Talking to our local team it we learned that many of the families in this area struggle to provide for themselves and their children. Most can be found working as laborers in the sugarcane fields where they might make 1,000 to 3,000 shillings per day. In U.S. dollars that would be the equivalent of making $0.40 to $1.20 per day.
But as I reflected on what I saw in Butangala, I realized that if you look close enough you will begin to see the real truth.
And the real truth is, there is more hurt than happiness and there are more challenges than opportunities.
So while some of the harsh realities may be masked by the big smiles, they are harsh realities nonetheless. And this helps explain why each trip to the villages is such an emotional roller-coaster.
On Friday, the roller-coaster ride begin as we turned off the main road and took the bumpy dirt pathway a few miles back, deep into the remote areas of the village. Along the way, we tossed “sweeties” out the window as we so often do. The smiles and screams of excitement from the children as they scramble to pick up their little treasures is truly something I wish everyone could experience.
Yet despite behind the smiles, and excitement, you can’t help but notice the living conditions.
These children are standing in front of homes that are typically no larger than 100-200 square feet. They do not have electricity, running water, nor plumbing and many of them sleep on a dirt floor at night.
Once again, there was a sense of joy and happiness.
One little girl in particular caught my eye.
She was maybe 18 months old, and was walking around lost and crying but her mother was nowhere to be found. This is not an uncommon site, however, usually when a small child like this begins crying an older sibling will walk over to calm
the child, or take her to her mother. But no one seemed to pay attention to this child, and she simply stood crying louder and louder.
Sitting there with her I was faced with the reality that this is likely not the exception, but the rule in this village. I do not know for sure, as I never did find the child’s mother (instead gave her to a few elder women as we left) but it is likely that the mother was out working in the fields and a younger sibling simply let her get a little too far away.
She was not happy. There was no joy in her.
And that is when it hit me. What appears to be joy, may just be the excitement knowing that someone cares. And while we are only there a few times a year, these people have a strong faith that allows them to know that God is always with them.
Thanks to the sacrifices of many, this village now has a few children being sponsored to attend school and they now have access to clean water as well. And if we are open to doing His work, we just might be that answer to more prayers and we just might be able to bring more joy and more hope to this village on the other side of the world.
May God bless the people of Butangala and all of His children in Uganda. And may God continue to bless us all, that we may be willing to sacrifice a little so that the prayers of many may be answered in Africa.