Monday, November 7, 2011


The diverse array of smells that wafted through Berry College's Krannert Lobby during the 3rd annual SOUP-Off enticed hundreds of Berry students and faculty to indulge in the all-you-can-eat extravaganza. To say that there were a variety of soups that were entered into the competition would be quite the understatement. Among the particapants were Lauren Franke and Danielle Krukowski. They represented The Berry Student Nursing Club and entered a gluten-free pumpkin ginger soup, paired with gluten-free crackers. The College Republicans entered a “GOP Gumbo”, with tasty chicken and sausage added. And the guys from the Conference Room, sponsored by Viking Fusion, made their third appearance in the SOUP-off with their always playful “Kids' Soup”, made up of milk, oreos, thin mints, and other various cookies.

When asked why each group entered the SOUP-Off, the answers seemed varied. Beth Anne Dunagan, a representative for the College Republicans said that it seemed like a great platform to publicize the club. Lauren Franke suffers from Celiac disease and wanted to raise awareness by making a tasty soup that people could enjoy while also accommodating her diet. Steven Walker of the Conference Room said the group's fun 'soups' have always been well received and people enjoyed that their soup was always out of the ordinary. One common thread that these three participants share, as well as all 38 that competed in the SOUP-Off, is that they entered to help support the SOUP – the Sponsorship of Orphans in Uganda Project.

The project, founded by Berry senior Brin Enterkin, is to raise money and awareness for orphans in the remote village of Isita, Uganda. Among the needs that are attempted to be met are holistic living environments, proper education, and affordable medical treatment for the children. About thirty minutes into the SOUP-Off, Brin took to the stage to thank both the participants and those in attendance for coming out to the event. Brin shared the story about a young child named Adam, whose leg had been broken for five years and had never received proper help. As a result, his leg was wounded and infected. Brin realized the child was in pain and took him to a local medical center. The doctor informed her that if Adam had been brought in any later, he could have risked amputation or even death.

Brin stressed the importance of what improvements are still left to be made in Uganda, but “If even one child is helped, then the SOUP has done its job. The SOUP is here to stay!” I was able to briefly speak to Brin after she spoke to the crowd and asked her how it felt to see her passion come to fruition. Her face lit up and said that it felt incredible to know that two years ago, it was nothing and now it is a reality.

Not everyone who walked into the SOUP-Off knew exactly what they were getting into. One such student, sophomore Josh Wilkinson of Seattle, Washington, was admittedly drawn to the event solely for the fact that he could consume all the soup that he wanted for just $3. However, he ultimately walked away with a greater knowledge of how much his $3 actually helped out the cause. There were also many first-time attendees who so enjoyed their time at the SOUP-Off that they intended on coming back as long as Berry kept throwing the event.

The Sociology and Anthropology Club's potato soup walked away with the coveted 1st place title, KCAB's chicken and dumplings took home the 2nd place trophy, and the Berry Accounting Club's spicy chili was awarded the Trustee's vote. However, everyone walked away a winner in some from the SOUP-Off, whether they showed off their culinary skills or got to eat a lot of hot soup on a cold evening. The ultimate prize of the SOUP-Off, however, has nothing to do with a trophy or a tasty soup. It is knowing that each person in the Krannert Ballroom helped to support the orphans in Uganda who do not have the means to support themselves.

Article: Hayden Sloan
Photograph: Alyssa Hollingsworth

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SOUP Meets Community

My last day with the kids at the SOUP school was definitely bittersweet. The morning started off by gathering all the supplies we would need to host the entire community at the school. I picked up four medical students to follow up with our precious kiddos, tons of medical supplies, 50 kilograms (over 100 pounds) of rice, 25 kilograms (over 50 pounds) of beef, tons of markers for the kids to draw pictures, and 1 soccer ball, or as they call it there, a football.

It was an insanely hectic morning as I set up the medical students to do their thing, collected over 200 drawings from the kids, and made sure that all the food would be ready to feed the community. All this craziness was definitely worth it though!

Over 100 people from the community showed up, including the government representative of our area! We talked about hygiene issues such as the importance of hand washing and medical issues like how to properly clean and bandage wounds. The parents were so gracious and kind to me. They shared their gratitude for all that the SOUP is doing and begged us to keep up our work in their community. It was so encouraging. After all that talking we sat down to share a meal together. It was great to just sit with the parents and, with the help of a translator, talk to them. We ate in true African fashion with our hands and it was so fun!

