This is HIS Story Podcast

Sara Messer - Executive Director Interview

April 08, 2020 Todd Turner and Sara Messer Season 1 Episode 24
This is HIS Story Podcast
Sara Messer - Executive Director Interview
Show Notes Transcript
Sara is Founder and CEO of Taproot Charities, a non-profit ministry which provides school fees, supplies, and uniforms to support girls in secondary and college level education in rural Uganda, Africa.  After serving in Arua, Uganda on two medical mission trips, and seeing first-hand how the young women in Arua are culturally marginalized and overlooked, Sara felt a special calling to help provide a secondary education to the young women of Arua.  And thus, Taproot Charities was born.  When Sara is not advocating for teen girls in Uganda, she is working as an occupational therapist in hand rehabilitation in San Luis Obispo, CA.  She has been married 24 years to her husband, Travis. She is the mother to her 18 year-old son, Riley, who is currently studying engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obisp and to her 15 year old daughter, Berkeley, who is a freshman at Templeton High School.  Sara resides along the central coast of California in the small town of Templeton, which is about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco along beautiful highway 101!

Interviewer:

Todd Turner
CreativeDigitalGuide.com

I'm Todd Turner, Creative Digital Guide. I come along side Christian Non-Profits and churches and help them tell and fund their God-Sized missions using their digital channels. Listen in to learn how we tell our stories with integrity and ask people to join our kingdom stories. 

As a former Executive Vice President for an International organization,  I have traveled the world learning and teaching digital strategies in various countries and languages. I have gathered the essentials of Digital Strategies and spend my day helping organizations cut out the fads and trends and learn the simple blocking and tackling of their online fundraising strategies.

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hi I'm Todd Turner and welcome to his story podcast where we will look into the calling events and personalities of those God is using around the globe as his hands and feet to do his good work hello and welcome to his story podcast today's guest is Sara Messer from taproot charities located in Southern California Sara thank you for being with us today well so before we get started talking about taproot and I want to know how you got that name here in a little while but tell me a little bit where you were born let's talk about your upbringing just so we get to know who you are because I pretty much grew up in Washington State when I was five my parents divorced and I went to Washington to live with my mom and my dad stay in California he ended up moving to Washington we I didn't I visited my dad during the summers and doing some breaks but mostly spent my time in the western part of Washington State grow up in church actually my both my parents were from religious homes I guess you'd say but I it was not brought up in my my home we did not go to church we didn't talk about it but my favorite person on the planet was my Nana she still holds the top my most number-one admired woman of all time well and she was she just loved the Lord just with all her heart till the day she died and when I would go visit her we lived pretty close to her and when I would go visit her I was the only one with my sister and my cousins it ever entertained any talk about God about Jesus and I was the one that would be interested in going to church with her on Easter or Christmas and so and she prayed with me a lot and I gave my life to the Lord when I was in the night after a pretty traumatic experience but I really it was because of her influence that I knew that there was a god and it was he was a personal God and and wanted to know me personally and protect me so I love that so you go off to college after high school and did your faith played a part in that or were you headed toward a certain career how did that decision go down well so we I had a pretty abusive home growing up and there was a lot of abuse other types of abuse and I lived with different people throughout my high school career and so we also there was a lot of poverty and my my home and I knew the only way to to get out of that and at this point in the ninth grade I had a traumatic experience with my stepdad and I ran away from home and my friend just need to use group and the pastor came out and said I had something to talk about tonight but I feel the Holy Spirit telling me that somebody else needs to hear something different so I'm gonna just go like that bear with me and my friend and I were elbowing each other the whole time just like 100% absolutely no it was for me and went home and I prayed a very awkward prayer by myself out okay it sounds like your real God and I guess I'll follow you and so after that my face really did play a big part in my journey through high school my kind of away from my abusive parents then I went to live with my dad for a year came back with my mom she really wasn't able to after my my stepmom away I mean my stepdad got a divorce she wasn't able to really care for me a lot but I really dug into school my education so with the story with chapter charities it does kind of come full circle sure sure and I did graduating valedictorian and I like was convinced that the only way out of my situation was really to get a college degree diem and a good job and so but right before I graduated from high school I was in a pretty severe car accident and probably the way it all played out probably should have lost my life but you know it was pretty clear that I had a purpose to my life because I didn't die but oh and one other thing in the meantime I was