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Janet Storton
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It was God's mercy that sent Christ to earth, and a young girl named Mercy that led Janet Storton to Africa.

Going to Africa in 2007 was the fulfillment of a long-deferred dream, not realizing then there would be many more trips to come. She waited a few decades before making this first trip, marrying, raising a family and running an Interior Design Business. Learning to quilt at a young age from her grandmother, her passion for fabric and sewing carried over into her adult life, whether selecting textiles for clients or teaching quilt classes at her local quilt store, The Stitchin' Post in Sisters, Oregon.

"Meeting the women of Kapchorwa, Uganda, teaching them sewing and cooking skills, fulfilling their dreams, has enriched my life significantly."

He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas. Psalm 102:17

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He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas. Psalm 102:17

Amid the steep, lush canyons of the Mount Elgon region of Uganda live the peace –loving Sabine tribe. Forced to flee to these rural mountains decades ago due to the constant terror of hostile cattle-raiding tribes, they built their small homes of mud and grass at an altitude among the clouds, and began scratching out a meager existence by growing coffee, bananas, maize and a few other vegetables in the rich volcanic soil. HIV/Aids and water-borne diseases, claimed untold lives. The dream of an education was out of reach for most children. Hope was hard to find . . . until recently.

In 2006 volunteers from Sisters Community Church in Sisters, Oregon mobilized, offering much-needed medical attention to the Sabine people in the village called Kapchorwa. Members of the Sisters community reached out to sponsor the children – over four hundred to date! A newly-built primary school now rings with the sounds of grateful children singing songs of hope for their futures.

Janet Storton was among one of the first teams of volunteers to venture to their remote village. With her she carried two brightly-colored quilts to present as a gift to the two children she and her husband Peter sponsor. Her vibrant hand-made quilts immediately caught the admiring eye of the Sabine women who were hungry to have art in their lives and in desperate need of a practical skill, especially one that would help keep their children warm at night . . . and listened.

Three months later, Janet returned carrying a suitcase full of sewing supplies; and taught her first workshop to fifteen eager women sharing four rusty, antiquated, treadle sewing machines. Experiencing the joy in these women, many of whom had never sewn before, Janet again . . . listened to their pleas and vowed to come back.

Up that remote mountain road Janet returned just a few months later, in a small pick-up truck loaded with new sewing machines she had purchased with money donated by friends, and the community of Sisters.

As the women learned and sewed together, their spirits bonded and a ministry was begun. The women named themselves the “Sisters of the Heart” and adopted the motto “Women Empowering Women.”

Two grants from the American Embassy in Uganda, who also listened . . . were awarded to the Sisters of the Heart, to keep up with the growing number of young girls and women who desire to learn a sustainable trade. The grants have funded a Vocational Training Center . . . and more sewing machines and supplies.

Sales of the unique hand-pieced quilts and other sewn items provide funding for the foundation, enabling the women of Sisters of the Heart to reach out to other needy women and children within their own community. The foundation grants micro-loans to widows and single mothers, to start their own businesses; abandoned children are provided for with immediate care and food; women living with HIV receive medication to keep them well to continue caring for their families. Recently, the foundation saved the life of a destitute woman with breast cancer, paying for her life-saving surgery.

The warm hearts of these newly-empowered ladies continue to expand and continue to dream on behalf of their community. They are learning cooking skills, to launch a catering business and offer vocational training to those young people and women who cannot afford an education. In the planning stages is a Coffee house & Bakery, where the community will some day gather, sharing their stories . . . and sharing their Hope.

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