Dear Friends and Family of AIDSpirit USA,
Over the past 15 months we have all faced unprecedented fears, stresses, and anxieties while seeking ways to overcome the impact of COVID-19 and like you, the board of AIDSpirit USA is feeling a little overwhelmed.
All our scheduled speaking events and other fundraising projects were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 leaving AIDSpirit facing a loss of over $25,000 which is placing a significant burden on our work. And if that were not enough, our sustainability farming projects took a major hit as well causing the loss of income from our corn, banana, and pineapple sales due to COVID-19 lockdowns in Uganda which prevented us from taking our crops to market.
Though our fundraising opportunities were significantly impacted we were still able to hold on and keep our heads above water until now.
Several recent unforeseen events have tapped into our monetary reserves in big ways this past year including:
• A massive wind and hailstorm recently destroyed the roof on the covered patio we built to provide shade and a gathering space for the children, the repair is estimated to cost $5,000.
• This same storm destroyed over 40% of our 800 banana trees which must be replanted impacting our current yields.
• As the heavy banana trees toppled over, they damaged the new fence on the north side of our property which requires immediate repair.
•We lost most of our 25,000 pineapples to a worm infestation and our recent crop of 2,400 coffee plants were severely damaged by a bug infestation that we hope we caught in time using costly pesticides.
• Helen Rose, a 9-year-old girl who was severely abused and recently brought to our home, has been fainting inexplicably and we initially had to tap into our emergency funds but due to the generosity of Jeanne Bender the funds for doctor visits and CT scans have since been covered. We are still learning more about her ailment (which we believe was caused by the abuse) and how to fight it.
• Janet was on her way to work during her school break when she was struck by a car causing severe internal injuries and head trauma. She was hospitalized for several days and has had to undergo treatment, but she is on the mend and has since been released from the hospital.
• Uganda is now in full lock-down once again making it very difficult for our family once again with most of the children at home.
Though we have taken every precaution possible and thus far our children have not been infected with COVID-19, the availability of vaccines unfortunately for the population of Uganda looks very much different than here in the United States. There is good news however as we have been able to purchase (at a cost of $500), vaccinations for Charles, Mama Mary, and the entire Tender Mercies staff through the International Hospital of Kampala.
Even after all of these trials, the family of Tender Mercies, our AIDSpirit volunteers, and board of directors remain faithful and hopeful that if we pull together, we will overcome these obstacles and any others that may come our way. I deliver this message with my sincere hope that you will continue your financial support in one or more of the following ways:
• By providing an immediate one-time contribution to our COVID-19 Impact Fund. This donation will help offset the fundraising losses and the unforeseen emergencies we’ve experienced this year.
• Signing up for the monthly 200 for $20 campaign. If we reach our goal of 200 monthly donors giving an average of $20 each month, our basic operational fund support for Tender Mercies (including the costs of food, shelter, medicine, and sustainability project maintenance) will be securely taken care of and provided for.
• Invite your friends and family to learn more about our organization and help us to expand our reach. Our monthly gatherings are being held in person at our home and streamed live via Zoom, so we can share our story all over the world, if you can help us get there 😊😊😊😊.
On behalf of the AIDSpirit Board and the family at Tender Mercies, may God Bless each and every one of you in 2021 and beyond.
Tom Jacques, Chairman
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Dear AIDSpirit Family,
It is amazing how quickly and just how much COVID-19 has changed the lives of everyone here in the US and around the globe, and our children at Tender Mercies in Uganda are no exception to these changes. Our travel team was scheduled to go to Uganda on the 22nd of this month, however due to the virus we had to cancel. God willing ,we are still planning to make the journey in December of this year.
Uganda identified their first COVID-19 case in the second week of March and as a result they quickly shut down travel, closed all schools, and placed the entire country on total lock down. This means that all traffic except for the police and military has ceased.
All of our children returned home safely. One of the older boys who came back from Kampala returned with a high fever and headaches, and was immediately hospitalized. We're happy to report it was not COVID-19, he was diagnosed with malaria , and is now at home and recovering.
We have over 70 children that we currently support through your generosity, and fortunately many of them have villages and extended family they were able to return to, leaving us with the remaining 40 children and 3 staff members.
The authorities are very nervous about having this many children in our compound and have requested that we find a way to lower this number. We were able to move several of our older university students to the Bugogge village on our 5-acre farm where we have a small home, so they are safe and able to continue tending the gardens.
