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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hope For 365 Meets Hope For Uganda

Hello, friends!  

Over the past couple of months, I've been asked what inspired me to create Hope for 365 Days.  The answer to that question is in this post.  I've also been asked where I'm getting all of the beautiful items for the Hope for Uganda store.  The answer to that question is also in this post.  


Beginning Hope for 365 Days

A couple of years ago, I returned from my first short term mission trip from Uganda with memory cards full of images.  Images of joy, images of sorrow & destitution, images of love, images of hope...lots of images.  Shortly after my return, I had a long talk with my good friend and missionary, Michelle, to process my thoughts and to share my experience.  During our conversation, (and a couple of subsequent conversations) she encouraged me to launch a project where I would share a photo a day from Uganda and a verse to go with it on a webpage designed specifically for this purpose.  I believe she even suggested the name "Hope for Uganda."  At the time, I was sharing sporadic images from Uganda on my Facebook page with a verse in the caption.  But "Hope for Uganda" was a wonderful idea (she's a woman of many)!  

One of the major things holding me back at that point was that I didn't have a variety of solid images to get me through 365 days and I was unsure of when I would return to Uganda for the chance take more.  Michelle suggested the idea in May 2012 and, though I took no action for almost a year and a half, it stuck with me.

In September of 2013, I became committed to the idea of spreading hope through my photography--if that was even possible.  I prepared myself to embark on a journey that I prayed would inspire hope in the lives of others through pairing Biblical scripture with photographs I've taken over the years--to include those from my trip to Uganda.   On January 1st, 2014, I launched my first photography project:  Hope for 365 Days.  You can view the inscribed images on Facebook and on the website www.hopefor365.com.


Hope for Uganda

Although I share at least one photo post a week with an image from Uganda, I feel as though more can and should be done to inspire others to pray for and provide hope for Uganda.  There is a desperate need for hope. 

Bangled Beginnings

During my trip to Uganda (almost two years ago now), I met and became friends with beautiful Lyzette.  Lyzette was working in a ministry that reached both Uganda and Kenya to help women find financial stability by promoting their businesses and teaching them to become entrepreneurs.  It's amazing how God allowed our paths the cross, because what Lyzette was doing in Uganda, I had dreams of doing in the United States at least five years before meeting her.  


A handmade bangle from Uganda
When I learned that Lyzette was raising financial support for the WomenFirst ministry by selling jewelry, I bought a number of bangles from her and told her that whatever I sold in the United States, I would send a 100% of the money back to her as a way to compound the profit.  They sold quickly and I sent the money.  I told Lyzette I was ready for more and, a few weeks later, I received more jewelry and accessories in the mail.  More women in the United States supported Ugandan women by simply purchasing and wearing beautiful handmade jewelry and accessories.  

Woman in Crisis

Lyzette began her own ministry:  Hope For Woman in Crisis.  The mission of Woman in Crisis is to provide spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and socially to mothers who find themselves in crisis before, during, and after childbirth.  The ministry provides, not only for mothers who have lost their babies, but also for mothers and babies who have been abandoned and are very needy.  This ministry is one that speaks to her story specifically.  Lyzette founded Woman in Crisis through her own crisis and tragedy when she lost her child at birth.  I first met her shortly after this crisis and listened as she shared her story in the midst of her grief.   

Personal Passion 

It's interesting how God allows our experiences to shape and direct our lives.  One year (almost to the day) after meeting Lyzette and hearing her story, I faced my own childbirth crisis.  While I recovered in the Intensive Care Unit after giving birth to my son, I struggled to find hope as I grieved the loss of my health and separation from my son.  I wrote a list of all the things I was thankful for as a way to help  resuscitate my heart from a futile state of self-pity.  On the top of my list was:  "I am alive!"  And then I remembered the Woman in Crisis ministry.  I thought about how I may not have survived all that I experienced had I been in Uganda.  Consequently, my passion and desire to raise support for the ministry increased and became even more personal for me.



Hope for Uganda

Open for Business 

I'm excited to pair the Hope For 365 Days project with a cause worthy of attention and support:  Hope for Woman in Crisis.  On the Hope for 365 Days website, you will see a tab called "Hope for Uganda."  Hope for Uganda is an online shop with jewelry and accessories handmade by women in Uganda available for purchase.  100% of the proceeds made from the Hope for Uganda shop go toward supporting Woman in Crisis.  

Hope For Uganda is opening for business on March 18th.  Many of these items are one of a kind, so be quick to check it out!

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God is doing amazing things in and through the Woman in Crisis ministry; you can read the stories posted on the Woman in Crisis Facebook page.  I will also share some of the stories from the ministry on the Hope For 365 Days Facebook page.  

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