Throughout the summer I have seen time and time again what can be accomplished when we work in tandem with the community. Over the past 3 months many of our mornings have been spent at the Loved Children Centre, a crisis daycare for the most vulnerable children in Namatala. The children at the Centre typically are developmentally delayed and malnourished due to the extreme poverty their families face and lack of positive interaction with adults. Throughout our time we have come to adore these children and have loved seeing the progress they have made from daily interaction, improved nutrition, and early childhood development programming. We have been so blessed to be part of their lives and know that their goodbyes will be the hardest to say.
Unintentionally I found myself judging the parents of these children and did not see all the sides of the stories of these families. Throughout the summer we have been looking for ways to do more for these children, the amazing staff who care for them, and this inspirational organization. Using ideas from the director we decided to do improvements to the children’s outdoor play area. A sun shade was needed, tables for the children, cement walkways to the potties to prevent a cesspool from forming, and an improved sand pit. We knew this was a project that we would need more people to help with and the director was confident that he could enlist the male relatives of these children to come and help.
I was expecting maybe one or two fathers to come and help but when the day came over 20 men were there and ready to help. They were older brothers, uncles, fathers, and grandfathers of the children and were all so excited to be able to do something for the organization that was empowering their families. As we got to know these men it was amazing how easy we could tell who was related to which child and to see the evident love they had for these children. We bonded over our mutual love for these young ones and I realized that I had unconsciously misjudged them. They loved their families and are doing the best they can with coping with the overwhelming problems facing them and had so many skills to offer. We worked side by side digging holes to place stumps for the children to sit on, filled sand bags for the sand box, laughed at our attempts to construct a sun shelter, and outworked us in every way possible. It was an extremely humbling and inspiring experience and made me so grateful that it was never intended for an individual to solve the world’s problems. It is the struggle in overcoming these problems that fosters love and understanding for others.