I’m getting my post up a little later than I’d hoped, because one of our team members has been injured. Keely slipped and fell in our hotel and banged up her head pretty badly; Sophie, Anne and I have been been playing momma bear with her until the medic could arrive. Please pray for her, that her injuries will be mild and easily treatable, and that she will feel peace.
We had another day that it’s hard to describe in words. We began the morning at the national office for Compassion’s work in Uganda—they employ 80 staff members. Oh, I wish you could meet these people. As is their policy, Compassion only puts nationals out in the field, so these workers are all Ugandan. They are powerfully committed to the work they’re doing, and you’ve never seen such graciousness and hospitality. They were all so excited to meet us and they’d even been reading some of our blogs.
I also wish you could hear these Ugandans pray. I’ve gotten to hear several of them now, and it is the most beautiful, reverent thing you’ve ever heard.
After a morning at the national office, we headed out an hour outside Kampala (along the bumpiest road on the planet, by the way) to visit a birth-through-age-three program geared toward educating mothers and families. We broke into smaller teams and wound our way through this village…
…going to visit one of the participating family. I couldn’t even try to pronounce (or spell) this mother’s name, but here’s a picture of her sitting just inside her front door:
The little boy in her lap, Musa, is 15 month old. Her older son, at the bottom left of the photo, is named Abraham. He’s very sick with sickle cell anemia. Their home had dirt and stone walls, and it was as spotlessly clean as any home I’ve ever seen. Every surface was draped with a lace table cloth, including the sofa, which was actually an old bench from a bus. Photos of the children and old calendars lined the walls, and Musa’s mom proudly showed us toys: a ball and a doll she had woven of banana husks, and two old rusty Hot Wheel cars she bought for him.
The precision of the Compassion case worker was remarkable. She had pages of records on Musa—I’ve seriously taken my children to well-child check-ups in the U.S. that were not this thorough. They talked about Musa’s physical development of course, but they also talked about his social development (he loves to kick balls with older kids) and his cognitive development (he can say his brother’s name).
After the home visit, the team met back at the project center for the kids to show off what all they were learning. But not before they had gathered around us to eagerly touch our white faces and shower us with greetings and hugs. “Mzungu! Mzunga!” they shouted. One little boy eagerly added, “California!”
We listened to their songs (the mothers sang some too, and OH, only video will do that justice—unfortunately I’ll have to wait to post that until I get home). This little peanut of a girl had been following me all morning; as we listened to the songs, she fearlessly climbed up into my lap for a snuggle:
Her name is Peace. She was carefully peeling a hard-boiled egg for her lunch, but as soon as she peeled it, she offered it to me.
After the songs, we played with some of the older kids—I had brought some bubbles, and you would’ve thought I had opened up the very gates of Disney World for these kids. They squealed with as much glee as I’ve ever heard children squeal. And they darn near trampled each other trying to pop those bubbles.
This little boy especially caught my eye. He didn’t have a backpack; he carried his books in a yellow grocery sack, with the handles wrapped around his shoulders:
(How many backpacks do my children have?)
After such a bleak day yesterday, I will confess that I got out of bed this morning wondering if my heart could even take in anymore. But even in the rampant poverty today, I saw hope. This Compassion program was run with such efficiency and effectiveness that the impact on these children is profoundly visible. Their eyes are full of expectation and confidence, and nearly every single child I talked to has plans to grow up and be a doctor ("to treat the HIV," they say).
They won’t all be doctors. But some of them will. Many of them will grow and flourish, right here in their country, and they will find a way to make it better. And they’ll do it because a sponsor family in the West, who had much, stepped in for a child who has so little.