Kate at New Hope Uganda

Kate at New Hope Uganda

Monday, 10 November 2014

Since then....

Yet again, the days got away from me and I see that it’s been over 2 months……
What has happened since then?

Well, let's think......
1) I have been diagnosed and treated for Typhoid, despite having had the rather painful vaccination in the UK. Shall I bother next time? Although my follow up blood tests show that my levels of Typhoid have reduced, I am still feeling rather wiped out and exhausted; please pray for energy to be restored and opportunities to truly rest!

2)We were attacked by a GIANT HAIRY CATERPILLAR! But thankfully our hero Kevin (don’t ask his age!)  from next door came to rescue us and chopped it in half with our Panga…..GO KEVIN!

3)There have been lots of children’s birthdays to celebrate and parties for Mary to enjoy as well as the usual activities of searching for Jack Fruit (see top photo) and making mud pies!

4) A new outdoor kitchen, store and staff bedroom has gone up at Hassan’s House so that in the next few weeks our Stella can move over there…….prayers appreciated for Stella not to feel rejected and to settle quickly and for my heart not feel too sad or guilty as I have become rather attached to this precious one in the year she has lived with us.

5) At work, we have been busy preparing for our Christmas bazaar (this saturday) and for Christmas in general; we had lots of fun taking pics of our kids dressed up in Christmas outfits in the pouring rain a few weeks back. 

Our Special Nativity photo where Mary is wearing a skimpy skirt, the shepherd is about to drop Santa's little Elf
and the Camel has eaten too much AND lost his head!!!!
We’ve also had another severely malnourished baby with cerebral palsy come to us in the last week. She is 22 months and 4.8kg so she and her mum are going to be staying with us for a while. We also registered a 12 year old boy with malnourishment on Friday. This child seems to be being starved by his step-mother deliberately as a punishment for being incontinent! Please pray with us about what we should do. The social services systems here are not great and yet we just don’t have the facilities to take in more children. His Father seems to genuinely love him but has to go out to work and comes back late…….Father God, please protect this little lads life and show us your solution!

6) There has been some progress in our adoption journey in that everyone has signed affidavits and our lawyer has filed our case. We are now waiting for a court date where the judge will decide whether to award me with legal guardianship of Mary. Please pray for a date SOON and for a favourable outcome! As I look ahead at the journey ahead, and hear of the struggles that friends are facing with corruption and inefficiency in different offices, it is hard not to get stressed and scared. But as I was reminded recently in a book that I am reading, I should not look down at the problem but UP to the one who is in control and has gone ahead of me!

7. Several weeks back, we also had a week that shook the emotions of many people here….On the wednesday we buried one of our secondary students Wizeye right behind our classroom. Death is so IN YOUR FACE here! Wizeye died from kidney failure but he died in faith and we all know that he is now with Jesus and is completely healed. But of course it is still sad and many of us are missing him and experiencing the real pain of his absence. On the Friday my neighbour Aunt Ketty, the mother of 6 children and P2 teacher in our primary school, received the news that she was cancer free. This is nothing short of a miracle as 6 months before she had been diagnosed with a cancer that has an 80-90% mortality rate! God is AMAZING!!! But can we understand why he chooses to heal some in this life and heal others in the next? NO!!!!! 

A.Ketty with her family.

The thing I will always remember about Wizeye was the day that Kimberly and I took him to Acacia Mall in Kampala. He had been seeing the Kidney Doctor but we decided to go into this new and very posh shopping mall to get some snacks for the way home. To understand the impact this seemed to have on Wizeye, you have to realise that he came from a very poor family, living deep in the village with no running water or electricity. So, as he entered and saw the shining elevators, tiled floors and lit fountains, his face was full of awe! Pointing at the decorative waterfall he turned to me and asked “Auntie, is that where they fetch water?” I had to try really hard to hide my laughter! Anyway, as we stood by his grave and watched them lower his casket into the ground, God brought the thought to my mind; ‘if Wizeye was amazed by Acacia Mall, just think how amazed he is now as Jesus is showing him around heaven!’ Later that evening, I read the passage in Revelation that speaks of the new heaven and the new earth and I could picture Jesus showing Wizeye around and see the look on his face. Perhaps he is asking Jesus if he can fill his jerry can from the river of life :)

