can trust the church with their concerns.
“I feel a lot of joy being loved by the church among all other people in the community,” Dorothy shared. “I am less stressed about looking for food to feed my family.”
As part of a long-term solution to Dorothy’s situation, the church is helping Dorothy with the capital to restart her poultry business so she can support her family. While the Food Paks and additional support are a huge blessing to her, Dorothy regularly prays for the day when her grandchildren can be reunited with their parents. Dorothy’s biggest prayer is for her children to have stable jobs and homes.
“This ministry has met the food needs of many families,” shared Maggie, “especially during such challenging times. As the church, we have been able to reach out to families and communities we never expected to reach. It has helped me to understand the people in the community more—getting to know how best to address their needs—and it has given the church a platform to share the gospel.”
Arise and Shine Community Church is one of the churches in the CHF Mercy Network in Uganda. Gifts from our generous friends and supporters help provide the food and resources to equip local churches to meet suffering families with their most basic needs. While food is something many people take for granted, this simple gift speaks volumes. It shows these families that they are seen and that they are loved. Food quite literally opens the door for the gospel to be shared.
Thank you for your gifts and prayers for families like Dorothy’s and the churches who faithfully serve them.