Andrew and Prossy went home from the Hope Center last month. As the van rolled into their village, neighbors started to gather. As the doors of the van opened, Prossy eased her way down to the ground. She stood on her own two feet looking at her friends and neighbors and, with a smile, she began to dance. Prossy, who had been bedridden for six years, danced in the street until the neighbors wondered if she lost her mind. Then she invited the community into her home. She shared how her life had been changed.
Thanks to each and every person who supports Sole Hope, Prossy and Andrew are physically healthy. Socially, they are no longer isolated. There is still a lot of work to be done, but they have a way to provide food for themselves and a way to break out of poverty. They have the knowledge and tools to stay jigger free. They have a community that is invested in seeing them succeed.
Thank you for being a part of this journey.
Every day we are seeing lives changed. We are seeing the lame remember how to dance. We are seeing the broken restored. We are seeing the poor working together to lift their neighbors out of poverty.
2017 was a year of tremendous growth. As we move through 2018, we continue to sure up our foundations and fine tune our programming. As we continue to work with the patients who are in front of us, we are planning and preparing to expand our team and open satellite locations around the country. We are working to evaluate our current structure and programs making them as healthy as possible.
A part of the health of our programs is balance. We are a team of dedicated people, and last year many of our staff were voluntarily working 16 hour days, finding people in hard to reach places, and going above and beyond for our patients. This year, we are taking a breath and asking people to take time to care for themselves and their families. So far this year see you won’t see significant growth in numbers, but visit, and you’ll see passionate people who are learning how to balance work and home and all the life things just like the rest of us around the world.
What’s Been Happening
Growth- We are strategically crafting the Nile River Launch Site to launch our mission across Uganda taking our impact to the next level.
The Nile River Launch Site will become the operational headquarters of Sole Hope in Uganda and serve as the hub for a growing network of satellite locations across the country. Teams of five people, highly trained, mobile, and efficient, will be launching Sole Hope satellite locations in the most severely impacted and remote sites around the country. The Nile River Launch site will be a place our team can efficiently craft shoes, treat severe cases, and offer support to this growing network of satellite locations.
The Nile River Launch Site will be the beating heart of Sole Hope as we grow into the next phase of our existence. The plan offers increased efficiently, a strategy to maximize impact, and, in the long term, the potential to generate other revenue streams. But at the very most important level, the Nile River Launch Site is a place of healing. It’s a place where thousands of people will regain their futures, their dignity, their health, and their communities and launch into a future free from jiggers. It’s a place built of hope.
The Hope Center and Shoemaking workshop are currently under construction. In the Hope Center, the second-floor walls are complete, and we are preparing to begin constructing the roof. The Shoemaking Workshop is presently being roofed.
Meanwhile, septic systems are getting finished up, high voltage power lines are being strung through the village to deliver power to the site, and hedges are being planted to protect our patient’s privacy and security.
Medical Department- In a world of pressing needs, Sole Hope does its best to keep a laser-sharp focus on our mission. We exist to rescue and rehabilitate people suffering from jigger infestation. Jigger infestation is the only way to access our services. Once patients come to us for treatment at the Hope Center, we treat them holistically, looking not only at the obvious jigger problem but also at each individual’s overall well-being. Part of this is through education and social work. Part of this is by treating people for other medical cases and conditions.
Jiggers tend to infest Uganda’s most vulnerable people, and having a parasite lowers a person’s overall ability to fight off other infections and parasites. At the Hope Center, a patient’s treatment begins with a thorough physical by Doctor Paul. He and the team of nurses treat each patient for other preexisting conditions they may have. In the first quarter of 2018, our team also addressed:
103 cases of malaria
66 cases of bacterial diarrhea
46 cases of malnutrition
40 skin infections
8 cases of severe anemia
Connected three patients with lifelong HIV services
Social work- Our social work team has been working to ensure that they are doing regularly scheduled follow up visits with each and every patient that stays at the Hope Center. Additionally, we are ensuring that each patient meets one on one with their social worker for multiple psychosocial support sessions during their time. With these increased services we have seen a rise in the success of our patients staying jigger free when they return home.
