My heart is obviously spent on the cause of the orphan. The reason I bleed so deeply for them goes so far into my heart I can’t give it words. I just follow the prompt and know I am walking with God as we take each step of this journey for the orphans in our home in Uganda. As I read the bible and strive to know God’s design for my life, to understand his mind and his heart, I realize that he hardly speaks of the orphan without also speaking of the widow. I’m not a bible scholar so I don’t know if it is “never” but I am learning God sees their special conditions unique enough to single them out from the rest of us. The bible verse Kirabo Seeds uses as a guide for our work is Psalm 68:5 “a father to the fatherless a defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. He sets the lonely in families.” Each time I make a big decision I refer to this verse to be sure we are in line with His plan for our us.
Craig and I have patiently waited on The Lord to show us what exactly we are meant to do for the widows. This one requires caution and care because they are not as helpless and vulnerable as children in today’s world. So our work is to somehow guide, teach, mentor and equip them for their life circumstances rather than give them all they need and want. We have learned the hard way that what happens when we hand out life’s necessities to adults, they can learn to expect it and at the same time not expect to work. I know it pleases God when we all use our minds, our hands and our talents to create change in our lives.
With all that said I have some great news about one of our jjajjas. (jjajja means grandmother in Lugandan) During my last visit we were so happy to meet with many of them and talk to them about their personal stories. I have a deep love for these ladies and a great respect for how they live their lives with so much hardship, faith and gratitude. Angela’s jjajja has been suffering and the light of her joy seemed to be flickering out. I just knew God was poking me with a firm elbow to begin our widow care with her. Let me share our experience with her and then tell you what God did for her through Kirabo Seeds.
Jjajja is 57 years old and already a great grandmother. When we drove up to her home she ran fresh from her bath with her boobies out of her dress, and she greeted us as she buttoned herself into her dress. (kinda normal, I’ve seen this before!) Her 20 year old granddaughter, wearing a proud smile, greeted us carrying her new chubby cheeked baby. She’s not married and relies on jjajja to support them both. Jjajja ran right into the arms of Angela. She exclaimed, “oh you shine brighter than the sun.” She looked at us and admitted, “when you first came to ask for her I was confused and wasn’t sure I should let her go, but thank God I did!” Then she looked at Angela with wise eyes and said, “you are strong as a rock, now please be a good girl.” She was ready to dance when we told her that Angela was first in her class at school.
In her home she has eight grandchildren in her care, three of them are adults. Angela’s half brother, seven years old, was there with jjajja holding her hand intently watching us mzungus. Jjajja is the mother of ten children. Five of them have died, including Angela’s mother, and three girls and two boys are still living. She earns a living by gardening for other people. She gets very little money and a bit of food. She used to run a small business selling things but she lost it all. Phiona mentioned to me, “she has breast cancer.” WHAT? I began to ask all my invasive questions that make my husband blush but I know how often people trust doctors who hand out untested, unverified diagnosis. When she said she’s had this breast cancer for over ten years I knew it was something else. But my heart broke that she lives every day in fear that she will die any minute of this breast cancer. She can’t afford to go to the doctor any longer, can’t even get the money for transportation, so she goes to the village doctor for local herbs. She said she goes every day to church to pray and that is where she receives her encouragement. She loves to read the bible we gave her and she assures us that she has many people praying for her health. She has a great burden to carry.
Angela’s little brother had a festering sore on his arm the size of a half dollar. He’s had it for a long time and “the local herbs aren’t working so well.” She doesn’t have the school fees to send him to school so he is around all the time with her. Her situation is desperate and I could feel it would be prudent of us to try to help her help herself. She would like to start a store, fry some food and distribute to shops. She’ll need to learn how to keep a business going by reinvesting money into the shop rather than using it all for needs that must be met.
I prayed a lot about this situation. A few years ago a mammogram found a spot on my breast and I had to get a biopsy. Thankfully it was benign, but I will say those couple of months wondering if I was about to battle cancer are fresh in my mind. I wanted to give Angela’s jjajja the freedom from the fear of cancer. So I asked Robert to take her to a good doctor, and have a real scan done so she could see she does not have cancer. Last week they took her, and as we thought, she is free from cancer! Oh did she rejoice. Long ago she had mastitis while breastfeeding, and the doctor then told her she had cancer. All this time she’s lived thinking she would die any minute of this diagnosis.
While we were there we had Angela’s little brother treated for the sore on his arm. He has a fungal infection. He’ll be fine. Lately, Jack has been baking and selling his pumpkin bread at the stables, raising money to educate children in Uganda. I am hoping he will be able to sponsor the education of Angela’s little brother. I’m planning that Jack will be able to deliver this good news himself next time we visit him in Uganda.
I’ve been reading Isaiah 58 this week. I love the whole chapter so much I would type it all out here gladly, but I’ll just tempt you to read it yourself by sharing verse 10-11: “and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (I could welcome some watering.)
I am beyond JOY knowing we were able to lift the yoke of oppression off this jjajja. If you are inspired by this story, please know it is because we are able to sell the crafts I buy from single mothers in Uganda that we are able to pay for these services and help orphans and widows. I would invite you this holiday season to shop in our online store and buy gifts that give so much to so many, like Angela’s jjajja and brother. Every dollar we raise is saved to be used in Uganda. We are a small organization so we can pay for administrative fees ourselves and use the raised funds to go to work for the orphans and widows. And I work for free! Maybe you can make a difference!