A year ago yesterday, I jumped into my car and drove down to the Jersey shore for orientation with Catholic Medical Mission Board in preparation for my departure to Uganda. My heart was bursting with many fears, doubts, nervous excitement and indescribable peace with the unknowns that the next year held. I had no idea what to expect, but possessed within my heart a dream that God was unfolding before my eyes. I clung to hope and was ready to be used in whatever capacity I was placed amongst.
Thinking back upon this year, I’m still amazed how I had the courage and grace to step onto the plane to Uganda. And how God has unceasingly held me through rock bottom, challenging moments when I felt as though I had nothing left inside of me to give. I’m still blown away with how so many people were placed in my life to lead and hold me on this journey. And how the generosity and kindness of others has enabled many dreams to unfold over here for these beautiful children.
Upon arrival in Uganda, I prayed, schemed and hoped that I could be an instrument to help these boys achieve small milestones, so that they could be more functional within their home. Take Ivan, who has cerebral palsy and has developed major scoliosis from sitting on the floor his whole life. I hoped that Ivan could become functionally independent in propelling a manual wheelchair to move around the orphanage. Thanks to the kindness of many generous people, a wheelchair assessment and some therapy, Ivan is now moving around the orphanage, eating his meals off a table, and keeping up with his other brothers like a champ. Seeing Ivan smile and his renewed spirit at being able to sit upright and move around the orphanage all day brings my heart indescribable joy.
Or another boy, Katerga, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is very smart, but is used to moving around on a scooter or on the floor all day. He just needed the assistance of a wheelchair to help him get out of the dorm so that he could laugh and talk with his other brothers at eye level. Due to the generosity of many people, Katerga was fitted for his very own wheelchair. The day after going to pick his wheelchair from the hospital, Katerga for the first time greeted me at the gate in his new chair when I arrived at Busega that day 🙂
Just last week, some orthotists and physical therapists came from England to Mulago Orthopedic Workshop, which is part of a hospital that has made many wheelchairs for the boys. These professionals came to Uganda with a whole trailer of shoes, braces, crutches and adaptive devices for children that they eagerly donated to the Missionaries of the Poor. We spent a wild, long day at the hospital, but it was all worthwhile when a bus load of my boys traveled home with special shoes and adaptive devices to help them be more independent and functional in their home environment.
I’m still amazed how one banana can be divided into so many pieces for my hungry boys. Or moments when I would jump on the back of a boda and not exactly know I was going, but miraculously end up (sometimes the longest way :)) exactly where I needed to be. Or days when I’ve felt so incredibly defeated with my work and the elements of life over here and I needed every ounce of courage inside of me to stand.
Alas, it has been a hard lesson to learn, but I’m learning to trust in Gods loving goodness and providence that all will be accomplished in HIS perfect timing. And miraculously the innumerable needs of the children are always being provided for in some way or another. I’ve learned to begin each day as if the whole world needs to be fought with nothing, but pure, raw love. Yesterday is gone, who knows what will happen tomorrow, so I always think to myself at the start of everyday what can I do today to be hope, charity and love to these people who I come in contact with on a daily basis. This moment is a gift. Its up to us what we make of it :