We have also been asked to move all the remaining children under the age of 10 to a different location so we will be taking them to the new baby’s home (about a block away). Unfortunately, this home is still under construction, but we are not far from completing the construction enough to use it for the children. We expect to have the bathroom tiled and the toilet and sink installed next week, the glass in the windows, the doors installed, and a water tank placed on its tower. Once completed, Mama Mary and Rachael (the 14 year old girl Jean and I support), will move in with Malcom, Mary, Kelsey, Thomas, Jowari, John, Bob, and Veronica and possibly a couple more.
Charles reported to me a couple of days ago that we have an angel in our house. Joseph Mary Moses, our 14-year-old seminary student who was rescued from a pit latrine when he was just one day old, has been holding daily prayer services in the library, for all who wish to attend. Charles said he was surprised when he didn't see the children playing in the yard, and went inside to find them. When he opened the door to the library, he found the room was full of children who were attending a bible study led by Joseph! I agree with Charles, Joseph may just be one of God’s angels.
Charles also reports that all of the children are carefully washing their hands and following the rules to stay safe, taking part in household chores and most important, they are taking care of each other.
Jean and I want to personally thank every one of you for your prayers and continued support for this wonderful work we are doing. We ask that you please keep AIDSpirit and our children in your prayers and spread the word to anyone who will listen that we continue to need support.
May God Bless and keep each of you safe!
Tom and Jean Jacques
Most Americans will never know what it is like to find themselves with thirst. Sure, we get thirsty some times, we may eat something salty, or we worked hard and feel parched; but majority of people in well-developed countries such as the United States will never know the feeling of true thirst. To know there is no water for miles and miles. The act of getting water takes an entire day and it is all that consumes the mind. This is true thirst. And this is the reality for many millions of children and families around the world.
This was the reality for the community of Kayunga, Uganda. Set members of families would go and search for water and bring it back to their families in order to sustain them for that one day. All too often, the water was found in drainage ditches, run-off from rain or local agriculture. The water that was found, was often not safe to drink. But what can one do when they are desperate, and thirsty?
When someone drinks unclean water, it can cause many types of diarrheal diseases, including Cholera, and other serious illnesses such as Guinea worm disease, Typhoid, and Dysentery. Water related diseases cause 3.4 million deaths each year. This is 100% preventable.
Since 2014, AIDSpirit USA, alongside very generous donors, have provided the community of Kayunga and surrounding villages with water pumps, or bore holes, to be used to pull clean water from the ground. One pump can help an entire village, and provide this basic right to everyone living there. As of now, the goal is to provide 40 wells to this area, so no child will have to die from a disease and is so easily prevented. Many world health agencies indicate that when there is clean water readily available to children and their families, there is a 50-85% reduction in disease in that area. This is a true miracle.
Consider what happens to the child that no longer has to spend their entire day searching for water. What else could they do with this time? Now that they have access to clean water, they are now healthy enough to go to school, help on their families’ farm, learn a trade. When someone is no longer desperate to meet their basic needs, they can focus their energy on bettering themselves and their communities. This is how the cycle of thirst is broken, provide clean water, but also provide an opportunity for hope. This is the true value of water.
How can you help? Click the link HERE and discover ways you can provide the true value of water to this community in Uganda.
You can also view our progress by clicking the video below!
Many awesome things have been happening here in Uganda. It is truly amazing how the people on our team are lending their talents, skills, experience, finances and hearts to observe the operation we have been building for the past 12 years. This year our vision has been to focus on the health of our children thru nutrition provided by proteins and animal products, while Learning techniques for sustainability and less waste. Already we have children captivated by the process and our goal is to send them to a farming school to be trained further.
Our children have had the opportunity to speak freely in open forum classes that touch on social issues, health issues and wellness of mind, body and spirit.
Our Tender Mercies farm is producing very well, having cash crops and produce for daily living. The older boys work hard helping the TM family while home from school and there are many opportunities for villagers to assist in the maintenance and upkeep.
Already we have had a beautiful well dedication which can only be described as MOVING and EMOTIONAL. When you see hoards of children in a parade of song leading our bus in a procession of thanks. The joy is overwhelming when you see the affects on 1000’s of people.
The sickle cell clinic treated over 160 people, hundreds came with sick children in tow. I was unaware that AIDSpirit USA was the only non profit organization that has picked up the torch for sickle cell awareness and care all the while we are sitting in the Hotbed of the world for this disease.
Children used to not live past 18 and many are maintaining health due to our program. We have Sicklers now well into their 70’s of age.
There is so much more to report, but today we celebrate the success of of children graduating from university. This means so much to them, so much to us and THE WORLD to their family and communities!!!!
Check back soon for more details.
With love from Kayunga!
