We gave the team a big fun shopping day. All play and no work, and sometimes we just need that. What’s not to love about the African craft markets? I find them fascinating and energizing. I’m loading up on so many things I can sell back home to help raise money to pay for the orphan care we do here in Uganda. It’s the best way I can think of to raise support. I went out really early without the team so I could think clearly. I’ve already learned twice it is really hard to help everyone, and think about what I can sell at home. Not to mention keeping an eye on Kira in that place, or carrying her on my back when my arms are burdened is impossible if I am trying to make purchasing decisions.
George paid me a great compliment. He said I could do the market alone. He never used to let me go anywhere alone for fear that I would be robbed. He said, “now you know how to work in Uganda, you can do it.” That’s a big step coming from George. When the team arrived they had a bleary eyed Misty with them who had just come off the plane. It was fun for me to watch them take in the crazy scene of the market and begin to think about their purchase plans and power.
That’s when Kira had a melt down and we didn’t have her backpack, so I asked one of the drivers to take us home so she could get a good nap. The shopping day was finished without me. I left them in the very capable hands of George and Jack. Jack can work a deal like no one I know. They all know him by name there.
While I was home and Kira slept I thought about our previous afternoon spent at the hospital where Fred is getting help for his legs. We arrived and the team sang a few songs for the kids and then we passed out whirly copter toys to all the kids. They had great fun learning to make them fly. I set out a dozen bottles of nail polish and the ladies swarmed them. They painted eachother’s nails and toes and some were smiling and happy. Phiona sat with these women and talked for a while as they shared their stories with her. Many of them were victims of Kony who had their noses, lips and or ears cut off. The plastic surgeons there were helping to reconstruct their faces. It was chilling to imagine their trauma.
Jack rushed me with a terribly urgent need to get itch medicine. His eczema is plaguing him this trip and he’s scratching himself raw. As he sat there on the boot of the van he watched all the children in wheelchairs, on crutches, some without limbs, all of them with bandages or metal pins and apparatus aattached to their bodies and they were having fun. He told me later he felt really bad because he was complaining about his itch when they had so many more troubles and were able to go play. Now there’s a lesson I am glad he learned himself. I love how deeply he thinks and how willing he is to share his heart with me.
There was a table tennis set up and all our kids were taking their turn playing. As I stood and watched I spoke with another mzungu man there who I was told was a doctor and an administrator. He’s German and his first words to me were, “I can’t understand you when you talk so fast. You must be American.” He asked me with abrupt manners, “what are you doing over there?” I explained, “one of the boys my organization sponsors is here getting treatment so we brought some fun to all of the children.”
The word sponsor upset him. I was confused so I asked him to explain to me. He said,”all of the people who get care here are sponsored by our people. None of this is free we do a lot of fundraising to provide this and that’s why we don’t like people coming in here with their big cameras, (he pointed to mine around my neck) and taking pictures. They use those pictures as the poor sick African kids and fundraise for their own causes.
That’s when the light bulb went off. He and I were on the same page after all. Even though I wanted to step on his foot for using such poor manners with me, we shared the same irritation. I can’t stand it when I get brochures from big organizations who do aid in Africa and they show pitiful, dirty, bloated, sick, maimed children on the covers of their brochures. If you look carefully all the photos I use to share the work we do here in Uganda the children look vibrant, healthy, and so happy we should be jealous of them. I could understand why it would annoy them that people would come there and take photos. I assured him I was only photographing my team and I would only promote the truth about the good work they do at their hospital. (but his manners don’t get a good report)
It hurts me when people assume I am guilty of something before finding out who I am and how high my integrity really is. He didn’t like me because I wore a camera, and he assumed I was going to misrepresent these innocent children so I could evoke sympathy in the western world to raise money for my own cause. I won’t do that. I couldn’t imagine doing that. I suppose some people will do whatever they have to do to raise money for their cause. That’s just not our way. We trust God to provide, with or without our methods of marketing.
After the hospital we went back to the Kirabo Seeds house and we had dinner with Auntie Julie and the children there. I took Kira home to bed early but everyone else stayed for a while and really enjoyed playing with our kids.
I met with the doctors who treat Fred, and he’s doing fairly well, making good progress. He has no strength in his quadriceps at all. His legs are held in braces now and they are straight. They are working with him to build muscle so he can pick up his legs and walk. He needs to train his brain to talk to those muscles and tell them what to do. Most of his life he dragged around his legs, and now he’s got to put them to work. I asked him, “how much do you want to be able to walk?” He nodded yes. So I told him, you better want it really bad because it’s going to be earned with hard work. He said, “I will do.” And that was the best news of the day.