A Weary World Rejoices – Part 4

I’m delighted to share with you another bundle of HOPE-filled moments of this past year. And they are connected to YOU! 

This year has been about reconnecting with YOU, our faithful NITEO supporters, after our hiatus. It has also been about meeting and welcoming YOU, our new NITEO supporters. Some of you have journeyed with us for 15 years and for others, 1 year ago the word NITEO may not have even been in your vocabulary. 

YOU have planted so many HOPE-filled seeds this year. 

YOU have given generously of your precious dollars this year. And together, we are growing something special. 

  • I am thankful for every like, follow, & share on our social media accounts.
  • I am thankful for those of you who have bought tickets and attended events (BTW, we have a SUPER FUN EVENT coming up to help combat the post-holiday hibernation blahs on January 18th!). 
  • I am thankful for the families who read & raised together during our Read-A-Thon joining with us to raise almost $5,000 to support literacy for children.
  • I am thankful for the crew of students who have launched our NITEO Africa UBCO club and held their 1st Bake Sale fundraiser! 
  • I am thankful for our 5 monthly donors whose scheduled giving allows us to plan for the future (We have a goal of increasing this number to 50 over the next 2 years!)
  • I am thankful for the companies and individuals that have made annual pledges to give NITEO a 3 year runway in this relaunch season. 
  • I am thankful for every cheque and e-transfer, whether it be $5 or $5,000. 

Each financial gift is an INVESTMENT in NITEO and our work today and in the years to come.

Your generosity fills me with HOPE.

Together, we can do so much more, than on our own. 

Access to books is about the long-view of poverty eradication.
Access to books raises literacy levels among children.
Higher literacy levels furthers learning in school.
The more education a child has, the greater the likelihood of breaking the cycle of poverty.
It is no quick fix.
It is the way forward.

We have a vision of children stepping out of the cycle of poverty and lifting their families out with them. This is possible if they are given the opportunity to step through the doors that literacy and education will open. In order to open those doors, we need YOU. 

We have big dreams for 2023. And we will go as far as our funds allow. YOU and YOUR GIFTS make all of our work possible. Some of these dreams include: 

  • Launching an online platform to make NITEO training more accessible and to multiply our reach. 
  • Onboarding 10 more partners in 2023. We have a waitlist of organizations waiting to partner with us to get more books into the hands of children across Uganda. 
  • We sent 1 suitcase of books to Ghana this December with a pioneering UBCO student who matches our vision for literacy for children in her context. We want to continue the conversation about what partnership could look like in a new country. 
  • Continuing to expand our reach in the Okanagan to support newcomer and refugee families.

Would you give a gift today to help us finish 2022 financially strong and ready for 2023?

I feel compelled to ask boldly because this is urgent, life changing work. 

We truly cannot do this without you! I invite you to continue to lean in to this HOPE-full NITEO community. 

Keep showing up.
Keep inviting others to join. 
Keep living generously.   

Give a Financial Gift to NITEO Today

A Weary World Rejoices – Part 3

When I talk about NITEO, I often use these 4 words: global partnership, local impact.

NITEO was birthed out of a desire to support Ugandans who were leading the charge to serve and uplift their communities.
From the beginning, we have committed to doing this through global partnership. For over 15 years our NITEO community has joined Ugandans in their work through their giving, volunteering, and more. 

Our partnerships are everything. We could not do the work we have done in Uganda without out connection to so many incredible individuals, families, and organizations. And through these relationships, communities and school that many of us have never set foot in, are being impacted. 

Allow me to share one example. 

Ms. Deborah is an emerging NITEO partner who leads the Ask8 Centre for Skills Development. The first program that Ask8 Centre launched was a community library! In 2021 they received a donation of NITEO books from Elohim, an existing NITEO partner who has been faithfully extending our reach for many years. As a result of their collaboration Ask8 was able to open a library for the community. 

When Deborah and I connected just a few months ago (over 1 year after the Ask8 library opened!) she shared a photo with me of the first two users of the library. The photo was of two young women from her community. It was such a small but significant act to give young women the first opportunity to sign out a library book.

