26Together: We Love You!
by Josh Petersen, 26Together Coordinator
Familiarity. Permanence. Reliability.
These are things that children of Amazing Grace in Northern Uganda rarely experienced before coming to the Children’s Home. As orphans and refugees, they have lived in unfamiliar lands, lacked the consistent presence of caregivers, and survived without basic necessities at times. However, the land that Amazing Grace now owns is becoming a place where familiarity, permanence, and reliability can be normal for them.
The development of the property has come along in stages, and the task of the current stage is to replace the deteriorating kitchen. It was built as a temporary structure when they first moved onto the land. But according to Sarah Night, a Sudanese orphan and long-time volunteer at Amazing Grace:
The kitchen is not really good … The heat is really too much inside. There’s too much smoke. It’s not healthy for the children or the cooks. I’m just worried that one day they will be affected with lung problems because of the smoke. Even the roofing – one day when it happens to rain heavily, the wind will just blow off the roof. People from the Health Office, or especially from the Town Council, come and say they don’t want to see that kitchen there anymore.
There is no place for the kids to gather and sit while they eat, and not enough storage to keep the kitchen well-stocked. This inefficient and unsafe system requires that the folks preparing the food put in four or more hours of intense, sweaty labor to prepare each meal.
Faced with their overwhelming need, Sarah said, “We really don’t have the money, but we depend on faith. We always believe that when we ask from God, God is giving to us.” When we began discussions at Lahash about how to help, I grew excited and eager to start some creative fundraising. The 26 children at the home were our inspiration for the 26Together Project.
Various clusters of (roughly) 26 people gathered to contribute money and take a video of their group doing a random activity together. From settings like a hospital room, playgrounds, kitchens, living rooms, church sanctuaries, hikes, and even the back of a college student’s pickup truck, groups held signs showing their love for the young ones and yelled out their support. People came together from all across the U.S. and East Africa in a display of love in action.
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical that we would actually raise the $13,200 needed for construction, so when the full amount came in (and more), I was blown away! Between participant donations and a Rice & Beans Month grant, we received 111% of the funds needed for building the new structure. Additional funds from Rice & Beans Month will provide all the furnishings and utensils needed to give it the warm family atmosphere the kids deserve. As the coordinator for 26Together, I am extremely thankful for God’s inspiration and for all of those who responded to him and helped make this project happen.
As a community of love, we came together to say that we want vulnerable children to share in the familiarity, permanence, and reliability we so often experience. Sarah responded on behalf of all the staff and kids, “I just want to thank Lahash for helping to really struggle hard to fundraise. I appreciate everyone who has really tried so much to give for this construction … When the new kitchen is ready, the cooks will really like it because the smoke will go out, allowing fresh air in, which will really be healthy for them. For the kids, we will provide them with a meza (table), and we’ll make them some forms (benches) where they can sit together and really enjoy their food.”
Thanks to the sacrifices of all those who participated in 26Together and Rice & Beans Month, the Amazing Grace kids will soon have a spacious new kitchen full of warm food and loving caregivers ready to welcome them at every meal.