the recipient of a really prestigious scholarship it paid for all of my college tuition to any in Washington school I wanted that I chose to go to and it wasn't a scholarship that I actually I was nominated by our teachers and there was if it was there was only like 150 people in the state of Washington that were throughout the state of Washington that were getting the scholarship so I knew that was still part of my plan I knew that I survived this car accident for a reason I didn't know what was in store but then I ended up going to University of Washington just to study I just decided it kind of didn't really totally suit my personality so I ended up studying I thought a psychology degree and then I went back to get my occupational therapy degree so I'm an occupational therapist okay so you know from I guess the ninth grade all the way through college did did you hang around different crowds did it really change you did you just go to church on you know suddeniy through saturday or you know how did your life change and how did you have that affect your college life I like in in high school and I think that well I would always seek out different churches really long as Presbyterian Church that was close to my house like walked in and I ended up joining a little mission trip to Mexico right after high school with them and it just was something I was always really felt compelled to seek after in my own life and then when I got to college we had a really great people at the time it was the largest so so we heard it was the largest in the nation well ecology is group yeah and and there was this really cute guy that was there and I think that really made you know helped me go every single week I ended up marrying him but yes I had lots of Christian friends and lots of non-christian friends to think that it was always really important I have a great love for people and for God and it doesn't just pin it I don't I can't just keep the narrow we we need to talk about Travis I have to confess I know your husband great guy I mean that he is a stand-up gentleman I mean I value our friendship I don't know your story about you old mad and and how long after college did you get married like you want to tell a little bit of that story and what part of your life that was I would go to the gym with my roommate and I did see this guy that I thought was pretty cute wasn't but you know it my roommate and I and his roommate him seemed like we were kind of paying attention to each other and on the way out of the gym one day he turned around we were kind of behind then when he turned around and he asked my roommate to go to a dance of his fraternity and then I was like oh great but we all kind of became friends neighbors we became friends and I went to go visit my roommate and I went to visit him at their fraternity house and the guy that opened the door was I saw a beautiful man with the biggest smile I've ever seen and I from that moment I was totally in the starstruck and that was Travis and I did say how about a year and he did not give me the time but he'll tell you a different story but he didn't give me a time of day for a couple of years well yeah yeah I was a couple years younger than he is and he you know we became actually pretty good friends and then he asked me really nice date so yo got married shortly after college actually I finished my first degree and we ended up getting married in my senior year earlier than where all my friends were but it was after my first degree okay so I'm gonna segue a little bit to Africa right cuz this is this is where your heart is now so I heard you say we took a mission trip to Mexico so did put a interest for mission word did it put an interest of traveling the world like hat tell me how you get from there to taking a trip to Africa well yes it did you know just opening your eyes to I mean I thought that I grew up poor and just opening your eyes to the hardships the material poverty because we're all for in different ways but poverty of other people in the world it was pretty eye-opening and then in college we had an opportunity to do a mission trip for the summer and we used sign up you don't know who you're going with or where you're going they it was through the University of Universe requested Tyrian churches to ask where any group was in LA in Seattle and I was sent to Mexico City and I actually really had an awful time a couple of reasons why but it was not necessarily I didn't feel like the safest city but I also kind of was triggered from some things in my past to my childhood and I just thought Lord like this is this is the one place that would be really hard for me to go and well because I I got very sick on my first mission trip but anyway so but I did I still I still had a heart to serve other people that were let less fortunate it's really hard because now as an adult as an adult then but as a more grown-up adult more mature adult I do struggle it's the whole white Savior thing and back then it just you know privilege and all that I just thought it was a dupe my duty not to help other people like that so the older as a more mature person I did still want to serve other places with as an occupational therapist and so we ended up going to Peru on a medical mission trip with our family and another family that we're very close to and I realized that my occupational therapy skills don't trance Emmit my specialty is hand therapy because like the upper extremity injuries and those skills don't translate necessarily for short-term missions on a medical mission trip people don't have her name on or they don't they can't you can't I can't they can't rest their tendinitis because they have to farm for their for the day they can't get ice to put on their elbows or whatever so that was that was really hard for me also and again was still