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How do we make a difference when something is so big?
I feel tied up in knots. My heart is pumping fast. Where do we turn?
I see the photos. So many women and children. First getting off boats after 8 – 10 hours traveling across Lake Albert to Uganda leaving behind their lives in the Congo.
I know this place well. Since 2007 it has been like a second home. While refugees come and go and things slowly changed, these photos just overwhelm me. It is a new land. I do not recognize this place any longer.
See the miles and miles of UNHCR tarps. Is that home? How long will they be here?

maratatu in kyangwali

We will try and do our part. We have 3,000 mosquito nets. This will help some, but considering the thousands who are new to Kyangwali, will it keep malaria down?
I tell myself, it has to help. It has to make a difference. It will. It has to.
Right now, due to cholera in the camp, we have nowhere to stay. Where will we sleep while in the camp? We have never had this happen before.
My prayer is that one day war, violence, injustice, hatred, discrimination, oppression…so many words that I wish I never had to ever use, would end.
Thank you to all who have joined this effort to fight for these innocent women and children.
God be with them. God calm my restless spirit.
BE STILL
Beth Heckel, Founder

In July 2017 we lost a very important person.

damascene

I remember Damascene with this gentle smile

Amani Jean Damascene was in his early 30’s. He was a contact person for years that would notify me when an orphaned child would arrive in the camp that had an urgent health issue or need. Together we were able to save lives. Because of him, a young girl named Vumilia Peace is alive. She arrived in the camp by bus. Nobody wanted to get near her because she was dying from the AIDS virus. When Peace was a baby her mother had sadly passed the virus through her breast milk. The mother died when Peace was nine years old. Today Peace continues to take her antiretroviral drugs and is living at our girls’ hostel. She is doing well. Success.

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Damascene with Peace after she arrived in the camp from Beni, DRC

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Peace in 2017 at the Think Humanity Girls’ Hostel in Hoima, Uganda

That was just one example of what Damascene had done to help others.

He was the father of three young children and the oldest child, Chance Esther who was the child of his wife.

damas children

Christmas 2017. Think Humanity took the children shopping for new clothes and shoes. Oldest to youngest (in the order they are standing from top to bottom-Chance Esther, Prosper, Precious and Victoria)

Two weeks after we left Uganda in July 2017, we got the devastating news that Damascene had died. The reason was not clear, as seems to happen all too often in Kyangwali Refugee Camp. Damascene was born a Congolese, but due to instability of war, he was forced to be put on a sand truck for a 24 hour cold trip to Kyangwali Refugee Camp in Uganda. There were no seats and no protection from the rain. They were not fed and they did not even stop to let these people go to the bathroom. Each truck carried 24 households. They say that they were considered to be garbage. He was only eleven years old.

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Damascene’s burial in Kyangwali Refugee Camp, Uganda

In December 2010 Damascene and his wife gave birth to their first child. They named their son, Prosper. Putting his past behind him, he wanted the best for his son. Damascene was so proud of his son and always made sure he was in school and clean. While other children in the camp were wearing tattered and dirty clothes, no shoes and dirty from head to toe, Damascene’s children always looked loved and well cared for.

Due to the sudden death, people in the refugee camp began saying that the wife poisoned him. While to us this may sound totally far-fetched, in Kyangwali it is a way to conclude an unexplainable death. Because of this, the mother has been treated badly and she has been in danger. I cannot judge whether she was responsible or not.

January 19, our team went to visit the children to see how they are doing. They found them unkept. The children have not been in school. The situation was heartbreaking. After what Damascene had done to help other children, in his memory, we feel that his children deserve better than this.

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We are now in the process of finding sponsors to help his children with their education. The only solution is to get these children away from the refugee camp into a good boarding school with other Think Humanity children. The mother has actually begged us to take them away from the camp. The boarding school is 50 miles away in Hoima, Uganda.

While educating a child may not seem like a huge community impact, we have seen the results of educating many children. Each child is special in their own way. According to Congolese tradition, Prosper, the oldest boy, is now responsible for the entire family because he is the first born son. An education would be so helpful.

We are strong believers in, “Changing the world one child at a time.”

