I’ve had a lot of time the last 3 days to reflect on my experiences in Uganda. A big part of me feels happy when I do this. I am holding on so tight to the names and faces of these children, terrified of the idea of forgetting them in any small way. The other half of me feels broken in many ways. I want to express to people all the things I have felt and experienced. All of the children who have held my hand, hugged me and told me that god is blessing me, that I have a home with them. (deep breath) It breaks my heart into a million small pieces that are being left with each of them. I will never be able to truly tell someone what this feels like, you just have to experience it. It’s frightening in many ways to let all of the heartache and struggle in. To acknowledge the things you hear and see. I feel strong from hearing the things i have heard and that I have more purpose in life. I feel proud of my work, and I feel that I cannot not do anything about the things I have seen. It makes me shake and cry when I sit and think about it all. It’s a lot to process.
It’s almost daily that I think of Scarlett. My first niece and an absolute delight. I can’t help but think about how different her life is. How she has a mother, a father, grandparents, and aunts and uncles that love her so much, that would never let her be alone or suffer and would and always will try to protect her. It’s hard to think about all the orphans here. They say it is close to 48 million. I think about the children that do not know about the love that exists for Scarlett and for the mothers here who cannot experience that kind of compassion for their children. Sometimes because their husband has died and that they are raising 5-9 children on their own, without a job, without money. I want them to get too experience that love with their children that I have seen in my sister. Who I know is more fulfilled and grateful in life with Scarlett than I expect even she could have imagined.
I am so grateful for the things and people in my life. Grateful to be able to count on more than two hands and toes the people that I love and that love me. This is truly what matters. I felt a light in me yesterday when i got to see the children at ORM. I see them run smiling at me and hug me suddenly I am not tired from my trip or my thoughts. I am not anything my utterly and insanely happy! The only moment this shifts is when I walk away.
Uganda has taught me so much. I feel like i truly understand compassion now, I feel like i have discovered a new level to love. The first organization that I went to had a boy named Danny. I clicked with Danny and for 2 days I tried to enjoy and take in as much as possible of this little boy that for some reason I was drawn to. Sure he was adorable and sweet so it was easy to form an addiction to that smile! I didn’t know how strongly I felt about him or the orphan situation though until I said goodbye to Danny. My heart dropped to the floor and my throat felt dry and heavy. I had to fight back the tears because in my heart I didn’t want him to go. I wanted him to stay and I wanted to make sure that he would be okay, I feared of what he would experience, the person he could become under the wrong care and his survival. Danny symbolizes the 48 million children for me. I have never wanted something more or better for someone than in that moment. This is a feeling that i know will haunt me. I will never forget Danny.
Love, Michelle J (Fount of Mercy volunteer, photographer)