To all of our supporters, family, and friends who have been on this adventure with us,
As we look back to where we started, we are overwhelmed at the way this amazing Zozu story has unfolded over the last four years. It started with Templeton Presbyterian Church stepping out in faith to donate $39,000 to build Solid Rock Christian School in Arua, and over the years, we have seen countless other churches, organizations, companies, donors, and sponsors say “yes” to transforming the lives of children halfway across the globe. For us, it has been an unbelievable privilege to witness how God has woven the lives of so many here together with the lives of the vulnerable children of Arua.
Since the building of Solid Rock in 2015, this combined support has provided:
• A 2,100 square foot expansion of Solid Rock
• The establishment of a library, medical clinic, and computer lab on the school site
• The welcoming of 2 additional classes of students at Solid Rock with a total number of 300 students currently being served
• The provision of 18 full time Ugandan salaries
• The purchase of additional plots of land for the building of a preschool, playing fields, and future offices.
But what is even more exciting than these numbers is the transformed lives that we and pastor JP have seen–lives transformed from sickness to health, from hopelessness to confidence, and from desperation to ambition.
As we look back and celebrate the lives already transformed, we also look to the future with excitement. Encouraged by God’s incredible provision, both the US and the Ugandan teams have big dreams! We have been prayerfully considering the building of the preschool, further land acquisition and school expansion, the building of teacher housing, and how to best support our current students in their education as far as they are able, including through secondary school and university.
At the same time over here in America, our helper Chandler Smith, who had been managing all of our communication, left for the Peace Corp in January. Although we knew his time with us would be brief, we have missed him terribly. Recognizing how invaluable he had been in growing Zozu’s support, the board began to discuss the possibility of our first permanent hire. In the meantime, Elsie Soderberg, at the time a student at UCLA, traveled to Uganda and then in April took over from Chandler. It quickly became apparent that Elsie was heaven sent.
Elsie studied Communications and Entrepreneurship at UCLA and Business and Intercultural Communication at the University of Westminster in London. At UCLA she was a captain of the Mock Trial team, and is a blogger and avid traveller. She worked for two and a half years for a faith-based startup nonprofit called Elevate Africa, and we love how she lives her life with the mindset of service to others. She is empathetic, courageous, creative and committed to community both locally and globally. Elsie is an adventurer!
After obtaining private donations to cover her salary for two years (ensuring that one hundred percentage of your donations will continue to go directly to Uganda), we are beyond excited to announce that Elsie will be our first permanent hire as Director of Communications and Marketing starting in August! We cannot wait to see how God uses her time and talents to further bless the children of Arua.
We thank all of you so much for making what once seemed like impossible dreams a reality. It seems to us that from one little “yes” four years ago he has brought more fruit than we could have imagined. We cannot express our gratitude enough that you are a part of the story, and look forward to sharing the next chapter with you.
Elaine and Mick Lebens