An orphanage to fill…
I could take you through our entire trip to Kumi piecemeal, but if you’re like me you’ll have clicked out by the third sentence bored, so how about we look at a snapshot of the best bit of our latest visit?
Back in 2011, our first trip to Kumi in Uganda we were introduced to COHAD orphanage (Children of Hope and Dignity) through Mission Direct and took part in the building of house number 10. Four of the houses were vibrant with children, and it all felt warm and loving, with a sense of peace throughout. The children and the house mummies captured our hearts and we were smitten. This led to our spending time there whenever we headed back to Kumi, Uganda.
Our return visit this time, walking around the orphanage, we grasped a real sense of things being stagnant with no forward movement, which was both disappointing and demoralising. The older orphan children were at boarding school, so the houses had only 4 children in each, and there was an overall sense of despondency about the place.
Oh, what to do? Well, sometimes the answer makes itself known to you.
This trip was our first experience of seeing any street orphan children in Kumi and the 3 we met were wonderful characters, William, John, and Victor. Their stories were tough, and caused more than a few tears amongst us, their personalities cheeky, yet strong, (which they need to be to survive on the streets) and within a day they were hanging around the hotel morning noon and night waiting for us Muzungu’s (the local word for white people) to arrive. Like all boys, they loved football, and were keen for us to join in!
So, here we had 3 boys, homeless, and an orphanage half full. It’s not rocket science, you can probably see where this is going!
Again, one those quirky things in Uganda you just never know who you may end up talking to. We had gone to the local eating establishment (don’t imagine one of our restaurants) for dinner of local chicken and rice, and after an hour the Pastor we work with turned up with the local Bishop of the PAG church, John Michael to join us. Chatting about COHAD, and introducing the idea of the boys being allowed to move there, guess who then arrived? Yep, the boys themselves, to come and sit with us for a cup of tea. First hand with no effort on our behalf, a relationship had been created.
The result? That same evening it was agreed that subject to their stories checking out, they could be move into COHAD that very week, along with two other boys from the community. Yes!!!
Our promise? We would fund the 5 boys, plus 3 more with immediate effect. Yikes, this was no small commitment, and we knew it was still a drop in the ocean. With 5 more empty houses, (which in our opinion should be full to bursting,) COHAD orphanage was about to become our long term project, as we offered to partner with them, with the probability of becoming a member on their board.
So, here we are now a mere 4,000 miles away from this little place of safety called COHAD, great dreams of seeing it with a school, 100 children living there, a feeding programme for the vulnerable children in the local community, and what feels like a mountain to climb.