Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How can I leave them?


Grace (mom), Leah, Florance, Grace’s grandson Michael, and Damasco

Friends, I know the popular way to write is to make it in short news bytes - as on Facebook. However, how do you describe three children's lives in a short paragraph? I have spent time in Uganda for 8 years now. In that time, I have been around masses of children - all wonderful, beautiful children that we are helping through our libraries.

This is the first time, that I have simply lost my heart to specific children that I am sure I will be involved with for many years. There are six - Rachel (of the clunky boots story), Damasco, Florance, and Leah (this writing), and two brothers - Jackson and Sylvestor. These children have been my 'life-changing' experience for this trip.

My writing is 1 1/2 typed pages - so not too long. Perhaps it can be your bedtime reading - your 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' story for the day. :)

Please read!

***

My serious thoughts: How can I leave them? How can I not jump on a boda and head to the bush to wrap Damasco, Florance, and Leah in my arms, letting them know that someone cares, instead of boarding an airplane soon headed away from them.

Damasco: 13 yrs., ranked 3rd in his 7th grade class of 50, high level vocabulary, short.

Florance: Damasco’s sister, ranked 5th of 120 in 5th grade, laughs all the time, cute.

Leah: A cousin – both parents deceased – 10th of 120 in 5th grade. Leah has had to miss two years of school. Her life has been painful … as seen in her eyes.
Shy with a beautiful smile. Damasco and Leah’s father is also deceased. They live with their mother, along with Leah.

Damasco came into my life last year. His mother, Grace, a sweet, quiet lady, was begging a headmaster to let him set for exams, though they hadn’t paid fees. The headmaster replied no, in a harsh voice, and sent her away. I asked if it was about fees. He said yes, so I ran after her, had her come back, paid the fees, and gave her extra money to keep.

Fast forward to this summer: Our Mbale LOL coordinator, Irene, said that she and a teacher were concerned about five children – three in one family, two in another, that were very intelligent – but had no source of income to pay fees. They had been sent home repeatedly, though the teacher kept sneaking them back in class.
Damasco was back in my life. I understood it must be a ‘God thing.’ I went to Wambwa Primary to meet the kids. They begged me to come to their home. On Saturday, I met Damasco at school and we headed to the home in the bush together on one boda. The kids walk 1 ½ hours to school, so it is some distance.

Soon, Damasco said, “Here it is.” I glanced, but kept looking, as I thought the small, mud structure must be a cooking hut. It wasn’t. We had arrived. The walls inside the tiny house are crumbling, showing the pole structure. The only items in the living area are yellow containers to collect water from a well – not one chair. The living area also serves as Damasco’s bedroom. He sleeps on the dirt floor. What can I say? To be truthful, I can’t change their situation totally, though I would love to. Instead, I have to look at how I am can help them – in that situation.

Being able to sleep comfortably seemed huge to this muzungu. I collected Damasco and went to town to shop for a mattress, quilt, blankets, and sheets, plus shoes, as he had on his mother’s gold flip flops. He only has school shoes, so usually stays barefoot.

To let you know the real Damasco, who has shouldered too much - and seems like a little man, let me share a bit. I offered to buy 3 blankets; he said no – one would be enough. We looked at a large ball. He saw the price and said it was too much. He then found a smaller one and said it would be good. As we were walking, he said he needed to tell me a secret. He said the headmaster was not a good man. He had charged me double the year before for his school fees, so he must have kept some.

Damasco then told me that they hadn’t had food for two days; the extra I gave his mother bought food. I cry thinking about it. I have made several trips back to their home. The kids love hugs and back scratches. Plus, we sing songs together and laugh.

Partial solutions: I have three wonderful daughters – and 8 grandchildren. Each group of grandchildren (each family) has decided to adopt/sponsor either Damasco, Florance, or Leah! The grandkids will pay the kids’ school fees out of their own money, plus buy school uniforms. I gave the Damasco, Florance, and Leah an 8 by 10 picture of my grandkids, letting each one know who will sponsor him/her.

They are three of the 45 students that Bethany Methodist provides funding for school lunches. Blessings to that amazing church, and Sara Solomon who heads up this project!

The evening before I leave, I will be back at their home taking food, candy, hugs, and love. May our God protect them and keep them in His loving hands until we meet again … along with my adorable Rachel in her ‘clunky’ books!

- Trudy

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