Sunday, February 21, 2010
Around the time that the school moved out of my house and into an actual building I asked to increase this by $50. Still doesn't cover everything, even though I'm still living in a third world country.
Well, this year, I planned to add 12 children to my school to make the total 24. Well, that 12 ended up being 26............. So, I definitely can't run it on $350/month, not even with adding my support to it.
I again asked for an increase. I figured I could safely raise the amount to $500/month without depleting the account and embarrassing myself. So, today I was working on my monthly budget for March. By the time I finish paying all the teachers and staff, electricity, water, rent, (you know all the really essential things), I figured out that I will have $2 per child per month for food and school supplies. It's going to take more than a miracle for this to happen. Even if I add in my support.......... I keep hearing a teeny tiny little voice in my head saying, "It's never going to work!" But, the crazy side of me, or the part of me that walks in blind faith, is praying that it will work. I'm praying that God will show Himself in a real and tangible way every month by somehow miraculously making sure that every need is met. That I won't fall flat on my ____ and be embarrassed.
Or you could help out and sponsor a child................
Friday, February 12, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
When I can't feel you, I have learned to reach out just the same
When I can't hear you, I know you still hear every word I pray
And I want you more than I want to live another day
And as I wait for you maybe I'm made more faithful
All the folly of the past, though I know it is undone
I still feel the guilty one, still trying to make it right
So I whisper soft your name, let it roll around my tongue,
knowing you're the only one who knows me
You know me
Show me how I should live this
Show me where I should walk
I count this world as loss to me
You are all I want
You are all I want
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I found these on the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation website. Most of them come from the UNAIDS AIDS Epidemic Update (2009).
Nearly 1,200 children under 15 years of age are infected with HIV every day, most as a result of mother-to-child transmission of the virus. Without treatment, 50% of newborns infected with HIV will die before their second birthdays.
An estimated 430,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2008, approximately 16% of the total new infections. 390,000 of these children were in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90% of all new child infections worldwide.
An estimated 280,000 children died in 2008 of AIDS-related illnesses.
I could continue. The numbers are staggering and the disparity between sub-Saharan Africa and the developed world are staggering. It's not fair and it makes me angry.
Children living with HIV became personal to me several years ago when Nakato came to live with me. I had no idea she was infected. By the time I knew, it was too late. They say ignorance is bliss. In that case, ignorance was death.
At that time I was hurt. I chose to harden myself to it and not really deal with it. Then Jackie walked into my life. She touched a special place in my heart. I can't really adequately express in words how much she has changed my life, my heart, my world.
I look at her and daily see a living, breathing miracle. She shouldn't be here. Daily I am reminded to not take any minute that God gives me with her for granted.
I had a sober reminder of that a couple of nights ago. One of the kids in my school died rather suddenly (after being sick only 4 days) to AIDS related complications.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Anyway, today myself and the night watchman were moving mattresses, bags, cases, etc. out of my apartment the short walk over to the school. Her first comment was "You're one strong lady." I thought she was just saying something about the fact that I was the one that was moving the things physically myself. Her point was different.
She went on to ask me how I kept doing what I was doing, mostly without the help of a big organization backing me. She asked me what kept me going, what kept me from giving up.
She kept saying that I was so resilient. That's not really a word that I would normally throw out to describe myself. I would use something like shy, quiet, nothing special, etc.
And honestly, I don't know what (besides God) that keeps me going. Life here is hard. The need is enormous. The hurting around me is devastating and there is a limit to what I can do. I've watched children, friends, co-workers die. I've seen things that can't be put into words. But, I love it here. I don't want to be anywhere else.
I've been told before that I was a fighter. It seems life has never been simple or easy for me. I've always seem to have a stumbling block in my way. It seems things have always been harder for me than those around me. I remember my high school principal telling me on numerous occasions that I am a fighter and that she admired my never giving up.
I wish I could see more of this in myself. Most of the time, I'm comparing myself to others (not something I'm proud of doing) and thinking that I'll never measure up. I look at the missionaries around me that are doing really big things, and see that what I'm doing is like only a drop in a bucket.
I've slowly started to realize that although the things I do may seem small and insignificant, possibly to one individual they are meaningful and making a difference. I know that was the case in my life. Every mountain that I had to climb, there was someone climbing it with me. My high school principal and her daughter, one of my teachers, never let me give up. Maybe that is what drives me. Hoping that for a handful of these kids it will make a difference. Hoping that they will find a way out of the chaos they live in. Hoping that they will have a better future than what has been behind them.
But, the thing that keeps me here, and keeps me going, the most: I feel that I am right where God wants me to be, doing exactly what God wants me to be doing. And His grace is sufficient for every situation, every mountain to climb, every tear that falls, every failure, every heart break, and every downfall.
Friday, February 5, 2010
A few days ago, two girls knocked on my door. I'm trying to stop people from coming to my home looking for sponsors so I sent them over to the school. I told them it would be a while as I had an appointment somewhere else first. A couple of hours later when I reached the school, I found them waiting patiently. They told me their story and I told them to come back with a letter of recommendation from the headmaster of the school as well as a letter explaining themselves to me. I can't take these girls back to school at the moment due to not having enough sponsors. I've already got 20+ that I've accepted into my program that I have no sponsor for. Possibly when you read what they wrote, God will lay it on your heart and you would desire to sponsor one or both of them.
