What does HEAL do? This is a question that I asked our interns, and here are two responses:
"When the director of missions for HEAL ministries came here in 2012, she thought she was coming to start an orphanage. But during that first year she realized that it wasn't an orphanage that Uganda needed. Uganda needed something that was going to help the abandoned women - help them find a job or start a sustainable business. She wanted to empower the women. She wanted to give them hope. She wanted to help them. So, she started going into the slum and teaching a bible study twice a week under a big tree. She taught the women about Jesus Christ and his redeeming love. She listened to their troubles and shed light into their life.
Before long she opened the James Place, which was founded on James 1:27 - "religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the widows and orphans in distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by this world." This now has developed into the most beautiful place. When you walk through the gates, the first things you will notice are all the children running around. Currently, the James Place provides free childcare to 50 children, but it's more than just childcare. Did you know about 40% of children in Uganda are malnourished? HEAL combats that by feeding the children 2 healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. They give them baths everyday to not only keep them clean, but also HEALTHY! And if a woman has her child in childcare, she has to have a full time job. On top of all of that, all the childcare workers are abandoned women themselves who HEAL has cared for.
If you walk to the back of the property, you'll find the women. HEAL offers both English and business classes free of charge. English is one of the official languages in Uganda, and in order to find a good sustainable job you must be able to speak it. The business class teaches women how to run a successful business. The group that graduated from the first business class came up with the business plan for making rugs.
Rug making is another program that HEAL sponsors. HEAL provides the ladies with all the material they need and then helps them sell their rugs! Did you know 1 rug sold could pay rent for a whole month, a semester of school fees, or a month of groceries? These rugs are providing for them. They're keeping their family together. Jewelry, pottery, sewing, and farming classes are also taught at the James Place. And Friday all they Ladies come together to have a Bible study." - Sarah Kate Brewer
"This summer, I was privileged in a different way- privileged to experience life with people in another culture, to watch children grow, and to see families grow. I was privileged to see Jesus working so tangibly in the lives of others, and see how much he loves us all. He helped me see that He gives us the privilege to love others - to love the fatherless, the widows, the orphans, the abandoned, the abused, the sick, the uneducated, and the ones others have pushed away. I've learned as an intern that family is who is around you at the time that you can love and grow with. We were able to experience the first steps of babies, children being potty trained, learning how to write their names, and memorize nursery rhymes. We were able to experience new life with Joshua's baby, Charity, and the anticipation of new life with Parvin, who recently moved into the emergency shelter, nearly 9 months pregnant. We were able to pray over the families who moved into the home across the street, and rejoice with them for that gift from God. Even things like baby Blessing getting over chicken pox, and others recovering from malaria and different sicknesses were experiences that we were able to share with this family.
Being an intern for HEAL was the coolest opportunity because we were able to meet so many wonderful people who came on teams and as leaders. The staff became family, and there were many tears on both sides as each intern left. I am so thankful for the countless people involved in HEAL ministries all over the world. It is such a blessing to see the work of the Lord carried out through the love that fills the James Place and this ministry. Without Jesus, none of what HEAL is able to do would be possible, and His work is evident in each and every day. What a blessing to have such an extended family. " - Meleia Fisher