A rooster crows in harmony with the muslim call to prayer from a loud speaker atop the mosque. When I first began to spend time in Uganda these sounds could rouse me from the deepest sleep but now I only notice them when I remember to hear for them. Things that used to get me unraveled I hardly notice any more such as being late, losing things, power outages, and bumpy roads. I’ll admit though the traffic jams summon up my irritations. I’m not sure anyone here keeps a good mood when stuck in too many jams.
We separated into two groups yesterday. The kids went to Kira’s baby home to help the aunties there. There are thirty babies and the kids worked with four aunties. I am sure they were thankful for the helpers. I know our kids came home beaming about how wonderful it was to hold babies and play with the smart little toddlers. Kevin said he didn’t feel like they did much actual “mission work”. I reminded him that these babies are in need of great love as their parents are all waiting for the moment they can come adopt them and take them home. The service they gave the waiting parents is worth more than anything they could do here. Unfortunately there are no photos allowed to be taken there. They are very strict about photos appearing on the internet. Today we will send the teens back there and we will take Kira with them. The Aunties are excited to see Kira again.
Mark, Gaylynn, Phiona, George, Brook, Kira and I went to Jinja for the day to learn about an organization there who cares for the needs of vulnerable children. The organization is called AOET and they have twenty-five acres, a high school, primary school, medical clinic, guest house, and a village of homes. They began as a group of Ugandans helping and counseling those with AIDS, and helping the children orphaned by it. At some point a USA based organizationbegan to help them do their work with western resources. It is still run by Ugandans here and the help from the US is just help not directives. I like their structure.
I also like their model for taking care of the orphaned and vulnerable children. They have local churches help them select families with less than three children who are good parents and productive citizens. AOET gives them a house to live in, teaches them how to save money, gives them one orphan at a time to foster and eventually up to four children will join their family. These kids are given unconditional love and remain a part of their family indefinitely. They are given seven to eight years to save enough money to move out and buy their own home. They are given free medical care and all of their children are given sponsors to go to school. They are not given food and they have to furnish the house themselves. It’s a great model!
We feel that Phiona was able to make some important contacts there with women who are doing what she is doing. Phiona can reach out to them with questions about how to make decisions that are best for the children. This is a great comfort for her. I had some time to talk with those who do my job and we realized we all face the same struggles. We all agreed the work is as equally satisfying as it is frustrating. It is a comfort to know it is not just us who struggle so hard to help the most vulnerable and protect them from being players in the get rich game. There are many who use orphans to get financial support and don’t use the money to help the children, just to help themselves enjoy a few luxuries. I’ve lived through being a pawn in that game. My eyes are wide open now.
While we were all in separate directions this day we had forgotten that Lydia needed to go for her appointment for her HIV medication refill. So our other driver went to pick up Julie to take the child to the clinic. Meanwhile, the little children came home from school and no one was at the house! Thankfully Abdul’s wife was able to keep them at her house until Julie returned home. We seriously need to have some help come in every day and help Julie with the children from two until eight each night. We will contact the local pastor and see if they can recommend someone for us. We also need a night guard so Julie and the children are not vulnerable. Finding someone we trust and know who is willing to be up all night will be a challenge. But it is critically important. Finally we have decided our most immediate need is a van to transport the children. It is so difficult when one is sick to have to find someone who will come with a car and take the child to the clinic in the middle of the night. This week our sweet Dickson was up all night with a fever of 105 and he nearly died fighting the malaria. Erica was there with him and she demanded the doctor be brought to the house at three in the morning to give the child a shot. The amount of money we have been spending on renting a van every day is so high we probably could have paid for a van by now.
George will be doing the research for us for a van. And one of our interpreters has been driving for us and we will offer him the full time job as driver and helper. The things I am learning by being here are good so we can put into work a better plan for caring for these children. All of the projects with the land are being put on a big hold for now because we first need to make sure the children are properly cared for in the home. Someone is digging on the land to grow food for us so this will be a great help with our feeding program. Taking small slow steps is the way to grow.
I don’t have the vision for a vast and significant organization here in Uganda. Bigger is not better. When we were visiting AOET and I learned they are managing 900 sponsors I shivered. That’s a lot to manage. I have eighty children we sponsor for school and it is a lot of work. The high priority work is making sure the children have a way to get to the doctor visits, that Julie has a day off from the work she does, and that the kids are being taught the bible. I think these matters are far more important than the poles going up on the land for electricity for buildings we don’t yet have. I’m not a great business woman but I believe going slow is going to save us from a lot of mistakes. I know for sure we don’t need any more setbacks.
Thankfully we will have two free days tomorrow when we go on safari. We are looking forward to some rest and relaxation before the next team arrives Friday morning and we begin all over again!