“Transforming the hearts of children, families, and communities in Uganda through the love of Christ”
Any country music fans out there? You may have heard of Love One before. Thomas Rhett's wife Lauren Akins currently serves on the Board of Directors. Thomas Rhett and Lauren also adopted their beautiful daughter Willa Gray from Uganda where Love One serves. Thomas Rhett's new single landed yesterday and this blog seemed like the perfect way to celebrate!
You may also remember the Full Heart Co mug inspired by Thomas, Lauren, and Love One.
This mug has become a bestseller in the shop and was featured in the NYCountrySwag Holiday Gift Guide for Country Music Fans.
Want to add this cutie to your mug rack? Click here.
Also --> 10% from every purchase in the Full Heart Co shop is donated to non-profit organizations. Want to donate to Love One? Choose Love One at checkout.
Suzanne is the Founder/CEO of Love One. I would tell you a little of her story here but she does such a beautiful job of summarizing it for us below.
Grace is Suzanne's daughter and the Director of Marketing/Communications.
Kate is Love One's Administrative Assistant. This is such an important role. Kate was the one responding to my e-mails and making this blog post happen. Kate is so humble. Thank you, Kate!
Some of the questions are directed to specific people and some are not. That's what makes this post so unique. Instead of focusing on one woman behind the organization we are focusing on a group of incredible women.
One thing I want to be sure you take away from this blog post is how surrendered these ladies are to the calling of the Lord on their lives. None of them planned to be working in Uganda. They simply listened when the Lord asked and obeyed Him. How can we do the same thing? We are each uniquely gifted. The Lord is calling each of us to do something unique for His kingdom. Will we listen? Will we obey?
"Nine years ago, Mike and I traveled to bring our little girl, JosieLove, home from Uganda. When we arrived, she had a 105-degree fever and could barely lift her head. Josie was 3 ½ years old, weighed 15 pounds, and didn’t walk or talk, but I KNEW that there was a little girl longing for love deep inside her shell of a body… I just wasn’t sure how to get her out. So, Mike and I took her to the doctor to see if we could get a diagnosis and medicine. After running a series of tests, they informed us that she had tuberculosis, malaria, and was HIV positive…we were in shock, heartbroken, and panicked. 'What does that mean? We have 6 other children at home. Will she infect the others? Will she die in our arms before we ever get her home?' There were so many questions reeling in our heads & hearts that we had no answers for.
When we arrived back at the orphanage, the director called us in to meet and 'affirm us not to fear because she had many other perfect, healthy children that we could choose from.' So, we affirmed her that we have '6 perfect, healthy children' at home and the Lord did not call us all the way to UGANDA to adopt just any random child. JosieLove was ours and we would figure out what we needed to do to move forward. Mike flew home to put the needed addendums to our home-study and I stayed in Uganda with Josie. The next 3 weeks were GRUELING. I sat in appointment after appointment trying to get my baby the care that she needed, but NEVER did – it wasn’t until we brought her home a few months later that she received legitimate care.
Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital became our second home and our new 'normal' and after just a few months of receiving love, attention, and the medical care she needed, our dying little girl blossomed into a healthy, thriving child who exudes joy and sunshine to everyone that she meets. Watching the transformation of this little body and soul WRECKED me and from that moment on, I saw JosieLove every time that I looked into the face of a Ugandan child in need.
While serving with 147 Million Orphans, I assisted other orphan-care related NGO’s and walked alongside many parents through their adoption journeys, and the Lord continued to stir my heart. I couldn’t sleep and I became overwhelmed with the desire to help other children just like my little angel. I kept thinking 'I have to do SOMETHING. There are SO many children just like Josie that are going to die!' So, I started Love+One. I’m so thankful for faithful friends who always tell me, 'YOU CAN DO THIS! You are not alone.'"
"Grace (Suzanne's daughter and current Director of Marketing/Communications) and I became friends in high school. I had traveled to Uganda before with another ministry and she had traveled with her family. We became friends over our mutual heart for Uganda and serving. We stayed friends and told our moms we wouldn’t give up until we got to travel together. We went together the following year to Masindi, Uganda where Love One now serves. Over the years I interned in HS and college for them and had traveled to Uganda over the years with them as well. I have helped in various roles over the past year, but just started as a part-time Administrative Assistant."
"I actually celebrated my 13th birthday on our very first trip to Uganda, and I’m turning 23 on March 14th...which means we’re coming up on 10 years that I’ve been traveling and serving there! Since that first trip, my heart has always been drawn back. I know everyone who visits Africa comes back changed in some capacity - it’s pretty inevitable when you experience a culture so starkly contrasted from the American lifestyle. However, I honestly believe that serving in that capacity is what God created me to do. God gives everyone gifts and passions that make you come alive when you experience them, and I feel the most alive and like I’m fulfilling my purpose on earth when I’m in Uganda. The relationships that I’ve invested in and maintained there over the past 10 years are some of my most valuable.
The most fun part of working at Love One...hmm. That’s tough! First and foremost, I’d say working alongside my mom is my favorite part. I know a lot of people could never make a mom/daughter partnership work, but we both love it! And I think it works so well because we have similar hearts. We both love people, we’re extremely empathetic, and for some reason, God decided to put a magnetic force on us that keeps pulling us back to Uganda. I also love working with our team on the ground in Uganda - they are amazing and Love One could not function without them. Lastly, I know I said that I feel most alive when I’m in Uganda...but since I can’t be in Uganda all the time, it’s been a really special blessing to get to spend my time and energy stateside working for a purpose that I’m so passionate about."
"As a whole, I’d say Ugandan people are really warm and kind. Their culture is absolutely beautiful. They live simply and often exude joy."
