One of the reasons that Alex and I came to Uganda is to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. I think we found our place to start making that difference today on a small dirt road about two or three miles off the main road.
As we drove down the dirt road there were small houses made with homemade bricks standing here and there, some had thatch roofing other had tin for roofs. Outside of these houses you could see children standing staring at us coming down the road. Some of the children would wave with all the excitement you can imagine. Alex and I would roll our windows down and wave to each one as we passed by listening to them yelling “ Muzungu, Muzungu, hi Muzungu” (white person, white person hi white person). This reaction makes us feel almost like we are celebrities passing by a crowd of fans.
Then there are other sites along the way, a mother stooping over a fire cooking what little food she has while carrying a small baby on her back, a small girl carrying a five gallon bucket full of water that she has carried for miles from the nearest well struggling because the weight of the water outweighs her by several pounds. An old women carrys a basket on her head while an old man on crutches with one leg missing hobbles along behind her.
These sights are not uncommon on these dirt roads and I guess eventually an outsider might get used to seeing them, but Alex and I will never get used to it. It is hard to see how people live here and what little they have.
As we made our way down the ever so bumpy road we eventually came upon “our place” which is called Mercy Home. Mercy Home sits right off Lake Victoria behind a homemade fence. As we stop the car and get out we see small children gathered around a water pump filling their cans full of water. The children stop and stare following our every step. I can only imagine what is going through their little minds as we approach the fence and open the gate.
The children are almost afraid to move, they keep watching us as we get closer to them. Alex and I both say hello and smile, they are speechless. They just keep watching us. I want so badly to go to them and hold them, love them, and tell them to come home with me. My heart starts to ache and fill very heavy. Alex’s looks like he has seen a ghost, he is so white. I ask him if he is ok and he says yes, but I know his heart is aching just like mine.
We take a tour of the place and find out that it needs a lot of work. My mind starts racing with everything that needs to be done. My first thought is the safety and food for the children. I start planting a garden in my mind so there is constant food, I start painting to make the place bearable for the children, I start thinking of all the things this place needs and then I stop for a moment and think of home. Oh how lucky do we have it!
When I came here to Uganda I was complaining to Steven about the kitchen stove only having one burner for me to cook on and how he only had three forks and three plastic plates, a skillet and two pots. I feel so ashamed. This orphanage does not have a real kitchen. The bigger boys cook the meals over an open fire on the ground. They only have two pots, one for the beans they get from Unicef, and one for the corn flour they mix with water. This is their food, every day of the week every meal of the day.
So we have a lot to accomplish in the short time we are here.
As time passes I will keep you updated on the progress Alex and I are making on this small piece of land on this old dirt road in this far off country. But until then, the next time you have something to complain about…….. think of this story and then remember……… Count your blessings, life could be a whole lot worse.