Marvin has been with us in our home for a week. The day we removed him from the care of the jjajja his body was covered in sores from malnutrition, he was weak, feverish, and naked. After his first few days of medicines he perked up and his skin cleared.
The first night at our home I had the great pleasure of serving him dinner. He sat there with his chin barely reaching the table intent on his food. He gulped every bite from a plate piled high with chicken and rice and delicious sauce. After he tasted it the first time he smiled wide and his eyes grew large. He probably had never tasted anything with seasoning in it. I could feel his joy.
It was my first experience feeding a very hungry child. The emotional experience of it for my heart was powerful. There he sat in the size of a one year old body yet having turned three last September. His body was sick from lack of food. And yet he smiled and tagged along with all the activity of the other children.
Everyone on the team was waiting for me to say it first. We were all thinking the same thing with increasing passion. Before I made a public declaration I had a private talk with Auntie Julie. She’s the one who lives in the house and is home all the time, is she willing to welcome the care of a baby? I could see by her joy in caring for him from the start and the smile of relief on her face when I asked her that she was more than willing to become his mother.
When I finally said to everyone, “I want to ask jjajja to give us custody of Marvin” the team and children cheered. He is an agreeable child, funny, good, and cuddly. And his smile is irresistible.
On Sunday afternoon we invited jjajja to come to our home and see the new house and watch our children play. She dressed up in her good dress ate fresh pineapple and enjoyed herself very much. Phiona took the lead with this request because it is a cultural delicacy. My position as boss would make her feel like she had no choice.
Phiona said, “why don’t you give this child to us so we can provide for him?” Jjajja’s first reaction was, “oh no he is all I have in the world, I would be so alone.” Phiona narrowed her eyes and said, “ a child is not a pill to cure your loneliness please think of the child first.” Jjajja said, “why don’t you take care of him a while and we’ll just see about it.” I said, “no. We don’t want the children to get attached, nor do we want to confuse Marvin if he has to leave. You have until Wednesday to decide or we will offer this last bed in our home to another child eagerly waiting.” She lost her smile. Then she said she must ask her husband so she called him in our presence. Before she finished her story about Marvin’s opportunity he bellowed, “no.”
In my mind I wouldn’t accept that response from a man who lives up in the village and doesn’t know how the child suffers. He might have authority but it is foolishness and I won’t allow a child to suffer for a fool. We sent her on her way and told her we will return Marvin on Wednesday.
We all felt deeply disappointed. But I wasn’t feeling as if we had lost. That night I sent an email to my dear prayer warriors to pray for this child to be able to join our home. I fell asleep praying for Marvin to be a Kirabo Seeds kid.
In the morning as we packed the van to move into our day jjajja called and said, “you can have him.” Oh what a celebration! It was a thanksgiving to God for changing stubborn selfish hearts.
We went to the mall and bought him two brand new outfits and new shoes. On Tuesday morning we fetched jjajja and visited the local council woman to tell her the story and get her witness approval and stamp. On our way jjajja stopped for every neighbor to peer in and see how well dressed the boy was. She acted like she had just won the lottery. Her boasting was irritating for me. When the papers were signed it was official, Marvin has joined the family. I have taken a major leap of faith hoping we can find sponsors for this child.
The neighbors and local council thanked us so much for rescuing this child from that jjajja. She performs as if she is so full of care and love, but the truth is she goes away all day to evangelize leaving the child alone wandering the streets. Sometimes she comes home at one in the morning. Marvin’s father abandoned him as a little baby after the woman who birthed him dropped the boy at his door. After all these years of no inquiry about the child he makes crazy calls celebrating that the boy will go to America. He’s not going to America. He’s going to be raised Ugandan. My goodness this country could use some responsible godly men to lead it. How could a man abandon a sweet child like Marvin and celebrate his going away forever?
Our policy has been to take children who have lost both parents. But since Marvin was horribly abandoned so early, and then in the care of a person who mostly neglected him, we couldn’t turn him away. I had to make an exception because he is from the same home of one of our children.
The most difficult part of our work here is we can only help sixteen children now. There are a hundred kids we could take for each of the children in our home. Everywhere I meet women who hold my hand and look into my eyes and tell me, “there are five orphaned children in my care, please can you help them?”
Kirabo Seeds is a fairly young organization. We are in the learning phases of how to realize the vision of total care for total orphans. We need more Ugandans who are as trustworthy as our current team members. And we need major financial support before we can consider duplicating our family environment to help more desperate children. It makes me sigh. My tender heart can’t bear to know how much children here suffer. This feeling is good motivation for me to go home to America and work harder for the children here in Uganda who are at most risk.
We stopped at the doctor on our way home because Marvin had pus oozing out of his ear. He gave us more medicines to clear it up and sent us on our way with a happy smile that the child has a new home. We need to have a celebration to welcome Marvin properly to our family. All of the beds are full now and it is official we cannot increase the family. But oh how we are happy to have a little one around. Auntie Julie especially has great joy. For me, it was a treasure to have been present and involved with the process of welcoming this boy to the family. It leaves an impact on my heart that I’ll never allow to diminish. I need to let this memory remind me of how many children are suffering as he did. But the satisfaction that comes with knowing God would work through me to reach this boy is the sort of energy that makes me believe I can fly.