Since the new president has come into power, Uganda has been war free. Plenty of money has been fueled into the security of the country keeping everyone safe. However, that hasn't ended Uganda's problems. Poverty has snuck up and filled to gap where war once stood.
The first night we arrived in Luwero, the church was waiting to greet us. We spoke a little and it was nice. But the best part was at the end. All the kids came up to us, curious as can be, and started petting our skin and touching our hands. Since we were the first muzungos (white people), we were quiet a sight to them. But among the curious faces and wondering eyes, two children stood out the most. The first was Moses and the second was Vanessa. Both were about thirteen and asked to talk to us. They wanted us to know that they didn't have school fees to go to school.
Now Seb and I aren't rich so trying to fund a bunch of children to go to school really isn't possible for us. But, we both agreed that the little we could do was to go visit their families and hear their stories. So we hopped in the car and traveled over to Moses's house first.
I think Moses's predicament was the most shocking to me. After our bumpy car drive, we walked down a little slope to a clearing. There was a huge tree planted at the end of the road and two tiny mud houses. The first house was just a room, but the second really caught my attention. There was one tiny room and then a second room next to it. The second room had two walls blown out. Upon further inspection, I came to discover that they used this as a kitchen (which are typically outside), but it still made me wonder if the walls were purposely constructed that poorly or if they had disintegrated from the weather. Either case didn't seem pleasant.
I also noticed how the whole family sat outside. Grandfather had a cane and grandmother was sleeping on a tarp on the ground outside and was feeling sick. There were probably two older girls and three babies. We never met the dad.
After that, we headed to a second house which happened to be Moses's mother's family's home (honestly, I never knew where we were going until we got there). This house was swarming with children. Plenty of babies wandered around naked with their bloated stomachs sticking out while young moms breastfed them openly and the grandmother oversaw them all. It was quiet the party and full of much more life than Moses's father's side of the family.
After some more brief conversations, we hoped in the car a third time and traveled to Vanessa's house. Here, we finally met both Moses's and Vanessa's mom and had the chance to hear more background.
Vanessa's mother is a lovely lady. I believe she has around six children. She has a naturally calming spirit. The more I talked to her, the more I could see that she had been destined to be a teacher, but had the chance ripped away when she had to stop schooling for lack of school fees. Now her children are facing the same fate. Nevertheless, my heart still prays that she will one day, somehow, have the chance to fulfill that calling and that her kids will also be supplied for.
Moses's mother walked in just as we were wrapping up our conversation with Vanessa's mom. She had been working the in fields all day with a baby on her back. We were lucky to catch her. She told us how she used to be Muslim. Moses's father and his whole family were Muslim (the family with the blown out kitchen walls). One day, she said to her kids, "Why are we praying to a god who doesn't even speak our language? Let's convert to Christianity so our God can actually understand us."
However, the story doesn't end there. I greatly admired Moses's mom for her courage to convert, especially once I found out the cost that came with the decision. Because of his faith, Moses has to undergo persecution from his father's family who is still Muslim.
Unfortunately, we're not in a place to help either Vanessa or Moses, but that hasn't stopped me from sharing their story. School fees are $150 for one term (four months). It's a little ridiculous because the people have to pay to get out of poverty. But how do you do that if you make about $2 a day and have five children and twenty grandchildren to feed? Since we can't help them, I hoping somebody out there can. If you think that's you please contact me and our faithful friends in Luwero will help us set up a system so you can put them in school.