I don’t know this kid but isn’t he looking smart in those glasses?  He made them out of scrap wire in honor of his first day at school.  Natalie recently added him to the program which means she payed his school fees and provided him with books, pencils, and the support of a mother figure.  Before she takes on a new child she makes sure he has no known parents, that he’s a true orphan.  That’s not to say she won’t help a child with living relatives, but true orphans are a higher priority.

Children aren’t the only orphans at “M”.  This Thursday and I sat with the woman in that photo down there for a few minutes.  Usually, I avoid her.  She’s known only as Mama and it’s not that she’s bothersome, it’s that she’s too pitiful for me.  I guess I have a hard time loving her because she’s so very sad and hopeless and it’s easier to avoid her tragedy than face it.  Natalie says she’s from Karamoja and her husband beat her regularly which led to significant and irreversible brain damage.  She has four children living somewhere in Uganda but I’m not sure she knows where they are or if she even remembers having them.  She was brought here off the streets and even though “M” is intended for children they let her stay on as a boarder of sorts because they know she can’t make it on her own.  She’s too battered, too afflicted.  We’ve watched her deteriorate so quickly in recent months that we all suspect she’s dying of AIDS.

Mama spends her days shuffling around and looking forlorn.  If you pull sweets out for the kids she’s there in seconds, begging for a portion.  Of course she’s hungry, too.  If you stop to greet her, she kneels to the ground in thanks but needs help getting back to her feet.  Of course she wants love, too.

I won’t leave you orphaned.  Jesus said that before dying on a cross for you, me, and everyone else in this world.  I hope that’s reassurance for precious kids like my buddy in homemade specs but also for battered mothers like Mama.