Hey ladies! Today I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Hannah Hems. She’s an absolutely phenomenal woman. Her journey to living in Uganda is so straightforward. She makes it seem so natural for her to now be there and fostering two little ones. I admire her simple approach to service. She’s an astonishing reminder that there are other women in this world just like you, who whole-heartedly believe that even the most microscopic steps we take in life can make a sweeping difference in the lives of many.
AM: Please introduce yourself.
HH: My name is Hannah Hems. I grew up in a christian family, living on the west coast in San Diego California. I am a beach bum at heart and love everything sea, sun and sky. I have been living and serving with HFWIC in Jinja, Uganda since August 2015. I have beautiful 2 year old twins John Mark and Grace who I am currently in the process of adopting.
AM: What did you do after graduating highschool?
HH: After graduating highschool, I went to college and got my Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies and Worship Leading. I then completed my Cosmetology License and worked in a Med Spa/Salon for 2 years. During those 2 years I also got certified in TESOL.
AM: How did you come to take your first trip to Uganda?
HH: After building my career as a hairstylist for 2 years I really felt the Lord calling me to take a summer off and go do something. In my mind I was thinking about a cruise, or trip to Hawaii or a Europe tour. The Lord then brought to mind my great aunt and uncle who have been serving in Uganda for almost 15 years. From seeing how the Lord was using them I always had a dream of coming to Africa one day. God said what about now!! So I googled orphanages and plane tickets to Uganda…………..
AM: What did you do on your first trip?
HH: Googling most needy orphanages in Africa and volunteer opportunities, Amani Baby Cottage came up. I researched the ministry, sent in my application, and within a few months I was headed to Uganda to teach preschool for 2 months.
AM: What did it feel like returning stateside after that first trip?
HH: Growing up in a Christian home I had been involved on other missions trips prior to Uganda. I knew this trip was going to be different, not exactly sure in what way but I knew it was going to forever change my life. During my time serving at the orphanage we had 5 babies dropped at our gate in the course of 2 months. This prompted many questions in mind as to why so many baby homes in Uganda? Who were the mothers who were willing to just leave their child at a gate? What kind of support was being offered to these families to empower them to keep their children? These questions burned in my heart and mind the next 2 months after being home. Within that time I knew God was calling me to move to Uganda and dedicate my life to orphan prevention and serving the child mother.
AM: How did you prepare and plan for your return to Uganda?
HH: I worked for a year as a nanny saving every penny. I downsized my belongings to 3 suitcases, sold my car, sent out support letters, fundraised and got on a plane. You could say I gave my Yes to God, never looked back, and trusted Him to guide each step of the way. At times I didn’t feel prepared at all especially as I stepped off the plane in Uganda.
AM: When did you return to Uganda?
HH: I returned to Uganda 1 year and 2 months after my first trip. I arrived August 2015.
AM: What was your primary reason for returning to Africa?
HH: During my preparation to return to Africa full time I had researched some potential ministries to partner with. I made plans to visit these ministries when I arrived in country and follow the Spirit’s leading as to where He was working and where I was needed. I was prepared to start my own NGO if needed, as a last resort if none others were capturing my vision with their work.
AM: How did you meet Lyzette?
HH: I randomly ran across one of the volunteers she had working with her for the summer and we began talking on Instagram. This volunteer learned about my plans for ministry and moving to Uganda and he encouraged me to reach out to Lyzette. Lyzette and I began emailing back and forth and made plans to show me around HFWIC when I arrived in Uganda. The rest is history 🙂
AM: What made you decide to work for HFWIC?
HH: I fell in love with Lyzette, her family, her story and the work God was doing through her. HFWIC was not glamorous and Lyzette was on bed rest when I met her but God was working and there was a need. Lyzette has become more then a ministry partner, she is family. Gods hand was in every step I took and His hand continues to sustain us moving forward as we further the Kingdom through HFWIC.
AM: What is your role at HFWIC?
HH: I currently serve as the Project Manager; overseeing outreach, volunteers, social media, fundraising, and all things admin.
AM: What is a typical workday life for you?
HH: My day consists of getting out the door with my 2 littles. We arrive at the girls home around 10 when we have english class, bible study, health talk or skills training. We generally eat lunch all together, then afternoon naps allow me to catch up on emails, admin work, reading through volunteer forms, or preparing for an outreach project. Monday and Tuesday mornings you can find me at the hospital ministering alongside Lyzette, and Friday night is movie night for us as a HFWIC Family.
AM: How did you become a foster parent?
HH: I have always had a mother’s heart and moving to Uganda I was willing to take in any child that was in need. When I met Grace and John Mark they were 1.5 years old being looked after by the other girls at HFWIC. They had been abandoned by their 12 year old mother at around 6 months and left at Lyzettes ministry. She told me their story and how she was trusting God to bring along a loving family for them. I went away and thought nothing of it. As the months went on I became more attached and my heart fell hard. I can’t imagine life without them. They are my gifts from God and bless me daily. It’’s not the way I would have written the story but with God as the author its bound to be a great one no matter what adventures come.
AM: How long do you plan to live in Uganda?
HH: All I am sure of is where the Lord has me now. I will be in Uganda definitely until my kids adoption is finalized and until I have peace to leave HFWIC to carry out another mission elsewhere as the Lord leads. HFWIC will most certainly need to be self sustained and thriving before considering moving on. Whether that is 3, 5 or 10 years only the Lord knows.
AM: What are you currently dreaming about or have a goal of doing?
HH: I would love to travel the world and visit every continent. I also have a vision to take HFWIC to many East African countries, to give hope to other young child mothers and their communities.
AM: Where can people find you on the web?
HH: You can follow as my journey unfolds through Instagram @hopeforwomenafrica.
You can find more information, volunteer forms, and sign up for our monthly newsletter on our website. You can also subscribe to my personal blog.
Next week I’ll feature Part 3 of the Hope For Women in Crisis story, as well as details about what they are currently working on. Do you have any questions for Lyzette or Hannah? Are you curious about what life is like for them day-to-day? Do you want to know more about their situation and the women they serve? Leave your question in the reply box below and I’ll let get your answers.