Achieving means nothing without purpose
2017 in Brief – From the Executive Director
“Achieving means nothing without purpose.”
Donors, you made a huge impact in 2017
  • Four large mosquito net distributions in five different villages totaling 5,500 with another 2,660 mosquito nets ready to distribute soon.
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At the bed net distribution last February in Karujumba Village

 

  • Healthcare provided at the TH Kyangwali Health Center for approximately 7,200 people. (not counting outreach programs and health days) Cases of malaria have decreased due to our concentration of mosquito nets near the TH Kyangwali Health Center.
  • 800 birthing kits were given to pregnant women in western Uganda.
  • 1,200 ultrasounds at the Think Humanity Kyangwali Health Center.
  • Two Women’s Health Days at the clinic that helped 108 people and an outreach program that served 105 children who received medical treatment and vaccinations.
  • Education for 51 children from Uganda, Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan ranging from nursery school to university.
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Kelline, from Kyangwali Refugee Camp, graduated from Nursery School 2017

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Hilltop High School students 2017

  • Three special Visitation Days for parents and guardians at the Think Humanity Girls’ Hostel Hoima.
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Parent and Guardian Visitation Day July 2017

 

  • Fair trade products made in Uganda were purchased. The socio-economic development program teaches women a skill and helps to develop their community.
  • Six water wells were constructed and two were repaired.
  • A third brick classroom and a latrine were constructed at Moonlight Primary School.
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Moonlight Nursery and Primary School in Wagesa. Classrooms 1, 2 and 3

 

  • Trip to Uganda June-July.
  • Emergency humanitarian efforts for children after our nurse was murdered and after our past director died from unknown causes.
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Damascene’s children in Kyangwali Refugee Camp, Uganda

 

  • Our first group of girl students passed through the Think Humanity Girls’ Hostel (senior 1-6) and two have found employment before they even receive their diplomas! With 85 percent unemployment in the region, this already shows the success of our program.
  • We held our 5th Annual Leadership Summit in Hoima. The theme was “Portrait of a Hero(oine). “ We were honored to have Hon. Byenkya Catherine Joy, Minister for Health Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom as our guess speaker.
Hon Joy Catherine Byenkya

Honorary Byenkya Catherine Joy, Minister for Health Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom

 

Miscellaneous quotes from Think Humanity Uganda:
“You got us from zero, and now we are hero!” – Nurse Jane
“You are around all the time, not like rain that comes and goes.” – Student Hellen
“Outstanding actions create a positive change.” – Student Tonny
We hope that you have a tremendous 2017 and once again, thank you for all your support.
Beth Heckel,
Founder and Executive Director
Think Humanity

Kyangwali Refugee Camp

 

 

kihojo bed net demo with three men

Think Humanity thanks our donors for saving lives through donating towards mosquito nets.
We sent funds early enough to hold a bed net distribution to benefit 1,500 families on December 31, 2017, a great way to end 2017.
In addition to the 1,500 mosquito nets, the Think Humanity volunteers gave out 53 birthing kits. The kits were donated by Birthing Kit Foundation Australia.
The village of Kihojo comprises of Alur people who come from northwest Uganda near the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Kihojo, however is in Hoima District which is further south away from the violence of those two bordering countries.
As for the day at Kihojo, this is the part of the report that we received:
“ The people were so welcoming and helpful through out from the start of name collection to the distribution day. They were so grateful, only as always many went back without nets due to the big number of people which was more than the nets. Local leaders and their people were so helpful and organised, which made it so easy for the distribution.”
The Think Humanity team spent their final day of 2017 volunteering. Those volunteer giving out mosquito nets and birthing kits were: Health care admin Stuart Tusabege, Nurse Jane Nabakooza, Finance Admin Amini Musafiri, Education Admin Alibankoha Bridget, and Think Humanity hostel students, Moonlight Phionah and Kusemererwa Flavia. (seen below)
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Jane, Moonlight, Flavia, Amini, Bridget and Stuart

As always, we demonstrated how to use the mosquito net properly by using people from the community.

kihojo bed net demo with three men

Think Humanity Nurse Jane on left makes sure that everybody knows how to use a mosquito net properly.

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Bridget is giving out a birthing kit to this pregnant woman. Pregnant women also received mosquito nets, because they are more susceptible to getting malaria.

kihojo mother, baby and jane in front of home with net

This is a photo showing how these people live. The kitchen is outside. This mother holds her net close to her knowing that her family will be protected from the deadly mosquito that causes malaria. Thank you donors!

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Thank you donors for providing mosquito nets to children in Kihojo Village this Christmas.

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This young boy holds on to his new mosquito net. This picture has been cropped, but it would be nice to return to this village to provide chldren with clothing.

kihojo young boy with net

I can only imagine that this child is thanking the donors for this mosquito net.