struggling with this I don't want to serve other people and come in as an American and think that I have something to help you I still had this tension in me but and after that it was very clear that short term missions are wonderful in many ways but also hard in many ways you are going in and you're even on a medical mission trip you're going in and you're providing you know medicines to help them get rid of their intestinal parasites and your potion even to help with their aches and pains but all these things will still continue down the road what's the lasting impact and so when we decided both of our families the family that we went with and our family to go to Africa it really to me was I needed to have a longer impact like if we wanted to do this we couldn't just come as a medical mission team and leave and not not ever have some kind of longer lasting impact the community that we were serving so you went and you went into your first trip to Africa with a mindset of I'm here to help I'm not sure how but what it's not going to be short-term yes but I was praying in church one Sunday morning and I really felt the Lord say you need to build a well and I thought that's really weird and but I can't like I can't raise money how am I supposed to do that and it felt very daunting and overwhelming but our family did end up doing some fundraising it and we raised $10,000 for our whole well for the community where we were going and that really did feel like before we even got there they they had it built by hired gardens gone in engineers to to you know build it put it all in and then it had just started working about a week before we got there so we got two lines and it's pretty great that it is more of and you know and we're still involved in that community so if something happens to the well we are still able to obtain the kitchen as we need they take care of it but if it's an overwhelming fix we can still help them fix it so it's definitely still a functioning well up there did you couple with a another nonprofit at the time like if you went huh you just you just don't go a pickup throw a dart at a map and say I'm gonna go build a well here right so you have a relationship with that nonprofit still or now you really all under the taproot fountain yeah I'm charity yeah we still on a medical mission and and it was with a local group called his human hands and they do medical missions kind of scattered throughout the world and so we ended up going twice with them and love that ministry community but the other family that we also and charities exist there and so we're kind of sister ministries in that area but they're just not serving in sure sure okay so help help me here you you your mission work started out with short-term medical which you realize that that's a short-term japes you then come in and think okay I'm going to build a well and it's water right so you're like okay well water well that lasts for generations hopefully so what was your next level of of like what problem did you say okay this is what I'm going to pour into there were three well this is exactly why temperature ''tis came into being because there were three high school girls that were serving as our translators and they were really amazing girls and it was curious why they we appreciated their help but why why were they out of school to help us with our you know spend the week with us but it turned out that they were not able to go to school because they couldn't afford to pay for their school fees which was the story of all the kids running around and that really stuck with us and just these three girls if we fell in love with them they were mature they were loving they were bright and I asked the director of the director of the medical mission kind of our host he's the pastor of a local church there and and he knew these girls and I asked him I just was giving my Fink's and saying how much I love them and he said well they won't be here if you this was the first year we were there he said they won't be here next year if you come again and I asked him why they wouldn't be and he said well they'll be married but and they were like 15 and I just kind of blew me away and he said well that's just the way it works if the families can afford to send their girls to school it'll they get married you know 14 years old starting at 14 years old and so to me I just I I did have a little bit of my American hat on and I like clarified it that thought and so I said what will it take to keep them in school and he said well they just need their school fees paid for and so Travis and I sponsored them but we paid for their school fees but we also didn't want to be like the face of that and we it would have been a great trust to do it anonymously but they there knew that they were being sponsored by somebody so we asked a couple of our friends to be the sponsors and then they kind of wrote letters back and forth and things like that so the next year when we went back the they were doing well and they still came to help us I think we were in a time when school was out of session though they were doing well they were successful they were healthy and I talked with the pastor again and he said you really need to invite more Americans into doing this and I said well it doesn't work that way like Americans need their tax write-off and I can't just say I know these really great people can you give me money to give to them and he said well like the answer was simple I just needed to start an NGO for them it's an NGO for X's nonprofit and um it he sure made it sound like it would have been simple in 2014 and and and what country is is this your to in ministry and you done it Uganda okay so Uganda school all of school from from there from early on all the way through high school is is really a private school meaning you have to