After lunch the kids sang songs for us, and I presented the football to the school. I'm not sure who was more excited, the kids or their parents. After this it was time to head out, and it was definitely a tough goodbye. Tears filled my eyes as kids who were so scared of white people 10 weeks ago came up and gave me hugs goodbye. The head teacher, Mr. Emma, told me the kids had gotten used to me. I had definitely gotten used to them. This is a huge compliment in Uganda and especially in this village because most people don't spend enough time with these kids for them to build relationships.

It was hard for me to leave, but I know that this is not the end. The SOUP will continue to grow, and I am so excited to see what the future holds!

Signing Off,

Sarah THomas

Friday, August 5, 2011

No more Worms!!

This SOUP has really taken our work at the school in Uganda to the next level. You've probably already read that three medical students gave up their time to come perform full medical exams on all of the children. This was incredible! But once the medical students saw the reality of the environment our kids are living with, they knew that they had to come back out and follow up with all of the kids. They returned to the school two more times! They brought with them tons of medicine and band-aids. During these follow-up visits EVERY child at the school was de-wormed. People... this is incredible! So many of our precious kids have been suffering from worms that live and grow inside their little bodies. This not only has harmful physical effects, but is also extremely painful. We will continue to de-worm the kids every six months to ensure that they are living the healthiest lives they can. While at the school the medical students distributed medicine, bandaged wounds, and touched the hearts of all the children! They have also arranged for free AIDS/HIV testing for all of our kids as well as a dentist to come out and check on all of the kids’ dental health.

These medical students have exceeded our expectations by far. The willingness of people to share their talents and resources to help these children is absolutely inspiring! So now you ask: What ways can I get involved with the SOUP? Well, the SOUP has grown leaps and bounds this summer, and the best is yet to come! Email us at if you're interested!

-Sarah Thomas

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thank you US Med Students!!

Hello again friends!
This is Sarah again writing from Uganda. If you haven’t read Brin’s last post you definitely should go read that now!

Ok, now that we’re all on the same page let me tell you about three awesome individuals… Connor, Anne Marie, and Jennie. These are 3 medical students that are volunteering with ELI (the organization that Brin came to Uganda with 2 years ago). They have been working in a hospital in Iganga, Uganda. Brin met them when she was here a couple of weeks ago, and they jumped on board at the chance to come out to the school and do medical exams on all 200 kids! What a blessing!
So last Tuesday we all loaded up in a car and made the journey out to Orange Giraffe. We set up a make shift clinic in the school’s small office, and the kids piled in. We saw a lot of scrapes, cuts, worms, and fungi. We also saw a lot of smiles, joy, and hope. After the kids were examined, I handed each of them a little piece of candy. You would have thought I had handed them a million dollars by the looks on their faces! It was so precious! 6 bottles of hydrogen peroxide, 200 feet of gauze, and 8 hours later every single kid at the school had experienced their first medical exam. I’m happy to report that no one had anything so serious that required being taken to a clinic. The medical students do want to follow up with some kids and distribute some medicine to help kids with ringworm and other infections. I’m also happy to report that the 2 sweet boys that we took to the clinic a couple of weeks ago are doing much better. Both of their legs look better, and they said they had less pain. We still have some more treatment to do, but the improvement is incredible! That’s my observation of the school in general… we still have lots of work to do, but the improvements that we’re making are unbelievable. I can never say thank you enough to Connor, Anne Marie, and Jennie!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

