When I imagine a homestead in Uganda for Kirabo Seeds and I allow myself to really dream I see a few acres, a wall with a great gate. Inside there is a village of small huts where children are playing, working, and moving about the business of growing up under God’s care. I would choose a rural life for the children. Somehow we are in the city and I won’t argue with the closed doors God has given us. Some people might remember we have tried to buy land twice in a rural setting to build this vision and both times it was a disaster of fraud and corruption. I trust God has us in the city for his purposes.
It’s no simple task to find a home to house sixteen children and four adults. Nor is it easy for a small organization to collect the funds to purchase a place big enough, safe enough, and sound enough. For three years we have rented a place that has been a little cramped but good enough. We decided last year to separate the girls and boys so the girls moved into an apartment a short walk away from the rental house. This temporary situation wasn’t ideal but necessary and we all learned to adapt and endure.
That rental house has always been for sale but Robert didn’t believe it was constructed in a sturdy way, not a good choice for us to ultimately buy. The builders used more sand than cement to make the walls and we know this because we watch them crumble down. The neighborhood turned out to be unsafe as there were three murders in the area during the night in just the last six months. HORROR! We didn’t want to buy it but we didn’t actually want anyone else to buy it either so we could continue to rent, save money, and look for a bigger alternative.
Well, it sold in September 2014. At first we were given two months to find a new place. Robert reached out to every broker he could find and they showed him available rentals. They were all three times as expensive as what we pay currently and not much bigger. There isn’t an online list of houses available. We are at the mercy of “who knows who”. It’s hard to trust such a loose system. It was NO FUN.
We had a meeting with the owner and new buyers and they agreed to give us another eight months to look. The inclination of the team was to take it easy a while and stop looking at houses, but I said, “Sorry we need to search as if we are moving tomorrow.” Urgency isn’t a general condition in this culture like it is in America, sometimes I have to give a strong prod.
Robert went looking at everything possible. We found one really nice rental house that was just perfect but the owner was grumpy and difficult because he didn’t want 16 kids messing up his place. I didn’t really blame him for that. Finally Craig and I decided we needed to purchase our own place and be the landlord ourselves for the staff and kids.
The brokers were weary of our forever looking and never taking. We weren’t making friends, and some began to refuse to work with us. Finally we returned to look again at this house we eventually bought. We hoped for a slightly bigger lot but the location was in such a safe and friendly neighborhood where the schools are good that we reconsidered it. We decided to buy it and build a separate boys quarters. It took a few months to search the lands and be sure this was a legitimate deal. Our lawyer handled the purchase and we were so thankful for his honest practices.
Two weeks ago we were able to move the family into the new house!! The girls take up the big house. The boys are living in my apartment, which is down the road.
While Craig and Darren were in town they met with three builders to get estimates and references to begin the boys quarters. I was able to meet with the architect on my trip and design the way the building would be built. Last week they broke ground and they are working very fast. Kenny sends me regular photos of the progress. They promise it will take four months. We promise a small bonus if it does. We’ll believe it when we see it. When there are funds the work progresses rapidly. If funds stop, the building stops. This is why we see so many unfinished, abandoned looking houses everywhere in Uganda. Some people literally build a house one brick at a time. When they have a little extra money they buy as many bricks as they can get, then they wait until they can add more. Some day they have the whole house ready for living! This is one way to live without accumulating debt.
Anyway, the kids and staff are so thankful for our new home. There is a small banana plantation in one corner and an enormous avocado tree that bears fruit all year long. There’s triple the amount of playground they had in the other house.
It’s such a relief not to have to pay rent or suffer under a bully landlord or fear being sent away with short notice. We are all so thankful to see the generosity of God providing a forever home for this group of orphaned children. I’m happy to report the children are quick to say “God gave us a home.” We have taught them well.
There’s a strong sense of permanence and belonging now that we own the home. This means Kirabo Seeds is in Uganda to stay for a long long time.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial. James 1:12
Having such a nice house for an orphanage might seem off balance to those who are on the outside looking in at orphan care. Often it is assumed an orphaned child is so bereft and destitute that our pitiful leftovers should cause a thrill. Shouldn’t a child with nothing be happy with something? Is that how we think about our own children when they are born? Are orphaned kids any less deserving of opportunity? We are raising these children to work hard, dream big and take nothing for granted but in all things commit their desires to God.
We are teaching humility and fear of the Lord as the best foundation for their human condition. Every day we teach them to trust the bible for answers about their hearts, their hopes, and their struggles. With that they can be in plenty or in want and have contentment. We believe they will apply themselves to their future life work and strive to be successful and good providers for their own family. I don’t believe we are spoiling them now with luxuries but more accurately pointing them in the direction of change for the generations that will come after them.
There are no guarantees in parenting. Children of highly successful parents can become homeless, and the homeless can be the next world leader. We can only do our very best, pray and trust them to God.