Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category


Brief 2018 Updates


The big news at Think Humanity is that we have graduated our first group of ladies at the Think Humanity Girls’ Hostel. After six years of hard work we were so pleased with their exam results. They all graduated and many with impressive scores. Thank you sponsors, individual donors, grantees. Special recognition to for all the support to these students for the entire six years.
In a region with 85% unemployment, we are so pleased that most of our students found employment. Many of them were hired as teachers in both primary and secondary schools. In the refugee camp, Betty is working as a counselor with Save the Children and Napona is working with Red Cross Uganda. Think Humanity has hired Moonlight as our office administrator and Grace as our cook. (pictured Napona and Moonlight)



TH Team Headed to Uganda in April: In April we will be holding our 6th Annual Leadership Summit and combining it with a simple graduation ceremony. We should have 100 in attendance.

Even though the majority of the first group of graduates have left us (we still have three in business school), the hostel is busy with a new group of young ladies ages 12 – 16. We thank donors on social media and Rich Kaufman for helping us with new uniforms, school supplies and a new “kitchen” because our kitchen had burned down. We also were able to get them all sponsored for 2018. As in the past, we have students from South Sudan, DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. We have several orphans and all these students need educational assistance. (not all girls shown) Others who are supporting these students: Foundations Church in Loveland, Colorado and Ron and Vicki Norby of Colorado.


Water Wells
In April the TH USA/Uganda Team plan to dedicate eight new wells and to look for new locations for at least five more.
Pictured is our latest well in Kisalizi-Kimigi Village in Masindi District, Uganda. Once the cement is dry, the village will have clean and accessible water. This well was donated by the children of Central Elementary in Longmont, Colorado.


Mosquito Nets in Kagoma Receiving Area Kyangwali Refugee Camp

While in Uganda we will be giving out 3,000 mosquito nets to the new arrivals in the Kyangwali Refugee Camp. These refugees are coming over on boats from the DR Congo due to tribal wars and violence. Thank you to so many who took part in our fund-raising efforts.


Think Humanity Health Center Kyangwali
In January and February 266 babies were immunized and 246 ultrasounds were freely given. In addition more than 1,000 patients were seen. There was an outreach (Health Day) at the beginning of the year and we will hold another Health Day in April.


Moonlight Nursery and Primary School
Moonlight Nursery and Primary School project is finally completed with three classrooms, latrines and last month the completion with the cement floors. Thank you Sharon Naimon-Norton and Central Elementary School for making this dream come true.
Pictured below is the new cement floor in one of the three new classrooms.


Think Humanity welcomes Kristin Stephens as a Think Humanity board member. Kristin is a Fort Collins City Council Member for District 4.

Be Blessed!

Beth Heckel, Founder Think Humanity


The Tattered  Shirt

January 2011. Trip 6 to Uganda.

This trip, January 2011, we brought along little wooden cars made by retired men in Colorado. We also gave children Crocs shoes. While playing with some children at St. Patrick’s Guest House in Kyangwali Refugee Camp, there was one particular boy that caught my eye. He had on one of the dirtiest, holiest shirt I had seen; and I had seen many.



I interrupted the boys playing and asked that boy if I could take his photo. The child seemed so sad. I went to my room and came back with a new t-shirt. His face changed completely. He held up his old shirt and continued to smile.


What happened next though is what surprised and confused me. He left with both shirts. About ten minutes later he returned. He resumed playing with the cars and his friends.

He was wearing the old shirt and there was no sign of the new shirt. (But he was still smiling!) I asked him and he said he took it home to put it away. To this child, his old shirt still had value.


Here is my conclusion.

  • There is still value in the most tattered clothing
  • Discover joy in the smallest things
  • Invest in the lives of others
  • Hope (and smiles) can be given from the most surprising gifts
  • Nothing is insignificant to those living in abject poverty
  • Practice empathy– understand the feelings and behaviors of others
  • Don’t judge. Something that one considers worthless may be considered valuable to someone else. This showed me that the boy valued his new shirt so much that he couldn’t use it till the old was “worn” out according to his standards.
  • Help one child at a time
  • “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Proverbs 19:17

“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”-  1 John 3:17

Today you can change a life, even if you make a child smile. – Beth

jim kids

After arriving at Community School, in the bush near Hoima town, we arrived at the school only to be, literally, mobbed by over hundreds of their students. The wanted to touch our white skin and were fascinated by Beth’s blond hair and my inked up arms. I’ve never had so many people touch me simultaneously. I cried whilst trying to take some videos and snappers. (photos)

These children have nothing. Most have tattered clothing, and we gave them many shirts and clothing articles. More importantly than the gifts, however, was the hope that we brought. We fixed one of their water storage tanks, which was fraught with filth and had no good plumbing for usage. We spent a few hundred dollars and put in a solid plastic 5K gallon tank, which is now collecting rain water most effectively.

