Before I start I would like to thank everyone for their comments and support on the website. While I do not have much time now to reply and converse now, know that your writings and thoughts do not go unnoticed. They help in perspective and also kindle further thought and deeper reflection. So thank you very much. Now to my experiences from two days ago…
If Africa is hopeless, then God must be a comedian. If children are the future, then it is Africa that should have the most hope of all. If it is overcoming adversity that makes the man, then these children are more man than I.
This is not a critique of western culture, or a monologue detailing the white savior industrial complex. This is a celebration of the children that I have seen in Africa: not of their suffering but their ability to overcome it.
Yesterday I was at Ave Maria, a vocational boarding school of sorts in Lira. 1 in 3 of the over one hundred children are HIV positive. Most are orphans. Yet, this was not the topic of our visit. It was them who put on a performance for us, who greeted us, and who honored us with their warm welcome and passionate music. These children have experienced war, death, and poverty. Their boogie man at night was very real, and would abduct them while they slept if they were not careful. But it was them who invited us to dance.
There are plenty of excuses for them to hide behind, to remain silent in self pity. But instead the children at Ave Maria sing and dance for us with memories of the past, love for the present, and investment in the future.
The children who live in the village behind our living complex confidently lead us along a dirt trail network and proudly show us their homes (a small one room hut with no door) and their football pitch (an open field with rocks and wooden poles). They ask me my name and mimic my sounds and movements. I have noticed that every day I see them they are wearing the same ragged, ripped, poorly fitting clothes. Today we played with an empty plastic bottle but they did not seem to notice.
So one may mourn for the sorrows that Africa has experienced, but I mourn for those who think Africa is hopeless. Given peace, these children can grow. Given education, these children can make a living. Given opportunity, these children can change Uganda.