To our dear Sponsors, Donors, and Supporters, 

Greetings to you in the name of Christ! We hope this letter finds you well and enjoying the holiday season. 2021 brought many challenges, triumphs, and immense hope to Hands4Uganda (H4U) and Rock of Ages School (ROA)! 

By March of this year, many classes resumed but a sudden spike in COVID caused all schools to close once again and unfortunately they have not yet resumed. To support students during this time, food distributions were organized, and school materials were prepared for individual delivery to the students. Each month, teachers traveled to their pupils’ homes, providing a packet of homework to be completed over the next month. The teachers spent time with each student, explaining material, answering questions, and ensuring basic school supplies were available. This was a massive undertaking by the ROA staff and we are so thankful for their faithful commitment to our students! 

Despite students not being in school, progress continued to be made at the new ROA campus. All finishing touches to the Primary Building were completed and plans for our next project, the Multipurpose Building were drawn. Items like an industrial printer were purchased and an expansion of the school agricultural program which will reduce food costs and increase nutritional intake for student lunches were made. 

We announced our partnership with the Fly Fishing Collaborative who will help set-up an aquaponics farm on the school site in 2022! This project will generate additional income for ROA and will provide educational opportunities for students as they learn about lifecycles and sustainable agriculture. 

We are also thrilled to share that a very generous donor has worked to design a solar power system that will provide ROA with consistent power in 2022 and eventually access to technology in the classroom! This is a major advancement for ROA and we are so appreciative of this donor's dedication and love for the children. 

To date all teachers and staff have been vaccinated and while we have had no losses within the student body, faculty or staff due to COVID, this year's medical bills nearly quadrupled from previous years. Your continued donations during this time ensured that any student, teacher, or staff member needing medical attention was able to receive it free of charge. Thank you for making this possible! 

Lastly, we would like to take a moment to acknowledge former H4U board members. Randy Fowler and Gabe Flicker were part of H4U since the beginning of the organization. As passionate, kind, and educated men of Christ they acted as fearless leaders of the organization for nearly a decade. Finally, it is with great sadness we share that former board chair, Karla Reynolds, passed away this fall. After a long battle with cancer, she now rests peacefully in the loving arms of our Father. Karla was a key player in the development of H4U and worked relentlessly for the betterment of the children. We are forever thankful for Gabe, Randy and Karla and are honored to continue in their good works. 

We look forward to welcoming all students back to ROA in January. We ask for your continued prayers and support as we provide each child with a wholesome education and the means to a better life. 

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and many blessings in the New Year! 

Hands4Uganda BOD and Volunteers

In September the Ugandan President announced that students would not be returning to school until January of 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the US, Google Classroom has provided a platform for virtual communications between teachers and students, allowing for continued learning despite "in-person" limitations. However, in Mbiko Uganda where electricity is unreliable (and often absent in most student homes) online/virtual learning is not an option.

With growing concern for student learning, Rock of Ages Community School faculty and staff devised a plan that would allow for more academic engagement throughout the last trimester of this school year despite limitation on in "in-person" classes.

In September ROA teachers put together progressive learning packets for every single ROA student. These paper packets contained 500 questions and activities and were meant to be completed over a one month timeframe. All ROA teachers then hand delivered these packets to each students home by foot or boda-boda (motorcycle taxi), taking the time needed to explain the homework packets and how the student is expected to pace themselves. Teachers are available to answer questions throughout the month and via phone. Teachers then return to each students home at the end of the month in order to review the packet and provide students with new material.

While these packets could never replace "in-person" learning they have been a success! Students have been brushing up on their academic skills, working towards a smoother transition once schools are able to resume in January!

Meet Christine. Christine is the gardener at Rock of Ages Community School (ROA). When you sponsor a student at ROA, your donation covers the student’s tuition which includes teacher and staff salaries, including Christine’s pay. Read this letter from ROA Founder and Director Betty Wasswa about how working at ROA has changed Christine’s life:

Hello ROA Family,

I hope you are all doing well in this Covid-19 pandemic. Here, we have seen the hand of God protect us.

This is Christine, our gardener, who we employed at the beginning of the school year. She is a single mom with five children who attend ROA.

We decided to hire her because she was so in need (of employment) and very committed to the school. Whenever we have been in need, she always says, “I have no money, but I can provide labor.”

Ever since she has been working for ROA she tells us that she can now pay rent and provide food to her family.

She is so grateful and works very hard from 2:30 am to 2:00 pm. Before, she was digging (gardening) for many people and sometimes they never paid her. She appreciates that since she has joined us at ROA she gets her payments and that has helped her and her family.

Thank you for being part of the story that is happening in Uganda, caring for our students, enabling change for their families and our community.

Betty Wasswa, Founder and Director ROA

Ordinary People Making Extraordinary Differences.

A successful educational director ventures on an unexpected life-changing journey, not once but twice.

When Gabe Flicker, now retired director of a Grace Lutheran School in Pocatello, ID attended an informational meeting about a short-term mission trip as a favor for a friend, he never imagined he would walk away saying, “We’re going to Uganda!”

