As many of our supporters know, Hearts & Hope partners with the Lutheran Church of Uganda (LCU). The LCU staff governs and runs the schools we build in Uganda. In addition to supplying food and hygiene materials to our sponsored students, Hearts & Hope came together with the LCU, along with a few other US-based organizations partnered with the LCU, to assist in distributing the needed supplies to other local, suffering church & community members. We were recently given a report by Bishop Charles Bameka, head of the LCU, about COVID in Uganda and many stories detailing the daily struggles faced during the lockdown. School closures, lack of virus PPE, and increased violence among women/girls were just some of the hardships Bishop described. The top and most devastating struggle, however, was and still is, lack of food.
Loneliness has been a common affliction during these months of increased isolation and fear. To compound that with worry about when you and your children will eat again is nearly unimaginable. We are so happy that the LCU was able to bring these essential supplies along with much-needed hope to many of these people through these distributions.
Hearts & Hope is very grateful to everyone who donated to our COVID campaign and to the LCU staff for distributing the supplies to these needy people in the communities. The pain that COVID has caused both economically and physically can only be remedied when people, even from across the globe, come to the assistance of our neighbors with the greatest burden on their shoulders. We look forward to healing in Uganda and the rest of the world as we continue to fight this virus and its effects together, as a family of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Many of the little souls selected for the sponsorship program have similar, though nonetheless heartbreaking stories of a life destined to peasantry and struggling daily for basic necessities. Sometimes, however, we come across a unique story and a child whose hardships and prospects at life seem even more devastating.
James is a 10-year-old boy who lives in Nakabango. Last November, during our leadership trip we had the pleasure of meeting him. As soon as we met him, he told us his story as he was peeking up through the school window trying to get our attention.
He said, "My name is James, I want a sponsor. My dad is dead, my mom is dead. My dad was shot. Please, I want to be sponsored."
Usually, children are shy and interact with a simple smile from afar or just holding our hands without much verbal communication. James, however, was extremely talkative and had one main request, "I want to have a sponsor". Oftentimes, students will tell us this after we have passed out sponsorship packets and they see the goodies all their fellow students receive. This trip though was mainly for staff meetings and there were no special gifts given to the sponsored kids. James wanted to go to school purely because he loved learning and this love he had was being threatened by poverty. Even the headteacher told us he was quite the nuisance as he frequently came knocking on his office door asking about sponsorship. It turned out he had been enrolled before but was frequently sent home because the grandmother couldn't afford his fees for schooling. Eventually, that meant he would be sent home for good and this bright, outgoing boy wouldn't have a chance. That day in the village I promised him I would try my best to find him a sponsor to support his schooling.
James was determined though, and when we visited Nakabango again in February he sat inside with the sponsored kids, waiting for his packet. When he was inevitably kicked out he came directly up to me and said, "You promised me a sponsor!". I knew I wasn't leaving that day without fulfilling that promise. I told the mission trip team about him and immediately they took action and about 5 minutes later, we were able to tell James his wish had finally come true - he was sponsored! He could return to school and would no longer have to worry about being sent away.
James' determination was an inspiring reminder that no matter the hardships we face in life, perseverance, faith, courage, and a little bit of charm will help overcome any obstacle. I don't quite know what the future holds for James, but I do know that he's a fighter and I cannot wait to see who he becomes.
If you're interested in changing the life of a child like James, consider sponsoring through Hearts & Hope here!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.