Who are the Rural Orphans & Widows AIDS Network, otherwise known as ROWAN?
Founder Pastor Paul Nyende shares his vision for his people.
Rural Orphans & Widows AIDS Network exists to transform orphans & widows into change agents. Every widow a leader. Every orphan a beloved child.
To love & empower orphans & widows infected or affected by HIV & AIDS in Africa, by raising hope in Christ through holistic approaches & partnerships resulting in self-reliance. ROWAN partners with local Christian leaders & development organizations empowering each person to discover their God-given gifts & passions. Together, we assess quality of life, identify physical, spiritual & social needs & implement innovative strategies to meet these needs within the community.
Starting in 2002, Kelsey Hargadine (formally Kelsey Young), Co-Founder & Program Director, lived with a local pastor in East Uganda named Pastor Paul. One night under the stars Pastor Paul shared with Kelsey the burdens of his people. He said, “Kelsey, God hears the cries of my people & there is a purpose for YOU.” This moment was the birthing of ROWAN.
A few short years later, after Pastor Paul began to minister to the orphans & widows, Kelsey ventured back to visit the project. The moment she arrived into Pastor’s home she was given a formal report with the title ROWAN on the front! Kelsey read the first sentence, “ROWAN: Rural Orphans & Widows AIDS Network was begun by Pastor Paul & Kelsey Young to bring the widows & orphans of Africa from helplessness to hope…” That’s exactly what we did & that was just the beginning.
Kelsey has been traveling to Uganda, witnessing firsthand how various organizations, churches & individuals are serving the poor — separately. As individual entities, they are doing all they can. She began to wonder what it would look like to have all the groups working together, combining their ideas, resources & faith to work toward a common goal. This dream began to take shape as she imagined a unified force moving to the rhythm of God’s heartbeat, with widows & orphans leading the way.
This is the vision behind the dream: Out of the rural bush of Mawanga, Uganda, God will raise up those who will reach every orphan & widow in the country. Who are they? They are the members of the first ROWAN chapter, consisting of 40 women & 100 children. They are the driving force behind transformation. Because hope does not disappoint.
What’s Unique about ROWAN?
“This ministry is all about relationships. These are real people whom I love like my own family, and after I went in 2008 I knew they would be in my life forever.” –Ann Wright, nurse volunteer and advocate.
“With ROWAN I feel myself to be a part of a loving, caring community of neighbors who just so happen to find themselves a few contintental doors down from one other.” –Megan Fabry, Communications Director
“…God brings the nations to ROWAN.” –Sherlee, ROWAN ministry analyst, Singapore
“I trust the local leadership. There is much corruption in leadership positions throughout Africa, but I trust Pastor Paul and his leadership team.” –Pastor Wayne Wilson, Acton Faith Bible Church, team member 2008
“I know all my money is going straight to the people, and I know the ministry is set to sustain itself for future projects. As a businessman, I can support and challenge others to get involved.” –Barry Wright, ROWAN secretary, team member 2007