Wow, I don’t even know if I’d know how to put today into words. Let me start off by saying that after a team meeting and briefing, we were taken on a tour of a few of ARM’s projects in the city of Kampala.
Our first stop was the “baby house”. This ministry called Loving Hearts Babies House takes in abandoned babies. The home currently has 5 babies under 12 months and one little girl 18 months old. When mother’s give birth to a child that they either can’t afford or don’t want, they abandon them. Often leaving them in the streets. The police and local clinics work with the home by notifying them so that they can take the child in and nurse them back to health. Karo, the 18 month old girl, weighs under 8 lbs. She is the cutest girl ever but is so malnourished and failing to thrive. She has been at the house for 2 weeks and has shown tremendous improvement thanks to this wonderful place.
What a way to start the morning! Talk about getting serious! The children are beautiful and behave typically for their age. They want to be held and played with and rocked while drinking their bottles. In fact, many of the toys they have are very similar to what my boys played with at that age. The sponsorship for this home was donated by a Southern California family. But they continue to need donations to keep this valuable service going.
The caretakers are phenomenal and genuinely love these children. It was quite humbling to see such pure love.
We ate a delicious lunch there. It was basically some beef stew; rice, beans, some kind of green cabbage and a tomato and avocado salad. It was very good!
After that we visited the Wentz Medical Center where we saw a boy suffering from malaria and learned about the medical challenges in the community. They do have one dental chair with equipment and I will spend some time there tomorrow.
After that we visited the Gaba Bible Institute where a friend of ours is the principle and then went to do a heart wrenching project….pass out food (thanks to Children’s Hunger Fund – an amazing organization) to the needy in one of the slums of Kampala.
Everywhere we go, we attract kids as if we were rock stars. Kids call out “Muzungu!! Muzungu!!” and wave at us. Muzungu means “white”. Many of these kids have never seen a white person before so we draw quite a crowd of followers. Most of the kids grab our hands and walk with us and want to touch our skin and grab the men’s arm hair (Ugandan men don’t grow hair on their arms). They also wonder if our skin color is real or if we’ve painted ourselves.
Everyone is very friendly and the kids love having their picture taken because they want to see it immediately on our cameras. The kids who can afford to go to school learn English so communicating with them is not too difficult.
To many of these kids, meeting a Muzungu is a privilege because they think all white people are rich. Some of them have even bowed at our feet as a sign of respect.
The slums are indescribable. Pictures and explanation do not do it justice. People live in rented homes the size of my boy’s bathroom with many, many family members. During the day, the kids run around outside and play in the street where goats, chickens and cows roam freely. The streets are littered with trash and when it accumulates, they burn it. There is always an odd odor in the air, although, I was expecting it to be worse, so I don’t find it offensive at all.
Streams run through the slum but they are loaded with trash and animal excrement. But that doesn’t stop the kids from exploring them. We even saw children playing “king of the mountain” on a sand hill that must have been left over from a construction project.
Illnesses in this area are rampant due to the conditions and poverty. One lady I met, Anna, who we delivered food to, asked us to pray for her leg. She broke it 5 years ago and couldn’t afford to go to the doctor to get it fixed so she has been lame for 5 years. She sits in her doorway and watches life go by. Her leg is deformed where the break is and remains significantly swollen when compared to her other leg.
She also asked us to pray for her daughter, Sara, a beautiful 17 year old who has been having pain in her left breast for some time.
We also visited Patricia who is likely younger than me and has been experiencing noticeable tremors for 7 years. She can’t do anything because it makes her dizzy. She also can’t afford to see a doctor (Wentz Medical Clinic charges $1.25 for a visit; the other hospitals charge $15). So, she lives with it and continues to give a contagious smile. But she believes in the power of prayer and asked us to pray for her.
As we were leaving the slums, kids followed us to our bus. I’m struck by how amazingly beautiful they are. In Hollywood, they would immediately have agents. But they will likely continue to live in these slums their whole lives.
That is why Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM) is so wonderful. Through donations (92% of their sponsorship comes from the US), they currently house, feed, nurse and educate 5200 kids in Uganda. Their goal is to have 7000 kids under sponsorship by the end of the year.
For what we ladies pay for a pedicure each month, you could be saving a child’s life, literally. About $40 a month feeds, clothes, educates and covers the medical expenses of a child who should have every opportunity in life as our own children do.
Please consider them when making charitable contributions. I’m seeing it with my own eyes. These are organizations that work.
I have so many pictures to show you but the internet here is dial up and pictures don’t load well. So, when I have better luck, I will post some.