African Emergency Room

This is Brin once again. Sorry for the long wait, but this has been a hard blog to write. Currently, I am sitting in the Nairobi, Kenya airport on a layover, waiting to board my flight to Bombay, India. If you’re wondering why I’m not staying in Uganda, we might be in the same boat. Deep down inside, I really, really wanted to stay, but alas, my reason for leaving is simple. While in Uganda visiting the SOUP site, I was also researching a small niche of Econ Development, which you can read about further in my other blog. I am traveling in Europe, Africa and Asia on a grant funding by my university (Berry College). Enough of that boring intro, it’s time for me to explain the purpose of this blog entry.  
Two blog entries ago I explained the severity of health problems in Isiti, Uganda. The lack of medical care given to people is simply astonishing. The average family in Uganda has 8 children. However, in the village that number is sometimes double. Can you imagine? That’s a lot of sharing. Family planning is important, but never truly stressed. Therefore, children are not given proper medical treatment (among other things) due to lack of finances.
In that blog I explained my reaction when I saw a girl with an untreated bacteria above her ear. I vowed to purchase ointment for the girl to prevent her from undergoing any type of social stigma for having such a visible problem. Then, a teacher explained that every child in the village drank well water and therefore had worms. Appalled by this realization, the SOUP will now provide tablets for each child to eradicate the worms. But more importantly, Sarah Thomas (SOUP-Staff member) will gather the women of the village for a day of training. She will teach them basic ways to prevent worms, like boiling the water for instance. She’s also planning other things, but I’ll let her explain later.
This is where I really want to STOP writing… but I will continue.
The second day I went to the village, Sarah joined me. We spent the morning playing with the kids, eating lunch, talking with the teachers, and interviewing old students. A pretty perfect day.
As we were about to wrap up our day I saw a little boy limping away from school. I called him over and saw a wound on his left leg. Without hesitating I brought him into a private room and asked a teacher to join me. “My name… it is Adam,” said the little guy. The teacher explained to me that Adam broke his left leg 5 years ago and the village doctor fixed it. But, my friends, it was not fixed. It was healed, but it was not corrected. He walked very differently than his peers, especially considering the difference in length between the two legs. But this actually wasn’t my main concern. He also had a very large and infected wound on the back of this very leg.
“Are you in any pain, Adam?”
He looked at me and responded very clearly, “Yes.” He tripped in January (probably due to the previous injury), and injured himself. The wound was never treated. It is now June and an infection clearly exists where the wound first occurred. This is NOT OKAY.
Immediately I asked the headmaster to call every injured child in the area to meet with me.
About 15 out of our 242 students came forward, but they were mostly in pain from topical and very treatable wounds. Except for one. Ronald.
Ronald was also walking with a small limp. I asked him to show me the problem. He lifted his pant leg to show me his left knee. I was appalled. His knee was exactly twice the size of his right. Infected from the inside out. (This is pretty graphic, so refrain from reading if you feel uncomfortable.) From his knee, a small hole leaked fluid. Slowly, but constantly. “How old is this wound?” I asked. The headmaster responded, “We’re not sure...maybe 5 years, but the parents do not want to treat—they think it’s cancer.”
Without thinking twice I responded, “We’re taking Ronald and Adam today. Right now. Let’s go.” Sarah nodded her head in agreement and after Michael spoke with the parents we were off.
We arrived, after an hour's drive, to a private doctor, where I was treated for Malaria 2 years ago.
“If you had waited any longer this leg would need amputation,” said Dr. Musa. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, but I just stared at little Adam. “Okay, Doctor, well let’s fix this.”
We went back to the operating room and the Doctor poured alcohol onto his wound and scrubbed the infection. I held Adam as the doctor scrubbed. He screamed and squeezed my hand; his little African arms beat the table as big tears fell from his little face. I lay beside him and cried silently as I prayed. Finally, the doctor finished scrubbing and gave him an injection to kill the infection.
After everything, my strong little Adam wiped his face as I carried him to another room.
Rest assured, he will be okay, no amputation necessary. J
Ronald was next. If the infection in his knee had grown any larger the doctor would have required amputation. However, Dr. Musa took Ronald into surgery almost immediately.  
I sat through the surgery, which is a normal for mothers in Uganda. J It was disgusting, but everything went well. It was not cancer, but rather a really imbedded and really infected internal wound.
Post-surgery I brought them both ice cream and watched them smile as they devoured ever drop.
I would also like to mention that Sarah Thomas was a champ throughout this entire time. AND the girl is a praying machine. She has stamina.
We ended up paying for everything on the spot as well as purchasing prescriptions and further injections for the weeks to come.
To prevent this from every happening again I made an agreement with Michael and the SOUP teachers. If a child is EVER suffering or even sick, provide treatment for that child immediately. These kids were suffering from preventable pain; if treated earlier it would have never been an issue.
I ended up meeting three American med students from the Universities of Florida and Ohio who are currently interning in Uganda. I have coordinated with them to visit our school as soon as possible and do physicals on every child over a 2 day period.
Also, a wonderful woman and her daughter have offered to provide mosquito nets for each child at our school. That is 242 mosquito nets. Pretty rad.
We purchased medical supplies and will continue to treat Ronald and Adam until they are completely healed.
Each child, regardless of color, background, parental situation or whatnot shall not suffer.
The SOUP has big BIG plans for this village. More than just fixing all our babies, first and foremost, we will make each and every one of them well.
PS: if you have any questions or suggestions, please email me at