So that's all for now folks, but we will leave you with a few more pics we've taken over the past few months. Life here is definitely a challenge but there are many beautiful moments in it which bring joy and refreshment and remind us that we are serving a truly amazing God who definitely has a sense of humour as well as awe inspiring creativity!

much love as always from Kate & Mary x x x x 

Friday, 29 August 2014

3 Months Maternity Leave and 1 month back at Work!

Greetings everyone from the land of Safari Ants, Pythons and Leopards. Thankfully the latter two I have not seen for myself but the horrible Safari / Fire Ants seem to surround our house and / or the Special Needs Classroom frequently these days and all we can do is fight their army back with paraffin and hot ashes.
After promising to improve my communication with you all last time, I went silent (well almost!) for nearly 4 months. I guess I owe apologies and an explanation that can be summed up in one word, or name, MARY!
Actually, I can’t blame it all on her as although I was on 3 months maternity leave from May - July, I am afraid I also ended up working a little here and there, and of course attending to our little lodger Stella.

Despite having to do some work occasionally, we managed to have a lovely first 3 months together and I am happy to report that Mary is very settled in her new home and seems very content. Of course we have our moments and there are some occasions when I would much rather watch an episode of Downton or 24 rather than Peppa Pig for the 1,000,000th time. But over all, we are doing very well and I am more than enjoying being a Mummy to my lovely daughter. It has especially been fun listening to her British accent develop :)

During my maternity leave, we were able to get away several times to be alone together and/or to visit friends. This included a trip to the lovely Judith Goddard’s house on the shores of Lake Victoria. Whilst Judith and her bird watching buddies were busy watching birds, Mary and I were off out to the pool and Entebbe Zoo.
We also had a fun weekend away with our friends Kimberley (a nurse here at Kasana) and Natasha who was a Dr at Kiwoko for 2 years. I say was because sadly our trip was a farewell one. Saying goodbye to dear friends is sadly a big part of the life here. Sometimes I selfishly wonder if I should bother. But what a lot I would miss out on if I did. We are looking forward to seeing Natasha back in England when we finally get to fly there.

So, another thing that has been keeping us busy has been working on Mary’s adoption paperwork Before I can adopt her, I first have to foster her for 3 years. So, the first thing we had to get was a foster care order. At the same time as working on Mary’s care order, we were also trying to get them for some of our special needs children. Things here always take time and people never seem to be in their office when you need them…….other delays include power cuts (a daily occurrence), receipt books running out, burials etc. etc. Needless to say it took several trips to the district head quarters and several trips to the local court, and almost 2 months before we finally got the stamped pieces of paper that name me as the foster mother of Nakidde Mary! There is lots more I could add here but I will ‘zip it’ as who knows who could be reading this blog. I will just say that it took a lot of prayers and trusting that GOD was in control and not people who think they can use their power to manipulate……

Since getting the foster care order, we have moved on to pursuing legal guardianship. Hopefully when I have been awarded this, Mary and I will be able to travel to the UK for a visit. As well as trips to the lawyers office (thankfully one who has been a friend of New Hope for years,) we have also been on many adventurous journeys out in the bush to visit Mary’s relatives and Local Council Chair people to get stamps, death certificates, ID, birth certificates, information, photos, etc. etc. We have particularly enjoyed getting to know Mary’s maternal Uncle who has been so helpful. We really want Mary to maintain her relationship with him and I think he is keen to as well.

