Boarding school a haven for Ugandan boy
Marty Jones, owner of the Wildflower Farm, Garden Center and Gift Shop 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
By Marty Jones
Special to the Daily
Well I’m back to try again. The day I lost yesterday was the day we did home visits. We visited 13 children in all.
The homes varied a lot. From relatively nice to extreme poverty. It is much different here than in Kampala, however. There is more land for the houses.
Fort Portal is a farming community. Many of the homes had banana groves, yams, sweet potatoes and corn planted around them. It varied from nothing to enough to feed the family and sell some extra produce.
We drove around the countryside on roads that went from asphalt – with the ever present potholes – to dirt to two-tire dirt to foot paths. Yuseff drove all the way to the houses even if there were no tire marks. Several times we would come miles into the bush and come upon a very nice home.
They were brick homes with stucco outside and plaster inside, tin roofs and no electricity or water. The lower class of homes were constructed with a grid of bamboo approximately 2′ x 6′ with mud stuffed in the gaps.
When we had visited 11 children, we headed toward the building site. There were two homes along the way. Both children were from Belinda’s church.
The first one we stopped at appeared to be one of the nicer homes. A little girl in a lovely pink dress came out to meet us – even the very poor people here have nice clothes, though it may be only one suit or one dress. We’ve seen girls and women in evening gowns or cocktail dresses during the day time for no apparent reason. Their other clothes, however, may be rags.
Belinda talked to the girl while children were gathering in the yard. We discovered that nine children lived at this house and that their whole family had been wiped out by AIDS. The woman caring for them did so because she had no place to live. She was not related to them.
We got in the car and continued up the road toward the building site. We were on our way to Todayo’s house. Todayo, or Akiki as we call, him is Belinda’s boy. He has been staying with us at the guest house ever since we got to Fort Portal. He and Belinda have become extremely close.
We took a right turn and went down a path and came to a stop. Akiki didn’t look up or out the window at his house. It was probably the worst we had seen all day. Along with Akiki, his grandmother cared for three other of her grandchildren whose parents had died.
It was a bamboo and mud hut. We went in the door barely. Belinda ask where he slept. The grandmother pointed to a room the size of one of our small closets with a large plastic trash bag stuffed with small plastic shopping bags. Belinda asked me to photograph it and left the house in tears. Akiki was already running towards the car. He was in before any one else.
We got in and Belinda let loose. It was an awful sight to behold. As the car turned around she was asking Amoki, one of the Christ Aid workers with us, about boarding school for Akiki. Amoki said she knew of a good one where she was sending her daughter.
We got to the building site and it began to pour. It rained hard for 30 minutes then let up then rained again for another 20 minutes.
David’s sister was supposed to bring us dinner at the site, but he called her and told her that we would come to her house. We drove to Joyce’s house and had the best African meal we’ve have had since we got here. We had rice, mince meat, bananas, spaghetti, stewed beef, African tea and something strange but wonderful which I don’t remember the name of – but it was peas, bananas and potatoes in a brown gravy.
The mince meat is not at all like what we know as mince meat. It is like a thick ground beef in tomato sauce.
We ate by the light of a kerosene lantern. It was a nice house with nice furniture but no electricity. David’s niece, Kellen, was there and several others – 12 in all. We laughed and ate and prayed together. It was a wonderful evening.
The next day I spent four frustrating hours writing the last e-mail and then we went shopping for the boys. We to an open-air used-clothing market and bought shirts, shorts and pants. Then we went to find dome shoes.
We went into a small shop that had some and located a soccer shoe that was Joel’s size. Unfortunately there was only one. They tore the shop upside down looking for the other shoe. They finally found it. While they were looking, Joel found a pair of sandals that he liked. We ended up with both for 25,000 shillings – that’s about $13.
We went back to the guest house and the boys played with their ball and we sat on the porch and discussed Belinda’ quandary. She knew that she couldn’t send Akiki back to that hovel of a house.
The next day we went shopping for something quite different – boarding schools.
We went to the school and talked to the secretary and were given the tour. For one term – three months – the cost is $100 plus another $100 in incidentals. Such a deal.
Akiki was enrolled immediately and Belinda’s heart was at peace. Well that about wraps it up for now. Tune in next time for more Missionary Adventures in Africa.
God’s love, Marty