Sunday, June 26, 2011

We've got an Awesome African

Today I woke up ready to take on the world! Michael and I decided to stay in Iganga to discuss the next phases of the SOUP and financial planning. But before I begin, Michael needs a bit of explanation. The question is often asked: who actually runs the project in Africa? Is this person even capable (etc. etc)? So without further ado, Mr. Michael Kaidhiwa. Michael grew up in the village. Actually his father is the minister of the church in the SOUP community. His dad rides a bicycle back and forth from church at a ripe ago of 78. Michael’s heart for these kids is absolutely undeniable. In fact, he actually introduced me to the village 2 years ago.

However, the SOUP is not their only commitment; He and his wife wear many hats in this community. Along with owning a small printing company, Frita and Michael work with ELI (an excellent non-profit out of Colorado) placing volunteers from all over the world in various projects. ELI entrusted Michael with the entire Uganda project and according to both ELI and the volunteers, he’s doing a superb job!

The importance of working with the local community is vital. Going into the village as a white person on a mission, usually turns sour. It’s a relief, because everyone in the village seems to know Michael, but more importantly, they all seem to love him. This is obvious by the respect given to him by the elders and the amounts of people he takes 2-5 minutes to “catch up” with on our visit. This is a very good thing. I was welcomed when I visited the village and treated like an equal, rather than some kind of alien. I can thank him for such an earth-like greeting.

But not to worry, we are also very particular about holding each other accountable. To ensure accountability he sends me a budget, which I send back with corrections, and then he sends the new version back to me. Finally I approve and send the finances. Lastly he sends expenditures and pictures (if possible). Interesting fact, he does not even take a salary for his work. Obviously our SOUP Staff (myself included) does not take any contributions, but the same goes with Michael.

He’s just the right person for the job; my only concern is that Michael might not want to fill this position forever.

This brings me to our next point.

Soon we will need to bring one or two America onto our project. Granted, this is not an easy feat. Finding someone willing to live without running water in general is difficult, but to also ask them to also teach, administrate and do varies other major task, might be close to impossible. And we refuse to take someone less than perfect for the job. This person or persons would need to be so incredibly strong and unafraid of such a crazy challenge. So I pray we find the right individuals.

I must go now, but I will keep you posted about our next visit.

PS: It’s been awesome hanging out with Ms. Sarah Thomas—she’s about the best designed non-african African ever. I’ll explain in the next blog.

Best regards,
Brin Enterkin

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Some SOUPer Babies Need Our Help!

Today completely rocked my world. But before I start, I need to explain a few things. Right now, I’m sitting under a mosquito net, I am in a bed, and I am in a room with four walls. The walls are nothing special, but they are strong, dry and reliable. But right before I came into this room I sat on a wooden couch and ate rice and beans with my African SOUP partner, Michael. But WAY before dinner or bed-time I sat on a plane flying through the stratosphere sipping cola out of a very clean plastic cup. A nice woman handed me this cola on a napkin with an additional option of either cookies or crackers, but I kindly declined because of the filling previous meal. Fast-forward.  Here I am sitting in this simple African setting. I do not have wi-fi or the capability to stalk on Facebook, but my mind is on overhaul.

Today I went to the SOUP's new school/orphanage site. As I arrived, 200+ shy, yet eager children came out to greet me.  They jumped up and down and a little one latched onto my leg. :-) I started to feel a bit emotional. These kids looked different. I couldn’t quite grasp the difference, but it seemed so evident. Then it hit me. These kids were being fed, educated, and cared-for. BEING CARED-FOR! They each lacked a lot. They lacked a few very obvious things, but as of right now, these children are whole, happy kids! This almost took me off guard; it was as if I was expected the same scene I ran into two years ago when I first visited the site. I was wrong and I am so overwhelmed. It was in the moment that I realized a very important lesson: our African staff, the SOUP staff, little old me, and all of our donors put together could have never made this happen. This was only made possible with the complete encouragement, grace and love of our mighty Savior.  How beautiful!

The new land we purchased last year (about 1 mile from the current school) has also made momentous strides. We have a building! It’s within weeks of finishing. It will be a new school with plenty of room for our beautiful kiddos to learn. We also dug a 30-foot latrine for the future bathroom facilities. Soon our kids will transition from the last location to this new one.