What do I have to offer? What are we going to do?  How can I possibly make a difference? As an outstanding principal, he was encouraged to go and teach tuition systems, hiring procedures, curriculums……all helpful skills to share in establishing a successful school program. But, could he really make an impact?  Again, and again he questioned whether he had made the right decision to not only join, but to help bring together the team of 24 that would head to Uganda in the summer of 2010.

When he first met Betty, founder of Rock of Ages Community School (ROA), Gabe determined pretty quickly that she was the real deal.  Having a lifelong dream to open her own school for poverty-stricken children, Betty had it figured out.  “I was very impressed and I determined early on that my school administration stuff was actually a deficit to share with her, because it’s so different there,” said Gabe. “I didn’t understand doing a hot lunch program when you can only have one food item to serve, I didn’t understand how to do a curriculum when the students didn’t even have pencils”. He went on to confirm that in all the trips he’s made to Uganda he has not done a single school administrative task. “God was really messing with me,” he finished.

It’s difficult to have a plan, a plan to travel half way around the world to share skills it took a life time to gain, to think you are really going to make a difference in your area of professional expertise, 

and then to find yourself seemingly unwise in all of its aspects.  But it’s those who accept this realization, that are able to open their hearts and to create the greatest impact on both those who join the mission and those who are the recipients of the mission’s work.  “It was in that difficult moment that I discovered just what it was that God had called me to do,” Gabe announced.

In addition to being an expert administrator, Gabe came to realize that he is also an outstanding influencer. “I am pretty good at getting others to do stuff,” he shared.  It was his ability to bring 24 other individuals together for that first trip to Uganda that set the stage for the beginnings of Hands4Uganda. And in 2019 Gabe co-led a men’s mission team of 16 to Uganda stating, “It was really one of the most significant things I have ever done in my life in terms of making a difference for other people and not just for the Ugandans but maybe even for a few of the American men that went along.”

While in Uganda, Gabe discovered another skill that he is a bit more modest in sharing but that is well-worth the mention.  He travelled to Uganda armed with all the necessities, a few changes of clothes, some bug spray, toiletries, and of course a camera. Intending to capture a few great memories, Gabe carried the camera with him each day.  He snapped a few shots here and there, having no clue that God was using him to produce photographs that would touch others enough to create a significant impact on Hands4Uganda. “The whole idea of using my camera for that purpose is something I had never considered,” Gabe said humbly.  “But here I was, once again realizing that no matter the experience or skill level, God has use and plans for you.”

To sum it all up, Gabe stressed that if you have a desire to go on a mission trip, God will get you there.  And whether you think you know the reason you are going or not, God will reveal the reason so be open to listening to that and then moving that direction.  God’s going to mess with you!  Don’t resist it!

As schools remain closed under the direction of the Uganda president we ask for continued prayers for the students of Rock of Ages School.

“Just keep our students in your prayers because some of them are more safe when they are in school,” pleads Betty Wasswa, Founder and Director of ROA.

It is estimated that over 262.5 million children from pre-primary and secondary school are currently out of school because of COVID-19 closures, which translates to approximately 21.5% of the total population in Africa. For many poor and vulnerable children in Africa, schools are not only a place for learning but also a safe space from violence and exploitation. It is also where they have a nutritious meal (sometimes the only meal for the day). Source: Save the Children. Read more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is jeopardizing Africa’s children.

“Thank you for everything you have done since you came into my life. I am so grateful. May the Lord give you whatever you want in life and may He give you everlasting life.  You are like a parent to me. You mean everything. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know what I would have done.  Thank you so much.”  ~ Dorothy, Sponsored Student of Matthew and Danielle Bass

It’s been about four years now since Matthew and his wife, Danielle, learned of the opportunity to provide a faith-based education to a child who might not otherwise know the love of God and decided to sponsor a student at Rock of Ages Community School (ROA) through Hands4Uganda (H4U).  At the time Dorothy was just 9 years old.  She lived with both of her parents, but like most families in the poverty-stricken village of Mbiko her parents couldn’t afford to send her or her siblings to school. As a sponsored student of ROA, she now attends school free of charge and has a chance to escape the stronghold of poverty.

Matthew had the amazing opportunity to meet Dorothy in person when a door was opened and he faithfully, though nervously, stepped through believing that God would provide. In 2019, Matthew joined a H4U men’s mission trip and headed to Uganda with no idea of what to expect or what he would be doing. Though helping with the construction phase of the new ROA school building was a large part of the mission itinerary, meeting Dorothy was the highlight.

Making the same long walk that Dorothy made each day from home to school and back again, Matthew met Dorothy, her mother and two brothers at their home. “I imagined sever poorness and visiting Dorothy’s home confirmed my thoughts and made me realize just how sheltered we are here in the US. Most of us can’t even imagine the living situation that I witnessed there,” conveyed Matthew.  “But what really struck me the most, what really stood out as I surveyed the meager living quarters of Dorothy’s family was that their attitudes were not poor at all – they were sincerely full of joy, a joy that can only be found through the love and hope of Jesus,” Matthew continued.

