Shared Blessings was started 15 years ago by Audrey Foster, then director of Family Connections Adoption Agency.
“We met a man from Uganda, and some of his family was starting an orphanage there because of all the children who were begging on the road. We started a sponsorship program, and it grew from there,” she said.
The nonprofit now helps orphanages and assists with community improvement projects in Uganda and India. The board added the Children Safe Uganda ministry run by Moses Ssebaggala in 2012 and is considering adding one in Burma. Last year, it sent more than $140,000 to the three ministries in Uganda and one in India in sponsorships and aid.
“I’ve been to Uganda four times,” Foster said. “I’ve visited the orphanages and got an idea of what the needs were so we could help with them. It was so good to see the results of what we’re doing, seeing the kids when they first start and how they are as they go along. One of biggest things we do is support their Christian ministry. We always have a vacation Bible school and worship with them. It’s a great encouragement to them.”
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The agency sponsors about 200 children a year at $30 a month, but the program has grown far beyond that.
“As we heard about all the needs that were connected, like clean water and medical attention, we ended up digging wells, building a medical center, supplying a van, building a small factory (to process wheat) to serve the orphanage and also to serve the people in the village. It gave them a place for their wheat and supplied jobs for them, too. We also have done goat and chicken projects.”
The agency’s best impact, Foster said, is “knowing such wonderful people on the other end who have so little in the way of resources, but are so full of the joy of life. Also, I think most people (in the United States) have a strong desire to share. This is such a wonderful outlet for that. And this is an all-volunteer organization, so 100 percent of the donations go to the people who need it.”
For more information about Shared Blessings, go to http://sharedblessingsicm.org.