Now that I have stated the steps we have made forward I need first explain what we are lacking (if you have a weak stomach, please refrain from moving forward and flip on a Lifetime flick).  At the very beginning stages of the SOUP we planned on just meeting the physiological needs of the children (especially the completely orphaned children) in a very rural and impoverished community in Uganda. We basically wanted to feed them, clothe them and send them to school. However, as we began, we realized that our call was more than just providing the basic for the kids.  We needed to do more and so we committed. We committed to building a new school, with a standard far higher than the first one, but more importantly, to build homes and families for these orphaned children. To clarify— Our charge has not changed. However, I’m afraid I overlooked the fact that every child in this community lacks so much. SO so much.

As I sat and spoke with the teachers in a very broken English conversation, I noticed a rash on a little girl’s head. I called the little girl over and asked what happened. The teacher said that the parents could not afford any ointment for her head, which was infected by a bacterium that left the right side of her head bald.  In a confused, yet very angered tone I asked why we had not taken the call to fix such a problem. He smiled and responded, “There are far worse health problems here, that one would just need to wait.” Slightly perplexed I asked what else was wrong with our children. “None of these kids sleep under mosquito nets, so many fall sick with malaria and each of them have worms from their water at home,” responded the teacher.  “WHAT?!?!”

I felt so terrible. These beautiful children were sick and I was doing nothing. I was clueless of such a serious threat to these kids. He noted that this was common and nothing personal. But it was personal. It is personal. These kids are no longer lost and forgotten-- WE, those who strive for supporting the least of these, will not allow that to happen.  So before we move forward with building, each child needs a mosquito net and each child needs to be treated for worms. Michael and I will go out tomorrow and get the prices for these two items, along with ointment for that little girl.

As I sit in this modest room in Iganga, Africa, I sit under a mosquito net, protecting me from malaria and other diseases. The very, very least I can do right now is also provide that opportunity for someone far more important than myself.

I did not want to report my visit without being completely honest, so please do not think that such a terrible realization ruined my visit. We have come so far! It’s amazing the things that have been done in two years, but like I said we can do so much more! These kids deserve it. They are full of joy and full of life.

Two years ago I journeyed to a village on a field visit, now this village has a name a purpose and 200 faces. I don’t need cookies or cola or clean plastic. I just want God’s purpose to fill each of us. To feel an ounce of His pain for the “least of these.”  There is no turning back. :-)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

School Picture Day... in UGANDA!

Hey friends... It's Sarah again!

I travelled out to Orange Giraffe, the school we are sponsoring, on Monday and Tuesday. I had some orders from Brin to sit in on each of the classes to get a feel for how the teachers are teaching. My other assignment was to get a picture and biography from every child. I thought this would take forever, but thanks to the help of Michael's lovely wife, Frieda, and one of the teachers at the school, we got information on nearly 200 kids in 2 days. While they were getting the info, my job was to get a picture of each kid. It made me laugh when I realized that this was school picture day. I thought back to my elementary school years, and how everyone dressed up on picture day and what a big deal it was. This school picture day was a little different. For most of the kids this was the first picture they've ever had taken, not too mention one of the first times they've ever seen a muzungu or white person. Most of the kids only have one outfit, so there wasn't really a worry about what to wear. In Uganda most people don't smile for pictures, so we had to do some coaching to get the kids to smile for us, but the pictures turned out precious! Well I'll just let you see for yourself....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Brin: Update from Amsterdam

This is Brin speaking. Right now I am sitting in the Amsterdam airport waiting and waiting and waiting. It’s a 16-hour layover and I am only 6 hours in. But more importantly, I have worked out. See, because I did not want to leave my bags anywhere I had to think creatively. Basically I put my bags on the side of the walking sidewalk and ran backwards on the machine. I looked like a complete idiot running in the wrong direction on a machine designed to help me move faster in the other direction, but I felt brilliant! After feeling like a genius, I realized something very important. Many people pay thousands of dollars for this type of workout machine—they call it a treadmill. Whatever.

I’m sleeping in this airport. But before I fall asleep I have at least a dozen more exciting things to do first. Number 1; walk through a metal detector with pennies in every pocket and behind my ears.  If they do not catch me, I win. If they catch me, they win. Basically, me verse the airport. Not to worry, I have stamina.

This entire experience reminds me of the last time I had a layover in this very unexciting airport. It was two years ago, after my freshmen year of college.  Although I was still rather rambunctious at the time, I was also a bit terrified. The unknown was so vast. I was about to travel to Uganda and live there for a summer working on a micro-financing project.