Here is what they wrote:
My name is Pauline. I am aged 16 years. I was born in a family of four children, one sister and two brothers. My father and mother are still alive. my father had his own house and there was a man who came saying the land on which the house was built was his. My father was taken to court and he was arrested. When he was in prison, my mother took me to a church and I started studying. When my father came back, we started renting a room. Unfortunately, he could not manage to pay rent so we were chased away from the room. My mother went to stay with her friend with my youngest brother. These friends used to sell alcohol and my mother used to drink. My sister and other brother were helped by a Muslim man at the mosque. I had a friend who took me to the old man who I now stay with. I don't know where my father went.
I got sponsorship from the church up to when I finished primary level. When I went back to see whether they can help me join my secondary level, they told me that they only help children in primary, not secondary. I lost hope because I was left hanging with no one to help. I didn't know where my father was. My mother a drunkard. My mom fell so sick and she was taken to the village with my youngest brother.
The old man I stay with has no money, even feeding us is a problem. So, he told me to go back and try again. I went back and they told me that I had no sponsor but since I have no one they will fundraise for my fees. I was sent to school. Sometimes they could pay late or half of the money or simply forget so the school demanded the fees and I was chased from school.
I call for any assistance. Please help me achieve my goal. I would like to become a doctor and treat sick people and children. Please, I don't want to become a failure. I don't want to move around the village and end up in marriage. I don't want to become a housegirl. I promise to study and be among the best. I promise never to discourage you. I will make sure that your money is put in proper use. I will never do any stupid thing to annoy you. Give me hope that one day I can become a useful person. Help me become like other children I admire and dry my tears. I will keep my promise as said above. I will make sure that one day I will help children like me. Let me hope that my application will be considered.
My name is Winnfred. I am 15 years old. I am writing this letter to ask you to help me in my education. We are 10 children in my family. I am the 8th. My father died of AIDS when I was 4 years old. By then we were staying in the village.
My mother had no job so she decided to come to town with three children who were young, me and two little sisters. When we came, she had no food, job, or house for us to stay in. One woman helped us by letting us stay with her but she didn't give us food so we could feed on leftovers from hostels. One day people gave my mother some money and we went to the market. We bought tomatoes and we could sell them to get some money.
I think after something like two months, my mom rented a house and brought my sisters and my brother from the village because no one could help them there. One day a friend came and told my mother that there is a church which is helping children in education. My mother took us there and we were given a chance to study.
We started studying. When I was in primary 4, my mother died. It was my worst day in my life because I had nobody in this world who would look after me and my sisters plus my brother. One day one of my mother's friends decided to help me by staying with me. So we started separating. Two sisters of mine were married so my two young sisters were taken by one and the other one took others.
Last year 2009, I finished my primary school and I was among the best candidates in Uganda that did well. I was in Division II.
So this year, I am to join secondary but I have no fees because the church which has been helping me has stopped. They said that what they have done for me is enough. But, I want to continue with my studies so that I finish and I become a lawyer to help my sisters and street children.
That is the reason why I am asking for your help. I wish you sweet dreams and wonderful days only. My God bless you and your family and friends.
Please let me know if anyone would like to sponsor one or both of these girls or any other child. Of course before admitting them officially into the program, a thorough investigation has to be done to verify their stories. But, somehow I believe them. I've admired their persistence and determination in continuing to pursue a chance of being sponsored.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
And now we've entered Feb........ and it's looking a lot like not Christmas but a repeat of Jan. (hopefully without anyone dying though).
I've got parents flooding my home and school asking for sponsors. Now I have a waiting list of over 100 children. No way I can even touch that for the time being. Seems they will be waiting for quite some time and some of them waiting not too happily.
Then a disgruntled employee. This has been going on for quite some time. Anything anyone says he's ready to argue and go even further by abusing you with his words. Finally, today I've had enough and asked him to leave. He has until the morning to get out, probably not wise as everyone around is a bit fearful at the moment of what he might/could do. Since leaving the school at 6 in the evening, I've been called back there 3 times to deal with him. Not sure how many times it will happen tonight......
His brother is coming in the morning to put him on a bus back to the village, around 6 hours away. I think everyone will breathe easier after that.
One bright spot in the day was meeting little Vincent. This little guy captured my heart immediately. As soon as he saw me, he ran up and grabbed my hand, as if we were old friends. I was going to do a home visit before he is officially admitted into the school and he happily held my hand and escorted me to his home. His home wasn't such a bright spot as it's just a bunch of iron sheets nailed together with a dirt floor. Also, he and his mom are HIV+ and of course his dad is no where in the picture.
You are probably asking where is the bright spot in all of this???? Well, all of Vincent's papers are filled out, signed and stamped by the correct people and he is going to begin school on Monday! He's going to get to learn and get breakfast and lunch every day. Plus, I'll get to see his beautiful smile every day!