The air is so hot it feels like God is baking bread.
I’m in Africa on a five-day blogger’s trip to Uganda and Rwanda, and I’ve got a kerchief over my mouth for the dust.
Everywhere, young men on bicycles bundles of grass or furniture, and women with jugs of water on their heads.
There’s a lot of carrying in this continent–of pain, and suffering–but they do it standing tall.
Shoulders straight and their eyes like mine shafts: deep with sorrow, because half the population is orphaned and AIDS killing off the other 50 percent. Many spend the entire day just trying to stay alive: hauling dirty water and finding food for one meal.
And even though he’s left the country, Joseph Kony’s scent lingers.
The pungent, bloody smell of the man that tore through the Acholi villages, ripping-five-year olds from their mamas and forcing little boys to kill their own brothers so they’d be shamed into never returning home, turning them into becoming soldiers for the Lord’s Resistance Army.
I met those boys today.
I shook their hands, touched the cotton of their sleeves, looked into their brown eyes.
And girls too, who became child mothers at eight years old, tiny soldier babies on their hips.
And they took my hand, these boys and girls, and they said, Welcome, so glad you could come.
One little baby reminded me of my Kasher. He nursed at his mama and then gurgled and cooed, and he fed off forgiveness.
“Here,” I said, giving her my Kleenex when he spit up on his plaid shirt because she had dressed him up nice.
We were at the Good Samaritan School–a place of hope funded by World Help–the Christian organization I came with, which partners with local pastors and businesses to bring Jesus to communities.
And this girl–whose child bears the face of her rapist–she’s learning skills to become a seamstress, the baby on her lap as she hems skirts and pants.
Sometimes I get so angry, I cry: and maybe it’s culture shock. Maybe it’s jet lag. Or maybe it’s just a lot of injustice.
I want for these mothers and their sons what we want for our own: Food. Clean water. A roof over their heads. A bed–with a mattress and sheets.
“Thank you,” the girls and boys say, when it’s time to leave–because World Help has given them a new well, and buildings and beds and education.
But it’s really us who should be saying Thank You.
Thank you, Uganda, for showing us the face of Grace.
And in two days I’ll take it home, this grace–like a Kleenex, folded in the pockets of my dusty jeans– I’ll take it home to my boys.
Because of Mother Africa–and the sons in her arms.
Friends, we came to Uganda with #AFRICAWH to raise funds for a new children’s home so abandoned babies have a place to sleep at night–will you help us?