Where to start?
Last night we went to a birthday party for a good friend. Monarch, a local Seattle band, was playing at the event, which was an intimate gathering of maybe twenty friends. The music was awesome and the company was even better.
I was sharing with a few of my sweet friends about grieving for little Song while at the same time hoping for whomever God would have us adopt. We heard last week about six month old twins in Uganda who need an adoptive family. While the situation is complicated and I have no idea if we will be able to adopt these little ones, they are precious. They are just beautiful, created perfectly in the image of their Heavenly Father. Seeing these little ones filled me with hope. And then fear. Like so many babies in Africa – more than one million in Uganda alone – they were orphaned by AIDS. One of the twins is HIV+.
Last night, as I was listening to Monarch play a song telling the story of a painful, broken season of life, I flipped on my iPhone to share Song’s photo with a friend. Before I got to the photo, I read the news that this little boy is sick and that his foster mama is tired and not sure how to make him better. I am not normally a crier, but I just lost it. I don’t want to watch another sweet baby die from 9,000 miles away.
I know that all this pain and suffering is not about me. My grief is nothing compared to what thousands of mamas face every day as they watch their children die of hunger, thirst and diseases that seldom kill children in the developed world. I am left broken, broken like I never thought I could be.
I want to do something. Anything. Everything.
I began this post thinking I wanted to share some resources about what we can do to help. We can each make a significant difference, but I think we often feel overwhelmed in the face of suffering. So for the rest of today, I will focus on understanding where Song and her mama lived. Over the next week or two, I will write more about opportunities to make a difference.
The slum in Kampala where this young mother lived is particularly violent and extremely poor. Kisenyi is a slum in urban Kampala and is one of the poorest areas of of the city. Home to many refugees from Somalia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kisenyi is overcrowded and offers few opportunities for education or employment. There is a high rate of HIV/AIDS infection (upwards of 10-15%) and residents frequently lack access to medical care. Drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and crime are widespread. Many families are headed by women, often widows, who have little ability to provide for their children. Rape, forced prostitution, and violence against women is common. Overcrowding, lack of clean drinking water and poor sanitation lead to high rates of infectious disease, including tuberculosis and malaria.
Just sit with that for a minute. Read it again and try to imagine being a teenage girl in Kisenyi. What happens if you are raped? What happens if you get pregnant? What happens if you are infected with HIV? How do you care for your child when you have almost nothing?
Can you imagine?