Stella and her Senga (paternal Aunt) have also been a huge part of the last 4 months or so as they have been living with us. Stella has made so much progress and it is such a joy to see her enjoying life; smiling and trying to talk (or shout at times.) Her issues with sleep have continued to be a problem but thankfully in the last couple of weeks she has learnt to sleep through the night apart from once or twice. Although Stella’s parents have abandoned her, it is so wonderful to witness how much her Auntie loves her. Whilst she is working for us full time she is also studying one subject which she needs to retake before she can hopefully apply to nursing school. Getting to know Stella’s auntie and her parents has been humbling. She has come from such a poor background; when we went to visit their home for Stella’s birthday we saw the mud huts that they live in and were overwhelmed by the expense and trouble they had gone to to prepare an amazing meal for us and by the gifts of money that they gave to Stella. Myself and Emily Casebow were ashamed of ourselves when we failed to finish the plates of 5 carbs (Matooke, Potatoes, Spaghetti, Cassava and Chapatis), with big bowls of meat along with 2 bottles of soda they presented each of us with! They however, did not struggle to demolish the chocolate birthday cake we took with us.

Before we went home, I was presented with a big, very alive cockerel which thankfully they tied up for the journey home. He is now residing in Uncle Mulu’s chicken pen awaiting his fate!

Having Stella’s Auntie living with us has also been challenging especially in regard to my personal spending habits. It is hard to bring home huge bags of shopping from Kampala supermarkets when I know she and her family struggle so hard to pay school and medical fees for one another. But then, me giving them money isn’t going to help matters long term, and I wouldn’t call my purchases luxurious! I continue to ponder and pray on this point!

At the end of July, after a very lovely visit from the Harvest Church Alton team, I started back to work as the Special Needs Coordinator. It has been challenging trying to balance my work with spending time with Mary, especially seeing as I am on site 24/7. However, the most difficult thing for me has been realising that in many respects I have now ‘done myself out of’ the favourite parts of my job. Thankfully God has blessed us with great staff who have really taken over my roles as carer and teacher to our children. Unfortunately I have been left with the fundraising, accounts, managing staff side of things and I find myself in an office rather than in the classroom or home. However, as the one who began this ministry, I guess this is where God wants me to be until someone else comes along to take over and release me to return to where I feel I am more gifted. ‘Lord, please send the right person soon or all my marbles might get lost! My Dad will tell you how useless I was at my Maths homework, and I really don’t enjoy confronting people!’ His answer for now, ‘My Grace IS sufficient!’

Dear little (but very tall ) Mary turned 4 in July and is starting school with Mrs Dendy next week. She will be being home schooled along with Sarah’s own children; Sammy, Thomas and Isaac. She is very excited and very ready to start. Next year she may also attend some classes in New Hope Primary School along with her great friends (our neighbours) Jonnie, Mirab and Izzy. She is desperate to go to the ‘big school’ and ‘drink porridge’ (at least she’s honest!) 

We are so lucky to live in such a great community and right next door to David family. The older girls fight over who is going to braid her hair or who is going to teach her to ride her pink bike! And she loves digging and slashing with them all in the gardens/ compound (I’m not sure what social services would say about the safety of these activities but never mind!) 

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this blog and taking an interest in our life here at Kasana. If you are a praying person, please keep us in your prayers; particularly that we would get a court date soon and that the passport and VISA applications would be approved so we can come visit our family and friends in England soon; we miss you all so much and especially can’t wait to see the new family members Edward and Jessica…….and see the soon to be married couple, Jonathan and Rosie Tolhurst.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Waiting, Waiting and MORE Waiting!

I am good at making people wait for my blog posts, I am always telling my kids to 'Linda ko' (wait a bit in Luganda) but am not so good at waiting myself.......
The reason I have taken so very long to update my blog is because I have been doing some serious waiting!
Firstly, as I shared in my last post, I was waiting to hear clearly from God to make sure that I was moving forward in the right direction. And then, when I was confident that I had heard from Him, I continued to wait, this time for the decision of a committee that met last wednesday.....and then for a little person to be told what they had decided :)

