Uganda Missions 2024: Blog #5

Hi Lighthouse Family!

Yesterday, while the rest of the team was in the SOS clinic, I was able to shadow SOS’s physical therapist (Eric) on some home visits in the surrounding village.  Eric joined the SOS community outreach program last year, which is called Joni’s House (in connection with Joni and Friends).  We drove on bumpy dirt roads to visit some of his many patients (he told me that his home visit patient list totals 115 people).  Some roads were questionable to drive on (even Eric wasn’t sure if the rain overnight made some of them safe), but we were able to make it to each patient’s home.  As you can imagine, physical therapy in some of these homes was limited to what was inside and our two hands.  No fancy equipment or medical devices to be seen except the occasional cane or wheelchair.  Some of the patients we saw were found sitting on the ground and struggling to stand up from the floor due to their weakness after a stroke.  Eric brought me to visit a mother and her son with cerebral palsy, working on a dirt ground so she can help her child learn to sit up.  Because his patient list is so large, he knows his time is limited and focused on educating the family or caregivers and providing exercises to help them improve strength and movement.

What struck me the most is not just the physical therapy aspect of our visits, but the compassion and love that Eric showed each home, both to the patient and their families.  For many of these patients, they have no way to leave their homes to get to church due to their disabilities- many people walk on uneven dirt roads to get anywhere.  Eric might be one of the few people from church who reach out and point them to Christ.  His prayer is that his patients would eventually be connected to the local church so they can continue to experience the Gospel on display.

Today, the whole Lighthouse team joined the Joni’s House ministry staff on home visits to see families.  The ministry provides for people with disabilities and their families through home PT visits (which I was able to see yesterday), providing medication or financial aid for surgery, building new homes, and animal husbandry (more on that later).  They also invite women from the community and train them in making crafts as a source of income.  Their mission is to lift up people with disabilities and their families and point them to Christ.  In Uganda people with disabilities are often hidden in the shadows and seen as lesser than.   In assisting them through this ministry, it is a witness to the community of not only the Gospel, but to see those with disabilities as a blessing, not a curse.  The entire staff has such a heart for the people in their community, and have grown such close relationships through this ministry.

Ok, let’s backtrack a little- You’re probably wondering, “What is animal husbandry?  And how is this a part of ministry?” I also had the same question.  This aspect of the ministry involves providing goats or pigs to assist the families financially by having a sustainable source of income.  They have a veterinarian on staff at Joni’s house to educate the families on how to care for their animals, as well as follow up visits in case the animal falls ill.  So far 13 families have received animals, which has been able to serve as a source of income so their children can go to school or to provide for their child with special needs.

I honestly could go on and on, but I’m scared this blog post is becoming a little long winded.  I will leave you with some pictures so you get a small glimpse into the impact this ministry has made.  They truly extend their hand into the unseen parts of the community for the Gospel.  Our entire team was blessed to witness the relationships that have been built and the ways in which they care for their community. 

We are so thankful for your prayers and the messages we’ve received during the week.  I can’t wait to come home to share more!

Adrienne Ihara and Team Uganda