I guess on some level I tried to prepare myself for what I was going to see once we got to Uganda. I’ve never been overseas before, and truth be told I’ve probably never seen real poverty up close and personal, though I thought I had.
But all I can think about right now is how I have managed to live my whole life without any idea at all about what real poverty looks like.
Earlier today we visited one of Compassion’s partner churches (Compassion does all of its work through local churches), and I was deeply touched by the kindness and the faith of the people there. They told us about their ministry in the community, introduced us to some of the children involved in their programs, and answered every single question we had with absolute grace and candor.
Then we walked outside the building.
And I’m telling you: there is nothing aside from Divine Revelation that could have prepared me for what I saw. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.
These are the rooms behind the church where the kids have what we would call Sunday School. And compared to what we saw next, those Sunday School rooms were the absolute lap of luxury.
We split into groups and walked just across the street to visit with some families who live in the area. We made our way up a short hill, and as we rounded the corner I saw something that I will never, ever forget. I couldn’t even if I wanted to.
You have no idea what this little girl has done to my heart. No idea at all.
She’s an orphan who lives with her aunt. Her aunt is HIV-positive and struggles to provide for the two of them. And they live in a room that is no bigger than the half bath in my house. It has a straw floor, cardboard walls, and a sheet for a door.
I cry just thinking about it.
And yet she was just one of many children all around us – children who live in a level of poverty that is absolutely incomprehensible, even when you’re so close that you can see it and touch it and smell it.
For about twenty minutes I took pictures of the kids and then let them look at the screen on the back of my camera. It was evident that several of them had never seen their own faces before.
And I just keep thinking that we have to see these kids’ faces. We have to see these kids’ faces. They are not statistics, they are not case studies, they are not random images on public service announcements.
They are precious, sweet, loving faces. Just like your children. Just like mine. And we have to – WE HAVE TO – see them.
We have to.
Because if we don’t, who will?