Friends….Once again we are partnering to try and find a solution to a life or death situation facing one of the families we have come to know and love at one of our Uganda Carepoints. The following is the true story of a small family in a perilous position that absolutely needs our help. If you are here to donate to this cause you can do so at the secure site that has been set up for this cause through Children’s Hope Chest. DONATE HERE
. Please read their story below and consider helping us change their story. There is no donation too small, and we appreciate your support!
Hacked to Death
The timing was eery!
Hacked to Death! A family of 9, hacked to pieces by their relatives in a village not too far from Ogoloi where we were staying. Their corpses had been piled atop one another in their hut. The reason? The small family had tried to retain possession of the plot of land they had grown up on, but had been claimed by other relatives. The male heirs had demanded the land back from the family (their tribal right as surviving males of a deceased father). And the family feud devolved into this. Nine dead. Seven of them children. In Uganda women almost never “own” land, and when a husband dies his brothers lay claim to the land, kicking the spouse and kids off the land. That is harsh. But this…? This was sickening!
The idea that something like this could go on (even in Africa) was hard to swallow, but it was far more difficult for us, with the faces of Lazaro, Isaac, Eunice and Ester fresh in our minds. The idea of returning to Uganda in a few months to learn that they had met a similar fate was more than we could handle. We had to act. There was no other option.
But let me back up a little, and tell you the story of these kids.
Whose Land is it, Anyway?
We had returned to the TCON house where we stay each night after a long day at the Carepoint. It had been a long and emotional day, with several visits to the homes of some of the kids sponsored through the program. All of these visits are bitter sweet, with an enigmatic mix of celebration at the honor of their “sponsuz” coming to visit their home, and the heartache that comes from being confronted with the realities of the home lives that these children endure.
It’s not so much about the fact that the kids live in mud huts, or the fact that they have no running water. Its not even the fact that many cant attend school because they are too busy finding food for their families. Rather, the hearthache arises from the utter depravity of some of the situations that the kids find themselves in. Drunken fathers, abusive caretakers, dying siblings, infected gangrenous wounds on limbs from sheer neglect. And the list goes on. All this, infecting the hearts of these otherwise innocent kids with wounds that we know won’t always heal. Its a lot to take in.
Our afternoon had ended at the home of a family in a particularly troubling situation. At the surface, their poverty was no worse than that of any of the surrounding huts. Mom was caring for several kids, living on a couple of dollars a week earned hunched over, farming the fields owned by others more fortunate than her. Their small mud hut housed a family of 7. Tattered blankets served as mattresses on the tightly compacted cow-dung floor. The straw roof above the “kitchen” was falling in. And there was no sure way to know if tomorrow would come with a meal. Or Not. You know…just your run of the mill Ogoloi family living the Ugandan dream.
Four of the kids were sponsored and being cared for at the CarePoint.
- Lazaro (small guy in the yellow shirt) was sponsored by Alissa Dietz (also in the photo)
- Isaac (far left) was sponsored by Rebecca Gooding
- Eunice was sponsored by Adam and Ruth Wagner
- And Esther was sponsored by Lynn Peronto
But there was something more going on here.
Something that I had missed on my previous visit to their home several months prior. This time, Alissa Dietz, who sponsors the youngest child in the home (Lazaro) was with us, and as she toured the home and spoke with the family, we began to ask questions to try and understand their situation better.
The father of the children had passed away not too long ago, leaving his wife and kids to fend for themselves in a part of the world that is cruel to those with fathers, but brutal to those without. The clan land that the family owned while the father was alive was quickly claimed by the children’s uncles (the fathers brothers), leaving the family the “right” to occupy a sliver of land on the boundaries of the 3 surviving brothers plots. There is an image of the boundaries indelibly marked in my conscience. It was drawn on the red dirt under the mango tree with a stick by the LC1 (local village govt. official) as he described the situation facing this family to me later in the day.
Three lines…meeting in the middle. And a small circle of land (occupied by the family) right in the middle of all three pieces of land.
