Our First Orphans in Uganda!

11/28/07

We have finally welcomed the first orphans into our Children’s Home in Uganda! Last week, we brought nine children, ranging in age from 5 to 15, into our full-time care. These nine children come from three separate orphan-headed families. Last summer, COTN’s counseling team identified these “child families” as some of the worst-of-the-worst cases.

Vicky and Siblings
Vicky (15), Gloria (13), Catherine (8), and Joseph (5) lost their father in 2003 to complications from a hernia. Their mother died of HIV/AIDS the following year. Vicky suffered the trauma of nursing her terminally ill mother. Upon the deaths of their parents, the children were taken in by an aunt, however she suffered a stroke a year later and was no longer able to care for them. At that time, 12-year-old Vicky assumed responsibility for younger siblings (ages 2, 5, and 10). Vicky and her siblings lived on their own in the Cultural Center IDP Camp in Lira. In order to earn money to buy food for the family, Vicky and her sister Gloria would trek three kilometers to the nearest town where the girls would seek out odd jobs. Sometimes venders would employ the two sisters to do such work as cooking, washing, and serving customers. If they were lucky, at the end of the day they would be paid UGX 1,000 (approx. USD 0.50). Life got so bad that Vicky contemplated abandoning her younger sisters and brother, but she endured. Vicky and her siblings got to know about COTN in 2006 when the first counseling team visited the Cultural Center IDP camp where they lived. They became part of the over 2,500 children that were counseled that year. Vicky and her siblings now feel so glad having renewed hope that they will be able to study and have a bright future under the care of COTN–Uganda.

Olivea and Siblings
Olivea (13), Solomon (11), and Sarah (9) lost their father early on due to poisoning. Their mother died in 2004 when alleged cattle rustlers shot her. Their aunt took them in for a short while, until she succumbed to an HIV/AIDS-related illness. The children then moved in with their grandmother, but she could not provide for them. They came to know COTN through the first counseling team that came in the summer of 2006. Olivea, Solomon, and Sarah now live as part of the first nine children in the home. Olivea and her siblings love their new home and express confidence in their future. They are happy and love the good food and the warm beds—“heavenly” compared to the cold nights in the IDP camp.

Samuel and Sibling
Two brothers, Samuel (13) and Lameck (10) lost both their mother and father in 2001 when they were just four and nine. The boys’ grandmother assumed responsibility for them. During the escalation of the LRA insurgency and war, the boys, together with their grandmother, fled from their village on foot till they reached Cultural Center IDP camp. While in the IDP camp, the boys earned a living by doing menial jobs and working in other people’s gardens together with their grandmother. Sometimes they would not get paid their wages. The little boys would roam the town in search of scrap metal, which they would sell in order to get money to support their grandmother. Many times they would go without food especially when their grandmother, their only caregiver, was sick at hospital. Samuel and Lameck were met by COTN’s first counseling team when they visited Cultural Center in summer of 2006.

A NEW LIFE!
Now that the children are in the COTN home, they are excited to be eating regularly—meals they no longer have to earn! No more putting on the same torn clothes, as was normal for most of them! They can now rest from “toiling all day long for a peanut pay.” Play, such an important part of childhood, is now an important part of every day—no longer are their days filled with worrying and working for survival. Beddings are “quite strange” to what they were used to. Three people would often share one single, tattered bed sheet. Now they each have their own complete set! The children have instant medical care and attention at the new home. They have started attending Sunday school, a weekly activity nourishing them spiritually. They look forward to starting school soon. For now, they are settling into their “new life”—waking up early to pray, brush, and wash, cooking with the help of the housemother, cleaning the home and compound, eating breakfast, attending short counseling sessions and informal learning, resting and having lunch, and playing and “chatting.”

In the next week or so, we expect to receive the remaining sixteen children, most of whom come from Barlonyo, where a mass massacre took place in 2004. Join us in praying for all these children—the newest members of our COTN family! If you are interested in sponsoring one of these children in Uganda, please CLICK HERE for more information.