Hope is something we take for granted. We need it but mask our hope in activities that keeps us from focusing on the need for hope. If I learn only one thing from this trip or any of my trips, it’s the fact that ‘bringing hope to people adds value to their lives.’

It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, we all need some sort of hope, however we mask or view it. Hope is also, usually, followed by some sort of action, if not action, then overt encouragement. So when we pray daily to “add value to someone’s life,” it could be an encouraging word to a colleague that is going through some tough times to fixing a water storage system in Uganda.

And if we cannot give money or other resources, we can simply talk and encourage others, thereby delivering hope freely. Encouraging one another is something God encourages us to do on a daily basis. Hope and encouragement is the fuel that feeds our Faith. To show respect to all, even those that disagree with us. But we always have the choice to encourage our friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and even our enemies. -Jim Heckel, Think Humanity President and guest writer

beth kids  DSC_0201


decent at 4
When written–A Precious Life Was Saved (4 years ago). She is now 5 years old.
There I stood in the pitch black African night, holding a flashlight while a young mother fought for the life of herself and her tiny baby, in utero. Amid my tears, I had a strange feeling — an intuition.
The baby would be OK. Somehow. And we would never be able to forget her. Sometimes, in the line of humanitarian work, things happen that don’t have logical, left-brained explanations. These are the things that keep us pushing forward when the work gets grueling. These are the miracles. ***
In May 2011, we opened a health care center in Uganda: the Think Humanity Community Health Centre.
The THCHC is where the most disadvantaged (refugees and underdeveloped rural communities) can receive good, quality health care for free. We treat malaria, typhoid and many other diseases and illnesses common in this part of East Africa. These people would otherwise have nowhere to go. Many of them would die, forgotten.
I was in Uganda two months after we opened the clinic’s doors. In the middle of one night, we received an emergency call, and I decided to go along with the doctor to the clinic. What I would witness shook my heart to pieces.
A young pregnant woman was suffering terribly with malaria. She had an excruciatingly high fever and was crying out for her baby to live. The doctor tried to assure her, but the woman knew that all too many times, malaria during a pregnancy leads to miscarriage. It was pitch dark. No power. The only light was a tiny flashlight I clutched with my shaking hands. The doctor squinted into the thin beam as he inserted an IV into the back of this young woman’s hand. I looked around the room and felt tears rush to my eyes. First, out of gratitude; I felt thankful that this woman had somewhere to go, that we had opened the clinic just months before. This was a place for help, a place where hope lives. But I also felt tears of fear, for this woman and her baby’s life. I hoped that we were not too late, and that somehow this one doctor with a small needle and me and my flashlight would be enough. It had to be. I could not accept any other outcome — but life. The woman’s name was Jane. ***
Six months passed, and I returned to Uganda for more work. Several days into the trip, I saw Jane. She was round and joyful with pregnancy, and she introduced me to her husband Stuart. She patted her stomach and told me this was their firstborn. “When is the baby due?” I asked. She told me mid-February, and I laughed. Half joking, I said the baby would be born on my birthday, Feb. 19. *** Uganda is 10 hours ahead of Colorado. It was late on the night of Feb. 18 that I received a message from Stuart.
“Hi Mum & Dad! Today the 19th Feb 2012, God has made Stuart & Jane parents of Decent Heather Tusabege. Thanks for your prayer & everything. Happy BD to my daughter Decent & Mum. You are wonderful fore-teller!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I do believe that things happen for a reason. To share a birthday with this baby girl would never allow me to forget that scary night in the clinic — and how I witnessed our doctor save this child’s life. Now on my birthday, I celebrate my life along with Baby Decent’s new life, and I am reminded to never give up. Baby Decent is a reminder that we must continue with our mission to save lives and provide hope, because without that hope — even as small as a shaking beam of light in the darkness — she would not be here today. I find myself in tears again, this time out of celebration. I want to shout across the world: We have made a difference. We have saved a precious life. And it brings me to my knees to know that more lives will be saved in the future.
Beauty lies in the strength, courage, joy and hope of every day, even when faced with the fear of hopelessness and sadness. There is an indescribable joy. There is always hope.
baby decent

Baby Decent. February 19, 2012

decent at 4

Decent is now 4 years old and healthy. I wish all babies could survive while their mother’s are pregnant with malaria. End Malaria.

decent baby

Decent and I share the same birthday. Her mom had malaria (July 2011) during her pregnancy and got treatment at our clinic. Feb.19th, on my birthday, Decent was born – a miracle baby. 60% of the babies whose mums have malaria during pregnancy don’t make it. Help us fight malaria, please. Photo was taken July 2012 when Decent was about 5 months old.

thinkhumanity young students


(pictured above are three of our younger Think Humanity students)

The upcoming trip to Uganda is almost here and the Think Humanity calendar is full.

