Just Like Christmas The beginning of the year is busy for all Amigos Uganda staff, and the Sponsorship team is no exception! Joseph and Kate have been on an epic three-week trip, travelling across Uganda through the districts of Wakiso, Gulu, Lira and Masindi. On their way, they met up with existing sponsored children, collecting their letter for their sponsor and giving out Christmas gifts donated for Christmas 2019. They will also be identifying orphans and other children whose families are in desperate need of help. Joseph said: For all who sent a 2019 Christmas gift to your sponsored child, you will be amazed to hear how your gift has been able to change a life, not just one life but the whole family. You will realise that you have not only supported them to survive, you have encouraged this family to thrive. Our trip started in Wakiso, meeting sponsored children and their guardians at the Amigos Uganda hub in Naalyamagonja, a village in Gayaza. The children received Christmas cards and electronic letters from their sponsors – huge thanks to those who sent a letter to their sponsored child – it means a lot to them and their families. At Amigos, we help people help themselves – a hand up, not a handout. We guide the children on how to make good choices with their Christmas gift money, encouraging them to buy items that will benefit the entire family. In this way, we can make sure that every sponsor’s generous gift is put to the best possible use. Gifts included mattresses, blankets, school bags, a pair of bed sheets, goats and piglets for income generation; each gift carefully chosen to address a pressing need in the family. Little Tracy bought herself a tea flask, a pair of shoes, a mattress and a school bag. “I used to go to school on an empty stomach, without taking any breakfast. Thank you for I now have a tea flask.” Having spent a few days in Wakiso, recording stories and ensuring that Christmas gifts were delivered to the right families, we embarked on a six-hour drive to Gulu, in the north of Uganda, where families have been supported for the last year. The children and their caregivers gathered, as they have done twice before, to write letters to their sponsors. But this meeting contained an extra surprise, as they were also greeted with news of Christmas gifts. In Paicho sub county, poverty is rife. Most families sleep on a papyrus mat with no blankets; children walk barefooted to school, and hunger and deprivation are part of daily life. It is not surprising, therefore, that sleep was a priority- most children chose a mattress, a blanket, and clothes. To these children, this day marks their Christmas. Look at these smiling faces in the photos, there is nothing little, EVEN SMALL IS BIG. Imagine a child who was walking barefooted now putting on a shoe, isn’t that big enough; from nothing to something? This day is that one day that sinks deep in these children’s memories, one that will bring them joy for the rest of their lives. It is a special moment when children and their families begin to feel what sponsorship means: such unexpected, real love. 8-year-old Daniel lives with his grandma, Sabine; his mum died during childbirth, when Daniel was just 4 years old. Sabine has land but no tools for tilling it, so she was never able to grow enough food for her family. They slept on the floor and if anyone fell sick, they would have to walk for miles to get help. For his Christmas gift, Daniel chose two hoes, a bicycle, a mattress and a blanket. Now, the family members can farm more effectively and, with the Conservation Farming skills that Sabine is learning, grow enough food to eat, as well as extra to sell. They have a means of transport to get to market, or hospital if a family member is ill, and they no longer sleep on a papyrus mat. By 6pm we were dispatching children and their caregivers to walk home before it got dark. As they walked back to their homes, you could tell their happiness from their faces. It was a colourful moment, the first of its kind in Gulu. If you would like to transform a life by sponsoring a child and their family, click here.