I think the only reason that I have survived through this whole waiting process is because of a lesson I learnt some time back, a lesson that we all need to learn. We need to wait not on people, or on something to happen or for something to change but to wait on HIM! If I had been waiting on people or even for my heart`s desire to be given to me, then I would have been in a state of extreme anxiety and got my knickers well and truly in a twist.......but whenever I felt the smallest pull towards doing this, I felt the Holy Spirit just reminding me that I should wait and trust only in God. After all, he is the one who is in control of all things and who knows better than I know myself what is best for me. In HIM, whatever happens in life (and death!), I will always be loved and satisfied. I was reminded over and over again that our strength is renewed when we trust and wait on Him. If I had chosen to believe I was waiting on anyone or anything other than God then my strength would have vanished and I would have been a wreck.
Just as well I have learnt this lesson as I know I have lots more waiting to do.........
The Fostering and Adoption committee here at Kasana decided last week that I could move forward in fostering and adopting a very gorgeous 3 year old girl called Nakidde Mary from Hope Family (our baby home.) Many of you may remember how she had begun transitioning into my home back in 2012 but sadly things didn`t work out. However, these issues have now been resolved and over the next few weeks Mary will be transitioning into her new family.

The precious moment yesterday when one of the 'Father Figures' in Hope Family brought Mary to me after telling her that I am going to be her Mummy made all the waiting in the world worthwhile! She has known me as her Auntie Katie for a long time now so remembering to say Mummy instead will probably take a while but as we shared with the other children in Hope Family that I am now 'Mama Mary', she proudly held my hand and beamed! I know there will be many challenges ahead for both of us and I know I will never be the perfect Mum but I am so grateful for the privilege of being given the honor of guiding her through her first 20 or so years of life and being the one who hopefully she will always feel she can turn to for encouragement, prayers, love and cuddles.

I am very blessed to have been given 3 months of maternity leave so that I can devote my time totally to Mary to ensure that we make a strong bond and that she settles well into her new family. We would really appreciate your prayers.
Adopting a child here is not an easy process and there are many, many papers to get stamped, signed, copied, approved etc. There are many very busy people to chase and get appointments with (Local Chairmen, Police Officers, Probation Officers, Lawyers, Judges etc.) And then there are family members in the bush with no address other than 'beyond the mango tree.....' But God has gone before us and he keeps reminding me of the scripture in Isaiah 57 v 14 where God is saying 'Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.' God will make a way and will make things happen in his perfect timing.
Already I have lots to be thankful for as since I wrote the first draft of this post, I have managed to get the probation officer to come and do my 'Home Study,' I have managed to get a birth certificate for Mary, a police check for myself and several letters of recommendation. This may sound straight forward to you but I can assure you it is not! Several of my friends who have gone before me in adopting children here have warned me that it is anything BUT straightforward and every step needs lots of prayer, patience and grace!

On the same day that the committee approved my application to adopt Mary, I also received a wedding invitation from my brother and his fiance. Their wedding is on September 6th and although I don`t want to get my hopes up, I want to have faith that God can make it possible for Mary and I to travel to England together for this special day. If not, then I trust God has a better plan and we will remain in Uganda and celebrate with them in spirit; maybe we`ll have to treat ourselves to a day at the pool so we can skype with family before / after the wedding!
I am sure many of you have questions and even opinions about my decision to adopt, especially as a single person who is volunteering in a foreign country! Hopefully, if time permits then in the future I will write some more about how I came to this rather alternative and massive, life changing decision. It hasn`t been easy and it isn`t one that I have made on my own! All I will say here is that when God asks you to do something, sometimes it seems crazy and unwise to many people around you and even to yourself, but if He wants you to do it, he will make it so clear and give you all the courage, strength and peace of mind that you need to take the next step forward...........
After all, Jesus told us that we should be willing to give up EVERYTHING for Him........after all, he gave up even his LIFE for us; a good thing to remember on GOOD FRIDAY!
I will finish this post by sharing one other area in which I managed to trust God this last few months........
Many of you who know me well will know that I am somewhat a little scared of cows and have been since I was a baby. So it is with great pride that I can tell you I managed not to wet myself when I went rhino trekking with the crazy American girlies last month. CHECK US OUT with BIG RHINO AND BABY RHINO only metres away!

