Are you ready for an announcement? Here goes! We are moving to Kampala, Uganda in August. I bet you did not see that coming! This has all come about unexpectedly, as we fully planned to stay in Tanzania continuing our work here. However, sometimes plans and reality are two different paths. We have found ourselves at that cross-roads once again. Here is the situation:
If you have been reading my blog posts you know that we have been worried about getting our visas renewed.
Immigration struggles have been the main reason that people have been leaving Arusha. Two years ago, they started denying the issuing of business visas to foreigners. Paid professions like teachers, nurses and entrepreneurs have been told that if they held a visa, it would not be renewed. We have been unaffected by this, as we have been on a volunteer visa, called a class C. On March 21, we found out that legislation has tightened once again with class C visas as the target. The new legislation prohibits the issuing of volunteer class C visas for any organization that is not a tax-exempt NGO (Non-Government Organization). We were alarmed by this, as Walk In Love daycare project is not even an NGO. We are a Limited Liability Company. We immediately started to contact people we knew in immigration, legal capacity, and expats in similar situations. After a week of intense investigation, we came to the conclusion that we are no longer eligible to apply for a visa in Tanzania. Our current visa expires in mid-October and we will need to be out of the country by that time.
As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult conclusion to accept. We had big dreams for our program in Tanzania. However, in all of this we definitely see how this could be God’s good grace to move us on in ministry. We are currently at a convenient “pause” place. We had begun work on starting a third daycare center, but it was only in the beginning stages. The two existing daycare centers are running very well, with 69 kids attending. With some additional training, the two current centers would be capable of running independently, with minimal input on our part. This is what sustainability looks like, and should ultimately be the goal of any foreign aid project.
So… what is next? We have been concerned about the visa situation since last November. Matt and I have been quietly exploring possible options, knowing that our visas were at risk of being denied. We do not feel that God has brought us this far to give up on all that we have learned and discovered in providing family-based care resources to at-risk families. We are more committed than ever to provide resources that help families stay together. We have been in awe of how God has used our centers to help families in Arusha. This model has worked better than we thought possible. We do not want to leave and close our current centers. We do not see living in America as God’s plan for us at this time. After much prayer and research, we have decided to expand the ministry of Walk In Love to Uganda. To do that, our family will be moving to Kampala, Uganda in August.
Here is our rational for this decision: First, the basic need in Uganda is great. Uganda has the second youngest population in the world, with 55% of the population under the age of 18. Women have, on average, 6 children. Uganda is still recovering from war, which ended 1979 and the HIV crisis, which severely impacted the country. The GDP of Uganda is significantly lower than both Kenya or Tanzania. These, and many more factors, add up to a country that would benefit from family-based care resources. Second, the visa requirements and legal requirements for starting an NGO in Uganda are much more straight forward and friendly toward foreigners. From Uganda, we could keep the Kisongo Center and Market Center running, returning to Tanzania as needed. Finally, Uganda is one of the leading countries in Africa in moving away from orphanage-based care towards family focused care. They are forward thinking in keeping children with their family, or fostering. We believe that our model has a lot to offer that movement in the developing world. We have spoken to Walk In Love founder, Aubree Packard, about our plan and she has enthusiastically agreed that starting a Walk In Love branch in Uganda is consistent with the organization’s long-term vision.
Logistically, several pros are that we could take our cars, dogs, and important household items.
With these ideas in mind, we made a two-week survey trip to Uganda April 21-May 3. It was very enlightening. Here were our goals/questions for the trip and a brief summary of what we discovered.
- Is our model a good fit for the need in our targeted area?
Yes, according to the many people that we met with, both Ugandan and foreign, we were able to confirm that our model is a great fit for the needs of people in Uganda. We met with multiple directors of organizations doing work in Uganda, specifically the cities of Jinja and Kampala. Overwhelmingly, their response was that the model of high quality, low cost daycare is highly needed, and not being done by anyone else. It is estimated that over 2 million children currently living in orphanages in Uganda have family who could take care of them with the proper resources, such as daycare. (https://allafrica.com/stories/201805160194.html
- What are the logistics of opening an NGO in Uganda?
We met with a lawyer who was recommended to us by another NGO. He was able to outline the legal process of starting up Walk In Love Uganda. This NGO would be the Ugandan branch of Walk In Love under the 501c3 in the States. The lawyer believes we will be able to complete the process before October. The cost of starting an NGO is approximately $1500 USD.
- In what area would we establish ourselves and start our new centers?
We have identified Kampala, Uganda as the city with the most need for our model. We are planning to move to Kampala in August (3 months!!). Kampala is the capital. It is intimidating in size and busyness. We visited both Kampala and Jinja. Although Jinja is beautiful, both Matt and I felt strongly that the greatest need is in Kampala. Kampala is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, with an estimated population of 2.4 million people. The poverty is intense. It is a paradox of wealth, punctuated with slums that lack running water or electricity. Everyone we talked to indicated that Kampala is in the greatest need for family support.
- How is the visa process?
If the NGO is completed by the time we arrive, we would get our visas under the new organization. If not, we would be able to get a special pass designed for this situation. Everyone we talked to said that getting a visa is quick and painless. A two-year visa for Uganda is $500, compared to $3000 in Tanzania. The process is almost all completed online!
- What are the living costs in Uganda?
The cost of living is higher in Kampala compared to Arusha. We will need to do fundraising for cost of living increase. We will also have the additional cost of moving which we estimate to be $5000 and the girls starting school which is $2500 for the year.
- What about schooling for Camille and Tabitha?
We are planning for Camille and Tabitha to attend public school for the first time. We did school visits while in Kampala, and settled on the British School of Kampala. The girls are very excited about going to school. (http://www.bskampala.com/)
Thank you so much for reading this far! We have come to the part where we turn to you and ask, will you join us in this move? We are so incredibly grateful for each of you. We could not have made the impact that we have without your support. We need you now, more than ever, as we expand our ministry to Uganda. We believe that we have been called and trained to help families stay together and thrive. We know that our model works. We have recently lost several hundred dollars in monthly support and are facing a move and increased living expenses. Would you be willing to join our support team? We need to raise $5000 for moving costs, $2500 for the girl’s school and $500 per month in scheduled support. It is so easy to become part of our support team. Just click on this DONATE link or the Donate tab at the top of the page. All of your donations are tax deductible.
We would really like to hear from you. What do you think about our move? Are you excited about seeing Walk In Love expand to Uganda? We also ask for your prayers as we make this transition. There are so many things that need to fall into place as we plan an international move in three months. Please pray for the hearts of those we leave behind and for our family as we move into a new adventure.