I find it too easy to be caught up in my own little bubble based on my location and experiences. For example, I’ve lived most of my life in a small town of some sort. Some towns have been smaller than others, but none of them were really big enough to be cities. When I first learned about “Food deserts” in large cities, I had a terrible time wrapping my head around the concept. Everywhere I’ve lived, everyone in town, rich or poor, on food stamps or not, shopped at the same grocery store. I’ve never lived in a town big enough to have more than one hospital, or even more than one high school. The more I’ve read and learned, the more I can see how my particular background changes how I see things. I won’t say it’s a warped perspective, but it does mean I focus on different parts of things than someone from a different background might. We all see things through the lens of our particular background and experience. When we read something that shows us life through another’s eyes, the prescription of our lens changes.
This is true of countries, too. In the United States, we have safety nets. If a child is orphaned or abandoned, they are placed in foster care. A place is found for them, and though it isn’t a perfect system, at least a system is in place to help. Here, if there is a drought, life is hard on farmers and grocery prices rise–but people don’t starve. We have a public school system. It’s awful in some places, but it’s there. It’s easy to take all these for granted.
Imagine a country where these things don’t exist. When there is no public school system, only private schools exist. Who can afford them? Only the rich, or perhaps the middle class. Maybe there are charity schools run by religious groups and supported by donations, but these aren’t numerous enough to serve all the poor. So the poor families, with little or no education, have no hope of giving their children an education either. The knowledge base to home school is a luxury. An illiterate parent cannot teach a child to read. Without a system to care for orphans or abandoned children, these little ones live on the streets. Older ones might care for younger ones, or they may take advantage of them. Predatory adults easily target children who have no protection, children desperate for food, shelter, and clothing. And in such a place, when the rains don’t come, and the crops fail, the store shelves are empty. People don’t just eat less, some of them don’t eat at all. They die of starvation.
Living in a world of abundance (in society, if not personally), life in a country without was eye-opening. Of course I had read about places without the helps and programs available here, but it hadn’t struck home. A year and half ago, a mutual friend introduced me to Stephen, a teacher in Uganda. In Uganda, there are no safety nets. Children live abandoned in the streets. The poor are not educated. Poor crops mean starvation. Stephen started a home for orphans and abandoned children. Regularly, he would update about the children’s health and well-being. He speaks about the dangers of the neighborhood where they currently live. He and the children are in a rented space while the home is built. Life in such a different country became real to me. First, we sponsored two of the children in school. But the vast gulf between life here and life there drives us to help any time we can.
It took over a year, but the home itself is finished. Electricity is installed. Plumbing is in. In a land without safety nets, the lives of 31 children are in the hands of Stephen and his friends here, who help fund the project. The last part of the project is the safety fence, which is required by the government.
I am asking for help with the final push on the fencing. I’m asking anyone who feels they would like to directly contribute to the continued welfare of these children. I’m asking anyone who feels they have been blessed. I’m asking anyone who can give a little to do so. A few thousand US dollars is equal to millions in Ugandan currency. Our little goes very far there.
I’ve opened a Fundrazr campaign for them, in the hopes that spreading the word will help finish the project more quickly. It can be found here: The Back to Eden Children’s Home.