We will be interviewing young girls ages 12-13 who will be graduating Primary 7 at the end of the 2017 school year. We will continue supporting girls from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

The present group of Think Humanity Girls’ Hostel students will be graduating Advanced Level this year. Six years ago we had an idea to educate girls and it is hard to believe that the first group is closer to their dreams to become doctors, nurses, teachers and accountants.

In 2012 they came to us as shy, young girls who had left their homes for the first time.


They are now young women in their final steps to graduate. 
To read more on our blog “Looking Back and Looking Forward” – click here

Think Humanity will be giving out mosquito nets in Kawegaramire Village. While in Kawegaramire, we will also be dedicating a well that was constructed since our last visit. Thanks to our donors, we will also be scouting out future water well locations.

Kawegaramire Village well donated by the Bergholz and Mills families.

Moonlight Nursery and Primary School now has three brick classrooms and we are anxious to visit again. We are grateful to their sister-school, Central Elementary School in Longmont, Colorado.

Moonlight School in Buhanika, Uganda. 
Photos courtesy of Megan McDaniel

This was the school BEFORE the new brick classrooms.

There is a new rain water storage tank at Community Nursery and Primary School in Katikara. Along with visiting the school to see the water tank, we will also be giving out school supplies.

The children show their appreciation. Thank you donors Rich Kaufmann and Ann Martin.

6th Annual Think Humanity Golf Tournament

A very important item on our minds while we are away is the 6th Annual Think Humanity Golf Tournament. This is Think Humanity’s largest annual fund-raising event. It is held on August 14 at Highland Meadows Golf Course in Windsor, Colorado. Our hope is to construct five water wells and to provide children with 1,000 mosquito nets to prevent malaria.

You can register a foursome by clicking the flyer photo above (or here) or you can visit We are still looking for hole sponsors and silent auction items too. You can contact Duane at or 970-290-6465.

Today is World Refugee Day
Protecting children from malaria, providing them with clean water and education, and supporting community development are the most concrete ways we can lift refugees out of poverty and to give them hope. Please consider giving them this chance.

Be blessed!

Beth Heckel
Founder and Executive Director


The 30 girls at the Think Humanity Girls’ Hostel wish you a Happy New Year and thank you for the support towards their education.

“A single act does make a difference. It creates a ripple effect that can be felt many miles and people away.” -Lee J. Colan

Donors, you made a huge impact in 2016

  • 15,000 mosquito nets were given to three refugee camps and four underdeveloped communities in Uganda.
  • Healthcare was provided for approximately 7,000 people and 100 ultrasounds a month to women.
  • The clinic received a $58,000 Rotary Grant for medical equipment.
  • 1,200 birthing kits were given to pregnant women in two refugee camps
  • There were four Women’s Health Days.
  • We provided education for approximately 55 children from Uganda, Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan.
  • We purchased fair trade products made in Uganda which teaches skills and develops communities.
  • 16 water wells were dedicated and constructed (two in process).
  • Three rain water storage tanks were donated to two primary schools and to the hostel.
  • A second brick classroom is being constructed for Moonlight Primary School.
  • We now have a nurse to care for all our students.
  • We moved into a new hostel where 30 girls live together and attend secondary school at a nearby high school.
  • TH constructed a study hall and furnished it at the TH Girls’ Hostel.
  • We held leadership summits…and more.

Bed Nets 4 Life Program

In 2016 mosquito nets were given out in Kyangwali Refugee Camp, Kyaka 2 Refugee Camp, Acholi Quarter Camp for Internally Displaced (IDP), villages in Kibaale and Hoima Districts and the TH Clinic. Mosquito nets are $5 each and last for five years. Four children can fit under each net and our surveys show that with the use of bed nets, cases of malaria have been reduced by 85 percent. There is no vaccine for malaria. Bed nets have been shown to be the most cost-effective prevention method against malaria.


Water is Life

Wells were constructed in Hoima and Kibaale Districts. Three rain water storage tanks were given to two primary schools and to the TH Girls’ Hostel. The well pictured was donated by the Norby/Peetz families in Kyamukunjuki Village, Uganda.


