I’ve been back in Kampala a month now, and as always, am happy to be spending time with my local family of friends. Everyone’s response when they first saw me was “You’ve been lost!” I told them that I wasn’t, that I knew exactly where I was, spending time in the States (and parts of the world beyond) enjoying my days with my sons and their families and my long time friends. I have to stop and think what the weather is like in the States, and then I remember…oh, it’s July, so it’s hot…really hot, just the way I like it! You would laugh if you saw me now, sitting here in a sweatshirt and wondering how I can be cold in Africa!
We’ve gotten back into our routine, and for the most part, things are running smoothly. There’s a new group of boys at the Shelter from all parts of Uganda and one from Kenya. They are, by far, the quietest, calmest group we’ve ever known. We (Hassan and I) tried everything to get them to open up to us, but every attempt was met with blank stares and shrugs of their shoulders. Last week I told them that a measure of maturity was being able to hold a conversation and actually TALK! So, they had to take turns as we went around the table and everyone had to tell us something about themselves. Most talked about soccer and subjects they enjoyed in the classroom. One little boy said how much he loved the food that the Housemother cooked. He said he loved spaghetti and they used to have it at his home (oh not with meat sauce, it’s just boiled noodles here with a few specks of tomatoes and onions) but he wasn’t allowed to have a serving, he was only allowed to scrape up what was left at the bottom of the saucepan. Now, he is absolutely thrilled to have all he wants on a regular basis! Something so small can make a child so happy, it makes us happy! Then a boy told us about his past. This story weighs heavy on my heart and I can’t shake it. He said his father died before he was born (this may or may not be the case, it may be just what his mother told him.) Apparently his mother did not want to care for him, so one of her sisters took him in. When he was about 8, she decided that she no longer wanted to be responsible for him and took him to his father’s father, his grandfather. The man told him: “I have no way of knowing if you are my son’s child, so you cannot stay here.” The boy replied: “I am only a little boy, I have no where to go. I cannot prove if he was my father…..what do you want me to say, what do you want me to do, where do I go?” The man’s response was: “I don’t care where you go, just go away and leave me alone.” So the boy went to the streets of the slums. He started crying as he was telling this story, and my heart broke. I hugged him hard and Hassan wiped his tears, but no one can erase the pain of being unwanted and alone, completely alone at 8 years old. Sometimes I just what to shake my fist in the air and scream “What’s wrong with people?” He’s not the first boy to tell such a tale, and I’m sure he won’t be the last. I pray that my heart will never harden and that I am always moved to tears when one of them breaks his silence and tells us how much he hurts.
I asked them what I should talk about because I knew little about soccer. Ah, then a brainstorm, I told them all about Hockey! (Thank you Preds!) I tried to explain about the ice, and skates and padding, etc. They were completely into it! Then I took out my phone and even showed them pictures of Pekka Rinne in his goalie get up! They listened to every word. Next week I’ll show them a video, though they won’t get to see too much with 15 heads pressed together over a tiny phone screen! haha Bet the Preds don’t know they have 15 little fans in this corner of the world!
Angel is still Angel. She’s quite a demanding character and will only take what she asks for and nothing else. Right now it’s sugar, powdered milk, eggs and oil. Nothing more and nothing else! Oh, and a little cash which we’re assuming she uses to buy kerosene for her little cookstove, but we don’t ask because she won’t tell. She always blesses and thanks me, but she refuses to acknowledge Hassan’s existence. I imagine she is kind to him when I’m away, but only when she has to be, haha.
We’re so grateful for the generous donors who contributed to our Scholarship Program. We were able to provide 15 scholarships this term, all to children living in the slums or runaways rescued from the slums. We have some really bright children who consistently perform exceedingly well, we’re so proud of them!
I’ve really been thinking about 4th of July cookouts (yes, I have lots of quiet hours to think when my insomnia kicks in) and craving charred hot dogs, sweet corn and strawberry shortcake! Well, I can think about it all I want, but it’s not gonna happen here! No strawberries, no sweet corn and honestly, I wouldn’t eat the hot dogs for sure. Maybe I will just don some red, white and blue clothes and listen to Lee Greenwood sing God Bless the USA, and thank my lucky stars for all my blessings. I miss y’all……. “cuz there ain’t no doubt, I love this land, God bless the USA” and ALL of you. Hugs