No Picture Can Capture

I have so much to think about!  

 Today I went and visited Hands for Hope – I was totally amazed by the ministry that they have. I wish I had a tape recorder with me to record everything he said so I could replay it and fully absorb it!  
I guess I could start with explaining the slum cause it is most fresh in my mind . . . and probably hit me the hardest. So, it is estimated that anywhere from 7-10 thousand people live in the particular slum that Hands for Hope works with. They are said to be the poorest of poor people living in Kampala. People of all sorts of backgrounds – either refugees from the Congo, the North, Sudan, and some from Rwanda – along with girls who had been house maids and disowned, women who had been raped or mistreated.  

  

The second I stepped into the slum, I was overwhelmed with the smell of feces and urine. At first I almost panicked because my jean pant legs were touching the ground and my open toe shoes left my feet vulnerable to anything and everything on the floor. I got over that soon, realizing how shallow that thought was and how this is these people’s home and I am fortunate enough to be here.   
I can not even begin to describe it all. Everything was made of clay/mud/straw/poop. Especially the houses (if you can call them that). They were more of tiny little shacks with mud/dirt floors. We looked into one of them and it was full of little pot holes full of muddy water, caving in ceilings, and holes in the clay walls. It was truly heart breaking to see. Kids were everywhere even though school went back into session yesterday. Mostly because these people can not afford to send their children to school.   
We walked down what was the “market” or busiest “street” . . .Mike was pointing out different “buildings” that were restaurants and stores. They seemed more like very small, falling apart, mud buildings. Nothing was clean or sanitary. Some hills and land looked like they were made completely of rubbish and garbage. There was a little girl standing in a huge pile of garbage. Oh man, heart breaking again. It looked as if she was going through it to find food or something to sell. I cant even begin to explain or describe the smells at the moment either.  

I have never seen so many naked children – mostly because people cannot afford diapers there. Oh and there was one pit latrine for the whole community (remember 7-10 thousand people) . . . but people had to pay to use it so it was rarely ever used. oh man, and this slum is located on a swamp/wet land so when it “rains” everything floods. Some of the house down the hill can get up to four feet of water in their houses. Sad thing is, it isnt just mud . . . remember the lack of potties? Most of the time the water brings about what people did on the streets. It is no surprise that people are dying of common diseases.  Speaking of which, people there looked so sick and frail . . .Like the diseases, malnutrition, rough pasts really were evident in the way they looked. I saw one lady who definitely looked as if she was dying.

   

It was weird going from that to my sheltered volunteer apartment. To think that i freaked out slightly when the gate boys were going through the garbage that is stacked outside my bedroom window. Anyways, I probably could go on forever about the slum but it is something that just has to be seen. I didnt take any pictures (although I truly wanted too) because it is disrespectful of the people. 

 

 

Now Hands for Hope – an umbrella like organization.   They are not fans of orphanages because they are community building focused. The slum was their backyard. They focus on sponsoring the poorest of poor children to give them an education but still allow them to be with their families because family is super important. 

 They have a nursery school located in their building and sponsor older kids to go to primary school. They choose their kids by walking through the slums and finding kids who are not in school. Usually kids like the girl going through the garbage are the ones they look for. They then follow those kids home and interview with the family to determine just how poor the truly are. It is kind of a neat process and would be interesting to be a part of it. There is so much flooding my mind at the moment – so unexplainable.

They also do micro loans to some of the parents of these kids so that they can start their own businesses and get out of the slums (anywhere from $20-50). It seemed to be pretty interesting how it is all done. 

 

I really liked how the handle volunteers. Volunteers pay an admin fee (whether we like it or not, Ugandan staff needs to be paid, bills need to be paid, ect) and then they raise whatever donating money they can. Then when they get here, that donated money is available for them to use to their liking. Say a volunteer was like “I think the classrooms need new paint,” they would be given the money to go buy the paint (of course close records are kept of all this). I like this because the volunteer can tell their supporters exactly what their money was used for it an allows the person to use it to pursue their passions and whatever needs are on their heart to meet. Example – one lady built a small library for the kids and sponsors it monthly so that an ugandan lady running can be paid.  Another lady put on a HIV awareness event geared towards the youth. A man just opened a clinic for the sponsored kids and their families. Many people then sponsor more kids in the slums.Hands for Hope isnt about hand outs – but empowerment. I love how Joe stressed the fact that when volunteers come and want to do something, he tells them that he doesnt have the funds to make it happen so if they want to start a long term project, they better be ready to do sponsor it long term and keep it going. Also, every single thing there was donated . . . the building was tiny, but doing so much for the community!

  

 

It gave me so much to think about and was so encouraging. It is true that everything that Love for the Sake of Love wants to do is possible.  I would really like Hope N Doors to include some of this. I do want to have orphans and definitely babies but I want to work on getting these children back with their families if it is a safe option. Many people here would give up their kids if it meant that their kids will be fed and get an education and I dont want people just to give up their kids because they can not provide for them.  So I guess this means that I would have to have some type of Nursery school at least . . . and maybe a primary school as well. I do want to be in walking distance from the community so this can happen. It is important to be able to reach the whole community. There is so much to consider, so much that I want!! 

I also learned something else there.  He talked about street children and how often times women will take children and make them look needy in order to get money.  When money is given, more kids are taken and harmed in order to bring about even more money (this was later enforced by an article Sophia and i read in the newspaper in Uchumi).  So obviously you can not give money to them.  The question is, do you just quit and stop there or try to find a solution?  There are so many problems and needs here that can not be solved by just handouts.   What extent do we go to solve these problems?  One thing I know for sure is that God is truly the only answer to any need.  It is true, God truly loves community and I want Hope N Doors and Love for the Sake of Love  to be Sake of Love to be something that reaches the community along with the orphans.   Mind you, I have no idea what this will look like but I am excited to see how God moves us! 

  

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