It’s been a while and I haven’t yet finished the continuation of the last blog post! I will first update on that and the next blog (hopefully in a couple of days) will be an update on our family! After leaving Zach with his father (previous blog), we were on to the next place; Samuels home. We figured he was about 30 minutes from Kamuli. Thirty minutes quickly turned into 2 hours of driving on almost impassible roads. Finally Samuel told us to stop.
At first we were alone with her, then slowly others came and soon we had a crowd of about 15. They were not welcoming and not smiling. They were not happy with Samuel. Our two Ugandan friends explained the reason for our coming. They explained how Samuel was dropped at our gate. How he had been sleeping on the streets and digging in the waste containers for his food. He was approximately 10, but looked the size of a six year old. Once again, the story of the stepfather arose. It is not uncommon when a man or woman finds a new companion or remarries that the children of the former spouse are not accepted, are treated as slaves, or of no value. This was Samuels case. Out of desperation, he stole a phone and then fled the village. He found himself on a bus, landed in Kamuli, was taken to a child prison there, escaped, and then found his way to Jinja where he tried to survive living on the street. They pointed their fingers at him and said they didn’t want him there. They said they would rather see him leave and stay on the streets. Our hearts were so broken for this child. The family feared what would happen to them if Sam was discovered to be at home. We needed to clear the case with the police and ask for forgiveness from the lady he had stolen the phone from. Praise God both things happened, but the women said if Sam had shown up in town without us, he would have been stoned to death. Mob justice. Common here, but it certainly isn’t justice for the one who really is at fault.
As we were driving away, Sam asked us to stop. Sam remembered who now had the phone he had stolen. We wanted to try to recover it to help bring reconciliation to this situation. As we pulled into the village, a crowd gathered quickly. Men and women were yelling as James explained the situation about the stolen phone. The villagers explained the man who was now in care of the phone was sick. They walked to the home where he was. A mud structure with a grass roof. It was dark inside, but lying to the left was a small child, naked with a sheet barely covering him, age unidentifiable as all that was left was bones. He was moaning and looked as if he was close to death. The man with the phone was on the other side of the dividing wall, lying on a bed with an IV. Suddenly the phone didn’t seem so important anymore as we knew we couldn’t leave this child to die like this. He was still responsive, even smiled weakly as we carried him into our van. The family had given up. They didn’t have the resources to get him the care he needed. They had been giving him water and it had been days since he had eaten anything. The family explained he had been living with an auntie and she had brought him in this condition. The man lying on the other side of the wall was his step father. This child's name was David. He was 12 years old. He now weighed 17 kilograms. Just a few months ago, he could run and play. He was one of the top in his class at school. He was an orphan. We brought him to the best hospital we knew of in Jinja. The doctors ran all sorts of tests and did everything they could. His mother and grandmother stayed the night next to his side. They gave him blood, fluids, and antibiotics. He made it through the night. We prayed. We knew God could heal him. The diagnosis was made the following afternoon that he may have cancer. There were several masses they identified in the scan they did that morning. We made the decision to transfer him to Mulago Hospitol where there was better care. And then, the call came from our friend Patrick. David was now with his father in heaven. No more pain, no more suffering….only laughter, joy, and singing Praise to his Father. We arranged for the families travel and helped to cover the burial as it can be a burden to families in the village. The entire village will be invited and they will need to provide food for all.
This was several weeks ago now. I have had time to process. I’ve had time to think about this young boys life. He mattered to God and this is why he mattered to us. This is why we were able to forgo our plans for the afternoon and do all we could for this child. Our prayer is that the family could see His love through us and that this same love would spark change in the village they traveled from. That they would value life as our Father in Heaven values life. We care for the ONE because of the ONE.
We praise God that we were able to bring Samuel to a Christian boarding school where he was able to attend the last 3 weeks of school. He LOVED it! He is now on holiday, is staying with our friend James, and has been hanging out at our home. He was even able to enjoy Thanksgiving with our Uganda family! His English has improved and he is smiling all the time! Such a change from the day he was dropped at our gate by the boda man. God is Good.