Think Humanity Girls’ Hostel

The Think Humanity girl students are beginning their 5th and 6th years of secondary school. The main hall/reading room is now finished with study tables and benches. The water storage tank was added to collect rain water, which will cut back on our water bill. The new solar, a gift from UnlockHope, is lighting up the building. Soon the tutors will be there for added coaching for the girls. The tutors were funded through a grant from Red Empress Foundation.


Individually Sponsored Students

Think Humanity had approximately 25 students from nursery to university who were sponsored by individuals.
Pictured are some of our primary school students with Bridget Alibankoha, Educational Administrator.


Think Humanity Kyangwali Health Center

Women’s Health Days, birthing kits and ultrasounds are some of the ways that we have helped with health care this past year. The Rotary International Grant benefited the clinic with new equipment and solar lighting.


Socio-economic Development

We continued our strong partnership with the women in the Acholi Quarter Camp in Uganda. They make products for Think Humanity, we purchase from them, sell the products here and send 100 percent back to programs in Uganda.
When making their own products, it brings hope, pride and dignity, because people are solving their own problems by learning a trade and skill.


Think Humanity just celebrated our ninth year as a nonprofit organization on December 27, 2016.
Special thanks to the following:
* Think Humanity Florida: Deana Austin, who held more than two dozen fundraising events; Happy Healthy Human Cafe for carrying our products; and Faith Fellowship Church for selling our Christmas ornaments in their bookstore.
* Faith Fellowship Church/Mission is Possible for donating towards a water well.
* The TH Annual Golf Tournament committee, volunteers, sponsors, and silent auction donors.
* Dallas Harris, founder of UnlockHope, for providing so many of the needs at the TH Girls’ Hostel.
* Red Empress Foundation for providing rent at the hostel.
* A grant from Foundations church which provided mosquito nets.
* Student sponsors.
* Birthing Kit Foundation Australia for birthing kits.
* Rotary Grant for solar and medical equipment for the TH Kyangwali Clinic. Special thanks to Pat Troeltzsch for many years of patience to see this dream come true.
* Central Elementary and Sharon Naimon-Norton for all the fundraising for the sister school in Uganda.
* Americans for Philanthropy grant which provided mosquito nets and wells.
* For exceptional generosity: The Norby and Bergholz families.
* The TH board of directors: Beth and Jim Heckel, Aimee Markwardt, Cindy Rauschenberger, Dr. Will Reents, Larry Hereford and Kevin Arnold.
* TH team in Uganda and Norway. Emmanuel Nsabimana, Bridget Alibankoha, Stuart Tusabege, Amini Musafiri and Jane Nabakooza.
* Abby, for being special.
* And so many more who made 2016 a year of helping those in need.


It was July 2013 when I stood in front of a Baptist Church in Kyangwali Refugee Camp, Uganda. It was hot and the floor was dirt and the “pews” were logs. The place was lit up in color. Colorful women danced and sang. Children were never sitting, but were allowed to move around as they wished.
We were with the UNHCR Commandant that day. He was also dancing and enjoying the Sunday gathering.
Think Humanity was placed up front to view for all to see. It felt rather uncomfortable, but it is always this way.
The commandant announced to the church that 50,000 refugees would be resettled over the next three to five years. The congregation was made up of Congolese. They had been displaced by the never-ending war in North Kivu region, which started during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.
Many of them had been there since 1996. 17 years, which is coincidently the average years that a refugee stays in a camp. The children in the church were born in the camp. They knew nothing else.
They didn’t know life in the pre-war years in the Congo where people lived peacefully enjoying all the gifts of nature that God had given them. They will never know it as their parents had so many years ago.
When it was my turn to give a speech, because everybody has to give a speech, I welcomed them to the USA. I didn’t know which ones would be on the list, but as a free American with a Constitution that welcomes refugees into our great country, they were welcomed. I told them that they may be my neighbor, although, we are all neighbors according to God.
Today there was an Executive Order signed basically closing America on refugees and immigration. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 120 days to those refugees who were dancing in celebration as they praised God for the opportunity that the USA gave them to be free from war.
Hope is believing things can change.
The video is in the Baptist Church that day. The young man near me smiling is Nteziyaremye Jonas. He now lives in Buffalo, NY with his wife and daughter. I am so happy that he was able to get here before today.
I told you all that day (before God) that YOU are welcome here.


