Sandra from the charity "One Step at a Time" that CFTS are supporting this year has given us an update on the children in Uganda.
I've had to write to tell you all of one of the most painful experiences I have had since I have been in Uganda. We went on the motor bike deep in the bush to see 2 of our families.
The first was a brother and sister who were living with their grandparents who could not cope and most of their life was spent on the street.
We took both to live again with the mother who had remarried and the new partner wouldn't accept the children. With a lot of work and counselling they are now living together fairly well.
They now have 5 children, the youngest of 6 months. The parents have recently been tested and are found HIV positive and the mother was very sick. When we looked around we found no food in the house and the father had gone to find a bicycle to borrow so he could take the wife to hospital. The children were in rags and very dirty and thin. We were able to help with some money for porridge as they were eating only once a day and the 2 children sponsored for school stayed at school surviving on untreated water all day and no food until the evening. Food is always taken in the evening so that hunger does not keep them awake. The baby was the first black child to ask to be held by me. Usually they are screaming at our white faces. She welcomed me by doing a wee all over my legs so I am finally christened. With the mum being HIV pos she has stopped breast feeding and this 6 month old baby is surviving on porridge which was not to be seen in the hut. We left money for medicine, mosquito nets and water guard for treating their water together with a new gerry can specifically for drinking water. We are planning a revisit in the next 2 weeks to reassess their situation. We then travelled even further into the bush not seeing homes for miles. The air is so fresh I took plenty in to heal my lungs. This family was dying. 8 children being looked after by an old grandfather who was like a skeleton. Our boy in school was so thin and we had visited only a month before.
Things can change so quickly here. The compound was full of flies, children were in strips of dirty material and the youngest took me back to the days of Biafra for those old enough to remember it. The limbs so thin but the stomach distended with a large umbilical chord protruding.
It takes courage to not cry but why would we bring misery when really we should be giving hope. It was hugs all round, and children were struggling to accept love becoming stiff with physical contact. We can't imagine a child who does not know how to be hugged PAINFUL. We are returning tomorrow with food to support them just to keep them alive while we sort some strategy for long term. As we drove through the villages in the bush we saw fields of withered sweetcorn, dead sim sim and yellow leaved beans. The last growing season failed due to drought and so people who have any seeds are planting them in the hope that rain will come soon. Sadly this is not happening and even the second crop are dying. I am seeing the beginning of a famine in Northern Uganda which I have no control over. Everyone is already thin and hunting for food. I never wanted to be in this position but we can't save the world SADLY! We will have to divert any spare funds from the village children's sponsorship just to keep them alive. It has affected me greatly and just increased my resolver to work harder and commit to these people. They returned back to their villages after 20 years of war to plant their gardens. The rain destroyed their first crop and now drought is doing the same. The lesson I have seen on this visit is that the world imbalance is weighted so heavily against this community. Looks like One Step at a Time's work is not going to be over for a long time to come. Love to all Sandra One Step at a Time"