I have a big heart for companies and organizations whose focus is on making a difference in the world, or just making a difference in general. I guess working for Jedidiah for so many years really opened my eyes to the incredible impact just one company can make by simply leveraging the power of retail to make a positive difference through a recurring model of giving. It’s the idea of “embedded generosity”. Can you imagine if every company developed some form of this give-back model!? It would be huge….life changing. I was introduced to the organization ROWAN through a family member, and was so inspired by their mission. This I wanted to invite Kelsey, the co-founder and visionary behind the organization, to share a bit of her story. Traveling to more than 17 countries in the last eight years, Kelsey has developed a passion and zeal for every nation, tribe, and tongue. But if you ask her today, she would say her heart is “always in Uganda.” She lives with her husband Thaddeus in Colorado and frequently ventures to Uganda as she serves full time with ROWAN. The “Beads of Hope” necklace that I am wearing above is handmade by women in Uganda and is available HERE, on their online shop. And you can also watch THIS VIDEO to see how they are made.
To get a better idea of what ROWAN is all about, I asked Kelsey a few questions….
ROWAN (Rural Orphans + Widows AIDS Network) is all about loving widows into leaders, and loving orphans into beloved Children. Everyone in our program has been infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. The areas we focus on are Micro Enterprise, Education, and Medical Care. I visited these villages in East Uganda 10 years ago, and have been going back to serve ever since! During these 10 years the local leaders shared their vision with me to start ROWAN, and I have simply been the microphone of their heart to the world.
ROWAN = empowerment. We bring the women together in focus groups frequently to hear their needs and discuss how we can help those needs together. Our greatest strength is our home visits that we do daily, to ensure we encourage each individual and hear from them about how we can best serve them.
What is the single most important thing that you want people to know about ROWAN?
ROWAN started with the local leaders, and this ministry is in their hands, which is the best place for it to be. The international team serves under the Uganda board, because they know best and they are ready to lead. ROWAN is successful because of this!
Our goals are self-sustaining projects on the ground, because at the end of the day, we want to see more local income than international donations. Main goals include agricultural projects and higher quality vocational training both for the orphan and widow. (The Beads of Hope Project was started by our widows because they simply love making beads and hanging out together in community. It is a great tangible item for people outside of Uganda to wear and promote the dignity of our women for all to see!
Yes! First we say, COME. COME to Uganda and meet our ROWAN family face to face! Our doors are always open. Second, a piece of encouragement to you is this: Even giving a little makes a huge investment in our ministry. We are challenging people to join AMAKA- which means “family” in our language. How to become an amaka member? Simply by committing a min. of $5 bucks a month! Something small as $5 can take us farther- and with that you join our closed AMAKA facebook group and talk with orphans, widows, local staff and the Founder himself in the village! You can talk to those who you are investing in! They are not that far away! www.loverowan.com