Apples are rare and special here in Uganda. They are imported from South Africa, shipped packaged to the expensive supermarkets. I keep a dozen or so apples. The children in our home have learned that I keep a full bowl of them on my table, so I get enthusiastic offers to escort me home. I always welcome company, and they love to carry my bags. They skip, laugh, tell me secrets, ask me private questions and keep Kira entertained enough that she forgets she is tired. I don’t make them ask for the apple, and Kira wouldn’t give me the opportunity anyway, she can’t wait to play hostess and pass them around.
The special apple treats for our children are similar to how Kirabo Seeds shares our resources with our community. We have just spent the day having an out reach event. We no longer leave our home. We invited the neighborhood children to come to our place once a month and enjoy a day with our family. They played games, built legos and read books. Then we shared a meal with them of nicely seasoned beans and posho. After their bellies were full our older children led worship songs and gave devotion from the bible. Kenny and Kiah asked questions to see if they were listening and then passed out prizes. Some kids got a beanie baby, a kirabo seeds tshirt, a jump rope or a lollipop. Our kids performed a skit from the bible using the story of Daniel in the Lion’s den. They are so funny. After the devotions Uncle Robert set up the music and Kira squealed, “the party has started!” We had a dance contest for the boys first. I am no longer shocked to see how well children can move to music here, but Hannah was in stunned silence, which soon turned to amazed laughter. The girls were more reserved, except for Kira who participated in that contest. She loves to dance and has her own style combined with plenty of energy.
After the dance party we put up a sheet in the living room, set up the projector and played a bible movie for them with translations. We had a hundred kids today. They had so much fun. It is a important to share our blessings with the community. The kids and staff are beginning to know the children around the neighborhood because of this. We look forward to teaching and sharing with them at the beginning of every month. Our abundance of resources and teaching is like the occasional apple in their lives. We keep the fun stocked up just for when they will arrive. I want the nutritious seeds of learning to sprout in them so they arrive eager to understand more about how God loves. I can only hope that God will touch their hearts and draw them to himself.
I don’t really like it that there have always been mzungus around for this event. I would rather have them believe and know that it is truly the Ugandans planning and giving this party day for them. I suppose it was my initial idea because our jjajjas are tiring of hosting for us. And the local pastors sometimes want to use us to make themselves great and popular. It takes half the day getting everyone to an outreach. We just want to share the bible with kids and make a difference in their lives somehow. It seemed easiest to do it from home. And it has been easier. But all of the planning and structuring of the event is done by our staff and children. I stay out of it.
In general people around here smell a mzungu and they think it is their one opportunity to ask for help. I can’t count how many people ask me to take one of their children or complain that we don’t find sponsors for all the needy children around. They have no idea how hard it is to find sponsors and keep them up to date with the progress of the children. It’s so common for people to ask for school fees. I do want to help. I am helping. But every hand is always out and I’m more interested in helping people help themselves than I am in giving a handout. That’ s not what they’ve been trained to expect from a mzungu. A pastor actually said, “she will come here and only hand out the word of God? They get plenty of that. She needs to put something in their hands.”
Our children are doubly orphaned children, or they have parents who are alive but psychologically disabled. Who is going to help them if we don’t? I can hardly say no to an orphaned child, but an able bodied healthy adult needs to work hard and problem solve without the jackpot of a mzungu on the street. Somehow I can justify giving to the neediest of the needy. It’s just so sad to know almost everyone I see is needy.
On Friday I met with Annette Kirabira who started Rahab House. She ministers to girls who come from the street out of the clutch of sexual abuse or prostitution. She gives them similar holistic care and counseling that we do at Kirabo Seeds. She’s a psychologist and understands as I do that going deep into each child is far more beneficial than spreading ourselves too wide in order to report we are helping hundreds or thousands at once. With greater numbers we could meet their physical needs and pay school fees, but all the brokenness they come to us with cannot be healed effectively. It takes time and intense counseling to break free from some of the burdens children carry. And all of our children arrived at our door with seriously heavy burdens. It takes unconditional love and the power and grace of God to fully transform these hurting children to vibrant, healed, alive individuals.
I was encouraged talking to Annette because I don’t have a prototype organization in Uganda to follow. I don’t have a mentor. I tend to feel significantly alone. But Annette and I have been called to help in similar ways and we run into similar roadblocks. The reach of her organization is impressive. What I love the most is she’s Ugandan and she started this up herself, struggled for support, and perseveres because this is her heart cause. Like me, she’d never consider giving up when it gets hard. And did we ever talk about how hard it gets.
I can only hope our children can turn out to be like her! I strive to hire her graduates because they have broken backgrounds and a testimony of the changing power of God in their lives. They are living proof that it is never too late to transform life from the bottom to the best when God is in the lead. I think Annette is an apple tree in this society. I hope our children follow her example. I hope to tend an orchard some day…we are planting the seeds now.
(it’s nearly impossible this morning to upload the photos I wanted to share. when the internet improves I will add)