Coming to Africa has been on our hearts for what seems to be forever. I knew a long time friend, who along with her husband ran a small ‘not for profit mission’ In The Field Ministries in Uganda. I had spoken to her on a few occasions about us coming to volunteer.
So when our summer Europe plans changed due to both the Greece financial crisis and coupled with living through the Tunisia Terrorist Attack, we decided now was the right time for Africa.
Sharing Love to Hospitalised Kids
Our first stop was at the hospital where we made friends with the children. We loved them so much, we came back another time and handed out juice and cookies.
Sharing love with Jaja’s (Grandma’s)
We had a great idea when visiting ‘Jaja’ (Grandma) Maria to get her together with her friends. She had not seen these other two ladies in a long time, because she can hardly walk or see, and the road is too bad.
We organised to collect them in the 4WD, and we brought chairs and arranged an afternoon tea for the three older ladies who all were near 90 years old. They dressed in their finest and were so thrilled to reunite, that they had tears in their eyes as they hugged and their faces beamed with smiles.
They loved the juice boxes, which were a real treat for them, and I looked as one ‘Jaja’ sucked on her cookie – because she had no teeth!
We enjoyed their stories through an interpreter, and they asked us “why we were so kind to three old ladies?”
We told them we loved and cared about them.
The reason we originally went to visit the hospital is because the Medical Clinical Officer from In The Field Ministries was in a terrible accident, so we were visiting her.
This has meant In The Field Ministries Mission Base Medical Centre is closed, so Kimberly endeavours to give medical care to the school students, and I assist.
We find numerous cut feet, skin infections, measles, malaria, STD’s, and jiggers (parasite) to name a few.
Sharing Love to the Sick
After treating some of our school students, we have to then take them to the closest town by 4WD (which has a clinic and doctor) for medication and further treatment, because it is beyond our capabilities.
I sat and cuddled a 9-year-old girl in the surgery whilst she was tested and diagnosed with Syphilis. Two tiny boys had malaria. On this occasion, I paid for the medical care and prescriptions for the three children. All the funds need to be raised by In The Field Ministries to continue their work, and we need funds to pay for us to continue to volunteer here, and our expenses in getting here.
A sweet 4-year-old clutched my leg and hugged me tightly as we drove her to the surgery – she had such an infected finger it had gone plum purple, and the skin was peeling off with a huge wound, and without us using a little verbal encouragement, the doctor would not have even given her antibiotics. Each time she sees me at school now, she runs and shows me her healing finger.
Sharing Love with Students
Most of the students live in impoverished homes. Some fathers have several ‘wives’ and are very promiscuous. Many parents ‘dump’ the children with grandparents and great-grandparents, who are left to ‘raise’ up to a dozen children.
These children are craving love and affection. Some, not all parents, do not care if they go to school or work in the field. They do not care enough to pay even basic fees for books – which might be about $2.
But so many parents seem to be ‘professional drinkers’. They follow in their parent’s footsteps, who also were ‘professional drinkers’. They will go and drink away all their money in the local bar, consuming ‘Woragi’ (a take off of war gin) or ‘Kisubi’ (which is made from a sour banana).
They then come home drunk and sometimes abuse the children.
Children are frequently beaten as punishment.
These precious little ones are rarely shown physical tenderness or told they are loved.
Some kids then become parents themselves as young as 12 years old, not even understanding how they made a baby.
And STD’s including HIV are rapidly spread, and are on the increase.
Sharing Love with the babies
Hardly a day went by when we didn’t get to hold a new baby.
In The Field Ministries would try to take them a baby outfit next time we passed that way on our daily walk.
It was always a time to encourage the Mums about how beautiful their new baby is.
And it was a lovely time to speak positive words over the new little life, believing the baby would grow to become a loved and treasured soul.
Sharing Love with the Villagers
Each afternoon we would walk the track different ways, and visit the locals. Some villagers would be weaving mats, or making baskets. Others would be preparing their ‘Makute’ (a form of banana) for dinner. (A village is not like you would think. Houses are distances apart with no centre store or road).
We learnt a few Lugandan (their local language) words, and I loved the way they held our hands and looked us in the eye as they greeted us.
They loved us to take their photographs and show them.
Rarely is there a mirror in any home, or any need to feel special, so we aimed to friend them, and show them we cared about their life and loved them.
Sharing Love with the Children
My greatest delight has been the children.
From age three, we see these little ones carrying water from the In The Field Ministries well back to their home. Sometimes they had to make several trips and long distances, all whilst often walking barefoot, as they also had to bring water for elderly relatives, or new mothers.
We would hug them and take their photograph, and some would pose and giggle with delight.
But the highlight for me was always having the small children racing toward me when they saw me coming down the path at school. They would rush up shouting “Mama Loose, Mama Loose” (they couldn’t say my name), and would surround me. As they rubbed my arms and legs to feel my white skin, I would try to sit and cuddle as many of them as I could.
To me this was the greatest time of sharing love.
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