Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sleeping Hungry

It felt like a soft, subtle push similar to a slow developing reaction of a domino knocking down the next domino which knocked down the next domino.

It began with my African son Chris.  He was friends with the family.  He told me about one of the daughters who had been in a clinic for nearly a week.  And, he was not confident in the medical care that she was receiving there.

I passed this information on to a physician friend of mine.  We agreed that the daughter should come to our free medical clinic on a Saturday.  She came and it all began to unfold from there.

She was the last patient of the day.  Which worked well for me.  It took no time for me to realize that I was going to move her to another clinic in which we had more confidence.  My doctor friend went to have lunch with my wife while I began another chapter of a relational adventure.

17 year old Esther
It was significant to me that the mother of Esther cared for her daughter when she left the examination room with tears.  I didn't realize there was more to the story until I began to unfold it sentence by sentence.  Her daughter had some minor disease common to Africa.  She took her to a small clinic in a nearby village.  The disease was diagnosed and an injection was prescribed as treatment.  The only problem was that the injection was given in the wrong place on her hip.  Consequently, Esther was taken to a "better" clinic where where stayed for five days as the injection became abscessed.  This was the reason for the concern Chris had and explains how she ended up getting some medical attention from Next Generation Ministries.

Over the past several years it has not been unusual for NGM to get involved in medical issues.  Since a medical team from Oklahoma has been making medical missions over the past several years, NGM has a good share of opportunity to leave an impact through medical treatment.

Typically the focus with such circumstances has remained on the medical concern.  This time, however, the focus shifted to the entire family.  I discovered that Esther's mother, Sarah, is a single mother having been deserted by the father of her three biological daughters. She has attempted several ways of generating money to feed her children and provide school fees for their education. Currently she resells clothing and attempts to be the provider.

Mother Sarah
When Sarah took her daughter for medical care, she had no money.  By the time she reached the free medical clinic of NGM she was around $105 in debt. Her tears may have been as much from worry about the mounting medical costs as Esther's infected wound.  With proper medical diagnosis and treatment, Esther recovered within 24 hours. NGM paid part of the clinic bill where she received poor treatment and all of the medical bill where she received great care.

In the course of exams and spending time together I began to get a much clearer picture of the suffering and struggle that Sarah goes through on a daily basis for survival.  Not only does she care for her three biological children, but, when her sister died of Sickle Cell Anemia, she took on the four orphans left by her sister.  Caring for seven children is not an easy task for a two parent family. But, for a single mother?  In a Third World Nation?  More than challenging.

Esther went back to the clinic yesterday with her mother to have the stitches removed from her bum. She was given a clean bill of health by the doctor and she is now walking normally.  She is so grateful to God that this chapter of her life is finished.  Or is it?  I had told Chris that I wanted to take rice and beans with us when we picked up Esther and Sarah, but I had forgotten.  He suggested, "Why don't we go to town and get some food for the family and take it out there?"  I thought, if Dr. Klinger was here the answer to that question would be a no brainer.

Chris is a very good friend to Esther & 19 year old Ritah
We went to Jinja and bought rice, posho, cooking oil, sugar, salt, eggs, beef, bread, tomatoes, onions, margarine, spices and a few other things. We already had some beans at home and we picked those as well to deliver to Sarah's home. She had been trying to sell clothes in town, but it was now late afternoon. We told Sarah where to wait and we picked her up.

It didn't become obvious to Sarah that the food sitting around her feet was for her family until we reached her house and began unloading it.  She mumbled something about a headache and had to bend over.  But, the reality of it was much more significant.

Soon all the food was unloaded in the house.  That's when I noticed that Sarah was leaning on the wall and attempting to stifle her tears.  I put my arm around her and said nothing.  I just waited. Soon Sarah managed to say, "It's too much for me."  More tears followed.  I again waited.

Some of the food God provided Sarah's Family
Next the single mother of these seven children said, "We slept hungry last night.  I told God I need help.  Then again I looked for money [attempted to sell clothes], but I failed again today."  It was then that I realized that Sarah's tears were the result of gratitude and joy.

Chris and I had no idea that this family struggles to even eat everyday.  But, God, our Provider was well aware and had put us in the way to bring weeks of food to this hungry house.

Additionally, I discovered that Precious, who is very bright and was in Primary 3 in school, had failed to pay last year's school fees and hadn't paid anything for this year.  Those school fees are also now paid.

Most of you reading this are doing so from the comfortable confines of America.  Of course you can complain about the weather or your boss/employee or your government or this or that.  But, tonight you will eat.  Most of you don't think about it.  Food will be there.  If or when you ever discover that there is no food to eat, most of you will be dismayed, confused, irate, and feel entitled to at least one good meal before you sleep today.

Sarah with some of her children
Uganda is not America.  The heart breaking story of Sarah and her children is not the exception in Uganda.  It is a very common story. Men produce children, have multiple wives, and often abandon or disappear from their family. Uganda is a fatherless nation.

We cannot respond to all the needs we are aware of here in this developing nation.  But, when I felt the slight push of that first domino on that Saturday a couple of weeks ago I told Pam, "There is something different about this case.  I think God has something special for us here." The dominoes that have fallen since then have only confirmed what I was sensing.

I really care about this family.  I would like some help in making sure that they do not sleep hungry. If you, your family, our group of friends, or your church would like to insure that Sarah and her children eat every day, please commit to $125 per month.  Commit to as much as you feel good about.  Write a check to Next Generation Ministries and mail it to 29940 South Dhooghe Road, Colton, OR 97107.  Please put Sarah's Family on the memo line.

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