pay there's not an age range that it flips yeah no matter what age it is and it's not even it's not really a private school they're mostly governmental schools there are some private schools there are friends who started a ministry who were there to serve with us same kind of thing they they ended up buying property and starting a school that was a private school there were sponsorships to get to have those kids involved there but and they were they started it for younger kids and so Annie start working with the older girls and school fees range it's gone up even since we've started every year it goes up kind of significantly well but for school uniforms they have to buy their papers and pencils and all that and then for just the school the tuition fees it can be anywhere from Oh seventy to a hundred dollars for like a private school per term it's it's more expensive for high school and so so those are the kind of high school cost I'm not actually sure what the elementary school costs are but it's not free and when you're dealing with families that are subsistence farmers that it truly only make you know they sell what they grow and they can make about a dollar a day you you can imagine you can't afford to pay for your kids to go to school well this is actually and because they're living in poverty rural sub-saharan Africa all over the place Banda northern Uganda versus the southern Uganda where southern new Banda has has kind of grown economically and educationally but doesn't have a so the problem with not getting education even for girls is is really it's an issue of poverty it's not because they don't care about their kids it's not because they're they just choose not to keep them they can't afford to and if you can imagine getting married when you're 15 years old and then you have three babies by the time you're 20 but then you have four more you know in the history of your marriage then you really you have to pick one or maybe two if you're lucky to educate and you normally pick the boys just because the culture so we can asked a lot why like why not the boys what's because there's a lot of there's just more awareness about needing girls to have the same access to education and so I think people think that the boys are getting left I know in a way sometimes but it's it's not it's not true everybody deserves to have an education equal access to education but girls just don't culturally they're not chosen because it's a it's a culture of solidarity they know that when their kid gets an education hopefully he'll have a job that will bring him a living wage and then he will in turn give back to parents so if a parent is going to choose a child to educate they're gonna choose the one that will kind of help them in return and they don't see girls as having potential getting jobs and being as employable as the boys are that's a big part of what we're trying to change in that communities I'm glad you're saying all this I work with a an orphanage in Kenya and if I remember correctly Kenya school is paid for up to a certain age and then you take a test if you pass the test you move on and then schools paid board if you don't your got your out of school and you can't even get back in so different cultures in America we just take a lot for granted we do and then you're pointing out a very unique situation in a country that we don't lay in our beds and when we think about these things and we just wonder wonder you know I wonder why other countries aren't as developed as we are well they a lot of them have severe disadvantages and just just the way that systems work and like you said poverty causes poverty right if they get poverty yeah so so you're a female you finished high school now you're putting words in your mouth but are you in a situation where you don't have to get married and the fact that you can make it career for yourself otherwise you're really at the mercy of a man who has a career is that what I'm hearing it's we and this is this is from those those three girls that have we first worked with there were our translators one has found a nursing school and has become a nurse one of them went to a tailoring school graduated first in her class and she has a business employs a couple people she's doing really well from they have said to us that they once if they're able to get an education and it actually extends this is another thing with tacit charities that we really prioritize it's the college education piece if they are able to get that because it makes them almost excellent more employable if they have that and I'll remind me to tell you a story but they they they're able to say who they want to marry because before that that's I mean it's an arranged marriage I hate to say the words forced marriage cuz I think that still perpetuates some stereotypes of their culture but again it's not parents aren't marrying off their girls because they don't care about them it's because someone says that they'll take care of them which there's a lot of domestic violence in that culture too that's not if I'm jumping around I'm sorry okay I love it no this is great keep going if girls get educated they choose who they want to marry they're much less likely to be victims of gender-based discrimination and violence and even in their own marriages so if if they had been married to a man that they chose and when they got married that because they are earning a living oftentimes that husband will she just has more control over her finances if she were gotten married at 15 and as a farmer and trying to take care of her family any of the money that she culturally this is what happens any of the money that she earns she has to do the handover to her husband and they do in real Uganda specifically they do have a problem with a huge problem with alcoholism it's I mean oh I don't know