When I ask God to break my heart for what breaks His, this is it. Knowing people, especially children, lack the most basic necessities to live and be well.  Knowing His people are suffering and dying from disease such as malaria, which takes a precious life every 60 seconds in Africa, many being children under the age of 5. Knowing lives are limited and damaged by disease because they do not have shoes to protect their feet from disease-causing parasites. Knowing His children living in the slums do not have food and shelter, let alone parents SHATTERS my heart. Send me, Lord.  I will gladly go!

I'm honored and full of excitement, love and hope as I mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically prepare to be humbled through this beautiful experience and love on the people of Uganda.

Over 20 years ago, God placed a massive burden on my heart. A burden that is too big for me to take on alone. For 20 years, opportunities have come and gone for me to go and serve in Africa.  But after 20 years, the time has come. I'm beyond grateful the Young Living Foundation asked me to join them on this incredible 10 day service trip to Uganda on July 8, 2018 and cannot believe how quickly this is approaching!

When you donate, you're helping me get to Uganda to work alongside 3 incredible organizations:  Sole Hope, African Hearts and Healing Faith Uganda.

SOLE HOPE - Sole Hope offers hope, healthier lives, and freedom from foot-related diseases through education, jobs, and medical relief. One of the organization’s primary focuses is to help children and adults become and remain jigger free.

What are jiggers?
Jiggers are sand fleas that burrow into hands and feet. Once embedded, the female jigger lays eggs and creates egg sacks up to the size of a pea and continues to multiply by laying more eggs. Found in sub-Saharan climates, these parasitic insects lie relatively undetected on the dirt floors of homes and schools in Uganda. Children in Uganda are particularly vulnerable as they often play barefoot in the dirt.

The wounds can become so irritating and excruciating that normal childhood activities—such as walking, running, playing, and even attending school—can be significantly limited.

Small Pests, Big Health Problems
Preventing the risks associated with jiggers is as simple as wearing shoes, and the initial infestation is treatable by removing the jigger from the foot. However, when jiggers are left unattended and allowed to fester, they can become a serious problem. As jiggers lay eggs and quickly multiply, swelling and inflammation occurs, destroying the soft tissue and creating wounds prone to infection and serious diseases, including gangrene and tetanus. Such diseases can result in amputation, permanent deformity, and even death.

Stigma and Shame
Unfortunately, a social stigma associated with jiggers often keeps people from seeking immediate, necessary help. Infected individuals may be teased, taunted, or bullied. In some cases, they are even locked in their homes because of a belief that the infection is a result of witchcraft or evil spirits. This sad reality can ostracize people from their families and communities at the very time they most need compassionate care, leaving them feeling hopeless and helpless.

AFRICAN HEARTS - African Hearts is a rescue program for children living in the Kisenyi slum, considered the biggest slum in Uganda and one of the biggest in all of Africa. Either orphaned or abandoned by their parents due to poverty, the children in the slums are without food, shelter, and have very little clothing. Sadly, these vulnerable children often turn to drugs or to sniffing a glue-like substance to ease their hunger pains and numb themselves to their situation.

Lutaaya Abdul grew up in these slums. After watching multiple young friends die amid the horrific conditions, he felt a need to make a change.

Lutaaya established African Hearts to bring other children out of the slums and into their transitional homes where they receive food, shelter, and social services, as well as a quality education through the African Hearts Junior School.

With funds raised at the Young Living 2015 International Grand Convention, The D. Gary Young, Young Living Foundation purchased land and built African Hearts a new nursery school building for 200 children ages 3–5! The Foundation has also doubled the impact of the African Hearts slum program, increasing the frequency of a meal provided to the starving children in the slums from three days a week to five days a week. The Foundation also provided the funding for African Hearts to expand the space in their transitional homes so they can house 40 children (versus 20), making it possible to rescue even more from the slums and restore their hope.

HEALING FAITH UGANDA - A person dies every 60 seconds from malaria in Africa. A majority of those deaths are children under the age of five. It's a disease that far exceeds the death toll of HIV/AIDS. Since 2011, Healing Faith Uganda has been a champion in the fight against malaria in Eastern Uganda and we were thrilled to partner with them in 2015.

Healing Faith Uganda provides malaria education, prevention, and treatment to families and children. They focus on the smaller, more remote villages where families have limited access to aid and children are more susceptible to malaria.

With funds raised at the Young Living 2015 International Grand Convention, The D. Gary Young, Young Living Foundation was able to purchase over 4,000 mosquito nets for Healing Faith Uganda. The foundation and several members went on a humanitarian trip to Uganda to deliver the donation, and they were able to hang a net over every bed throughout the village of Wasaki!

In 2016, the foundation has helped Healing Faith increase its impact by 1,000 percent! They’ve gone from hanging 400 nets in a month to more than 4,000 a month thanks to the generous contributions of our donors.

Through Healing Faith Uganda, a single donation of just $5 provides a mosquito net that can protect three to four children from malaria.

Although this will be my first time there, Uganda has had my heart for so long.  Please know when you donate, you're empowering a beautiful country filled with beautiful people.

Peace and blessings!

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Emily Aggen 
Homewood, IL
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