This morning some of us woke up early and headed to the Hope Speaks building with Ben David where we met his wife Kari. Logan, Quincy, Carly, and Megan all stayed at the hotel to meet up with Joseph, Bishop Stephen’s son, who is a surgeon and were taken to a hospital to watch a c-section.
The rest of us got a tour of the Hope Speaks building and their offices. Hope speaks is a ministry that provides speech therapy and other therapy to kids with disabilities in Kampala. They have other outreach locations right in the middle of the slums to provide therapy to those who can’t afford to pay for it. Ben and Kari truly demonstrate how we should care for others. Those with disabilities in Uganda are total outcasts. They are seen as curses, bad luck, and social rejects. Many children are killed or abandoned by their own families who are too scared and ashamed of them. Ben shared that the government provides $.40 annually for the special needs and services they might need and it hurt my heart to hear how marginalized they are even by their own government. Ben and Kari are working to change the system and to help those that need it.
We split up in groups to head out and do some home visits of some of the kids that come in for therapy. We first met Alan, who was 9 years old. We walked down the narrow streets in the slums and entered their tiny home where we removed our shoes and squished into the 6x8 foot space. Seeing Alan and his mother’s living conditions was an eye opener. His mother was so grateful for the work that Hope Speaks had done in their life, even though their living conditions were not the best. Ben said that when Alan first started the program he was severely malnourished and very sick with sores all over his body. He was completely nonverbal and would lay at home all day while his mom would go to work.
Now, Alan is able to sit up and is regaining muscle in his body. He no longer has many sores and can make some noises as he communicates. Words cannot describe the way it felt to sit in their home. They were so welcoming and were excited for us to be there and pray and sit with them.
We returned from the slums and ate an amazing lunch of pizza where the rest of our team regrouped. We then headed out to another slum to visit another outreach center and some other homes. Once we parked the vans, tons of kids started swarming us with excitement in their eyes. Their clothes were ragged and dirty (if they even had them), but they were so happy and excited to see us. We grouped up again and headed out to more house visits. Logan, Caden and I visited the house of a little boy who was six years old with severe autism. We talked to his mother about her life and her hardships and prayed over her. She shared that her husband had passed away and she was struggling to raise her five children alone. It broke my heart to hear how she basically sacrificed everything so her children could go to school and have a roof over their heads. She shared that she would earn $100-$200 a month and over half of that would go directly to pay for her rent. Most of the city of Kampala lives like this. We looked out from where we had parked in the middle of the slums and could see giant buildings with shiny exteriors that were almost five minutes away. Many of these people have the same reality. They are stuck, helpless and struggling, with no one to help them.
Today was a great reminder of how useless our materials possessions are. How all we really need is Jesus and how blessed we are to have so much. The homes we entered and the families we encountered had almost nothing and they still were able to laugh, and play, and worship. We are so selfish and are constantly stuck worrying about ourselves and complaining about the things that, in the long run, don’t matter at all. God brought us here to change their lives, but he also brought us here so they could change ours too.
Written By: Izzy Vander Maas