I remember the moment my eyes first gazed at Paulina – an 11-year old girl with Hydrocephalus in a rural village of Uganda. She smiled at me and despite my sinking heart of pain for her suffering – I smiled back.
For the first 11 years of her life, Paulina never had access to neurosurgery to reduce the pressure on her brain. She lived with constant migraines, vomiting and frequent fevers and seizures.
After visiting the family for months, they finally agreed to transport their daughter seven hours to the appropriate hospital in Eastern Uganda to access a CT scan and surgery to reduce the intense pressure on her brain.
I remember the neurosurgeon telling me –
“It’s a pure miracle this child is still alive. Most children who have this intense pressure on the brain suffer from compromised mental functioning, visual disturbances, incontinence, and reduced conscious state and usually results in death within the first couple years of their life.”
After surgery, Paulina’s body was extremely weak because she had been lying on her back for 11 years of her life without access to proper medical treatment or therapy.
Despite the odds against her – Paulina kept on smiling.
In Uganda, (I even dare to say across the world) there is a war of the powerful against the weak – a life which requires greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another.
What strikes and propels my heart every single day to continue fighting for the very dignity, value and purpose of these beautiful children with disabilities is that despite their daily pain, they persevere in their sorrow because they hope in the certainty that life holds a far greater purpose then this present moment. They trust in a provider – that is always going to supply everything they need. They trust that despite the odds that might rage against them – HOPE still lives on.
This past week, some of Imprint Hope’s team members visited Paulina and her family. Paulina was her typical jovial and persevering self. However, I saw a look of pure exhaustion in Paulina’s mother’s eyes.
Upon engaging her in conversation, Momma Paulina expressed – – – ‘
I can’t do this on my own – – my days are filled to the brim with work in the garden to feed my 9 children, cooking, and running my small scale business, I need help.’
These painstaking words from Momma Paulina, propelled my heart to a greater level of empathy for this mother. She provides for her family all day long and at times the last thing she wants to do at the end of the day is a series of exercises with her daughter.
These moments and conversations are why Imprint Hope exists in Uganda – to propel a greater level of understanding and acceptance of the human person, despite their limitations.
Everyday in Uganda – when a family is left alone in their struggles – the challenge to make ends meet, the daily presence of unbearable pain, instances of violence – these struggles make the daily choice to promote life so demanding.
Why do we persevere?
Because the very children we are serving impart the courage to our weary hearts – their joy despite the challenges, their yes to embrace another day despite the setbacks and their heroic courage to try again despite intense fear that their body will always struggle to move – propels our hearts forward.
We trust in a provider that will always hold us up. For in the hour of our greatest weakness is when we are held and provided for with the greatest, abundant grace.