the percentage but it when you drive by and you see the little outdoor bars that are there there's a huge percentage of men so yeah and I want to generalize but just statistically it is true that more of the men struggle descent and then if the women are able to have their own jobs make their own money they have more control over where it's at okay so he's here no he did well first of all you told me to remind you of a story telling telling that before I asked the next question we had this to me was such a good metaphor about why it's really important to follow through with the college education and not just stop at the high school of education we had a visitor if someone comes to town and they're friendly agonda oftentimes we'll get a call we'll just get to spend some time with them and we had somebody over for dinner who was he worked in Uganda he actually worked in the education system in Uganda and he said he'd used this metaphor for continuing with the college education he said it's like if someone doesn't go to college it's like going to fetch water and they put these 40 gallon jerry cans on top of there I thought used to that at first being an occupational therapist I thought gosh their necks and but they're they're not like Americans trying to carry those on their heads they buy them and so it's like a woman going to fetch water and then hearing you know for a mile and then carrying all that water back and then tripping at the threshold of their doors so so basically they've done all this work but then when it comes to actually using their gifts or what they brought back just unable to because it also kind of goes to waste sure okay so you clearly have done your education and you're you're not just writing a check and putting a stamp on an envelope and saying good luck if you you you're you're dissecting the problem and you're looking for solutions and so tell me a little bit about taproot one I guess I need to know tell me how the name taproot came before I even go there cuz I got it out so I when I was growing up I knew I didn't want to be a doctor an actress and so I when I got to college my dad said you know I've done with those silly fanciful dreams and so I totally pushed the side I was in community theater I was in my children's like a traveling children's performance group when I was in high school we went around to a bunch of elementary schools I did theater I did I really enjoyed that I had when I was done with college as an occupational therapist I had an agent and Seattle and Spokane and I did just small things and it was really super fun for me but we moved to LA for a couple of years just Travis this is my wonderful husband just so I could have fun in the industry and do some things with some friends and nothing big but I did realize that it was very interested in production the producing side of things so I thought Lord I will have a production company if you want me to and I'll name it secretary or productions because there is a theater in Seattle called top great theater and they were they were a Christian theater and and attack rate is the long vertical route which all the other small routes get its nourishment from and so for me the reason I don't wanted to keep taproot I helped operate so dear is because God an education to me were the most important things that got me kind of where I am now and so then once all this came in oh it's not a prevention company it's a non-profit okay I like that okay so you've done your research you know you know the problems you you think you have solution and it's funny how money solves a lot but you can't just throw money at a problem it doesn't always fix it right you have to put in the right channels and figure out who you support and and all that so tell me like I've been on your website and I actually see people on the website and I don't know if tell me how it works you know what well get what you've discovered then how people can get involved okay well I think it's really important for people I mean everybody ha one big thing to me as I feel like generous people make the world a better place just period and whether that's time resources just mentorship whatever it is everybody has like a different calling on their heart that kind of makes their heart sing and for me it's through these women in Africa for anybody else it could be the homeless shelter local homeless shelter it could be the PTL at the school I just think it's really important to invest in something outside yourself and then if for us going somewhere like Africa but there's a I really want to be really invested in the culture and know the culture before I bring my American ism to them I really want to stand back and kind of let them guide me and that's a like super important place for me to start in terms of where we're going with a non-profit I want to be able to listen to them and know what long-term what they want to see happen and so and I also want to be super transparent to everybody that supports us and financially transparent what's happening girl what the girls are doing the girls that aren't doing so well and why they're not doing so well I just I want to lay it all out there for everybody because Trust is a big thing if people are going to financially support something I think they need to know that they can trust the stewardship of that and so so our program is really a sponsorship program and we pay for the school fees and the uniforms and all that that support the girls but we also actually had a medical slush fund that we contribute to so we paid for all the girls medical it's is their home so a lot of times they if their home for their third longer break like our summer break there's a Zenda summer in January if their families need help with with getting food when they're a lot of our girls are in boarding school it's there's