Posted: February 12, 2016 in East Africa, Humanity, Think Humanity, Travel, Uncategorized


The farther I get from Hoima and Kyangwali, the more my heart drains. I can feel it leaving me as we get closer to Kampala.

Is it possible to feel homesickness before I even leave Uganda?

This time it hurts badly because I don’t know when I will return.

If I knew I could come back in September then I would feel better, but if I cannot be here for the entire 2016 senior 5 school year for our girls, I feel lost.

I cannot even imagine that.


I love silence in the car. I only hear the wheels turning on the hot pavement. I can look out to the country-side. Oh Uganda, you are the Pearl of Africa. To me you are the pearl, the diamond, the gold. You are everything even with all your inconsistencies.

I wonder sometimes why God has led us here. He must have known how Uganda would take half of my heart, confusing my every thought – dividing me in two pieces – tugging me back and forth. Uganda – I need to be in your arms at the same time as I need so badly to be in the USA…home.


This is not an insult to my family as they just may not or cannot understand this part of me. It has nothing to do with not wanting to be with them. This is why nobody can understand this, not even me.

I am feeling nauseous. When we go through a village and they have bumps every 10 feet apart it’s like being in a boat that sways back and forth…which is I guess how to explain my life, it just sways back and forth…from Colorado home to Uganda home.

I am sure that once I am back home sleeping in a nice clean bed (no bed bugs?) and not worrying about mosquitoes, eating whatever I want, making my coconut milk, yogurt, banana smoothies…it will be fine, but only for awhile. Then I will be missing her (Uganda), missing our girls at the hostel, our team, our family and friends here.

Meanwhile, I will get back to “regular life” -whatever that means. I laugh. I doubt there is anything regular about my life.

My Jim, You know me…and if anybody understands this, you must.1622169_10153917343235774_8864285795864117276_n





After many months, I feel that I can post this now. It was an email to a friend who had also been to Uganda.
The 14th trip was very difficult, but the 15th trip in March and April 2015 was great. We had no problems, other than some threats at Easter time after the Kenya school massacre. Still, we felt safe. This below written after the 14th trip, only a few weeks before we left for our 15th trip.

This was the last photo that I took on trip number 14. I didn't know if I would be back again.

This was the last photo that I took on trip number 14. I didn’t know if I would be back again.

March 4, 2015:
I think the hardest time for me was the first trip, even though it was in August and the weather was similar on the return. I have to admit that the last trip (#14) I couldn’t wait to get up in the air to get back to the USA. I was just having a talk with my friend Yishai about this yesterday. He is from Israel and we were discussing the world situation and the speech by Netanyahu. The world is becoming a bit more dangerous/scary. I thought nothing could beat the July 2010 trip when Al Shabaab bombed two restaurants in Kampala during the World Cup, but for some reason, the threat on the Entebbe Airport last time and the trip through Kampala with all the men in uniforms and holding guns, the truckloads of security police passing us by – the high security was much different from the July 2010 trip, even though many people were killed that time. I guess what I mean is, I realize how serious the terrorist groups are and I knew there was that slight chance that they would do what they had threatened….and we were going right in the middle of the beast. Sort of a Russian roulette. I was just holding my breath until the plane got higher and higher and then let it out as I felt freedom. It was like cheating death! …like I had just taken another chance and it just wasn’t my time. Sort of sounds arrogate/self-serving to even think that I would even have to worry, when so many people each day live in such fear of insecurity. That’s why I was talking to Yishai. I cannot imagine what his family must go through, but I realize it’s not even just the Jews, but probably the innocent Muslims as well. It’s a strange world we live in. Then I almost laugh when reality hits and I know that I am more likely to die in my car 5 miles from my house. It’s sort of the unknown, like that time in Hoima when there was a robbery and the police chased the man down the dirt road and  for the first time, a volunteer had felt fear while in Uganda. The irony of the whole thing is at about that same time there was a man in Aurora, Colorado shooting innocent people in a movie theater. That’s insanity! Chasing a thief, well, that’s understandable, but killing and wounding innocent people in a movie theater, that’s insanity, but right in our own backyard.

Otherwise, I could share many confusing thoughts of juxtaposition coming home from a refugee camp and then going to a mall in Loveland—just looking around me and wondering how the two worlds can actually be on this same planet Earth.

I think over the years –15th trip coming up- I have probably felt about every emotion one can imagine.

…I had thought of moving there once and I had so much love for Uganda and the people, but then I thought of all the frustrations I have had with backstabbing, corruption…ugh…such negative things, but then again, it goes full circle back to love. It’s really all about love, because LOVE is stronger and trumps out ALL that other negative stuff.