Hello everyone -
I have the best news to announce! Phina from Uganda has become our 6th Deaf Dreamer!
Her background story is unique and proves her inner strength. So many miracles have fallen into place for this amazing woman.
With the help of her supportive parents, she was able to start college last year (a rarity in Uganda!). However, during her first semester, her parents were murdered by armed robbers and her she had to pull out of school to fetch and sell water to meet her basic needs.
Her parents' family adopted all of her siblings except Phina, because she is deaf. (Traditionally, I have been told, Deaf are considered "mad" and "hopeless" by hearing people.)
Thankfully, Oryem Sunday, a mentor to Jerry and Amuge (other Deaf Dreamers in Uganda), felt he should tell me about Phina even though we have a strict 2 students per country policy. (Phina did not know that he reached out to me about her situation.) As I read her story and received her application and application video within 24 hours of me asking for more information, I knew in my heart that she would be a beautiful exception to the rule.
It's amazing how CLEARLY the confirmation comes when it is the right person for the scholarship!
Phina is going to tech school to be a tailor and seamstress. The three year program will not only teach her the necessary skills but also help her set up a business. She will apply for a sewing machine through Tools with a Mission (check them out, such a COOL focused non profit idea!) The program is only $200 per semester ($1200 total for the degree) and the school has offered to provide her housing and food at no cost because of her disability.
Her dream is build a business wherein she can hire other Deaf members of her community to sew school uniforms and sweaters, as well as other clothing.
A beautiful element to this miracle is that Jerry's new organization, Deaf In Action, has been helping with this process (this is the organization he started this semester). His organization wrote to Ogony Catholic Church in Gulu and Phina excitedly told me this week that they will cover the costs for workshop wear, student ID, first aid service, development fund, and her personal requirements of sugar, soap, and sanitary pads.
As Phina said in her recent email, "I can't explain how excited I am, for your great decision to sponsor my Education. I had no hope for further Education, I went to Minakulu Technical Institute and was admitted. I have been offered free Accommodation and meals at this Institute. This just the beginning of my new life. I'm thankful to God for connecting me to you through Oryem."
Thank you, each of you, for the generous donations that allow students like Phina to go to college! Each person is changing their communities and their countries. My prayer is that you will feel joy each time you read my updates. Thank you for every word of encouragement and support!
With more gratitude than I know what to do with -