Orphan care isn’t a rescue mission, not like we think.
We who help orphaned kids are not the great savior who swoops in and pulls a desperate child out of the world’t worst living conditions. (According to the book I believe in, that would be Jesus.) There’s always someone worse off. And our efforts for these kids aren’t supposed to be about ourselves.
Some media campaigns don’t help arrest this myth because they always show sick, disabled, pitiful looking children. There’s only one place I’ve been to in Uganda where children look like that, and it’s at the orthopedic hospital after or before surgery. The very beautiful thing about experiencing this culture is that these children may have nothing or very little, but there’s so much zest for life and joy in the moment that I feel embarrassed with the carelessness about my own abundance. I want their joie de vivre. I want everyone I love to have that ability to be joyful in the moment they occupy. This tangible, educational, non-circumstantial joy is a magnet that pulls me to Uganda. I cannot resist to return, to commit, to invest, to remain, to let it change me.
I will even admit when we were waiting for our own adoption to finalize I imagined this meek child who would forever be grateful for the mire God lifted her out of and for the soft cushion where she landed. Ha Ha Ha Ha. If you know our Kira, that’s never how anyone would describe her. Diva doesn’t even touch on her sense of style or attitude of entitlement.
Children are children, orphaned or privileged. They are survivors. They will do whatever they need to do to get by. They will push boundaries and get away with as much as they can do. And quite often our help comes too late and they will disdain us for our tardiness, or we will miss important clues, cries for help, further announcing our uselessness. They’ll learn very early to be self-sufficient and our help will be refused even if they need it because pride is a great wall of protection.
At Kirabo Seeds, it has taken years for our children to actually trust us with the secret hurts in their hearts. They have let us in and believe we want to help guide them in the direction God has for them. This is rare. In some children’s homes I have visited the kids remark they do not trust their caregivers at all. Trust is our first and primary goal. If we don’t have their trust we can’t really affect change. They could just tell us what we want to hear, welcome what they need from us, take what they can get from us and run as soon as possible without ever looking back.
I don’t want Kirabo Seeds to be a chapter in these children’s lives that they will look back on and think, “how did I ever get through that?” What horror! I might suggest many children’s homes are over stuffed with kids and under staffed so the children feel alone, misunderstood, and overlooked. We are aiming for the heart and soul of every individual child. That’s why we have a staff of seven with only seventeen children. This is why they go to school, but have a tutor. They have a regular counselor. They have two uncles who serve as father figures who live in our home. They have Aunties who are mothers to them down to the essential problems involving emotional and social turmoil. Our staff listens carefully to the children and take them to see what God says in the bible about every little issue. And if I’ve learned anything while parenting for over 22 years with five of my own children, it’s that God has answers for every life issue in his word. Our children get music lessons on Saturdays! They have computer lessons. They go to a good church where their Sunday School teachers know and love them. They have pets. And they remain connected in a significant way with their grandparents and extended family members. And they have God given sponsors who help them meet their goals with prayer, love, financial support and social interaction.
If you ask every single child in our home how they feel about living at Kirabo Seeds they will tell you as they have told all of us many times, “I don’t know why God chose me to be able to live in this home. I thank God every day I get to be here.”
For us westerners I would like you to know what their list of thanks looks like on any random day. They say things like….”I can’t believe I have shoes to wear”…”When the rains come we can ride in the motor car.”… “When I grow I get new clothes to wear.”…”I no longer worry about being hungry. There’s always so much good tasting food every day.”…”I know I am loved and understood.” … “I don’t have to labor hard for the food I eat.” ….“I am learning so much about God and his word.”… “I feel safe when I go to bed at night.”…”I feel safe when I leave the compound.”…”I know I can be anything I want to be.”
It doesn’t happen very often that I get teary eyed about these children because I’m no longer romantic about orphan care. But writing that list reminds me of how many children out there can’t say these things. And that makes me profoundly sad, to where my eyes burn, my mouth purses and my throat clenches. I ask God, what more can we do?
And honestly when I watch American television (which I quit doing soon after starting up Kirabo Seeds…for many reasons) or when I’m in a public place with an abundance of Americans, I feel even worse. I don’t want to live in a world where we think only about our needs, our wants, and ourselves. This is why it’s so important to our organization that we have sponsors who desire to reach out and help the children. We offer them the opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives. Living in America, I know I need to do this, there must be others who do too.
Orphan care is not a rescue mission. It’s a significant commitment to something outside ourselves. It’s connecting with someone’s suffering and as it helps us to learn to persevere, which builds our character and that leads us to hope in what God can do. And this brings us to HIS love which is abundant when we open ourselves to it. In fact there can be more love flowing than we know what to do with, which is how I am personally able to continue with this work. This is God’s love working through me. I am so relieved to be an open channel and see lives change. Because this is happening through me I have peace.
If you are feeling the draw towards Kirabo Seeds, the unique way we help orphaned children and you are sure it’s God pushing you then let me say there’s a place for you here in our sponsor program. We have a couple kids who seriously need to know they are loved. Since the turn of the new year we’ve had a couple sponsors drift over to new causes in their lives. I don’t take it personally, but the children do. I don’t want to tell them they’ve lost a sponsor until God gives us an even better replacement. I’ve never directly asked someone to sponsor any of our children. I only share what we do, who they are, and if that stirs up something in hearts then people respond, if not I let it be. We only need the people who are willing to commit and love the children. And as the main “fundraiser” for this organization, I trust God to bring what we need. I don’t drive it, schedule it, or manage it. I honestly rely on pure faith that He is our provider. And He is. We’ve never missed a payment or come short since opening our doors, despite opposition. Thank you God.
If you feel you’d like to help a little without making a big commitment we need that too! We are hoping to collect chidlren’s bibles to give to the children in the community who come to our home the first Saturday of every month for a day of having great fun learning about God. We are hoping to collect enough bibles to give to every child! (our favorite is : the Jesus Storybook Bible) Maybe you have a group of friends and the kids between all of you have more bibles than they need! We welcome the excess!
Email me ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and I’ll share the details of how to simply have Amazon send us children’s bibles that I can haul over in our suitcases! These bibles will get into the hands of children who don’t have toys or books. They would never expect such an extravagant gift as a bible, but we can make that a reality. Will you say yes?