Two young mothers, perhaps ages 14 or 15, are shown with babies on their backs. This is the age that Think Humanity takes in girls for our hostel (senior 1 or in USA 8th grade). We would love to make a difference and to see that young girls get an education instead of being forced into early marriages or having children before they are fully developed themselves. This is why our girl education program is so important.
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Young mother with baby strapped to her back in Kihojo Village, Uganda.

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A young girl in Kihojo receives a mosquito net to protect her and her baby from getting malaria.

More photos and details will be shared later. It is the middle of the night in Uganda and our team is tired. They will provide a report later. Thank you so much donors. I am posting a list of names below.
We will hold another distribution in April 2018. Some donations came in later and others delayed due to online sites that hold the money for 2-4 weeks. We also sold Christmas ornaments and we do not have all those funds yet. As of today we have sold 706 Christmas ornaments. Ornaments sales went towards the purchase of mosquito nets. We have enough to purchase 2,012 more mosquito nets for April 2018 to total 3,512 mosquito nets from our 7th Annual Bed Nets 4 Life Christmas Campaign. Thank you!

Derek Nichols, Yishai Statter Family, Beth and Jim Heckel, Dave and Hilda Smith, Ron and Caroline Larson, John and Constance Boose, Candis Verhey, Ann Martin, James and Jeannie Wahl, Price Elementary 5th grade class in Anaheim, California, James and Sallie Dakins, anonymous, Joyce and Robert Elder, James Reents, Eric and Cindy Beltzer, Chris and Lorry Tornow, Bob & Peggy O’Doherty, Curt and Deana Austin, Hilary Steinberger, Cynthia Peterson, Donnie Gladfelter, Matt Cozadd, John VonAllmen, Barbara McClean, Karen Williams, Joanne Schlafer, Karen Backstein, Tom Reagor, Susan Higgins, Kara Pease-Marshall, Rhonda Cronan, Jessica Morgan, Melissa Beck, Sosamma Samuel-Brunett, Kim Krattiger, Sue Wahlert, Linda Kirscht, Kerri Bevard, Jonas Nteziyaremye, Kirsta Britton, Emily Panetsos, Robyn Bartley, Melissa Obert, Sherry Wells, Don and Kelli Arnold, Meredith Bradbury, Molly Christine Patterson, York, Rick & Collete Markwardt, Beret Strong, Al and Rosemary Habenicht, Terri and Bob Stewart, Sharon Clevenger, Tim and Debbie Pico, Nikita Vanzie-Williams and She’s Mixed, Joe and Pam Bolesta, Tom Beaman, Bill Temple and Xiubo Xu, Joe and Debbie Bergholz, Steven and Tami Roskamp, Steven Meyer, Nathan and Mary Dixon, Lauren Scott Trust, Patricia Jones (in honor of KevinArnold), Ron and Nancy Schwiesow, Shirley Heckel, Carey Scott, Sandy Howell-Klepper, Laura Moore, Kathy Jennings, M’Leigha Buchanan, Kel Darnell, Michael & Shauna Newton, Cathy Henderson, Emily Mancinelli, Paul and Susan Williamson, Greg and Pam Weech, David and Jennifer Hanes, Andrew and Pam Howard, Sonya Gustafson, Prairie IT Haxtun, Colorado, Anonymous, Elva Davila, Jim and Lisa Skinner, Melissa Armour, Crate and Barrel, Anonymous, Robert Wahl, James and Sara Preston, Rich and Kay Thuesen, Joshua (Gideon), Lisa Callicott, John & Linda Palmisano, Jeff and Mara Rusciolelli, Jim Payton, Ryan and Shelley Fredricey, Jaelyn Eberle and David Taylor, David and Luan Ezra and Scott and Ruth Sprain. Also thanks to the 6th Annual Think Humanity Golf Tournament for a portion of these nets.
Those that sold ornaments: Faith Fellowship Church in Melbourne Florida, Katie Smith at Dillon Family Medicine in South Carolina, Wesche Jewelers in Melbourne, Florida, Happy Healthy Human Cafe at Indian Harbour Beach, Florida, Brown’s Shoe Fit Longmont Colorado, Red Frog Coffee in Longmont, Colorado, Lisa Connelly Richard inWashington, Abby Jones Indian, Erica Edwards Dane Delane Salon Studio, North Carolina, Colorado Coffee Company Stacy Kliner in Loveland, Colorado, Ascension Catholic Community in Melbourne, Florida, Pineda Presbyterian Church in Melbourne, Florida, Sue Giddings, Zion Lutheran Church – Loveland, Deana and Curt Austin, Connie England and Debbie Stelzer (all who held events), Dr. William Reents and Kathy, Cynthia Rauschenberger, Jim Heckel, Denise Duncan and many others who volunteered their time this Christmas season and all that made purchases on Etsy and at our fundraising events. (too many to list!) Special thanks to Margo Wilder and Allen for donating to off-set our big loss when a box from Uganda with 300 Christmas ornaments got lost in the mail. (and to this date have never been found). All these people above have helped in many special ways.

