Our day started with visits to some of those who have benefitted from the Loan4Hope Project, the businesses included roadside snacks, food shops, fruit and veg, charcoal selling and a dress shop.
We heard how the loans have improved businesses enabling houses to be built, school fees to be paid, and livestock to be purchased. Most importantly lives have been improved and families have been shown the love of God.
On our travels we met Robert, a sponsored boy who was working as an apprentice in a metal work business, he proudly showed us his welding skills while the local children looked on!! Robert had reached Primary 6 (year 5) at the age of 16, he struggled academically but has certainly found his niche in the real world now.
Then we visited the home of Leticia, a 13yr old girl sponsored through CHI 4 years ago. Patrick had found her selling bananas on the street when she should have been at school, he learnt how her mum was HIV positive and suffering from mental health problems which stopped her from working, Leticia was trying to earn enough to feed them both. Leticia was sponsored and Patrick walked alongside them ensuring her mum regularly received her medication, her health improved, and she went back to running her market stall. Eventually she benefitted from the Loan4Hope project. When we visited Uganda 4 years ago Leticia was back in school, and we found her mum well and working hard.
Today we visited the house she had built as a result of her improved income. A happy ending we thought…. until Leticia appeared, she was close to tears. We learnt that her mum has been refusing her medication and her mental health has suffered as a result, she has refused to leave the house and does not want Leticia to leave her. There was no food and presumably no money, Leticia did not seem to know what to do next. This is a heart breaking situation as we can do nothing to help, we know Patrick will keep an eye on them but there is little he can do either. We slipped her a little cash to buy some food and left with lumps in our throats. Sadly, there are so many children with equally sad stories.
We were heading for Aunt Louise School for the Disabled this afternoon to take a surprise treat of omelette, chips and soda to the children with special needs being cared for there, so the next stop was the bakers/café for a snack lunch and 12 portions of omelette and chips. While we were waiting (apparently, they only buy the potatoes when someone orders the chips, no fast food here!!!), we took the opportunity to visit another small loan recipient selling fruit and veg, this lady was so delighted with the support she had received that we were presented with a large box of produce as a thank you. Loading it into the boot of the car we knew exactly where that was going, another treat for the ALS children.
Then off to ALS where these delightful young people greeted us with much excitement, hugs and laughter. Meals were distributed to shouts of glee; chips are not often on the menu here. Then we took another tour of the dormitories to confirm our thoughts that the mattresses provided 4 years ago are overdue for replacement. Eight mattresses and blankets plus 16 sets of sheets have just joined our ever-growing list of needs to be met.
After distributing tennis balls, more excitement, we bid a sad farewell to the children who hold a very special place in our hearts.
Last stop of the day was Ndegeya School, which Patrick is hoping we will be able to assist with some renovation. It’s not quite the worst school we have ever seen, but it is certainly not a place conducive to learning.
Today has been a rollercoaster of emotions and we can only pray that a way can be found to help meet the needs we have witnessed along the way.