2020. What a year. As it draws to a close, we want to take a moment to reflect on the beautiful and the difficult moments.
In the Spring of 2020, our team took a trip to Amman, Jordan, and Aswan and Cairo in Egypt. On that trip we continued to strengthen existing relationships, and begin to build new ones. We began by catching up with our partner team from Global Hope Network International (GHNI) and visiting the families we serve in Amman together. You may remember Masa, whom we accepted as a heart patient in 2018. Thankfully, Masa only needed some minor medical care to manage her heart condition. Although she did not end up needing open heart surgery, we have kept up a relationship with Masa and her family, helping them to overcome some barriers they have faced related to their refugee status and the pandemic. You can read more about Masa on our blog here. We also continued to build relationships with the hospitals we work with in Amman and have been amazed by their hospitality and generosity to Morning Star Foundation. We discussed several ways to serve as many refugee children in Jordan as possible, and are excited to share more about the ways we will be doing this as they develop.
After our time in Jordan, we met up with some folks from Chain of Hope (COH) in Aswan, Egypt. While there, we got to tour the heart hospital and meet the incredible team on the ground. We are excited to be partnering with them now and sending many of our cases from Uganda to Aswan, Egypt for their operations. In fact, our first two cases receiving surgery in Egypt are leaving Uganda for their operations there today! We also spent some time building relationships with organizations in Cairo that we can’t wait to share more about as things develop!
We were feeling optimistic about what the year ahead held for Morning Star Foundation as we returned from our trip. The doors were opening to many new partnerships that would allow us to serve so many more children that we ever could alone. We felt hopeful and expectant.
As we all know now, COVID-19 hit shortly after we returned from that trip and lockdowns began. Due to the lockdowns, our children in Uganda who needed operations were not able to travel to receive them, and the hospitals in Amman were unable to take our patients for heart operations for several months. To be quite honest, it was a little confusing and disheartening for our team to return from such a hopeful and exciting trip to what felt like dashed hopes and dreams. We had a vision for growth and helping more children and families than ever, but instead everything came to a halt. So, things slowed down and we did our best to steward the season of slowness well. We took those months to hope, reframe, and plan for what was to come. We thoughtfully prepared to “hit the ground running,” however that would look, and whenever that would be.
Thankfully, in the late summer and early fall, things slowly but surely began to open up again in Jordan and operations resumed. Although the operations could not happen at a speed we were accustomed to before the pandemic, it was wonderful for them to be resuming. It has been incredible to see the beauty of the connections made and relationships built by our team in Jordan despite all of the isolation of a pandemic. Our friends and partners at GHNI tell us story after story of hope coming into dark places where it seems to have been lost. As we began working in Amman again, the hospital recognized the work we and GHNI are doing, and honored us with an award. It was a huge encouragement to us to be reminded that we’re not only bringing hope to families, but to communities, hospital staff, and countless others.
The borders of Uganda were closed for the majority of the year, but that did not stop our team from continuing to bring hope to communities. While we waited for the borders to reopen, we delivered food boxes to dozens of families whose economic difficulties were intensified by the pandemic and lockdowns. Now things are also opening back up in Uganda, and we are thrilled to currently be sending our first two patients since the pandemic began from Uganda to Aswan, Egypt.
We are overwhelmed with gratitude for our staff and partners in the field doing this work day in and day out- whether there’s a pandemic or not. They know that lives are on the line and they courageously and safely as possible continue to pour their hearts into this work.
We could never end our year of gratitude reflections without mentioning our incredible donors. Without the people who support us and encourage us, none of this would be possible. The generosity of the folks who give to Morning Star Foundation and believe in the work we do never ceases to humble and amaze us. From the bottom of our hearts- thank you! You are literally saving lives and bringing hope with us.
As we look expectantly to a new year, we recognize that there are still challenges to face and hurdles to overcome. There is still a pandemic. There are still so many families who need help and hope. Despite that, we continue to choose hope as we always have. Hope for children whose families don’t think they have a chance. Hope for our existing relationships and partnerships to be deepened and strengthened, and for new ones to form. Hope for continued clarity on how to best serve the families we work with. And hope for peace, health, and safety for you, our friends.
Thank you for a difficult, but still hopeful year.
The Morning Star Foundation Team