From the age of seven, Alissa Cooper Sande – Heart for Uganda’s founder, had a vision of saving the children of Africa. After taking a mission trip to Uganda and personally witnessing the distressing situation of the orphaned and vulnerable children in Kyenjojo, Uganda, Alissa could no longer remain in the US. She knew it was time to resign from her position as an elementary teacher and move permanently to Uganda, Africa.
In 2009, Heart for Uganda, a nondenominational nonprofit organization was formed. With the help of God’s Care Ministries, the organization now serves to unite believers nationally and internationally in spreading the hope and Gospel of Jesus to the people of Kyenjojo. God’s Care Ministries is the Ugandan organization responsible for the daily program implementation. Heart for Uganda and God’s Care Ministries welcome mission teams as well as interns to join in God’s work in Kyenjojo.
Heart for Uganda’s initial focus was to develop a sponsorship program and build a Children’s Village in Kyenjojo, Uganda to meet the needs of the orphaned and vulnerable children. Plans for the Children’s Village included a Hospital, Schools-Elementary, High School, & Vocational School, a Library, and Children’s Dormitories. In January 2009, sixty acres of land was purchased to make the Children’s Village become reality. Later that year, construction of McFarland Memorial Medical Center began along with a child sponsorship program which supported 50 children.
In the spring of 2011, God miraculously provided the funding from a local US church to install our production bore hole water system. This created a clean, safe water source for our buildings. This year also included the initiation of an agricultural program that included gardening as well as raising livestock and the official opening of the McFarland Memorial Medical Center. Over the next year, the medical center continued to expand it’s services to include outpatient and inpatient care as well as x-ray and ultrasound capabilities.
In August of 2012, the Children’s dormitory, Palace of Treasures, was opened and quickly filled to approximately 50 children in the first year. By the summer of 2014, we had completed the second story of the dormitory building and constructed a second home to allow boys and girls to be housed separately.
Sparkling Gems Nursery and Primary School was opened in February of 2013. Under Alissa’s management, the school has continued to improve in its academics and increase in enrollment. Two of our seventh-grade classes have graduated with excellent results.
In the spring of 2013, our water project began. This project includes repairing and constructing bore holes and shallow wells in our community, forming water committees to manage the water and hygiene situation in their villages, and providing training to the community on water hygiene and sanitation.
Additional programs supported by Heart for Uganda include radio programs, begun in 2011 through God’s Care Church, and children’s programs through the church such as Sunday Rice and Children’s Day celebration events.
God’s Care Church began conducting services in an elementary school in July 2007. By January of 2009, they built their own building and over the next few years added additional structures for a children and teen program.
To date, our programs continue to flourish. McFarland Medical Center sees an average of 250 patients and offers outpatient and inpatient care, laboratory services, x-ray and ultrasound scan, prenatal and maternity care, HIV/AIDS medication and services, prayer and counseling, hygiene training, immunizations, and minor dental services. Sparkling Gems Nursery and Primary School has 400 students in attendance and our Palace of Treasures has a total of 74 children, 32 residing in the girls’ home and 32 residing in the boys’ home. Our child sponsorship program has 215 children enrolled, and we continue to add more children. Our community water project has served over 10,000 people, and we have constructed 5 new shallow wells, 2 bore holes, 3 spring wells, and repaired 11 shallow wells and 6 bore holes. God’s Care Church has 350 people in attendance and continues to see adults and children accept the Lord and be baptized.