Mom will be dead in a year…
As is the case with most days at the CarePoints, today will be one to remember for a long time.We were greeted by the “hoards” when we arrived in the usual euphoric fashion and welcomed like only Ugandans can welcome.
Fresh Water for Bukedea
We were treated to the usual songs and dancing in the pavilion and then headed out to open the new well (Borehole), freshly capped as of a week ago and as of today entirely unused. They had waited for our arrival to open the well, both to the kids and to the surrounding community who will also be able to benefit from the local source of fresh water.
The CarePoint owns the well, but community involvement is extremely important in a project of this nature. A small community “well committee” is being formed (yes, Africa has even more bureaucracy than even the U.S) to manage the use of the well by the community and to agree on a fair rate to charge the local community for the wells use. The amount will be small, and will be saved for maintenance costs in the future and to ensure that the community feels a part of this exciting development for their area. They are all happy to contribute for the convenience that this affords them. It was all smiles.
A few of us took a short walk to the neighboring village where Alex lives. You can catch up on Alex at the post from last year entitled “Smelly, Rejected and Ashamed“. But the short of the story is that he suffers from a severe bladder control issue along with what appears to be some mild retardation. We had left some extra funds with the CarePoint staff to help take Alex to the local hospital for tests and potentially surgery.
Our visit to Alex’s home has revealed a ton of progress since last December. Alex is notably more responsive and upbeat. Bernadette (the Bukedea CarePoint social worker) says that he is doing much better with the kids (we watched him dancing with them later in the day) and that his issue has been significantly improved by the help he has been provided so far. He has yet to undergo the final surgery, and is waiting for the necessary equipment to be available at the main Kampala hospital several hours away.
Most exciting was that it appears that his demeanor has shifted. Though far from confident, Alex was smiling more. Both when he showed his teeth and when he didn’t. You know what I mean. It was there is his eyes. Somebody has showed him love, perhaps for the first time in his life. Even his father is coming around and recognizing his role in assisting Alex to get back on track and into school.
For those of you that chipped in to help Alex get to the doctors for this issue…Thanks! We are not done yet, but we have made massive progress.
Last year we visited one of the boys homes who lived with his Tata (Grandmother) and we had provided some money to the CarePoint to try and help her fix the roof of her hut which was leaking pretty badly and the walls were crumbling. The $1.50 a week that she earned was not enough to fix the problem. The story is also available from last years post at “Smelly, Rejected and Ashamed“.
Our visit to Levi’s home this year was quite an occasion. We were met with loud cries (like only Africans can do) from the Tata welcoming us to her new home. The $75 we had provided had been used to construct an entirely new hut and we were able to celebrate with the Tata and Levi at their new home.
All I can say is that you had to be there to appreciate the level of gratitude she had. She was ecstatic to be able to show us the new foam matress and mosquito net that Levi now sleeps with (also acquired with the same $75. Incredible, isn’t it, to think that for many of us a night out at a good restaurant with a bottle of wine can cost that much. I’d make that trade a thousand times over any day.
A Not So Happy Meeting
After our visit to Alex’s home, we headed further out on the dusty path to the home of a young boy that captured all of our hearts last December. In his little green shirt and tattered green cut off pants, we affectionately named him Peter Pan. His real name is Samuel, and he is the cutest creature on God’s planet today.
We were taken to meet with Samuel’s mother to learn about the reality facing Samuel and his 3 siblings, one of which is in the CarePoint program alongside Samuel. It was a tough meeting.
Samuel’s father died a few years ago, and Samuel’s mother and her kids were chased off their land by her husband;s brother. In Africa, property is seldom owned by a woman, and property typically transfers to male heirs rather than a spouse or a child.
The family relocated several times, and eventually found refuge at her childhood home, which was now owned by her father’s brother (for similar reasons) who was willing to house the family, but could not care for them financially. To make matters worse, Samuel’s mom is HIV positive, and is incredibly frail and malnourished. The CarePoint has been providing her food (an exception to the rule – we typically only provide for the kids at the actual CarePoint) but this woman’s plight was so severe that it warranted special intervention. She is also suffering from some sort of pancreatic disease. She looks pregnant but is not. She has tried to visit the hospital but has no funds for the necessary treatment. Although she is currently taking anti-retro viral drugs supplied by the state to keep the AIDS at bay, the social worker that was with us believes she probably has less than one year to live.
It was hard to sit silently through the story without wanting to scream. The hardest part is knowing that Peter Pan and his adorable siblings will soon be without a mother and will be in the care of extended family who cannot support them and frankly view them as a burden. They will be fed from the CarePoint, but will lack the love and affection and support that I couldn’t bare to think of my boys going without.
It’s tough. You want to snatch them away and take them home, but that’s simply not the solution. We can’t adopt every kid with a sad tale off of the African continent and into suburban America. And whatever help we can afford these people must be done in a way so as to empower the community to help themselves rather than create dependence. There are no easy solutions.
But we must find a way to help. More to come as we think through this one.
We closed out the day with soccer and and games with the kids and return tomorrow to spend much of the day getting photo and videos of the children to bring back to their supporting sponsors. Our internet is incredibly spotty and slow so I will work hard to continue to post photos and video whenever we can.
Thanks again to everyone for your support and for caring for these kids.