another reason for that but all the parents that's their best their most highest thing that they look forward to the most because they know their kids are gonna get fed they know their kids are gonna get the best education and they're they're gonna have time to study there they're not gonna have to help out with chores at home when the girls that's another math defeat so we can we try to help support families nutritionally so it is a sponsorship program but we also do a lot of fundraising on the side for these other expenses and then typically when the girls go to college it is obviously a much higher expense so if the sponsor can't afford to pay for that in their entire college degree then we can't we pair the girl with another couple of sponsors okay so I was gonna ask about the boarding school so do you pay the school directly do you have boots on the ground that sort of distributes money like how do you mathil that's a lot of logistics you're going through to kind of pull this off right especially thousands of miles away we have the only person that we employee is a social worker and anybody and she our director of our nonprofit is the the director of the medical mission Lulu were there so the pastor of that local church he's our director and he volunteers his time he doesn't get paid for it it's actually a lot of work that he invests in it too and then we pay our social worker and she acts as the liaison between families and schools she's the one that will pay the school directly we get I received basically from it and we file it away and we keep track of all those expenses so she is our boots on the ground so I don't know if you know this answer because I don't know it's at your any community I love it that you can invest in one community and you really have your pulse your finger on the pulse of what's going on so my question is you know as you're expanding your reach within the community are you put as a drop in the bucket are you it 10% 20% 40% like how far are you and what's your goal of your reach because we are kind of walking alongside our friends who had built a Elementary School we are taped so they are having a significant impact there also and we are taking the girls that are from they haven't come from their elementary school they are the most marginalized girls with the least resources a lot of ours don't even live with their biological families they live with neighbors or or somebody that's been willing to take them in and so so our specific impact it's hard to objectify it I guess but I think there has been a shift within the families that we serve there it actually has seemed to empower them to be to see the benefit of educating their girls but also educating all of their kids if they're able to the girl she still did live with her biological family um who went to nursing school she ended up paying for a few of her siblings to go to school and that's kind of the trickle-down effect girls yeah a lot of girls will end up they end up having smaller families statistically and because they get a little bit of a later start and they can they will reinvest 90% of their income into their families and so their kids are getting educated but not only do they educate their own kids but they're much more likely to do brothers and sisters nieces and nephews neighbor kids just because that's the way the culture works they all try to pour into each other as they can and so I eventually I think you'll be able to see it but it may take more of a generational effect sure but definitely the area where there I I feel like there's a lot more hope with the people that we're serving there within the rural a rua is a town of about sixty or seventy thousand people and we we say that rua but we're really in the a [ __ ] a village it's just outside of Aruba and so within the people in that village it does seem like there's a lot more hope so I love the fact that you're reaching out and marginalizes what you said I'd like you sort of start with the people who have the least chance right but I haven't heard you say anything about faith-based other than your heart but so do you have any kind of criteria like you doesn't even have to sign a so I believe this or I promise this or I'm gonna go to church if I do this or is this all about helping them from their situation and getting them educated and your motivation is a love of Christ but you don't make them sign or you don't have to go to a private school of Christian private school or anything like that right we so you're right it's why we're called to be the hands and feet of Christ and that's why we're doing what we're doing in the in Rua its versus all of the rest of Uganda okay so when you're in Africa probably but Yvonne dismiss if eclis you are either Christian or you're Muslim like it's kind of like I'm Irish like that's my ethnic heritage and you are one or the other um and you align with that you might not necessarily go to church but that's what's handed down to you that's what you are and it is a predominantly Christian country but in that area where we served it's about 50/50 and to me it's very important of our program is the pastor of a local church so he has the heart of Christ that's feeding into these girls and some of our meetings are on Sundays because that's when they're out of school that's it's a easier you know they they go to church they do what they're doing in the morning in the afternoon they can all come and connect together and we have it at the where the rural community church is because it's it's an easy place for him to be able to access but to me it's very very important not to discriminate based on religion which I feel like that is if we are requiring people to go to church or go to certain specific schools we are eliminating half of the people in Uganda who consider themselves Muslim and we