kihojo jane with mother

Malaria kills more African children than any other disease. There is currently no vaccine available to prevent malaria. Due to abject poverty, most families in Uganda cannot afford to purchase a bed net or treatment.

Long-lasting Insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs) have been shown to be the most cost effective prevention method against malaria.
With donations to Think Humanity, the TH team can purchase, transport and educate communities on the importance of bed nets and demonstrate how to use them properly.
It is not too late to send an end of year donation to Think Humanity. http://www.thinkhumanity.org/donate Happy New Year!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sincerely,

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.

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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

What a wonderful program to go out into villages to treat babies and young children.
Think Humanity recently had an outreach program in Kyarujumba Village in Kyangwali sub-county, Uganda.
105 children were treated for different illnesses and also we were able to conduct an immunisation outreach in the this same village. 60 children were immunised for polio, measles, diptheria, TB, Rota virus, pneumococcal infection amont others.
We have also been conducting static immunisation sessions at the clinic which is always done on Thursdays. 140 children including neonates (infants) have been immunised for the month of November bring the total number of children immunised to 205.
We continue to run the ultrasounds for refugees and the host community members. A total of 139 patients have been helped, most of these being pregnant mothers, children and women with varying gynecological pathological conditions.
We thank our odnors for all the support.
Dr. Alinaitwe Herbert in charge
If you are interested in helping us to hold outreaches in isolated villages, one outreach can be done for approximately $150/month. We are required to have three outreaches per month in order to receive the vaccines from the government.
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A photo of mostly pregnant women waiting to get their ultrasounds from the clinic. 

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Dr. Herbert at an outreach. Babies are receiving immunizations. 

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TH nurse is immunising a baby girl as other mothers wait with their babies.

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In front of the Think Humanity Health Centre Kyangwali. Mothers are sitting on the bench with their babies waiting for their turn to be seen.

Thank you to the staff at the Think Humanity Health Centre Kyangwali for all that you are doing in your community and in the Kyangwali Refugee Camp.
dama's children - vicky

Victoria, the youngest child of the late Damascene

You might remember when we posted it on the social media. Damascene died suddenly from unknown reasons just two weeks after we left Uganda.
While we were there in July we visited his home and his children posed for our 7th Annual Bed Nets 4 Life Christmas Campaign. They held up the sign “ Bed Nets Save Lives” and smiled. Little Victoria wrinkled her nose the same as today. We all laughed together, but little did we know it would be the last time we would be meeting together with Dama.

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Victoria holding the Bed Nets 4 Life sign in July 2017. She was also the child holding the 2016 sign.

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Precious posing for the 2017 Christmas Bed Nets 4 Life Campaign last July 2017
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Prosper took his turn at holding the sign too. July 2017
When we got the news of Dama’s death many people donated to help the children. We were able to pay for school fees for two of the children (Prosper and Precious) and to pay for their uniforms. The school is in Kyangwali Refugee Camp. Chance, the oldest child was already attending school in Hoima through a TH sponsor.

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This was Precious last October in her new school uniform.
The parents were from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They spent as many as 20 years in the camp, but were waiting for resettlement.
Good News for the Children
For Christmas Think Humanity took the children shopping for new clothing, shoes and food. This is how you have helped to educate, clothe and feed these children after the death of Damascene.
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Today the children, with the help of Think Humanity Nurse Jane, were able to go shopping in Hoima (50 miles from the camp). They all got new clothes, shoes and then Jane took them out for lunch. Jane also left them with some money to buy meat for Christmas.
Thank you so much. THIS IS THE TRUE MEANING OF THE SEASON! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to our donors. (listed below)
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Chance Esther, Prosper, Precious and little Vicky all say thank you to their donors.

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Victoria
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Precious
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Prosper
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Chance Esther
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Chance Esther also received a casual outfit.

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The children also went food shopping
I believe it’s important that the donors see these photos. You may not want recognition, but this is more about accountability, sharing and our thanks.
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