Watching the villagers dance is an experience that I wish everyone that I love could experience. They are so incredible and when you learn their personal stories, it makes the dance all the more special. We went to Masese to see some of the school children dance and most of them are orphans. A young man has taken a group of kids called "African Talents" and is teaching them music and dance to stay off the streets. He grew up in Masese and is wanting to give back to his community. Some of the children have a place to stay. Some of the children are looking for a family.
That seems to be the story everywhere I go in Uganda. There are many women that are taking care of children that do not belong to them. Some of them are distant family members, some are not. What is shocking in my research is that ALL of these abandoned women taking in these orphaned and abandoned children can NOT afford to do so. They know that it is the right thing to do. The biggest problem that arises from this is malnutrition. Malnutrition results in death when not treated. Many of the children in the kids' programs in Masese are malnourished.
The team had a prayer send off tonight, their last night in Jinja. We prayed for all the wonderful ministries that we work with: Ekisa, Serving His Children, Amani Baby Cottage, Canaan Children's Home, Jinja Crisis Pregnancy Center, Amazima Ministries and all the women and children that we work with in the villages, on the streets and in Masese and Wax Slums. They have contributed in many ways such as placing new bed sheets in another dorm at an orphanage, dressing children in clothes that were provided by a sewing group in Nashville, providing food and clothes for women and children that we work with, encouraging and praying, providing vitamins for orphanages, taking Ekisa kids swimming, and on and on. They have had a very busy 10 days.
During team time, another profound question was asked: "How do you know who to help? Finding the needs is not the issue here. There are needs everywhere we literally turn. How do you decide who to help?" This is a question that haunts me sometimes because we know that we can not help everyone. We fortunately have a network of missionaries and ministries here that work together and talk. So that when I meet a boy that is 13 years old living in the streets, we can ask questions to other organizations. We find out if the boy is lying (which many of them do) and when we feel led to help, we investigate first and then see where God leads - which often are led to network with another organization to seek help.
Shafikke is 13 years old. His parents died. He has a JaJa that he says is abusive. He wants to be in school. He wants a family. He does not want to live in a cardboard box anymore. He is asking for help. This is when the heart bleeds and the tears spill. Tonight, I am wondering where Shafikke is sleeping. I am wondering why this beautiful child is not in a bed. And I am asking God how we can help. Sometimes helping means connecting the needy to another organization because we realize that we cannot help everyone. So, tonight, Team 3 will spend their last night in Jinja praying for Shafikke and many others that they have met and grown to love. And, I'm thankful for this team because they have committed to praying for HEAL Ministries. They have committed to praying for us to make the right decisions. We can't change everything here but prayer can. And, tonight, I'm thankful that I know that prayer changes things.