I have decided to start a blog of my adventures and lessons learned in the heart of Africa. BFoH has taken me on an unforgettable journey thus far and this is only the beginning. I will be posting some journal entries that I wrote while staying in Uganda for two months in 2014. These posts are directly from the original journal entry and although it has been over a year, the passion and the heart has not faded. I enjoy re-reading these entries to remind myself of why I am doing what I am doing and why our mission is so important. Thank you for reading, your comments and encouragements are greatly appreciated.
There are so many orphans. So many children who are without parents and without the love of their mother. The stereotypical Africa that I know and love consists of its children running after your Boda Boda (motorcycle taxi) and smothering you with hugs as they race to greet the Mzungu (their name for a white person). True, there has been much of that, but today there was none. There were no smiles revealing pearly white teeth, no sparkle of joy in their eyes as you said their name or greeted them in their language. They were dead inside. I think that expression is thrown around a lot but I’ve never in my life seen it to be more true. These children had nothing to live for. No one to care for them, no one to love them. They had one grandmother in her late 80s caring for 9 children under the age of 7 years old. One of the girls, Grace, had just been treated for Malaria. She came out of the back of the house with snot smeared across her face, eyes sunken in, and her tiny frail body burning up. I pulled her onto my lap and hugged her close to me and kissed her forehead and in her local language told her she is beautiful and wonderful.
We sat there for a while talking to the caregiver through the translators and asking questions about their lifestyles. It costs the woman about 30,000 UGX (Ugandan Shillings) per week so about $9.00 to feed all 9 children but struggles to prepare a balanced diet. The children are not in school because it costs about 200,000 UGX for each term for each child. That is a boarding school however, so that includes food and living. The whole time we sat there with them all I could think about was how, if I sold the majority of my belongings, ate less, became a hermit and never did anything, I might be able to send these 9 children to school, and might be able to buy them their lives. In the mean time, I was planning other things I could do to help immediately, like bring donated clothes to change out their torn and tattered hand-me-downs to new hand-me-downs. I could also buy mosquito nets, about 6 or so would do wonders in that family. I was feeling pretty good at my new prospects and felt like I could really start making a difference for those children.
We went outside for some pictures and recorded a quick video. I was still trying everything to get a smile or some expression from the children but was shot down each time. I told them I was going to hug them and knelt down and swung my arms out wide waiting for their embrace. Only they didn’t come. They stood there and stared at this strange Mzungu with her arms open. Their eyes no softer, their burdens no less heavy. Could it be that hugs really don’t solve everything? That is preposterous. Hugs are a magical expression of love and joy, I’m sure of it. So, I tried again. And again. And again. Until I finally just engulfed little Mabel in my arms and hugged her so tight. I bounced her around a little and I finally heard the sweetest most honest genuine sound I’ve ever heard. From her little chapped lips came the tiniest makings of… a giggle. My heart melted and I fell in love in that moment. I did it again and again repeating the action and to my joy, with the same result. Little Mabel was not only smiling but laughing. I wonder when the last time she had done that was. I’m not by any means saying that I’m a miracle worker and can make everyone happy. Goodness no, but I am so glad that in that moment, on that day, God chose me to bring a speck of happiness to that child. I went around and hugged the rest of the children in an attempt to get them to smile. I saw evidence of some teeth, but no smiles were as big as little precious Mabel. I took some pictures of the children and showed it to them and they lit up and laughed and giggled. We did some high fives and gave more hugs before we were pulled away by our Boda drivers, a little piece of me staying there in the jungles of Uganda forever.