by Gail Bowman
I want to start out by saying that you all know me. You know that I am not a scam artist. I am just a health food store owner trying to help people the best I can. Many of us are so blessed, but it is hard to know how to give back without getting “taken”. Well, let me tell you a story.
This is my niece. Her name is Amber. Let me think… she was born the week before my son Travis (the one that is a fighter pilot with the Navy), so that would make her 35. I have known her since she was an hour old.
When Amber was little, she had an illness that damaged her skin. It was a terrible, painful illness and she was such a sweet child. It turns out that it was a diet-based illness. I have sometimes wondered if Amber’s amazing empathy and kindness are traits that she was born with, or if her own history helped those character traits to flourish.
When Amber was 6, her mom married a wonderful Godly man. Her stepdad healed her illness by changing her diet. He also instilled a deep love for God in Amber and her 3 siblings. Together, Amber’s mom and stepdad raised 4 great kids that are all deeply committed to Jesus.
Amber’s stepdad also has a heart for missions; especially in Vietnam. Amber was in her teens when she started traveling to Vietnam with her stepdad to become involved with people’s lives and to speak to them about Jesus Christ. Since then, Amber has also traveled to South America and Africa to do missions work.
I’m not sure if Amber told me how she got involved with the ladies in the village of Soroti, Uganda, but she is trying to help them to learn to support themselves as she shares the gospel. (I am reading more of her blog on her website and I realized that it is showing the newest entries on the top, so some of her story is on the bottom of the blog page.)
Here is one of the most recent stories that Amber has shared on her website:
“Her name is Grace. Actually, that’s my name too. Not my American name, my Ateso name. Yep, I have an Ateso name! Almost everyone here has a hard time saying “Amber”, so Suzy’s mom named me Asianut (A-she-a-noot) which means Grace-and to be honest I’m so proud of it that I think it has gone to my head a little. =) I’m getting off track, though.
“Our Grace was the last one to join our women’s group. We met because of her baby Gracious. Gracious just had her first birthday, but she looks like she is about 4 months old. She cannot sit or crawl or babble like most 1 year olds. The doctor told them she has a heart condition, but perhaps other problems as well. He recommended lab work as well as extra nutrition like milk and eggs, but Grace’s struggling family could not afford any of these.
“As I looked at Grace with her beautiful, kind face and her baby who was obviously not growing normally, I wondered how she came to live in such poverty that she could not even afford milk or eggs for her baby. She did not personally ask for anything, but I could see her need was genuine.
“Sometimes in Uganda the needs are so great, and there are so many requests for help or money that it is hard not to shut down a little. It can be difficult to know when to say, “Yes” and when to say, “No”, and so my prayer is that God would lead me to the ones He wants to help. Grace is one I felt God wanted to say, “Yes” to.
“Grace and her husband Charles have 8 children and one is already disabled. Their family lives in a TINY, one room house with no running water or electricity. The house is so small that I’m amazed they are all able to sleep inside without piling on top of each other.
“The couple married when Grace was just 16. Neither of them was able to finish school. Grace studied through primary (similar to our elementary), but because she came from a large family her parents could not afford to finish her education. Charles went through Senior 3 (similar to high school in the States), but his studies were interrupted when an insurgency destabilized the area in the 1980’s followed by Karamojong raids. The Karamojong stole all the cattle and killed those who did not have cattle to give. In the villages, this often left nothing for the people to sell in order to pay school fees, so many teens were not able to graduate. Because of the unrest in Uganda at this time Charles moved from the village into Soroti town and married Grace.
“Once Charles arrived in Soroti he began looking for work, but jobs are very scarce in Uganda, and since Charles had not finished high school no one would hire him. He tried to dig and farm to make enough to keep the family going.
“They soon had their first child, then their second and third. Their fifth child was disabled. They tried their best to get medical care to find out what was wrong, but with their very limited income they were not able to find a doctor who could diagnose the problem. Now, their son is 14, but is unable to feed himself or talk. Their fear is that the baby, Gracious, will have the same problems. Unfortunately, their financial situation has not improved much over the years, and because of their disabled children it is hard for both of them to go to the village to farm since one has to stay back and care for the children.
“Hopefully, things have started to improve for this beautiful family, though. A very good friend has been writing to Grace and recently has helped with school fees for the children as well as set Grace up in a business where she can sell clothes. (The children were so excited to be able to study this term!) We are hoping the profits from the sale of the jewelry that Grace and the other women made will be enough to cover medical care for Gracious. ”
If you would like to know more about what Amber is doing, and how you can help these women, I am going to give you their website and all of Amber’s personal contact information below. First, I want to tell you that if you read anything on her website that is written in the first person (ie: I went or I did) it was written by Amber.
Here is the website. I have seen some of the jewelry that they are making and it is gorgeous! So don’t worry that it won’t be beautiful when it arrives (if you decide to buy some). Each piece of jewelry on the website is handmade. Most of the women making the jewelry come from very impoverished areas in Uganda, Africa, and many are single mothers or widows who did not have an opportunity to finish their educations. Your purchase goes towards helping these women establish their own businesses so they can rise out of extreme poverty. It also supports a Saturday Bible program for village children.
God bless you, my friends, and may you have a very Merry Christmas! Gail
If you would like to contact Amber, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org . Her facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/amber.d.inman