have a couple of Muslim girls and are in our program and so to me you know they're they're receiving the love of Christ whether they don't know that because pastor JP is the director and there is a level of respect that is there between Muslim and Christian they might not overlap a lot in other ways but they're certainly not the fear that I think Armenia no I totally give it up so tell me so somebody who's listening to this like how do they get involved I mean is that you go to your website you pick a girl and you sort of know who who needs help and every year you update that like huh how does somebody get involved this ministry and what what do you require of them financially and whatever else so we every year we add a few more girls to our program and for us it's really important to keep it small because if we have if we're committed to paying for the college education and we have this huge number of girls then we're gonna get ourselves into trouble when all of them are in college we have to we we do try to keep our members somewhat small we have about thirty girls in our program right now and so every year we have about four or five more girls that that join us and those girls people ask often like how do you choose them and they're there JP the director will the people who know people kind of thing but then he meets with them specifically and finds out their own level of motivation and commitment to school because they really do need to see that they're committed because they're taking the place of somebody else who could have been committed if they're not so I totally forgot your question get involved so you're telling me now this is how you vet the girls in your program now now how do you match them up with someone yeah over here in the state we've had people from New York and Florida and Indiana the people but we also have people that just leave us and find us or the sister-in-law of someone that knew us or they had someone with one of our girls was sponsored by someone that was in peace work that was in our area that became familiar with this girl and we we just I pray a lot I know that God's gonna bring the people in who need to be brought in sometimes we have to go during a fundraising event we have to say this girl needs help for college you don't have any sponsors but yeah we we list the girls on our website that are still in need of sponsorship so people can go on there and click the sponsor a girl tab I'll say I don't know if this is gonna date the program or not but with this with this pandemic that's happening everybody in Uganda everybody's out of school everybody's back home just kind of like we are here and for I think they said two months nobody is going to be able to really do anything other than if you need medical visits or if you need to go dick you know to the market mmm and so right now we I can't I don't have pictures there on the website they're available they need help if you see them on your website that you know that they need they and you sort of you pick a lady to say I want to sponsor her and about how much is that for for high school not college part that point because at first it was twenty dollars a month and we weren't able to provide for their medical expenses or their extra needs outside of school and tuition prices keep going up and up so right now it's $35 a month which is $120 e I mean $420 a year and yep that takes care of a girl on all of all of her needs and by the way I'll put this on the website when we post this in the podcast to make sure that people get to know but it's on taproot charities org I'll put a link on there as well okay and then when they get to college what has that expense go out what can people expect if they want to continue all the way through all the levels of education you go through primary school you do take an exit exam after P seven which is grade seven and then if you pass you go into high school and all of our girls are in high school and so once you leave so after s4 or senior for kind of like your senior year here you take another exit exam and depending on how well you score you either go into advanced level which is as 5 and X 6 and that's more of like a more like a community college or junior college but you're kind of narrowing in your studies um picking a trade what's it like picking a trade versus picking a lot of a career path of well doctor or lawyer actually the s5 and s6 is more like picking a career path because succeeded at a higher level and so they will probably go on to university after that then if you if you don't do as well after s4 then you go into something that would be like a vocational school that's typically where we have a couple of girls who probably go to university in the next year or I'm trying to think of where they are in their schooling but they're in senior five and senior six right now and so the other girls which is me because we're getting them when they're starting senior one like you're in ninth grade in high school and they've come from a pretty impoverished background they haven't had the nutrition that they needed when they were little to be able to soak in the information they haven't had the best education their their classrooms have been super impacted so those are the girls most likely that will be going into a kind of trade school and for us but like it really it still provides like an amazing wage and what's really important to us is that they're doing what they want to do so we're not shutting them into well you have to go to beauty school or you have to go to Seoul tailoring school down and we talk with them and see what's on their heart and where their skills and their talents line up with what their heart says then we really help support them in that that path and and though the cost of those programs can vary anywhere from we have a girl