While I was there, nearly two years ago, God planted a seed in my heart. Tomorrow I’ll be flying to see how that seed has grown. In late 2009 the African SOUP started raising funds and today we have meet the needs of hundreds of children. Pretty cool!!  

I have not been back in two years, but I am really looking forward to seeing the change in the village we have adopted as an organization. These children do not even know us, but they fully understand the impact that has been made in their village and their individual lives. Completely made possible by people half way across the world. People that don’t even know them by name. People that know the importance of helping other, regardless of the cost. They get that. How encouraging?  

Anyway, I’m pumped! Overwhelmed, actually. In the meantime, I’m going to tape pennies behind my ears.

From the Amsterdam Airport,

Brin Enterkin

Friday, June 10, 2011

What does a school in Uganda look like?

One of the biggest goals of the [SOUP] is education. Education opens so many doors. Education is a key in lifting people out of poverty. But I'm sure many of us don't know what education in Uganda looks like. I didn't know until I was here and immersed in it. So since one of the biggest aspects of the [SOUP] is our school, I thought I would give a little background of what the education system is like in Uganda.

Similar to preschool in the United States, Ugandan children can attend nursery school. This is not required for children to attend before going to school, but like preschool it definitely gives the kids a head start. The school system in Uganda starts with Primary School. It have 7 levels. After finishing primary 7, the student then goes to Secondary School. In secondary school there are 6 levels. Every school has a different uniform with different colors. The students are required to wear the uniforms everyday. You can tell which school the kids go to based on the color of their uniform. There is no such thing a free, public school in Uganda. All schools cost fees, and the better the school the higher the fees. Education is not a required thing for kids since it costs money. Because of this kids start school at all different times. A 15 year old could be starting Primary 1 with a 6 year old. This makes the class dynamics different and can make it difficult for the teachers to teach. The actual teaching can be a little sketchy sometimes too. The most used method of teaching is to write things over and over and over or to just repeat after the teacher. There is little to no creativity.

School days start at about 7 in the morning. For Primary 1 and 2, the students get out after lunch at 1, which you only get if you paid for it. For the older levels the students get out at 5. For Primary 5, 6, and 7 the students also have to go to school on Saturday...pretty intense! If a kid can get through all of this and pass all their exams, then they can continue on to University. There are few universities in Uganda, and few university students as well.

This is a little overview of the school system in Uganda.... pretty different from the United States. It may seem kind of depressing, but I don't think all hope is lost or I wouldn't be in Uganda right now. I think Uganda has made many strides to try and get more kids in school. Hopefully the [SOUP]'s school will be the beginning to a bright future for the kids we are working with.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Announcing the SOUP's new summer contest....SOUP To Go!

Take a picture of your SOUP shirt in a super cool place sometime during your own summer adventures.  This could be anywhere- around the world, or in your backyard.  THEN, send it to us via:

1. Email-
2. Facebook- our page is called: The African SOUP
3. Twitter- tweet us your picture @theafricansoup

We will post your pictures as they come to our blog/facebook/twitter, and the winner will receive a new SOUP shirt of their choice!!

We can't wait to start seeing your photos...we have a feeling they're going to be good. :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Straight from Uganda!

Hello family, friends, and supporters for the [SOUP]!

This is Sarah Thomas writing from Uganda right now! Yesterday I traveled out to the school and orphanage that the [SOUP] is partnering with, the Orange Giraffe. Incredible is an understatement of what I experienced yesterday! First let me give you a little background on how long it took me to get there. In order for you to get the full effect of this story you need to know a couple vocab words. First, a boda boda is the motorcycles that people ride in Uganda. The second word you need to know is a matatu. This is a van that has 5 rows with 3 seats in each row. It would be logical to think that this means that there are 15 passengers in a van, but you would be wrong to assume this. Yesterday we had 22 people crammed in there... that's right 22! Ok now that we've got all that straight here's the story...

