(Today’s #10outof10 post is from Boog Ferrell, our country director serving the children in Uganda.)
“God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing, things that are,” – 1 Corinthians 1:28
Abandonment is not just one of the 10 Categories of #VulnerableChildren identified in Uganda that we help. It is a super complex category that is highly influential of other vulnerabilities. Following the path of children from their homes in Karamoja, an arid region in northeast Uganda, to the streets of Uganda’s largest city, Kampala, then onto M1, is tricky at best.
Karamoja is a beautiful place historically populated with beautiful people that cling to a lifestyle disintegrating in their weathered hands. A way of life founded on pastoral principles that require the semi-nomadic tendencies of people and animals following the rain has been upended by “imaginary” political boundaries and extended periods of drought. The long held practice of large marriage dowries that lead to cattle raids has been rocked by the advent and availability of automatic weapons. Years of neglect and subsequent rebellion has ingrained solid distrust of authority, outside influence, meddling and even education. Culturally insensitive interventions over the years have left deep scars in a land populated by people with hopes and dreams just like me and you.
From this setting flows an ever-widening stream of children looking for a better life. After leaving with their guardian, someone that has “purchased” them, or clinging to the frames of busses, children are sold into slavery, exploited for dangerous labor, abused, exposed to elements and lost. Systematic removals to keep the streets clean gather hundreds of children that have no place to go. The government, with no viable, safe, protective, rehabilitative options, is forced to transfer children to M1, where they further overwhelm the already limited resources, staff and facilities.
This is the very essence of not. If God is I AM – fullness of all fullness – nothing could be further. These children become the outcasts among the outcasts. Sixty Feet is striving to bring all this nothing, to something far greater, and working diligently to bring all that appears to be, to nothing. Why?
Sixty Feet goes to the centers, meets needs and works for restoration. We do not tell the state, the children, or the Lord, “These we will help, and no more”. We give – we give like C.S.Lewis recommends – “More than we can spare.” These children, brought by forces long at play and bigger than any of us, represent some of the most vulnerable #VulnerableChildren. They can also be the hardest to help. Fiercely independent and protective, they can be difficult to engage, with hard to trace backgrounds, and can be the most spiteful to one another. They have struggled so long in survival-mode, that any kindness from the outside is seen as a threat, from the inside – weakness. However, when they do finally engage, it’s magic. There is nothing more rewarding than their smile, because you know how hard you have worked, and how deep they have searched, to find that joy. All shame is gone. All obstacles in this child’s path must bow the knee. How?
Sixty Feet has long provided for the immediate medical, counseling, food and facility needs of these children, at the rate of about a hundred children a day. We are now looking on the horizon for the “cloud the size of a man’s hand.” What will the Lord provide that will astound? What if there were no abandoned children in the care of M1? What if this is of incarceration became nothing, and a gaping nothing became something? Sixty Feet is piloting projects, building a network of safe homes in the Kampala area where children can be housed when discovered on the streets. In these homes, and in partnership with other NGO’s, Sixty Feet will insure that they receive top-notch, quality-controlled psychosocial support, are connected with a family, and receive community-based support. In short – given the opportunity to make something glorious out of what the enemy meant for nothing.
This is just one more way Sixty Feet is rocking out the righteous opportunity to go 10 out of 10.abandoned, children, community, restoration, support, survival