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''We will pray...''

''We will pray...''

Back in late November, I went on an excursion into a village called Wabiduuku, located not too far from Nkokonjeru, where CARITAS For Children's ministry is headquartered. Flavia, who takes care of our residence and learning center for volunteers and visitors, accompanied me as my Luganda translator. We strategically decided to go to Wabiduuku during the school day in order to find children who needed sponsorship. We knew that if a child was sitting at home instead of in the classroom during school hours, it was also likely that he or she could not afford to be in school.

The first house we arrived at was the home of two boys named Francis and Castol. The boys shyly greeted us with big, but introverted smiles, and continued to do the chores that their grandmother had assigned to them that day. Their Jjajja (grandmother) welcomed us to her home with a big, genuine smile. 

Flavia and I on our initial visit interviewing CastolFlavia and me on our initial visit to Wabiduuku (photo credit: Tina LeAnn Photography)

We all smiled back. Flavia greeted the woman in Luganda, explaining that we were wondering why the boys were not in school. We learned that Francis and Castol had been left in the grandmother's care when they were young babies. Francis was then only one year old, and Castol was just an infant. The grandmother had been unemployed for years, and so could not afford the boys' school fees. It was all that she could do to simply put food on the table for them. I wrote down the information about these children, which was soon entered onto our website, in hope that they might someday find sponsorship for their education. 

Jjajja is sitting in the corner during our first visit to Wabiduuku: Flavia and I are talking with Castol, Francis is standing by the tree, and Jjajja is sitting down (Photo credit: Tina LeAnn Photography)Flavia and I are talking with Castol, Francis is standing by the tree, and Jjajja is sitting down watching. (Photo credit: Tina LeAnn Photography)

Later when I checked back to review the status of the children whom we had interviewed months ago, I noticed that unfortunately neither Francis nor Castol had been chosen for sponsorship yet. I decided to go back to Wabiduuku to check up on the families we had visited that day and to let them know that CARITAS For Children was still looking for sponsors so their children could be enrolled in our child sponsorship programs. The first place we visited was the home of Francis and Castol. 

  Jjjajja, Castol, and FrancisJjjajja, Castol, and Francis on our second visit to Wabiduuku

When we showed up at their home for the second time, there was a look of delight on Jjajja's face that we had returned to visit her family. I arrived at the home in the middle of lunch time and Jjajja immediately asked us if we would like to join her and the boys for lunch by saying, "Jangu, tulye!" or "Come in, and let's eat together!"

How striking! This woman who had so little, exercised immediately such generosity. Without any second thought, she asked us to sit down and eat with her and her grandsons, even though we had just come out of nowhere, and it was just enough food for her and the boys. Not only that, but she had recognized me as the man who was supposed to bring sponsors to her grandsons. But Jjajja did not ask about the sponsorship; she asked if I wanted something to eat. 

The lunch that Jjajja had offered us, typical Ugandan food called Matooke (boiled bananas)The lunch that Jjajja had prepared for her family, but offered us: typical Ugandan food called 'matooke' (a variety of banana, boiled) and greens

I smiled back at Jjajja, humbled. I told her that I had already eaten, and then explained how we wanted to let her know that CARITAS For Children was still waiting for sponsors for her boys, and that we would continue doing everything possible.

Instead of expressing disappointment that we had not come to bring her good news, she looked at me with a wise and confident smile. There was no look of disappointment in her eyes - only hope. Jjajja just looked at me and said, "Tujja kusabire": "We will pray." She smiled again, and asked the boys to continue preparing for lunch.

Hope. That is something I can surely learn from this wise woman. So often at moments of hardship, it is so tempting to fall into despair, and wonder, "What's next? Where am I going? How will I make it? When or how will it get better? Where's the hope?" But then to remember that simple, confident statement: "We will pray‚ " It seems so basic; but in times of struggle and hardship, it isn't always easy to remember or practice. That simple reminder that we must always turn confidently to God - even in the deepest times of despair - is something I will always remember from this woman. Jjajja has no doubts that God will provide her grandsons a way to get an education. With deep faith and trust, she continues to pray. And we will join in her prayers.

Castol and Francis

If you are interested in sponsoring either Castol or Francis, please visit CARITAS For Children at our website to learn more about sponsoring a day school child.

Ed. Note: Sponsors were found for Castol and Francis. Many other children in need can benefit from your support if you choose to sponsor a child through CARITAS' child sponsorship programs.Thank you!