Two weekends ago, we made the trip to Jinja and Iganga to see two ministries run by girls just a few years older than me. It was a trip we’d been planning since the very beginning of my time here, and I was really excited about it. I know so many people were praying for the weekend, and thank you! because it was an incredible weekend full of good time with Jesus and ones that love Him dearly. This first post is just about Musana Children’s Home. I’ll write another about Amazima later this week. There’s so much to say, and I want to do both of them justice!
Musana is a children’s home run by two 23-year-old sisters, Leah and Andrea Pauline, originally from Boulder, Colorado. I got to meet them in September when they came to visit and see Rafiki. Cecilia and Stan are from Colorado and had met the girls and their mom when they were in the States a while ago.
Musana came about when Leah and Andrea were on a summer trip/internship in Iganga and found/were shown to an orphanage that changed their lives and plans. There were 162 children living in three tiny rooms without beds, mats, or even blankets. When it rained (which is often in Uganda), the floors where the children slept would become mud. The adults running the orphanage were corrupt and would show the awful conditions to people traveling through to get money that they claimed would be spent to buy bunk beds or feed the children or fix the buildings or…. They, however, wouldn’t spend any of that money on the children. The kids were rarely fed and, in desperation and hunger, many turned to the streets to sell themselves or beg and steal for money or food.
After seeing something like this, Andrea and Leah couldn’t just return to normal American life. They got together with locals and worked to acquire land and buildings to move the kids to. They were allowed to take 80 of those kids from the orphanage and now three years later have about 100 from that orphanage and around Uganda.
Musana is beautiful. You can just feel the love of Jesus coursing throughout the campus. Every building is painted a different bright color, and a few have large wall murals on the outside.
The children are beautiful and loving. They are so thankful to have a home like Musana, probably because they remember the conditions that they were barely surviving in just a few years ago. From the moment we got there, they were welcoming and excited about being alive. The kids live in a dorm situation divided by age groups and gender with a “mom” in each room. They were all over the property, playing football (soccer) and other games, reading in the library, cleaning, and doing other things. One of the little boys recited a poem he had written about Musana. It was precious. These kids know what a hard life is and are so thankful for Leah and Andrea and the rest of the staff for giving them the love and chance at life that Musana is giving. Leah and Andrea are fantastic and solid. I’m hoping God will open doors to let me go and volunteer with Musana at least short term one day soon!
Musana’s whole goal is to be sustainable by Uganda. Right now, they have a sponsorship program and recieve funding from the States and other countries (Leah and Andrea have a sister who lives in Beijing and was doing a fundraiser for Musana the weekend we were visiting!). Their goal is to eventually be totally funded and run by Ugandans to give the people a sense of ownership and break bonds of dependence. They would love to be able to leave it completely to Ugandans eventually. But these things take lots of money to keep going. They have a cafe, tilapia farm, chicken project, jewelry and cloth business, as well as other projects in the works to make this dream a reality in the future.
Altogether, I was so very impressed by Musana and so thankful to see how God is working in HUGE ways across this impoverished country. He’s using normal people to do incredible things. Leah and Andrea make sure things are running smoothly, but they try to let everything be run by Ugandans. Each project (school, cafe, children, etc.) has a Ugandan in the leadership position. This way, God forbid something would happen that foreigners wouldn’t be able to be in the country, Musana would run smoothly. Rafiki has many of these same precautions in place just in case of a problem, although obviously everyone prays this never has to be an issue. It was so neat to be able to see Musana because Andrea and Leah aren’t very much older than me. Because they said yes to God, He has given them Musana and goals and dreams and a reality that is, I’m sure, bigger than they would have imagined on their initial trip to Uganda a few years ago.
If you’d like to read more about Musana (they probably would do a better job of telling about themselves than I do), click here!