These two women, and many others, have had access to books through NITEO partnerships. I’ll say it again: NITEO Canadian teams have never set foot in this community! While I hope we can visit Ms Deborah and her centre, I am THRILLED that our model of partnership is allowing for replication and multiplication.  

A question I often ask is: how can NITEO support global partnerships and stay out of the way? Given the complexities of cross-cultural service and colonial histories, it is a question that we need to keep central. We want to live generously and to give to those who are in need (and the needs are very, very real); but, how we give is just as important as what we give. 

I could share SO MANY other stories about our partners – the work Ms. Nageeba does of sharing books and running programs with countless schools and organizations, the ways that David, Peter, Okello Sam, Florence, Ray, Joan, Flora, Mary, Charles, Jessica, and Felician serve, and the rotary clubs that are distributing books to schools in need – but I’ll save those for other times 🙂

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge Mr. Sam Turya, our country manager. He serves in this role in a volunteer capacity and we are thankful. 

We’re still collecting our final data, but initial reports share that NITEO partners have provided 3,500 children in Uganda with access to books in 2022. 

This number fills me with hope. 

There is more room at the table. We have 10 organizations waiting to be onboarded as emerging partners in 2023 and the waitlist keeps growing!  
We cannot do this without you! I invite you to continue to lean in to this HOPE-full NITEO community. 

Keep showing up.
Keep inviting others to join. 
Keep living generously.   

A Weary World Rejoices – Part 2

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the families that participated in our Family Reading Program this Fall. I wanted to learn more about their journey of coming to Canada as refugees and their experience in NITEO’s program.

Anna and Ali* fled their country due to threats Ali had received on his life. Ali shared: I couldn’t leave my daughters to grow up without their father.”

Anna and Ali made the decision to flee and within three days they were on a flight to Thailand. They could not bring many personal items nor say goodbye to many of their friends and community. Anna recounted how neither her nor Ali could work during their time in Thailand as they were staying without papers. They had to keep a low profile while they waited for a sponsorship opportunity to the US or Canada.

It was an incredibly challenging time as they knew their lives had changed forever. Anna shared: “We don’t have any choice. I just keep going…and every year, something happened that gave me some hope.” 

After four years of waiting, Anna and Ali received the news that they were being sponsored to come to Canada. Anna shared how she had thought they would end up in Vancouver or Toronto: “What is Kelowna?! I had never heard of this place!” They were greeted at the airport by their sponsors and began to rebuild their lives in a new city and country.

Both Anna and Ali shared how it has been challenging but they are so thankful for the welcome they received in Canada. Anna shared: “When I look to my kids, I feel I am ok. The part who struggle are the parents…it’s not easy with a different culture…how can you make communication?”

When asked about the challenges they faced, Ali did not have to hesitate: “Language. And then, community.” 

We named our Family Reading Program Story As Community as our desire was not solely to provide a program. We wanted it to be more than a program. We wanted to be part of welcoming newcomers into our community, coming alongside families by providing a welcoming and hospitable space while also meeting a practical need of supporting language learning and promoting literacy. 

I asked about their family’s experience in our program this Fall. Ali shared: “It’s a fun program actually. It pushed the children to read without telling them they’re wrong…[the mentors would say] you’re ok, keep going. The way you opened with the story, it was amazing! It was very good, very very good.” He went on to say that it was about more than getting the right word every single time, but about helping to teach “knowledge” and understanding.

Story As Community was a bright light in my week, every week.

It is inspiring to share a room with so many courageous individuals who are building bright and hopeful futures for their families in a new city and country.
It is restorative to watch community grow over the course of an 8 or 9 week program. 
It is lifegiving to see diversity celebrated rather than judged.       

I could go on and on. It’s what you can do when you are surrounded by those who are bringing their best selves to the table. And when this happens, HOPE springs up.

There is more room at the table. In 2023 we will be hosting our winter session of Story As Community in Kelowna AND launching a pilot program in Vernon!
We cannot do this without you! I invite you to continue to lean in to this HOPE-full NITEO community. 

Keep showing up.
Keep inviting others to join. 
Keep living generously.   

*Names changed