Thanks for sharing this adventure with us!
lots of love from Kate & Mary x x x x 

p.s. Many photos STOLEN from Wesley Steebs as my hard drive has crashed :(

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Living, Loving and Listening.

So I`ve come away from Kasana, leaving all my lovely kiddies behind with the wonderful staff team that God has provided…..and I`ve realised that I haven`t written anything on my personal blog since OCTOBER; Shame on me! But then babies and blogging don`t really go together. Since baby Stella came to stay just after I last wrote, I haven`t really had much time to myself. I can`t remember the last time I got to read a book or watch a movie. But I`m not complaining; Stella is a precious little girl who has won my heart BIG TIME!
Hopefully most of you will have seen and read about Stella`s progress on FACEBOOK but if you haven`t then here it is:

God has transformed a starved, distressed, wounded and abandoned baby girl into a content chubba wubba who loves stuffing her face with porridge, ‘swimming’ in the paddling pool/boat, having cuddles with her new family, sleeping all day but not so much at night and is not so keen on the physio that she has to do to make her stronger!

Stella enjoying a swim with Tom & Sam.

As well as caring for Stella, the last 5 months have involved lots of Christmas parties, hospital visits, staff envisioning, moving into our amazing new classroom with 4 new children, a short break away over new year with my Kiwoko hospital chums, finishing the Esther bible study with Justine and Annet, recruiting and training new staff (including Stella`s Auntie!) and not a lot of sleep!
Meet our 4 new children who have joined ‘The Treasures Class’:

Wilson (12 years) seen here helping at Hope Family.

Nakakinze Lydia (5 years)
Nandujja Ruth (5 years)

Shakira (4 years) who had heart surgery in November 

So a few weeks ago, I decided that I needed to take some time out to re-energise , to pray and to seek God`s guidance. For a while, since a trip to Estonia in July to visit my lovely friends the Heaths, I have felt that God was calling me on a new adventure, bringing me into a new season but in the midst of all the activity at Kasana it was hard to actually sit still for long enough to listen to what He was saying; why do children always decide they need your attention just at the moment you sit down with a nice cup of tea to pray, read your bible or just simply to relax?

                                                  Hassan on Christmas Day                                                                       

Allen & Carol preparing for a swim.

                         Some of the SUPER DUPER (but slightly crazy) Special Needs Staff.

                                                  Becca, Natasha and I on Boxing Day.
And so on Saturday, after a trip to Sparkles (a nice cheap spa in Kampala) to have all the dust and dirt of the past few months scrubbed off my feet and my toe nails painted, I went to stay at a lovely little guest house in Entebbe (where the airport is) and relaxed………………..
I enjoyed an afternoon chill out, a little trip to the local market where I found a few bargains (including a nice MONSOON top for less than a quid!), an evening watching Downton Abbey series 4 (thanks to my lovely friend Natasha,) followed by a FULL NIGHT`S SLEEP! On Sunday I went off to the Botanical gardens where I found a spot in the shade to sit, listen and write down all that God had and was speaking to me whilst watching a family of monkeys playing and pulling leaves off the tree and eagles swooping around! I enjoyed skyping with the Dendys who have recently gone back to the UK for their ‘Home Assignment’. And then later in the afternoon I caught a rather packed ‘Matatu’ (public taxi) to the Lake Victoria Hotel pool and burnt my back and legs (one problem of alone time was not having anyone to put suncream on my back but I have no excuse for my legs!).