in secretarial school right now that's about five hundred dollars a year and then our that was in nursing's and this is like dream aboard and everything Wow and then our girl in that went to nursing school I think the first year was $2,000 because you have to buy stethoscope and a mattress and a bunch of other things to to get you started and then and then the second two years I think it was about $1,200 so you you saw what I want to make sure I hear my Mary things ride so depending on how the test goes and the young lady's desire what she wants to become the price changes and then you help if the price is too much for the original sponsor you couple them with another sponsor and you try to find a way to get let that girl continue her education and work with somebody or not no one's committing to doing I promise take them through college because you wouldn't even know what that price is yeah no we know we can't we really don't things change you know people's resources change but actually very committed to college literally Travis my only fear for them if we can't find them sponsors but typically we have been able to get everyone what they mean so far well they want to go to some type of post-secondary school education it will happen well okay so I'm loving what I'm you're doing and I love everything I'm hearing so here's my question especially the theme of this podcast is I already know one of the answers I'm going to try to pull another answer out of you clearly God has prepared you for this you're highly intelligent you your valedictorian for crying out loud I mean you need your intelligence helping you manage this but you talked about sort of the tough life you grew up and what what characteristics or traits did you get from that do you think you're still using today I mean is there is there how God formed you I mean beside I'm not gonna let you use the word smart you probably even say it but I can see it what else what is what it's the tenacity or the heart for someone and pain or opportunity and just I don't want to I'm free here your answer I want you to tell me I was gonna use nasty or resilient somehow because Travis told me you just need to be really authentic and transparent so the truth is it's really really hard work and I have a board but a lot of the work is Falls to me and I have a job and I have a family and so it's been sometimes pretty stressful on occasion but really that is I think the just hard-working kind of tenacity through the difficult times to developed a lot of that for sure when I was a kid so that's probably what serving me best right now okay so I have one more real last question and that is with the use of technology how often you're having to to stay in contact are you flying back and forth like tell me a little bit about how you're managing this because you're right it's no easy task you pay for data so as she goes she can kind of be mobile with it and so we're in constant communication but I go I try to go about once every year or a year and a half myself and then on occasion I'll have somebody come with me somebody who's been invested with us on our side who just wants to kind of experience it see for themselves what's happening over there and or my family's coming next time we go I think I think it's really important for me it's really because it's a look it's really hard work it's good for me to see the girls to face and to sit down and chat with them about personally what's happening with them that's mostly my communication with them we limit and tell they're done you limit their exposure to any of us with Facebook and social media just because I think it's helpful to keep them accountable to not asking the sponsors for things or me or anything else so just having a place to them is face to face with them it's really important for me yeah it puts a extra wind in your cell I'm sure when you come back that I know listen I work with a lot of nonprofits and the hats that the executive directors and founders have to wear is mind blowing to people and sometimes I sometimes I meet with it I can feel that that uh overwhelmed look on their face and in their soul and then if you catch them right after they do what it is that got them into the ministry they're walking on cloud nine and they forget all the pain passion and that is you forget all the pain that's right that's a thank you so much for spending time if you don't mind I like to pray for you and your ministry and then we'll wrap up Lord you are an amazing father Lord we thank you for your perfect love for reaching out to us when we didn't love you more than we were rebelling you uh you sought us out Lord and was your saving grace or we thank you for that today we thank you for Sarah and how you've given her a passion to help young girls and best into them and show you show them your value their their value Lord with this head same as yours Lord as you value all of us and where we thank you for giving her this desire and and the love to be your hands and feet right in the heart of Uganda lord I ask you to continue to bless II Sarah and taproot charities or do we ask you you grow the reach of their ministry and show yourself Maude Lee has you used the volunteers and partners and supporters of this ministry to show your grace and your loved to people who sometimes feel unloved Lord you know the young women be empowered to do great things and have their hard turn stand turned toward you or I played for provisions for tap charities Lord may give them the resources they need to continue their work and do you expand their work Lord or we love you I think you once again for for Sarah and her hard Lord thank you once again for loving us and it's your precious son's name you pray amen thank you sir thanks so much I appreciate it was a pleasure to meet you nice to meet you time Thanks [Music]