Our Journey began on Monday, May 6th. Today is Tuesday, 5/13 and it is the first day of internet connection for most the team.
Laughs and stories united us as we trekked across the world from different areas of the nation, Arizona, North Dakota & Montana. Together we joined in Amsterdam & Entebbe and wake up to the sounds of torrential rains and beauty of Lake Victoria. The first full day together we waited for the rains to pass and planned to go to the one-acre Model farm created by Dr. Emma which has a successful plan model which shows children through teaching permaculture values, and full circle sustainability through raising chickens, composting, capturing gases, selling, trading and complete green living. There will be a tremendous amount of information given in future correspondence. It was so rewarding to know that our people at Tender Mercies already instinctively follow these rules for growing. There is so much more we have yet to put in place. We are all sponges absorbing knowledge to take home to TM for ourselves and our children. Please watch for more details, photos and experiences on our website and social media below:
The travel team for this year's Uganda trip is absolutely ecstatic to see our children and get back to work, but we need your help! On Saturday April 27th we will be packing close to 30 over-sized totes with supplies for our family, friends, and community members in the Kayunga District. Check out the Facebook event details here!
We still need supplies! Consider collecting and donating the following essentials:
We're excited to announce our participation in a successful community event coming up on May 2nd! Here's a little bit more about this event:
#YVGives2019 by the Billings Community Foundation will start at
12PM on Thursday, May 2nd and end at 6PM on Friday, May 3rd, 2019. The Billings Community Foundation's Yellowstone Valley Gives initiative is a powerful 24+ hour online and on-site Live Celebration of Giving focused on connecting Community Members with area Nonprofit Organizations - reinforcing the value of Philanthropic Giving, Community Engagement, and Collaborative Impact for the benefit of the Greater Yellowstone Valley Region of Montana! The Billings Community Foundation’s Yellowstone Valley Giving Day is a powerful 24+ hour online and on-site live celebration of giving, focused on connecting community members with area nonprofits! We are reinforcing the value of philanthropic giving, encouraging community engagement, and strengthening collaborative impact for the benefit of the Greater Yellowstone Valley Region of Montana!
Consider making your contribution and visit our organization's page! CLICK HERE!
"It has been 3 years since I traveled overseas, for the first time in my life, to meet and fall in love with the people of Kayunga, Uganda. As I pack my bag of belongings, trying to remember only the essentials, and look back on the photos I have from my last adventure, I can't help but think, 'What do they look like now and how have they grown? do they all remember me? will I remember all of their names? how can I make this trip more impactful than the last? I hope I can take more pictures and capture more stories this time...'" -Morgan Ditto
The memories, stories, and experiences of the travel team members are so important to us. They help us share the love, the heart, and the compassion of this organization that engages new supporters and warms the hearts of all of our faithful donors and volunteers. This year we will be collecting more photos and more stories from each person who is traveling with us, and posting them for all of you to see!
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We hope to post daily (internet and electricity pending) starting May 6th! We can't wait to share with all of you!
Our Dollar for Dollar campaign, spurred on by a generous supporter of AIDSpirit USA, was a complete success! This was our organization's first time working together with various fundraising events working towards one common goal, GET TO $50k. There were garage sales, bake sales, wine tastings, peer-to-peer requests and outreach, and SO MUCH MORE! Together our AIDSpirit family of supporters raised over $51,000. The Jenken's family started this challenge by matching the first $50k and with everyone's fundraising efforts and overwhelming generosity, we raised over $100,000 thousand dollars!
Since this campaign has ended, we have been able to secure a farm vehicle, provide drip irrigation for 4 acres of farm property, secure an additional 2 acres of farm land, recognize and start restoration of 4 water wells and start construction on a new Tender Mercies Infant Home which will provide a more comfortable atmosphere for those abandoned and vulnerable children under the age of 3.
In May our Team will travel to see the beautiful children at Tender Mercies Home. As we travel as a team we will see the fruits of your generosity and view the progress made for the sustainable farm project, share in the Celebration of these 4 wells, start with the construction of an outdoor covered patio at Tender Mercies and check on the progress of the infant home. So many wonderful things have been accomplished with this goodwill, STAY TUNED FOR OUR BLOG UPDATES WHILE WE TRAVEL IN MAY!!!!
We have so much to be grateful for and one thing is certain, THESE REMARKABLE PROJECTS ARE HAPPENING BECAUSE OF YOU!
Please keep an eye on progress by following our Blog and encouraging others to get involved. Enjoy the photos attached of some of the projects we mentioned above.
Sincerely, AIDSpirit USA Team