living in a place like Uganda, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the need and poverty in the lives of the people around you. i can’t do anything about most of this suffering and that is a harsh reality for me to accept. my heart breaks specifically for the children who don’t have people to care for them and love them, and i’m starting to see that God is putting certain children on my heart and showing me my role in each of these kids’ lives. sometimes it’s doing something as small as noticing a child and remembering to pray for them. sometimes it’s just sitting there with them in the dirt and holding them while they cry. sometimes it’s going back to find them on the dark streets of Kampala, even if it means getting mobbed by crowd of hungry street children, all hoping to get something from me. sometimes it’s helping orphans deal with being HIV positive through art therapy and music. sometimes it’s living with former street children and being a role model of positive life skills. sometimes it looks very different than i ever could have imagined…and that’s where being a mom comes in.
i met Lienette two weeks ago and wrote her story in a previous blog entry. i mentioned that her “caregiver” thought that name had been cursed, so i changed it to Mikisa Mae. Mikisa means blessing and Mae means welcome…welcome blessing. she has already been such a blessing to me in the short time i’ve known her. i’m seriously asking God what he wants my role to be in this little girl’s life and seriously asking myself if i’m ready for what his answer is. this could look like taking care of her until she’s strong enough to be placed in an orphanage. this could look like advocating for her to find a family that would adopt her, or making her part of my family forever by being her mom. i am sure that you all will have a lot of questions about what i’ve just written, and i promise to share more as this process continues. i would truly appreciate your prayers, encouragement and input as i make this decision.
so, now for the update on my first few days with Mikisa. on tuesday night i met my friend Mandie Joy in Kampala. she had brought a 3-year-old boy down for testing and treatment. he was abandoned on a trash pile last December and hasn’t really been cared for since. so his situation is also very serious, but you can read more details on Mandie’s blog. on Wednesday, we went to pick up Mikisa. we found her in her usual spot, in front of the vegetable stand, sitting in the dirt with no underwear and wearing a torn shirt. she looked beyond pitiful. this was not a happy moment for anyone. the “caregiver”, who by the way i found out was planning on taking Mikisa to the police next week because she was too much of a burden, grabbed her and quickly put some different clothes on. then she shoved Mikisa into my arms and waved a casual goodbye, seemingly pleased by the fact that she might never have to see this child again. although it made me so sad, seeing this interaction made me realize that this little girl has never really been loved and that this was exactly the right time for me to come get her. She snuggled up on the ride back into the city and we definitely bonded on our afternoon of errands around Kampala. Mikisa loved riding the boda, and couldn’t stop giggling as we weaved our way between the heavy traffic and swarms of campaigners dressed in banana leaves. it was just a few days before the election, so the city was packed with people. There were burned tires on the sides of the road from rallies and tensions were high. we left for Masindi around 5pm, 3 hours after the “travel curfew”, and i was honestly thankful to get out of there safely.
when we got her into the car, we realized that Mikisa had a high fever. her little body was sweating through her new clothes and she lay limp in my arms for most of the 3 hour drive. We found out yesterday that she has malaria and started treating her right away. Over the night, she got progressively worse, leading us to believe that she might have a resistant strain of malaria. So…this morning we took her to Walabyeki Clinic, where they started her on an IV of quinine and admitted her to a tiny little room with nothing but a small, dirty bed. we stayed there with her, watching the fluid drip from the bag that was hung from the unstable, rusty bedframe, praying that she would feel better soon. despite being so sick for the past few days, she has already surprised us with her progress. she can now take steps with assistance, and has copied several words and signs to communicate with us. they said she has never walked or talked, so these are huge steps for her and show that she is very capable of learning! tonight as i write this, she is sleeping next to me in the bed. i am amazed by how beautiful she is and how she is changing my life and my heart after just a few days together. i am looking forward to getting to know her better and helping her grow in the coming weeks.