The human tangle of heartache is a tough puzzle to solve. It’s those words that are said that can’t be erased or avoided. Words that wake a child in the middle of the night in screaming fits, words that cause a tender heart to believe he is no better than a discarded empty bottle. What if it were the parent who convinced the child he was worthless? What does a child do with that tormenting prophesy? He begins to believe love needs to be earned and it is impossible to get. He might let his hurt and anger become bullets he fires at other unsuspecting people. He’ll hope someone can understand what he cannot and lift him out of the pit where’s he’s stuck listening to the voice of his mother telling him, “I am going to leave you in that trash pile.”
What if she dies before the child can become good enough for him, and the grandmother can’t help him with the human tangle where he’s been trapped. What if his father has never been a role player in his life? This is a recipe for a broken heart that bakes up into behaviors that are difficult to manage. The solution is simple: unconditional love…patience…consistency… boundaries…good role models.
I met Musa’s grandmother the very first day of our journey to visit jjajjas. We were meeting Christine’s home that day. Musa’s jjajja works selling goods at a stand on the street where we had to go down into the slum of Christine’s jjajja. I could feel it the moment I exited the van, it wasn’t a friendly place, even though Musa’s jjajja was very happy to greet us. When Musa heard that we saw his jjajja he was so disappointed, he said “I want to be the next one to go, please take me.”
When the day came for him to visit he was so excited. He has a shiny smile that is irresistible, and when I draw out my camera lens he is always posing and ready to have his picture made. If he walks along side me on the road he will hold my hand, or welcome an arm wrapped around his shoulder. He needs a lot of attention and is craving love. Mostly he wants to know he belongs and he is appreciated.
When we parked in front of her stall it was closed for the day. So Musa walked us to the small house where she stays with nearly all of her grandchildren. Jjajja is the mother of ten children, seven girls and three boys. Musa’s father was her son, he died four years ago. There were so many little kids swarming that small place I believed I was in a day care. She explained that her children are all working in the city so the grandchildren stay with her. She gets no support from them and she struggles to feed them all. She asked me to bring her an occasional bag of posho. I know families in Uganda and I am sure the mothers are helping her a little bit, and I also know no one can resist asking a mzungu for help. I’ve been here before!! I’ve had my education. We won’t give handouts, but we can become regular customers at her shop.
She hugged Musa and he smiled wide so happy to see his jjajja, but also happy for me to meet her. He was proud of her. He sat as close to her as he could while we talked. She opened her bag of gifts and marveled over each and every item. The children would draw in close and touch things, but she shooed them away and said, “don’t touch my things!” with a happy smile. She passed out the sweets to all the children as if she were santa claus delivering gifts. She has quite a dramatic flair. She picked up the ballpoint pen with the top clicker and she had no idea how to make it work. We showed her how to push the top and the pen popped out at the bottom, and she was amazed! It tickled me so much to watch her discover.
She found the reading glasses and stopped, stared at us in disbelief, as a child at Christmas who received the thing she never thought she would get. She put them on, upside down, so we helped her fix them, and then she pulled out her little mobile phone. She flipped it open, looked at the numbers without extending her arm and then stared at us with a gasp.
“Go get my bible!” Oh she was so excited to be able to see the words on the pages. Musa disappeared in the back room and then a moment later presented her with the oldest most tattered bible I’ve ever seen in my life. She said, “you can see I really need a new bible.”
When all of her gifts were explored she turned to Musa and patted his face, “you’ve grown cheeks”. All of our children have filled out and put flesh over their bones. Jjajja looked at us with a frown, “his mother dumped him at my home when he was a baby and then disappeared, she died before his father.” Musa’s face fell, the bright smile disappeared and the memory of not being wanted shamed him. I suspect he was reminded often. I also suspect jjajja is not too happy about caring for so many little children on her own.
One of the great life lessons I hope to teach the children at Kirabo Seeds is responsibility. When they have children they will work to raise them and participate in their lives just as they received constant love and care in our home. We hope to teach them how to be good parents. I don’t think when the bible said honor your mother and father it meant, “leave your children with them to raise so you can just take care of yourself.”
When Musa first came to our home he gave us, his teachers, and the other children in our home plenty of trouble. He put on the goat suit and became the scapegoat in the family. Everything was his fault. I know this tactic. He was wondering in his smart survivalist brain “what do I have to do to get rejected here?” He’s been rejected all his life, isn’t being rejected inevitable? There was grumblings about sending him back to his jjajja for a visit so he would appreciate what he was given in our home.
I said, “Absolutely not!” You don’t get returned for bad behavior. They’ve mostly had conditional love in their little lives, and we can show them the unconditional love of Jesus and teach them consequences that will help them develop some self control. Musa spent a couple days working with Eddie on the land in the garden so he would think about his choices and learn if he continues with the bad behavior at school and home then his hands get some hard work to do. He returned a completely changed boy. He learned a simple lesson, we want him, and we love him enough to teach him how to control his impulses. He’s beginning to learn for the first time in his life he won’t get rejected because of who he is. There’s a great difference between what you do and who you are.
Guess who loves little kitty Grace more than any of the other children? Musa. He may not have believed he was lovable for most of his life but he surely has a lot of love to give.
This boy is a great example of what our home can do for orphaned children. I’m so excited to see what God is going to do with this boy. Robert and George have committed to giving him undivided attention, and constant love. They can show him what a man should be and the boy is craving just this kind of love.
I recently read “it takes as many men to raise a skycraper as it does to make a man out of a boy.” I have to believe it is true. We need the local church where the children attend to get involved in these children’s lives. We need more good role models influencing them and teaching them how much they are loved, first by their heavenly father and then by all of us.