I watched Faith walk in the gates in her school uniform and it reminded me that she is still a child. I forget that she is a child when I'm talking to her about Catherine, her 2 year old. I forget that she was forced to grow up at the age of 13 and that her childhood was robbed from her. Then, she skipped to play volleyball and lingered at the swing set, and I remembered when I was 15 and 16 and still loved doing childlike things, but Faith lost those years.
It doesn't end in a sad note. It doesn't end with that because THIS is her story: she joined JPCC as a young teenager - pregnant and confused. She did not want to keep her baby. After mentoring and counseling her with the help of JPCC, she decided to keep her baby. She decided to give up school and take care of a baby that she did not want. Sadly, this is the story of many young African women. Many are pushed into prostitution, trafficking, and desperate situations. Their own families force many into this. Some are just making poor choices, and some are forced into the situation.
Whatever the reason, HEAL Ministries landed in Uganda for people like Faith...for any abandoned, hurting woman or child. We work with them in many ways. We take the broken person walking through our gates and we create an environment centered on Christ that helps them to feel whole again. Faith feels whole again.
Faith was one of the first graduates of the first year sewing program, business class, and the first year English class program. We learned from Faith's business plan that she wanted to finish high school. Today, she makes beautiful rugs at the James Place that pay for her school fees. We help her out with childcare for Catherine and transportation so that she can get to school on time, and pick Catherine up at the end of the day on time. But, honestly, she has done this on her own. She needed a jump-start. She needed a burst of encouragement and she needed to hear that she could do it. It is such a joy to see others loving on her baby!
Today, Faith attends a private Christian high school and she is a second year student. Her goal is to finish high school, while raising her child. Her goal is to one-day work at the James Place so that she can encourage others. I asked her what she would say when encouraging others and she replied, "I would tell them that Satan wants you to die and to think that you don't matter. But don't believe that lie because God is better and bigger than that. I would tell them that God does not make mistakes and that any baby is a child of God." We are thankful that she landed at JPCC and the James Place where she was encouraged to keep her baby. We are in a land that believes it is culturally okay to just give up: to give the baby away. This is why there are more orphans in Uganda than any other country in the world. We are thankful that she realizes she made the right choice. And we believe that Catherine is now in the best hands, and we remember with tears in our eyes that this is true when they both now skip into the gates at the James Place.........laughing together as one family.