“Count your blessings” - It’s a phrase which we’ve all undoubtedly repeated to ourselves from time to time when we’re feeling a little down. At Hearts & Hope we see and hear many stories that strongly solidify this concept. With over 900 sponsored students spread across some of the most disadvantaged parts of Uganda, it’s unfortunately easy to come across children suffering from ailments that are highly preventable in other parts of the Westernized world. Examples ranging from cases of Typhoid caught from unclean water sources, or Malaria, which is the leading cause of death in Uganda. To say we are used to students needing medical care for malaria complications is an unfortunate truth. Yet, occasionally we come across other woes that these children endure which shakes us to the core and intensifies our motivation to provide means for a better future for them.
One recent example of this is of a small boy in Kamuli village named Gerald. He is seven years old and lives with his grandmother after both parents abandoned him and his siblings. After we were sent photos of the students receiving their portions of the food distribution, we noticed something was obviously wrong with sweet Gerald’s face. His eye was very swollen and we were concerned with what could’ve caused this ailment and whether he had been treated. We were told that a rat bit his face at nighttime which caused an infection around the bite near his eye. The majority of the children in our program sleep on mattresses very low to the ground, or they sleep on bamboo type mats directly on the ground. This, partnered with the rural environments their house structures are located in (near small farms, plots of land with crops), puts the children at higher risk for animal bites in their sleep.
We were relieved to be informed a few days later that he was taken to a clinic and was undergoing treatment for the infection. It is slowly healing and Gerald can now see through both eyes.
This is yet another reminder that there are humans, children even, in this world suffering in ways that we may not necessarily ever grasp. To go to sleep at night with the fear that a rat may bite you while you dream is not the ideal bedtime we envision for a 7-year-old. This however is the reality for many children in Uganda. We do, on the other hand, envision a better future for children like Gerald through the gift of education and we ask for prayers for all of our sponsored students whose current circumstances may hinder their hope of a better tomorrow. Through it all, we pray they can be comforted by the knowledge that they are deeply loved by God and with him all things are possible.
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.