THE STORY OF HOW WE CAME TO ADOPT 120 ORPHANS
Well no, we didn’t really adopt 120 orphans, but it works well as a page turner…What we are really doing, is quite unremarkable and certainly more manageable. I’ll fill you in later….
Child Soldiers and Cannibalism
The tiny rural village of Ogoloi would be easy to miss if you were driving too fast down the gravel roads of Soroti in the Teso region of central Uganda. The village is really more of a cluster of little villages, which are really just groupings of mud huts. It’s in the middle of nowhere (doesn’t show up on Google Earth), and it’s beautiful.
Unfortunately, this region, and this little village, have had anything but a beautiful history. Uganda has been ravished by the usual ongoing famine, drought etc… but has an even more horrific tale to tell. The ex British colony gained its independence in 1962 and quickly fell prey to a series of dictatorial and oppressive leaders.
For example, Idi Amin gained power in ’71 after ousting the previous leader and declared himself “president”, dissolved the parliament, and amended the constitution to give himself absolute power. In his 8 year rule it is estimated that up to 300,000 Ugandans were slain in his reign of terror, primarily against some of the ethnic groups who had voted for his predecessor. Perhaps you have seen the “Last King of Scotland” which chronicles part of Amins dictatorship?
More recently, the people of Uganda and specifically the Teso region were subject to unimaginable suffering as an internal war waged between the governing forces and a rebel group from Northern Uganda called the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) led by Jospeh Kony. This guy is a piece of work. He declared himself a messenger from God -called to establish a government based on the 10 Commandments (sound good so far?). His strategy? The LRA raided villages in central Uganda like Ogoloi, forcing young boys to kill their family members, chop them up, and boil them in drums before eating them. These pre-teen and teen kids were then turned into boy soldiers armed with assault rifles and trained to kill, so traumatized by their initiation that they would almost never return home for fear of facing what they had done. The girls? Oh, they were taken as sex slaves or wives for the LRA soldiers…spoils of war raped daily. As is usually the case with militant “messengers of God”, Kony later declared that he was in fact the Holy Spirit and the son of God himself.
The LRA finally surrendered in Northern Uganda around 2005, but left behind it a country plagued with fatherless households, women dying of AIDS from being raped, and young men and girls trying to cope with the reality of the last decade of atrocities. The carnage is hard to imagine, and its tougher still when you meet the people and hear the stories from their mouths. Meeting a 20 year old boy who was a mass murder from age 12 (not by choice) adds some perspective to your day. It truly makes me long for Christ’s return, where all things will be made new.
- 2.7 Million Orphans
- 44% orphaned due to AIDS
- 1.2 Million people living with AIDS
- 2009 – 64,000 AIDS deaths
- 25% of children enrolled in secondary school
- Life Expectancy – 53
- 56% of kids will complete primary school
- Only 4% of secondary school grads go on to higher education
- 49.9% of the population is under 15
How we fit into this?
For the last 2 or 3 years, Jen and I have been working to find a way to help and support the almost 30,000 children who die daily from hunger or preventable disease around the world. We found what we were looking for in Children’s Hope Chest after months and months of researching other great organizations aiming to do the same.
Children’s Hope Chest (CHC)
is a Christian non Profit based out of Colorado that aims to connect the church (primarily churches but also any other groups) with “CARE POINTS” around the world where orphans and at risk kids can find a meal and love. If you have ever sponsored a child through Compassion International or World Vision, this is similar except that instead of just one child, its an entire care point (anywhere from 50 to 300 orphans) and the commitment extends beyond a monthly sponsorship. Care Point sponsors are encouraged to visit the care point at least annually, participate in a long term development plan, and the organization aims to provide a holistic approach to caring for these kids by feeding them (meeting their immediate needs), getting them to school (most cant afford uniforms or fees past primary school and are turned away from education), and discipling them to know that they are loved by Jesus and the church. Most all of the kids that are supported in the Care Points are double Orphans (both parents are dead), but others are single orphans with a parent who is HIV infected.
The kids are provided a meal daily (for many its their only real meal) at the CarePoint which is usually located near a school.
The Care Points have a kitchen (really just a hut with a couple of huge pots over fires for making the food) and the development plan for each Care Point includes digging a well to provide clean drinking water which many kids walk hours every day to fetch for their families
The funding for these children provides a meal a day but also covers medical needs (if needed) and gets them through Primary and secondary school which for a Ugandan child is a treasure that they all desire.
And, many of the kids just need Love. They are amazed to meet the people who would sacrifice so much for them to provide a future and care for them (a humbling reality when a sponsorship is around $34 a month)
So, after returning to Uganda a second time this year (our first trip was less successful in tracking down the right people to partner with) and touring numerous established and recently started Care Points, we found the village of Ogoloi and the struggling Care Point located there.
I was able to visit last time with my business partner (Joe and I own some real estate companies together) and we both immediately fell in love with the kids at Ogoloi. This next couple of weeks we are finalizing the process of re documenting the orphans in the region and are planning on returning at the end of the year again to spend a couple of weeks on the ground – this time i will be traveling with Jen and we are taking a group of about 10 with us who are sponsoring kids in the village with us. We hope to have sponsorship ($34 a month) for all of the kids by the end of this year and are incredibly excited to head back twice a year to continue to grow this and hopefully other Care Points in the region.
If you know Jen and I, or read my intro post to this Blog, you will know that we weren’t looking for any of this. But our God is good., and has steered our hearts towards something so intrinsically good and fulfilling. We are so glad that he has taken us on this journey. We are praying for others in the church (and out) to be willing to join us on this journey to Love God, by loving his people (his two greatest commands)…because we are commanded to, because it feels great, and because its just plain right.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.