We are so honored to have a group of our Sole Hope Advocates in Jinja this week! A group of 10 advocates & family members/friends traveled to Uganda to understand and witness more fully what Sole Hope does on the ground. Something clicks the moment you see a jigger removed or hold the hand of one of our outreach children, and this week, most experienced this for the first time. Leading this trip is Ashley, who is in charge of Stateside Operations for Sole Hope. Ashley herself started out as an advocate for years before coming on full-time with Sole Hope last year. She connects with our advocates on a regular basis and we are so excited to have here with us this week and we welcome her to the blog today! – Lis Steckle, International Coordinator
I’m so thankful to be back in Jinja with Sole Hope! This is my second trip to serve on this end of Sole Hope, and I am once again more in love with our mission than I was before. It’s so nice to be able to hug the kids, chop the food, and take the footnotes, rather than just hearing about it in the US. Being able to work alongside our Ugandan employees is so special. And, there are so many new ones to meet and work with for the very first time this year! The growth that has happened in Sole Hope since I was here last year is amazing! We have expanded both our staff and our facilities. When I was here last, we had just put the lease on what is now the Sole Hope Guest House, and now it is fully functioning with regular visitors. The shoemakers and tailors also have new work spaces here on the grounds of the Guest House. We have also opened the Outreach Clinic, which is absolutely amazing! This new compound makes it possible for us to house more children and caretakers in need of greater care. With new facilities comes new roles and responsibilities including social workers, a new accountant, and those to care for both facilities and the people hosted by each. I was able to meet many new Ugandan employees, and re-connect with those who have been with us since the last time I was here.
Photo by Lindsey Pantaleo.
It’s also really exciting to share this trip and experience with several Sole Hope Advocates. I am blessed to be joined by Amy, Angela, Tessa, and Susan on this trip. The Advocate Program is made up of several women who are committed to volunteering their time to serve Sole Hope in several different capacities. One of the ways that these women serve is by visiting Sole Hope in Uganda and taking the time to build relationships with our Ugandan Employees, learning the stories of the children that we serve, and taking those home to better share the mission of Sole Hope with those they come in contact. It’s been amazing to see many of them experience Africa for the first time and watch them serve selflessly in the workrooms, Outreach Clinic, and at jigger removal clinics. I know that each have a new, or renewed, passion for the mission of Sole Hope!
I’d love to let my advocates share a little bit about what serving on the ground with Sole Hope means to them.
Amy: “I’ve been ready to come back and serve with Sole Hope and be in Uganda since the moment I boarded the plane to return home last year. To experience the work of this wonderful organization firsthand is like no other. It’s nearly impossible to put into words all that you see and feel. At times, the emotional load is heavy, but that is when you lean in; that is when you are changed. The beauty of both those we serve and those we serve alongside, inside and out, far outweighs the negative – tipping the scales in the direction of smiles and laughter after, and sometimes in spite of, the tears and pain. Seeing how much Sole Hope has grown and is experiencing new things with our new staff members is priceless.”
Photo thanks to Amy Vick.
Angela: “Being able to see the work of Sole Hope in Uganda has opened my eyes, seeing the people who suffer from jiggers firsthand and also meeting the whole Sole Hope team in Uganda. It is amazing to see the passion and commitment of the Ugandan employees who are helping their own people. The pain that the children go through and also the love of the ones who serve these children has brought tears to my eyes this week. Being involved in the Uganda side of Sole Hope has made be realize the true severity of jigger infestation, the importance of education, and has also fueled my drive to tell others about Sole Hope.”
Tessa: “I’ve been an advocate for almost 3 years now and even with being actively involved with Sole Hope, I still couldn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of this ministry…until I finally came to Uganda. To see the work our Ugandan counterparts do on a daily basis and to get to serve right alongside them has opened my eyes even more to the importance of this mission. Witnessing the pain that those who have to suffer through the jigger removal process then afterwards, seeing firsthand the smiles of those children who have now healed completely and no longer feel the shame of having jiggers is beyond words. I get it now and I feel even more grateful to be a part of this life changing mission. I leave Uganda with a revitalized heart and I continue to ask myself, “What more can we do?”
Susan: “I was invited to come alongside the advocates this September on their trip to Uganda as a guest. I knew that God had opened this door for me to travel….too many things fell into place for it to have been a coincidence. Our church has hosted several shoe cutting parties, and our members are very passionate about this ministry. Their love and support, along with that of my family, is what encouraged me to take this leap of faith. I came to Uganda with eyes wide open, and my heart ready to be broken for what breaks His. I have experienced so many emotions this week–from joy at seeing the excitement of the children receiving new clothes for the first time, to pain at the cries of a seven year old having over 50 jiggers removed from fingers and toes. I had the privilege of holding and comforting him as he struggled while the jiggers were carefully removed by our Sole Hope staff nurse with a caring, beautiful heart. Yes, God did break my heart for what breaks His. And, yes, I will go from this amazing country back to the states and share what I have seen, what I have learned, and how I have been changed. This truly has been a blessing.”
Photo by Lindsey Pantaleo.
Follow along with the advocates as they continue to serve with Sole Hope this week by following #advocateHOPE on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!