Follow-ups- Living jigger free in a country full of these parasites requires long-term behavior change. It’s about wearing shoes, practicing good hygiene, and dealing with individual jiggers on a case by case basis before they add up to an infestation.
Our social work team is working hard to revisit every patient who comes to stay with us at the Hope Center. Keeping a supportive and positive relationship, catching problems before they get serious, and building a long-term presence in the community are all key to winning the fight against jiggers.
This quarter the team visited 35 households with an average of at least eight members. They found that of those who have stayed with us, over 92.5% are living jigger free today!
Securely sourcing materials- Our shoemaking and tailoring team is now above 20 people. Keeping a steady supply of high-quality materials is a challenge in a developing country. Our shoemakers have traveled to Kenya and built direct relationships with manufacturers. We have cut our reliance on third-party dealers in Uganda and are confident that we will be stocked long term.
Biggest Clinic Ever- Sole Hope staff traveled 4 hours into the mountains, washed feet, removed jiggers, and sent an entire school of more than 600 students home jigger free wearing brand new shoes. It was our largest clinic and the first attempt at a new way of doing clinics.
Spring Intern Session- Three American interns have been serving with Sole Hope since mid-January. Their dedication, skills, and passion have been an enormous boost to the team in Uganda.
Visitors- The Sole Hope Guesthouse has been steadily booked, and we have received visitors from all around the World. Sole Hope American staff led a trip of donors and volunteers to spend time with Sole Hope on the ground in Uganda. The leadership of the Young Living Foundation came and stayed with us, participating in our work and dreaming about the future. A team of top Young Living distributors, an international secondary school from Germany, and other inspiring people have stayed with us.
First Full Time Remote Worker- Phiona has gone from part time to full time in her work with Sole Hope in the mountains outside Mbale. She has proven to be hardworking and diligent and providing critical services in an area with extreme needs. Phiona is Sole Hope’s first full-time hire in the region and is preparing to be part of launching our first satellite location.
Spring Marketplace– A collection of items made by Sole Hope tailors, shoemakers, and other local craftspeople was specially curated by our founder, Asher. These items, including handmade shoes, have been for sale on the Sole Hope website. It has provided an excellent revenue boost for Sole Hope and supporters have enjoyed receiving some unique and high-quality items.
On the Horizon:
The Founders Move Home- CEO Drü Collie and Founder Asher Singe are preparing to move back to the United States with their families. We will miss them here in Uganda and wish them well as they continue their roles with the organization in the States.
A New Staff Member- We look forward to welcoming Emily May, who is coming on as an International Coordinator. Emily worked with Sole Hope for five months as an intern in the nonprofit management track in 2017. She will be a great addition to the team.
Relocating and Consolidating Shoemaking- As construction continues we are preparing to move our shoemaking and tailoring team to the Nile River Launch Site! Though there are still variables with the speed and funding of construction, the team is planning their new transportation routes, exploring where to get lunch, and getting excited to be in the new facility.
Summer Intern Session- We have accepted 5 international and 4 Ugandan interns for a summer session. The Americans will be working with social media, storytelling, and education while the team from Uganda is graduating with social work degrees and working closely with the social work department.
Visits and Support- Looking ahead at the calendar we are overwhelmed with gratitude. Friends, old and new, have booked stays at the Sole Hope Guest House to come and be a part of what we do. We could not be more excited and honored to have so many people crossing the country or the ocean to come and work side by side with us.
During the two weeks at The Hope Center, Andrew and Prossy felt their lives change. Their jiggers were removed, their wounds healed, and their health was restored. “Mom is now moving very well,” Andrew says. “She would have died shortly, but now I know she will survive. That’s good.”