I left my house in the city of Jinja at 6:45 in the morning headed in a matatu to meet our contact in Uganda, Michael, in his city, Iganga. I got to Iganga at about 8:30, met Michael (a Ugandan man who has volunteered so much time and energy for the [SOUP]), and we boarded another matatu to the city of Namutumba. We reached Namutumba at 10:00 then boarded bodas to the village of Isite. It was an interesting ride to say the least, and I know the only way we did not flip was by the power of Jesus! At about 10:45 we finally arrived to the Orange Giraffe. At this point I had been traveling for 4 hours, but any exhaustion I was feeling left as soon as I saw the precious faces of the kids here. The kids were a little nervous of me at first because they are not used to having a mzungu or white person around. The headmaster greeted Michael and me, and we went into the tiny office of the school to have a meeting. We talked about how far the school has come, how many children there are in each class, how many teachers there are, etc. There are 182 students enrolled at the school, but not all of those students come every day. Some might miss school if it has rained or because many of the families are farmers so the kids have to help with the digging and harvesting of the crops. Out of the 182 kids 86 are orphans by the definition of not having a mother and father. There are many more kids in the school who may have a mother or father, but their parents do not take care of them. After our meeting with the headmaster we walked around to each class, and I was introduced to each teacher and class.

By this time, a large crowd had gathered across the street, and the community wanted to meet me and see what I was doing. It was a little intimidating to have all thirty of the elders and members of the community staring at me, but they were very grateful that I was there, and they had hope for a bright future. After all these meetings, Michael decided it was time to head to see where the new school was being built. We hopped back on our bodas and drove 2 kilometers to Michael's parent's house. The property for the new school and homes lies right behind his parent's house. His father gave us a tour of the property and the progress that has been made. Nearly 4 of the 8 classrooms are done. All they are waiting on is a roof and a floor. I saw the men working very, very hard to get the school finished. We walked around the property talking about where each building would go. One day this property is going to be a place of joy and a shining light of God's love. After our tour, we returned to Michael's parent's house where they served me a delicious lunch and tea. While we ate we watched Michael's wedding, which was precious. I'm not quite sure how there was electricity because there were no power lines or electricity anywhere else, but it was cool to see his wedding! After this we began the long journey home. I got back to Jinja at about 4:30 and was exhausted but feeling so blessed.

Sorry this has been so long, but I just want to wrap it up with saying that what the [SOUP] is doing is making a real difference in the lives of the kids of Orange Giraffe in Uganda. I'm not just saying this to pull at people's heart strings or anything like that. I am saying this because I have seen it firsthand. The money that is raised and donated is actually being used how it is supposed to be used. The teachers, headmaster, and parents told me countless times how far the Orange Giraffe has come and how they have big hopes for the future. I cannot wait to go back there and work with the kids and teachers some more. 

Please keep the students, parents, community, and our dedicated Ugandan contact Michael in your thoughts and prayers. They have all been such a blessing. Also it would mean so much to me for prayers for traveling mercies, safety, and guidance as I work at the school! Thanks for all your support for the [SOUP]! We have the best supporters!! :) 

Lots of love, Sarah Thomas

                                                             Meeting one of the classes

                                                Some of the sweet, sweet faces of the kids

                                                      The teachers of Orange Giraffe

                                                       The start of the new school

One of the future classrooms

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Summer of Adventures Begins...

And so the SOUP's summer of adventures begins- I (Amelia) am off to Kentucky tomorrow to attend an international summit of orphan ministry leaders. I will be taking copious notes, and keeping you updated with inspiring/profound/challenging ideas and thoughts as I go.

Follow us on Twitter for the live updates:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

We Love Reilly!

Tonight, we had the honor of not only hanging out with the uber-talented band, REILLY, but we also got to hear them perform their incredible violin infused rock music.

Please check them out at their website to their music, like their facebook, find out when they are touring next near you, because you do not want to miss their amazing performances!

They also give $1 per every CD that is sold to a different non-profit each month. Some of the previous ones have been World Vision, Compassion International, etc.

They came all the way to Berry, though, to play for Rome and to be a part of a new kind of fundraiser for the SOUP. We raised over $800 for the SOUP tonight, and are more than thankful for every person who came out to listen to REILLY, to support us, and to set up/clean up.

A special shout-out to Jon Huggins, Berry's Chaplain's Office, and the RiLAC for everything you did to help put this event together!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Tomorrow night at 7 pm, Berry College's Religion in Life department is hosting a concert as a fundraiser for the SOUP. They have invited back the band REILLY, who came to Berry's campus a few months ago and blew us all away.

To check out this phenomenally talented band -->

Still interested? Here are the details: Sunday, April 10. 7 pm. Berry's College Chapel. Free with Berry ID, $5 for the general public.

See you there!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"The Cause"

Check out this video that our friend and advocate, Brittany Regan, produced:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Atlanta Dinner Fundraiser

4 days until our biggest fundraiser to date.