On Monday, after a leisurely breakfast at the guest house and more time with God, I caught a bodaup to the Lake Vic again and enjoyed a quiet morning by the pool until my friends the Browns arrived to liven things up J
I am now enjoying time at their house in Kampala, continuing to seek God but doing fun things too (I have just finished making Jam tarts with their youngest son Silas.)
Later this week, or perhaps after my return home to Kasana I promise to write again and tell you more about the next step of my adventure with God.
For now, I will leave you a verse that I read this morning which I sense I need to memorise to encourage me in the months ahead……
'It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. 
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He causes me to stand on the heights.'
Psalm 18 vs 32 & 33.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Shakira`s relationship with Bubbly is similar to mine with the internet LOVE/HATE!
As I sit down to write this, motivated by seeing how many of my neighbours are blogging regularly (girls you put me to SHAME!) I don`t know where to start or what to include. This is one of many reasons why I fail so often to put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard!) So much happens here in each and every moment and it`s hard to know what people elsewhere want to hear and sometimes what they will understand. Then there is the fact that most of what happens in life leaves me rather tired so by the time I get to the evening and sit down either I fall asleep on the sofa or the internet signal is once again NOT AVAILABLE AT THE MOMENT and I have run out of patience to persevere.
But I am not complaining as I LOVE MY LIFE HERE and although I miss my family on the otherside of the globe (and friends too!) I wouldn`t swap the family I have here for anything.
Celebrating Hassan`s 11th birthday!
Today I am having a day off but also preparing for a little baby girl called Stella who will be moving into our house tomorrow. She was brought to us by her Grandmother 3 weeks back having been abandoned by her Mother in a very bad way. She was barely 5kg, had horrible pressure sores on her back and looked as though she wouldn`t last much longer. We sent her back to the hospital and she was readmitted and we are thankful that she is now doing a little better. As well as her severe malnourishment she has severe brain damage. Her home situation is not good and so we have decided that she will come to live here at Kasana although we are not quite sure where yet as Hassan`s House is too full already! I think it is safe to say that his little 2 bedroomed house is a bit of a squash and a squeeze with Hassan, Carol, Allen, Kakulu and Brian plus all their wheelchairs and other equipment, and staff! And then there is dear Kakande who although he has his own bedroom, is rather good at leaving his growing collection of boots and shoes everywhere for people to trip over J Just as well he spends half his life over at our house sipping tea like a true English gentleman! He is very excited at the moment by the fact that his favourite family the Brittons are returning from America soon AND that he has got to go to Kampala for an EEG at Mulago hospital.
At a recent David Family movie night on a rainy evening!
On Sunday afternoons I have been enjoying doing the Beth Moore bible study on the book of Esther with 2 of the girls from David Family and our new staff member Grace. Each week she talks about how it`s TOUGH BEING A WOMAN in a certain scenario. This week it was IN A MEAN WORLD. How true is that! Recently we have been confronted with several cases of women and even severely disabled girls being raped in our community! But I was reminded this morning that God sees EVERYTHING and he will hold all of us to account for the things that we do here on earth. Those evil men who do these things will not get away with it! Several of us here at Kasana have also been praying about and putting together a proposal for a refuge for vulnerable mothers so that we can help and protect women with either Special Needs or Mental Health Issues in the future. Please pray that this proposal is accepted and the project gets off the ground soon.
Brian and Julia enjoying a farewell hug.
I can`t finish this post without boasting about how amazing God has been recently in providing for our building project. When I came back from the UK I was amazed how quickly our new classroom had gone up......but then very disappointed and concerned when I heard that we needed $18,000 to complete the first phase and make it useable before the next school year. After several long meetings to discuss quotes etc. I finally put together a blog post for the New Hope website to appeal for donations. But God had already gone before us and answered our prayers. Before I even posted the blog a couple from America wrote and told me that they had recently inherited some money and wanted to give $20,000 to our project. So we can not only complete the first phase but begin the second too!
Our new classroom (half completed!)

Inspecting the inside....
I`ll finish there as I want to go on check on baby Vianna who was our first house guest upon my return. His parents have really taken up the challenge to care for him but unfortunately it`s not easy caring for sick children out in the bush and where they live really IS in the bush!

Vianna finished up my supply of Pom Bears whilst staying in August!

For those of you who have asked if you can send anything then we would LOVE to receive any of the following:
1. Marmite2. Chocolate3. Redbush tea.4. Nappy Liners.5. Baby girl clothes (3 - 12mths.)6. Fun activity books for 3-6 year olds7. Boys clothes (age 6 - 10)and anything else you can think of.......SEND TOKate TolhurstP.O.Box 16,LuweroUganda.