As more and more of the story started to be revealed, it became clear that things were far worse than they had initially seemed. The uncles, all of whom want the mother and her kids to leave, had tolerated them on the tiny piece of land for a while, but had grown impatient with them in the last few months. They had been asked to leave, but had absolutely nowhere to go. Requests for them to leave turned into threats. And the threats had turned into visits with clubs. Not long before our visit one such visit had become violent. And there was no solution in sight. The local leadership had been intervening, asking the men to consider allowing the woman and her kids to stay. But to no avail. The men were within their legal rights, and they were dead set on getting their land back.
So, it was in this context that we came home that evening and found this newspaper article, and to hear of this other family’s demise at the hands of their relatives. It was an eery coincidence to say the least. And it was in this context, that we collectively committed to intervening.
A Chance at Life
This was in January.
Since then, we have met with the team at Hope Chest to confirm that our hopes for a solution were viable and reasonable. Our team in Uganda has been on the hunt for a piece of land that we could acquire, large enough for a family of 7 to be able to move onto and begin to farm. A family of this size would need roughly 3-5 acres to be able to survive, and finding land of that size in this region is nearly impossible. With that said, I was recently informed that a suitable piece of land has been located, and we are ready to move ahead.
The cost of the land, combined with the cost to construct them a a small home has been budgeted at $5,600. It’s an extravagant gift, and a lot of money by any standards, but peanuts when you consider what this will mean to this family. Not only will this mean an opportunity for this struggling family to survive, but it will do so while providing them hope for the future. The land will mean security for them for years to come, and an opportunity to live without fear. A chance at life….
Perhaps more important to me, this will send a message to the brothers that has pounded in my heart for 3 months now since I heard this story. It’s a message I have wanted to give them myself, but I believe will be communicated clearly through this act of love when we have these funds raised. Its the message of a King, who is the rightful heir of all things, on heaven and on earth. This land is HIS, and he will do with it as he pleases. One day He will return, to set all things right. He will renew the heavens and the earth, and reign over a kingdom without decay. Without injustice. Without sorrow, bitterness, greed. Without pain, and without death.
And when he reigns, he has promised to do so with a different set of principles, a different set of rules. A different constitution
. In His Kingdom it is not the wealthy who will be admired. It is not those with power, or land that He will honor. It is not those who gain standing with man by oppressing others for their own gain.
The Last will be first, and the first will be last” – Matthew 20:16
Jesus put it like this in Matthew 5:3-12 (my paraphrase)
“My kingdom belongs to those whose spirits are bankrupt. They will be blessed. Those who mourn today will be blessed too, because I will comfort them. The meek will be blessed because the “land” will be theirs. Those who hunger and thirst to be righteous will be blessed, because they will be filled. Those who show mercy today will be shown mercy in my kingdom. And the pure of heart will see God. Those who work to make peace will be blessed because they will be known as My Sons and Daughters. And those who are persecuted and oppressed because they did what was right will be blessed….because the Kingdom of God belongs to them.”
You see, when the King returns, I believe he will set situations like this right. That’s the kind of King He is. And until His return, we are called as citizens of His Kingdom, living under His constitution, to live out the reality of His kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven”
So I want nothing more than to see this family “blessed”. And for justice to be done for them. I want them to see the body of Christ at work, living out the commission to “Love as He has loved us”. I want the villagers of Ogoloi to see the Jesus that I have come to know and love… at work…providing for the “least of these” through His church.
And, I want these uncles to see this too. Selfishly I want them shamed. But I also want to have them see Love lived out so that they too would see the God that we serve, and the Kingdom that he brings. And perhaps to desire to know of such love.
Help us accomplish this goal
We are committed to raising $5,600. We don’t have much time. But we have a lot of resolution and a King who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills”. We are asking for your help because we cant do this alone. Any donation will help, and we would love you to consider sharing this post with others. Any help you can afford us we will greatly appreciate. HUGE THANKS
Your donations are fully tax deductible and can be made through the secure page on the Children’s Hope Chest website HERE
Thanks for your continued support of our work to love the orphaned children in Ogoloi and Bukedea