Our benefit dinner will be held in Atlanta this Friday night, March 18th. We are so excited for this event and look forward to sharing the SOUP’s vision and progress with you all. The evening will include an elegant African-inspired dinner as well as the musical talents of Candler Hobbs. Susan Hillis, a senior scientist with the CDC, will be speaking on orphans and adoption in a global context. We hope that you are able to attend this special evening and that you will consider supporting the African SOUP and its cause.

If you did not receive an invitation, and are interested in attending this event, please email

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Building Blocks

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Breaking Ground

Today is a monumental day for the SOUP- we broke ground on our land in Uganda to build the orphanage and school. According to our friend in Iganga, the beginning of this week was set aside for clearing and pegging the ground, and today is the day they began digging the trenches to lay the foundation.

Before we know it, these beautiful orphans will have a new and clean place to live and go to school. Our God is so good!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

27 million. That’s how many slaves exist in the world today. Not the usual kind you think of from 150 years ago, but a different kind: mothers, children, girls, & boys from every nation, ethnicity, & walk of life, held captive by sex, labor camps, drugs, & emotional bonds. This global issue of human trafficking is a hidden one, and being underground makes it difficult to track. Thankfully, in the past few years, this issue has become more prominent in the media, with movies such as Taken & documentaries such as Call & Response.

Today is about spreading awareness of this issue. As large as the problem is, some people do not even realize that it exists. I did not even know that it existed until a year and a half ago-I heard about it from a band dedicated to raising awareness for this problem by writing songs that exposed the problems & aftermath of human trafficking. So, what can be done?

  • EDUCATE yourself
  • PRAY
    • For the victims
    • For the ministries, non-profits, & NGO’s that are rescuing and providing aftercare for them
    • For the governments in these countries, that their eyes would be opened and cooperation would take place to continue to stop and deter these evils.
  • GET INVOLVED in your area
    • The I-Heart Project- provides local opportunities to get involved with issues that interest you.
    • IJM- The International Justice Mission has internships, fellowships, & job openings for those looking into a career in bringing justice to human trafficking victims. They also have chapters on many college campuses across the country.

27 million. That doesn’t have to be such a big number after all.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Directions & Ideas

The other night, The African SOUP had a meeting with an incredible new friend. Susan Hillis, lover of Jesus Christ and of orphans around the world, met with 2 of our SOUP staffers to discuss speaking at the SOUP’s upcoming dinner on March 18 in Atlanta. This meeting soon evolved from speaking topics to pieces of wisdom from a woman who has been working for with orphans and in the public health arena for years.

As we shared our plans for the orphanage with her, she told us the truth that she has seen over and over: children are better off being raised in family-like situations. Many studies have shown that children raised in institutions grow up with very different brain activity levels than children raised in families. Thankfully, we told her that as we looked over our blueprints & plans for the SOUP recently, we had decided on creating as close to a family-like environment as possible for the kids with the resources that we have. For us, that means mini-apartments housing a matron and at most 10 children, in addition to common play and eating areas, and the school nearby. This choice to establish foster-like families and nurture the children in the best way possible was confirmed by everything that Susan was sharing with us that night.

She also encouraged us to begin communicating with other organizations that have the same mission and values as we do. Networking with people who have done it before, who know what works and what doesn’t, can only help us and bring more creative ideas to the table. A group called Heartwork has a vision of starting 1000 orphan homes in 1000 days through 1000 different groups. We would love to be a part of this project, as it lines up perfectly with our heart for orphans around the world. Also, there are others even in Uganda, like the Watoto village & Invisible Children, who are doing amazing things to help heal the children in this war-torn country. There are so many other projects, non-profits, ministries, etc, who are doing it right, and we want to talk to them. We want to be a part of this world-wide mission: that orphans will be taken care of, have a home, & be raised as the next generation of leaders in their country.

SO, coming out of the meeting, we realized several things:

  • We have a lot to learn from Susan Hillis and others like her. There is so much wisdom that comes from those who have gone before us, and we need to start gaining some of that knowledge.
  • We are in this for the long haul. There is no way the SOUP is going away after a few years. These orphans and that country need long term consistency, and we are creating & praying about plans for the next couple of decades.
  • The African SOUP will forever be for the least of these. We’ve caught a glimpse of the Father’s heart towards these children, and there’s no way we can go back.

P.S.- If you are a part of a group/non-profit/ministry that helps orphans or simply have a suggestion of one we should check out, please email us at