Heather Chambers, an Alton resident and 12-year breast cancer survivor is a patient navigator for OSF Saint Anthony's Health Center. She has also created the God's Grace Family Children Home Ministry, which helps children in Uganda.
In just one year, her eight-member team from Alton, Bethalto and Warrensburg in Kansas City and Baltimore raised $25,000 for the purchase of more than two acres of land in District of Ibanda in Uganda in a community called Kakinga and to kick-start the construction of a home for up to 11 members of a family.
Chambers stated that in January 2022 she was introduced to Amumpair, a young teacher and pastor, by a social media friend.
She said, "I always wanted to be a missionary but I never imagined that God would do this for me on such a grand scale." Peter and his mom were caring for eight kids in a three-room house that was unfit to live in.
Chambers said that the building had a leaking roof, cracked walls and a tin-roof that was unsafe. I started to plan with Peter how we could make a difference for Peter, his family and the children.
GGF began by finding sponsors to support each child with food, education and supplies. By August 2022, the children had moved into a small house.
Chambers stated, "We can't even tell you what happened." "But we were able, through fundraising and donations each month, to raise enough money for this to be done.
She said, "Now we have 11 sponsored children who are all in school. This is a big deal for Africa." "If you don't pay your tuition, you can't attend." We believe that education is the key to a positive change and work hard to keep all students in school.
Chambers, along with her husband Keith, went on a mission to visit the children who, according to Chambers, are now a part of their life.
She said, "We spend many hours planning and organizing the next steps as well as adding new items."
She said, "We are currently working on a solar energy system that only has two small panels." "This only provides a small amount of energy." There is no indoor plumbing and no refrigeration for food storage. They cook over an open flame in a small space in their home because they don't have a kitchen.
Chambers has been working on providing solar panels, refrigerators, kitchen improvements, and improved plumbing in the bathroom. The Ugandan children currently rely on rainwater to fill their water tanks for showers and to wash clothes.
Chambers added, "We would also like to buy additional land in order to grow more crops." They have begun gardens and produce their own food. We've also added goats and cows. We love that they live so simply and still have the same joy each day.
GGF has also sponsored a soccer team for young men in the village, to encourage them and provide additional opportunities. Chambers stated that the team is called Oasis Football Club, which is what we call in our conversations the Children's Home: an oasis in a desert where God is.
She said, "When God speaks and you listen and move then big things start to happen." All of this happened within a year and we knew it was from God.
Each Saturday at 9 pm in Alton (or 5 am Uganda time), GGF's Prayer Group gathers online for prayer and to minister to each other. Chambers says they're looking for more people to join.
She said, "Our goal by the end 2023 is to have more land with solar panels, refrigerators, better bathrooms and a van to transport them back and forth to their school." GGF is also filing the necessary paperwork to become an officially registered children's home.
Chambers stated, "My life's purpose is to help other people." Sharing God's grace with others is the best way to live. "My heart is full and my mission has just begun."
Visit God's Grace Family to learn more.