AIDS and other demons overcome
Marty Jones, owner of the Wildflower Farms and Garden Center in Edwards, recently spent three weeks in Uganda visiting the child he sponsors through a Denver-based organization called Christ Aid.
He sent several e-mails to his wife and four daughters, family members and other child sponsors at the Gracious Savior Lutheran Church in Edwards. Most of the children in Christ Aid’s programs have lost either one or both parents to AIDS. Jones and three others, including the organization’s Ugandan-born president, David Mporampora, arrived just after Christmas with presents including goats and bicycles.
A goat can be particularly valuable to a Ugandan family as one female animal can be used to start a herd. The male animals can be eaten and others sold. The bicycles are a key form of transportation in Uganda, Jones says.
“They use bicycles like we use light trucks – and they carry almost as much on them,” Jones said.
Christ Aid’s goal is to build schools so the children can get an education and move beyond the region’s subsistence economy, Jones said.
“The goal of the group is to be transparent,” Jones said. “They let you come over and take pictures of your child receiving a goat or bicycles.”
Those interested in Christ Aid can call Jones at 926-5504 or visit the group’s Web site: http://www.christ-aid.org.
The following are excerpts from Jones’ e-mails. Other excerpts will be published in the coming weeks.
– Matt Zalaznick
Hi from Uganda, sorry is been a while since I last wrote. I haven’t had any Internet access for a few days and this is barley access. All of the computers here are 56x.
When we were in Kampala I was able to use a Pentium 4. Any way, on Jan 3 we went to visit the hospital in Kampala. We went to two wards of AIDS patients. These were the worst of the patients there. There were family members acting as attendants for their loved ones.
All the nurses did – the two of them – was administer medicine, which from what I could see was a glucose IV drip. The attendants had to feed them and food was brought out to a central area where people lined up and were given a bowl of rice with some meat or bean sauce on top.
It was also up to the attendants to feed and bath their loved ones. All they could do is sit by their beds and watch them die.
One of the wards was for women and one was for men. We went into the women’s first. There were six rows of beds and some of the women were totally unable to relate to anyone.
We prayed for them one at a time with David taking most of the time. He is a wonderful speaker. Belinda went around and took the women’s hands and gave them a blessing. One woman wouldn’t allow Belinda to touch her and shook her hands violently. Her attendants laughed as Belinda was taken aback. This was the only light-hearted moment we had.
Then we went to the men’s ward. We lined up in front of them and there was a 16-year-old boy in the bed right in front of me. I took his hand and he said, “No speak English” I told him it was OK and we prayed for all of them.
This boy was hours or days away from death. It was sad to see what this disease is doing the population here.
On the road
We left the hospital and went to a Christian radio station on a hill over looking Kampala. We waited – waiting is the national pastime in Uganda and it is done very patiently and calmly.
We finally got on the air. It was a youth segment. We talked about the influences coming from the United States – MTV, commercials and such, and the fact that not everything that comes from the United States is good, that drugs, sex and money don’t bring fulfillment. The show and interview went well.
Then we went shopping at the African Market. What fun it was. We are going back when we get back to Kampala.
The next morning we were scheduled to leave for Fort Portal at 6 a.m. I awoke at 3:30 and as Belinda has learned to say I had to “ease myself.” I went back to bed and laid there thinking about what we had seen and done over the past few days and could not get back to sleep.
At 5 a.m. I got up, and dressed and took my bags down to the car. As usual something came up and we had to wait. I made us some coffee and we waited till seven. Then we were off on the road to Fort Portal, leaving the traffic and the potholes of Kampala behind, well the traffic, at least.
The road was full of pot holes. So much so that our driver Yuseff drove with one wheel on the shoulder much of the time. The rest of the time we were zig-zagging all over the road.
After 100 miles or so of careening back and forth, the road turned to dirt. It was a little better but not much. After 50 miles of that, the road suddenly turned to a beautiful, two-lane paved road with guard rails. Yuseff cranked it up to 120 km per hour. We were flying. Belinda leaned forward and asked me if the speedometer was in kilometers or miles. I reassured her it was in kilometers and we were not doing 120 mph.
After 50 miles of this wonder it ended in more potholes. We followed this road the last 50 miles to Fort Portal.
It’s a beautiful place, so green and lush. Tea plantations and banana farms cover the hillsides with the mountains not far in the distance. The population is about 20,000 at an elevation of around 2,000 to 2,500 meters. No one here knows for sure.
After what was a five-hour drive we went to the guest house to freshen up and then went to our official welcome by the children. When we arrived some of them began singing a song at the gate to the school. David translated it. It went something like this: “We have been waiting patiently for so long for your arrival, we are so glad you came to see us”.
We went through the gates into the school yard and were greeted with an amazing site – over 200 children sitting quietly under a shade tarp.
We were seated against a wall covered with palm fronds and brightly colored ribbon. We were treated like royalty. The director of the school and some of his staff got up and welcomed us. Then about 10 of the children got up and sang and danced for us. They sang beautiful songs in English while their teacher kept time on an African drum.
Then they performed a traditional dance. Two boys had rattles tied to their calves and four girls had grass hanging down their behind. They danced and others sang a traditional song. Then David and all of us gave them a greeting individually.
We then went into a class room where we were treated to a traditional meal. Chicken and mushrooms, beef stew like substance, millet and green bananas.
I need to explain about the millet. It’s ground and cooked somehow and is served in a large bowl. It protrudes like bread dough rising over the top. It is served using a small plate to scoop out a portion. I was shown how to eat it: You take a small piece the size of a golf ball that has the consistency of something soft and rubbery. You put an indentation in it with your thumb and scoop up some sauce of beef or whatever. Then as David says “you send it Federal Express,” or swallow it whole.
We met the children sponsored by our various churches. This is when I met Joel – my son. He was brought up early on and was allowed to sit next to me.
Then his teacher asked him to give his testimony. What a tear jerker. This young man of 11 was brought up by a mother who was a witch doctor. She was seriously in to idol worship. Joel was having horrible dreams of the demons she was summoning. He was convinced that they wanted him and he would soon die. He began praying with a friend, day after day.
Finally, one day, he opened his heart and could feel God coming to him. This was when he was eight. His mother and father soon died from AIDS and he went to live with his uncle, a wonderful man who is university educated in agriculture. He is a manager at a tea company.
Joel came back to the guest house with me that night and we got to know one another. He told me he preaches to his school mates at lunch time. After his testimony he sang a lovely song. He is a very smart young man with enormous potential.
I’m going to have to sign off for now. It has taken me four hours too type this with these computer speeds. I lost half of it part way through for some reason.
I will send some photos tomorrow.