Joy would be Matthew’s as well.  When he presented Dorothy and her family with a few small gifts that he had brought from home she gave him a necklace that she had handmade in return – expressing just how appreciative she was of his sponsorship. “I was delighted when she presented the necklace to me, that moment was really special,” Matthew proclaimed.

At school, Dorothy was studying for her Primary Leaving Exam (PLE). The PLE is a test that is taken by all 7th graders in Uganda to determine if they are eligible to go on to secondary school. 

Matthew informed Dorothy that when she passed her exams he would make sure that her sponsorship continued all the way through secondary school.  In November, Dorothy passed the PLE in the top division and is now attending ST Joseph Namgunga Secondary School. 

“I was really honored to be able to increase my sponsorship of Dorothy ensuring her continued education,” stated Matthew.

Matthew and Danielle also sponsor an 8-year old male student, Absolom.  Though Matthew wasn’t able to meet Absalom’s family, he was thankful for the opportunity to meet him in person at ROA. “We may not have our own biological children but we do have kids,” Matthew affirmed.  “Their names are Dorothy and Absolom and I am so grateful to have witnessed the hope that they receive through our sponsorship with Hands4uganda.  It’s truly life-changing for them.”

Still under stay at home orders, our students and their families await the next announcement from the President about changes to the policy. In the mean time, your donations have made it possible for us to assist with milk and eggs being distributed to students and their families each week. Thank you!

We’re not asking for monetary donations today.

We are asking for your help as we work to grow! Because of you we now sponsor 230 kids and there are at least 147 more who need sponsorship. Our school is growing, our kids are graduating and doing well.

Today we are asking you to help us reach more contacts and tell them about the great things we’ve done. We have a private donor who will give us a $1 for every newsletter sign-up or social media share or tag we make happen on GivingTuesdayNow. $1 may not seem like much, but in Uganda $1 will buy enough corn to feed 5-6 children, enough pencils or pens for a student for a school year, enough chalk for a teacher for a school term, or even a nice pencil sharpener for a classroom.

Here are two ways you can help us today - at no cost to you:

  1. Forward our latest newsletter to your contacts and ask them to consider signing up.
  2. On Tuesday, May 5th, use Facebook or Instagram to share our GivingTuesdayNow posts, post pictures of your sponsored child, pictures of one of our mission trips, your favorite picture of one of our kids…..something related to H4U. Just tag it: #Hands4Uganda

The Ugandan government's response to COVID-19 has been escalating rapidly.

Following the first confirmed positive case, the president put the country on complete shutdown including all public transit. As a result, the entire country - including our students, staff, and their families - are scrambling to adjust.

We launched a campaign to raise funds for food and our donor base generously responded. We will be able to provide eggs and milk to the families of students for the next four weeks and are working on additional plans to help.

Pictured above: Rock of Ages students promote hand washing during the COVID-19 crisis.

The H4U Mens Team is wrapping up their time at Rock of Ages after being in Mbiko for nearly two weeks!

For those of you have followed along through our social media sites (Facebook and Instagram), thank you! We were so excited to be able to share real time updates about their trip and the progress they were able to make at the new school facility.

Over the next few posts, here on the H4U blog, we will be sharing specific stories that warrant a little more space for words and pictures!

Last week the H4U Mens Team visited a nearby Secondary School called St. Noah. Many ROA graduates who continue to be supported through our secondary program attend St. Noah, including Rose, a student sponsored by Board Member Gabe Flicker.

Gabe and Rose at St. Noah

Below is an email he shared with us recounting his experience .

"The coolest God thing happened yesterday. We wanted to visit some high schools but due to a national holiday, Martyr’s Day, most were closed. But St. Noah, near ROA, was open. This is where many of the ROA students attend following graduation. My child, Rose, is a student there.
The head teacher gave us a super tour. He said ROA kids excel at self discipline and basic knowledge. He said that most find it difficult the first year, as most students do, because this is a boarding school and they are new. It takes a little while to navigate a new school, especially a boarding school.

Also this is a full tuition school and most of the other students come from families with some means. ROA kids come from much tougher situations, often with little to no support from home. However, the head teacher told me that based on how well ROA students perform, they have “climbed farther” than most because they started with such a lower level of family support.

ROA is well respected here. The graduates are prepared for higher learning and we were shown that today. "


While supporting students through their primary education has always been at the core of H4U's mission, as we continue to grow, we will be placing more focus on expanding our secondary program which includes academic and trade school options for ROA graduates. Without the continued support of sponsors and donors our students will most likely never have an opportunity to attend secondary school. Most secondary programs are boarding schools and can cost between $800 and $1,000 per year.

In order to stay true to our mission as an organization - to make a positive difference in the lives of the children and youth of Uganda by assisting them in achieving their highest potential through a faith-based education - we must help all ROA graduates continue in their education through secondary school. We truly believe that ensuring all ROA graduates are able to complete their education is vital to them achieving their highest potential. We look forward to seeing where these studious and driven students head as they move into their future!

We ask if you are able, that may you consider sponsoring a secondary student, even if it is not for the full amount, or making a one time donation. For more information on our secondary program follow this link.

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