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From Abandoned to Beloved: The Journey of an Orphan in Uganda

CHAPTER 1 – I am an Orphan

My name is Damari. That means “gift,” but I am not a gift to anyone, and I have never received a gift, either. I am 10 years old. My father left us when I was 2 or 3 – I don’t remember him, and I was told he died of the disease. My mother died, too, but she held on for a long time because there would be no one to care for me and my little sister. She is 8 years old now.

We live alone. I am scared a lot of the time because there is a bad man that lives near our hut. He is drunk and I am afraid that sometime he will come into our place and hurt my sister or me. During the day we go to fetch water. We have two buckets and we walk about five kilometers each way to get the water, and the water is not good. On the way back we look for food – some matoke or some bananas, maybe, but we cannot carry much besides our water. Sometimes a woman in a village we pass comes out when she sees us and gives us some beans. Other people yell at us and chase us away. We are hungry most of the time.

So you see we do not go to the school in the village. Who would get our water? And anyway, we have no uniform, and one cannot go to school without a uniform. I would like to go to school, and I worry about my little sister, too. I wish our mum had not died.I was very sick for some days and could not rise. My sister did not get sick, so she had to get all the water by herself. She is very small and she had to make two trips for the water! I think I had malaria. I know it will come back again and maybe I can get some medicine at the clinic, but it is very far away and I do not want to leave my sister alone in case that man comes around.

I don’t know what to do. Our life is very, very hard. I have no hope.

Complacence to Passion: The Journey of a Sponsor
CHAPTER 1 – Exposure

You know how it is, how a subject about which you are only marginally aware begins to crop up in random places. Multiple random places, like there is some orchestrated plan to get your attention. Weird how that happens, right?

Well, that’s what happened to me with the story of children in Uganda who are orphaned by the rampant AIDS epidemic. That is still happening over there, although we don’t hear much about AIDS in this country anymore. So one Sunday the pastor at the church I attend was speaking from the Book of James. Now, you know many of us turn up our nose at the concept of “religion,” smugly saying “I’m not religious…I have a RELATIONSHIP with God,” so when he quoted James 1:27, it caught my ear. He read “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” and then he gave some examples of places in the world where the needs of orphans are the greatest.

Okay, we all know that Africa is a troubled continent, full of wars, genocide, diseases and corruption. It’s been that way for generations, and nothing I could do about it was going to change the status quo. The pastor’s message that day was quickly forgotten. Forgotten for a few days anyway, until my small group meeting where we were discussing the previous weekend’s message. One of the women in my group mentioned that she sponsors a child in Uganda – one of the places the pastor had mentioned – and that there are families of kids living on their own because both parents died of AIDS. She told us about the 12-year-old boy she sponsors, and that he has two siblings under 10, and he’s the head of the household! She said that Mosaic Vision, the non-profit that she sponsors through, was created specifically to care for these “double orphans” living in what they call “child-headed homes.”
After I went home that night I checked out Mosaic Vision’s website, and read more about AIDS in Uganda. The figures are staggering, I found out. More than 1,000,000 children in Uganda are orphans, and since most of them live in jungle or forest settings, they are totally vulnerable to being abused by any adult they meet. Those poor kids, oh my gosh! Mosaic Vision says their vision is to restore the lives of these orphans. I’m glad to know that people are caring for these kids, but I’m not sure this is something I should get involved in.