"Suzanne adopted her daughter Josie Love and when they brought her home, she was very sick. Suzanne watched Josie go from extremely sick to a vivacious healthy child in front of her eyes.
When Suzanne traveled to Uganda after adopting Josie she felt that she saw Josie’s face in the face of every child she saw. This lit a fire in Suzanne to provide medical attention to children just like Josie that with the proper medical care and love that children can thrive. This and the apparent medical need in the villages our team serve in are why the medical center exists."
"The Love One Center’s primary purpose is extended rehabilitation post being in the hospital. Here, the children not only receive a balanced diet based on individualized nutrition plans, but we also teach them about Jesus. In the meantime, while the child heals, we teach the families about the nutrition, sanitation, hygiene, etc. that their specific child needs. Our goal is to get the child healthy enough to return and be resettled into their home. Once the child heals, his immunity is strengthened, AND his family has completed training, our staff assesses and comes up with a resettlement plan."
"We met Edson and his mom at our most recent Love+1 Medical Outreach (I share about the outreach below). His mom brought him because of a tumor on the back of his head. Our Love One team took him to the hospital and thankfully, the biopsies showed that it was benign, but he still needed surgery to remove it. He was very malnourished and couldn’t get surgery to remove the tumor until he regained his health, so our nutritionist assessed him & created a nutrition plan and he has been at the Rescue Center eating around the clock since. He was cleared for surgery! His surgery was successful and his tumor was removed. He is now recovering from surgery and doing well."
"This video describes and shows Frances’ story better than I could put into words!
https://vimeo.com/265300947 " ---> Be sure to watch this!
"Our entire goal and heart behind what we do is sustainability. Love One’s board, employees, and founder never want to be 'another American' who gives a fish and walks away without teaching them how to fish, and the goal for everything we do at Love+One is self-sustainability. We want to teach and equip people to provide for themselves, empowering them and breaking the cultural mindset of dependency. For that reason, our Sustainability Project Manager, Carlos, has created a business plan that will, in time, fully fund the functions of the Love+One Center."
"There are hundreds of remote villages in the Masindi District with limited access to medical care. People in these villages often die from easily-preventable diseases like malaria or minor infections that escalate into greater health issues.
Love One currently reaches 4 out of the 120 Masindi District villages. Our Love One community liaisons go and share that Love One will be coming for a medical outreach and on average hundreds of people show up.
Love One is partnered with local government health care professionals. These professionals come and assess each medical case presented at the outreaches. Once assessed, people receive whatever tests and medicine is needed to best help. Many have different infections or wounds that for us in America wouldn't be a big deal, but due to not having close medical care these wounds end up getting infected or worse. If further medical care is needed, our Love One Ugandan staff takes them to local hospitals."
"At the last Love+1 Medical outreach the team administered 150 malaria test and 72 were positive. They were then able to give the proper medicine to those that tested positive. The team gave many HIV/AIDS test as well as saw lots of wounds that needed attention to avoid infection. At the very end of the day, someone came up to Suzanne and Enoch (one of our main Ugandan employees) and said 'we have a child who is severely burned in a nearby village. Could you come look at him.?' Of course, the team went to check on the little boy. The little boy had been trying to cook something over a fire and he fell in. He was burned from the waist down with third-degree burns. The Love+1 Team was able to take him to the hospital to see a burn specialist. He is now receiving the proper treatment and has improved significantly."
"We see a lot of positive malaria tests, kids that are malnourished, and then infections or wounds that start as just a small thing but grow worse and more infected due to medical treatment not being readily accessible."
"In October of 2017, the Kitwetwe Primary School had less than 100 students attending regularly. These children would come to school hungry and go home hungry because the school couldn't afford to feed them during the day...hunger was affecting the students' attention spans, ability to learn, and overall energy, so Love+One created a feeding program. Within one month of serving food at the school, the attendance was up to 490 students!
What started as 'just a feeding program' quickly turned into a powerful opportunity to invest in the lives of the Kitwetwe children on a much deeper level. This year, we were able to start a soccer program and a music education program, and our Love+One staff hosts regular Bible studies and mentors the students at the school. It has been amazing to see the impact of these initiatives and the consequential growth of Kitwetwe's sense of community. We have seen the feeding program be successful because providing them food helps them to learn, grow, and thrive on a daily basis while at school."
"The Lord has been so faithful and given us each of our Ugandan staff. When they first went into the four villages we partner with they asked around 'if someone were to die, who would be the first person to help?' and other questions like that. They were able to gather who in the village/ community had a leadership personality and whether that person realized it or not they had a leadership and respected role within the community. From here, the village liaisons have truly been one of the most essential pieces of our team. They are a source of knowledge, helping hands, and bridge between the villages and our Love+1 Staff! At the moment, the biggest need is simply the means to make the food, medical care, and programs run on a daily basis."
"Christ-Centered, Empowering, Sustainability"
"After functioning on a small scale for the past year, we are now preparing to expand our facilities so that we can grow our vision and serve more children. We have already purchased two pieces of property.
The first is a 3-acre plot where we plan to build a larger center, administration building, staff quarters, kitchen, and a medical center that is specialized for malnourishment cases. The second a 10-acre piece of farmland for sustainability purposes. Our goal for 2019 is to raise $1,000,000 so that we can launch our building campaign and grow our ministry, thus expanding our impact as well."
"We could not do what we do on a daily basis without everyone who partners with us. We are always brainstorming new ways for people to get involved! We will update our social media pages as new opportunities arise but for now, here are some ways people can help:
Bookmark this link: https://amzn.to/2QyBmK6 OR choose Love One International as your charity and all of your Amazon purchases will help raise money. It is an easy and effortless way to give!"
Suzanne, Grace, and Lauren created a video for the University of Delaware Nursing program. While it is directed specifically to that program there is so much we can learn from it. --> Check it out!
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