Whenever I ride rollercoasters, I always close my eyes. The twists, turns, ups and downs, which I know are ahead frighten me, but watching with eyes wide open terrifies me even more. I know their is nothing I can do to prevent the drop, twist or turn that lies ahead, so I try to imagine what it will feel like before stepping onto the rollercoaster. At the end of the day, I know that if I knew what was up ahead on the ride, I probably would have never stepped onto the rollercoaster in the first place.
LIFE. It sends you on a rollercoaster of ups, downs, twists and turns that would most likely terrify us all from even beginning the journey if we knew what was around the corner.
One year ago today, I embarked on a journey to Uganda. Having extensively lived in Uganda prior to this journey, I tried to imagine the twists, turns, ups, downs and setbacks I might experience. I imagined the children we would find in the Ugandan Villages. I envisioned how the families and children would receive the services Imprint Hope was trying to provide. And most importantly I dreamt of how the vision of Imprint Hope could infiltrate Ugandan culture and change the perspective of children with disabilities.
Upon leaving, I clung to this embedded dream that seemed untouchable and unattainable. I rationalized in my head that failure might be a part of the equation. I didn’t know what would happen, but all I did know is that I had to take that one step off that platform at the JFK airport onto that plane.
This year has transpired into many twists and turns that I never expected. It was filled with countless heart-dropping moments of traveling into rural villages and finding children with disabilities being abused, neglected, and treated with the utmost lack of human dignity.
It has transpired into taking a street child into my home and trying to reveal to him the beauty of unconditional love.
It has transpired into learning the depth of perseverance when everything is telling you to just stop caring, but a silent voice tells you not to give up. And at the end of the day, it has spiraled into a movement of empowering a culture to recognize the unique gift that their child brings to their family.
Through all of the unexpected turns, I’m learning that the sources of hope are sometimes the sources of life itself. Witnessing the beautiful smiles of the children we serve keeps my heart alive in this truth. For seeing the children smile during a therapy session, to be consoled when crying, to be picked up off the ground with gentleness and to be treated with the dignity that they inherently deserve sends ripples of hope that this mission is worth fighting for.
Despite the Ugandan culture that can easily persuade a simple soul to give up due to the daunting and magnanimous mountain of challenges before them. I believe that hope still persists, even when reason, knowledge and experiences tell you that there is no reason to hope. For hope does not calculate the odds, but chooses to believe in a renewed outlook.
Despite the unpredictable, rollercoaster twists and turns that lie ahead, I’m still going to keep my eyes closed. I’m not going to predict the outcome of Imprint Hope’s Mission. All I do know is that these families need education on disabilities. They yearn for a source of medical and rehabilitative services. And most importantly they need to be empowered to imagine a renewed perspective on how their child with a disability is a gift in our world.
So we journey onward and meet every person, who is flawed, yet beautiful, and refine their understanding to see the gift of their child. We can build this mission from the ground up, so that every child with a disability is viewed through the lens of gratitude. Imprint Hope’s Mission is attainable and will simply grow with one step.