Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Birthday Wish

Read an update about Sharon here.
{Please read this story to the end to see what my birthday wish is and how you can help.}
On January 1, 1997, in a little village in Uganda a baby girl was born.  Her mama was only 16 years old, yet this was her second child.  She was probably born in their dark, little home in an unhygienic situation.  Her name would be Sharon.

The next day, January 2, 1997, an ocean away in Singapore, another baby was born.  Her parents were American missionaries there and she was their firstborn.  She was born in a nice hospital.  She was given the name Caralina.

The little girls lived separate lives.  Caralina moved back to America and lived a practically normal childhood for a little girl in America and would soon have a little sister and brother.  Sharon would live a much more difficult life, gaining many more siblings and, at one point when she was 18 months old, getting very sick. Her parents would take her to a small hospital where all tests were negative, so they sent her to a bigger hospital.  There they would find out that she had heart problems, most likely caused by undetected and untreated strep throat.  In 2008, Caralina and her family moved to Good Shepherd's Fold Orphanage in Uganda, only a thirty minute walk from Sharon, but still the girls never met.  

Then, a few things happened.  Sharon was preparing to take the national primary school exam in August 2013.  With all the stress, she suddenly began having heart problems again, got very sick and was taken to the big government hospital. They quickly admitted her even though they knew the family could not pay {this is very rare for a hospital to do in Uganda, so it must have been urgent}.  Then, in February 2014, Sharon's mother had another baby and that baby was put on GSF's feeding program.  In December, when Caralina's mother heard Sharon sing at the feeding program Christmas party, their worlds touched.  After hearing Sharon's story, Caralina's mother asked for more information to see how they could help.  After seeing the information, she was shocked to see that Sharon was born only one day before her daughter, Caralina's birthday.

Upon hearing about Sharon, I {Caralina} wanted to do something to help her.  I kept seeing her picture around our house on the front page of the report about her and wishing I actually knew her and could talk to her.  Since we only found out about Sharon right before the holidays I have not yet met her, but hope to soon.

Here's the details:  When Sharon was taken to the government hospital in August 2013, they told her she needed to go to India for heart surgery.  Since Sharon currently does not have the funds to go to India, she has to travel to the government hospital every month, to get medicine to help stabilize her heart.  In order to fund these trips, she enjoys making mats which she sells for a little less than the equivalent of $5, but she has to sell six each month in order to make the journey and buy the medicine.  The trip to India will cost approximately $8000 and the family's debt at the government hospital is almost $500.

Sharon's 18th birthday is on Thursday and mine is on Friday.  My birthday wish is to give Sharon a gift with your help -  her debt being cleared and her India trip/surgery paid for.  My goal is to raise $10,000 to make sure all her fees are covered.
Would you like to help me achieve my birthday wish and give Sharon a birthday gift she won't soon forget?  Click here to donate.  Click on 'Support' under the Gwartney family, put in the comments 'Sharon's Heart Project'.  All funds with this designation will be used for  Sharon's expenses.  If extra funds are collected or if any thing happens to Sharon before her heart surgery, all extra funds will be used for other medical projects in our surrounding villages.  Thank you!
A picture of Sharon taken by GSF's social worker

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas time is here!

The house mamas receiving Christmas gifts
We are officially into the Christmas season at GSF!
Katie reading the Christmas story to the kids.  The stockings are on the table in front of her.
Our Christmas celebrations actually began on the last day of November.  Many of the kids at GSF go visit their families over the Christmas holiday.  We had a 'Christmas eve party' of sorts for them before they went.  We had a traditional Ugandan meal for them and then they all got stockings.  Their stockings were filled with things they will use in the village, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, vaseline and soap.  They also got some things they will enjoy like cookies, candy and juice.  We miss the kids while they are gone, but they enjoy their time.  We also have eight kids that are being resettled this year.  So sad to see them go, but glad they are in families now!

The Ugandan school year runs on the calendar year, so school 'speech day' was held in December.  Speech day is where each class sings a song or does a dance or something.  The main event is K5 graduation.  All the parents come, especially if their kids are graduating.  It is a big deal to graduate from K5 and parents come from all over to watch their kids graduate.  I was not able to be there for the whole thing since I was in school, but I was so glad to be there for the graduation part.  Eight GSF kids graduated - three of our girls were the top three in the class!  My mom shared some of their stories here.
One of our GSF girls at her graduation.
Friday was the GSF staff party.  The staff party always happens the last party before most of the staff take their two weeks off for Christmas and new year.  Each department does a presentation of a dance, song or skit {or all three :)}.  There is lunch served by the missionaries and cake.  Each staff member gets a gift and some beef from a cow slaughtered at GSF.  Since we have a Colombian missionary who has served at GSF for 17 years, it has become a tradition for her to sing 'Feliz Navidad' every year.  This year she slooooowly pulled up ALL the staff members on stage to sing.
We have enjoyed having all these parties and look forward to celebrating Christmas with the kids, staff and missionaries still at GSF this week!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Word of Life 2015

I am excited to announce that I have been accepted to begin Word of Life in Fall of 2015!
Yes, I realize that I am just finally getting around to announcing this almost a month after I was officially accepted.
Here is a link that I previously shared about my thoughts for the future.
Please continue to pray as I go through my final year at GSF {makes me so sad} and also try to get more experience in the areas I am looking at going into.