"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…"
When Charles Dickens began his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, he was not writing about present day Uganda, but his words apply. The latter half of each couplet speaks directly to the past 22 years: a civil war that has terrorized northern Uganda and handicapped the country as a whole from developing its full potential, and a fledgling peace that offers promise, but still needs time and assistance to rebuild the lives that were left as flotsam in the wake of war. The beginning of each couplet speaks directly to the flame of human goodness that always seems to shine at the darkest of times and can never be truly extinguished while Hope exists.
Uganda has a new face and it grows stronger and brighter with each passing day. That face is reflected in the children. Humanity Healing is committed to helping these Seeds of Humanity, the New Faces of Africa grow.
This blog is a Tale of Two Children: Alice Musikule and Lubanga-Kene Abech.
Meet Alice. She is from eastern Uganda, near where the recent mudslides occurred. Alice is a beautiful 10 year old, quick to laugh and smile. She is currently enrolled at Future Victory School, one of the schools Humanity Healing is partnered with. Alice was orphaned at 2 years of age. Both her parents died of HIV-AIDS (fortunately, Alice is healthy). She lived with her aunt for two years, but when the aunt married, there was no place for Alice. Alice was lucky. She was found by David Lubaale, our Director of Africa Operations, and was given a home at Future Victory School where she has lived for the last 6 years. Her favorite subject is Science and her favorite hobby is net ball. Until recently, her dream was to be able to study up to the university level (public education is only offered to the equivalent of 8th grade). With Sponsorship, the horizons of her opportunities have expanded dramatically.
Losing one's parents is the worst thing that can happen to a child's future in Africa. Without parents or a sponsor, the child usually enters a life of forced servitude and drudgery, in the fields or in the streets. In recent years, there has been massive influx of orphans due to natural disaster (such as the recent mudslide that killed 300), HIV-AIDS, and, of course, in the north, as a result of the 22-year war with Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army. At Future Victory School alone, 150 of the 320 children enrolled are orphans.
Meet Lubanga-Kene. His name alone says much about his situation. Lubanga-Kene means "God alone (knows my destiny)". It is a common name for both boys and girls in northern Uganda that were born during the recent era of despair. Lubanga-Kene is a quiet and shy child who does not smile often. He was born in the IDP camps and currently lives at Tagotatoo. His mother was abducted as a young girl by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, enslaved, raped and abandoned when pregnant. She is infected with HIV-AIDS and is not expected to live more than a couple years. Fortunately for Lubanga-Kene, he and his mother live with his grandmother. Despite a wounded leg, the grandmother walks several miles into the bush every day to tend a garden that keeps them alive.
Like his name, Lubanga-Kene is representative of many children in northern Uganda. Although he is luckier than many and has access to basic schooling (the Tegot Atoo Primary School was built and supported by Save the Children with funding from Danida) where about 500 children are enrolled, there are not any real opportunities past that: no training and no jobs. In addition, the camps are being closed and many have nowhere to go. (To learn how HHF is actively working in this area, click on the link above and read about IDPERRI).
Alice and Lubanga-Kene are among the first children sponsored through Humanity Healing and are personally sponsored by the founders, Liane Legey and Christopher Buck. HHF currently has a general Child Sponsorship Fund for children, but within a few weeks, the Child Sponsorship Program will be upgraded so that compassionate souls can personally connect with a child at a heart level and interact with them directly. This program will be part of the Educational Empowerment Initiatives.
It takes so little to make a significant difference in the life of a child in Africa. For less than the price of a cup of coffee daily, you can sponsor the education, food, clothing and shelter of a child at a school like Future Victory.
Charles Dickens closes his Tale of Two Cities with words that could also apply to Uganda and in particular to your partnership with a child there:
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…"