Last summer I traveled with Daughters 2 and 3 to Uganda to work with the kids of the Sozo Children’s Organization (www.sozochildren.org). Uganda is one of the world’s poorest countries. Fully half of its population of 43 million people is aged 15 and younger. Two million of these are orphaned due to war, disease, poverty, and neglect. Sozo currently houses or helps over 100 kids. Many of them live in one of three Sozo homes scattered around Kampala. This trip taught me a lot of things. One is that you can be happy with very, very little. The kids of Uganda make their toys out of discarded trash. They laugh and smile all the time. Life has dealt some of them some horrific blows, yet they are happy. Another thing I learned is that love is truly universal. Everyone we met greeted us with big smiles and big hugs. The kids were so happy to play with us, to be held by us, or to sit in our laps. Sozo, at a mere 8 years old, has grown so much that it purchased a 22 acre plot of land out from the city where it is building its Village Project. When complete, the compound will house 300 kids and have it’s own school and medical center. I learned that there is dirty, and then there is really really really dirty. This is my daughters and me the day we worked out at the Village Project, clearing out rocks and spreading dirt to level what would become the meeting center and the first of the Village Project’s housing.
This is without question the dirtiest I’ve been ever in my life, but I wouldn’t trade one speck of that red clay for the chance to help with this project, even in such a minute way. I learned that a level of poverty exists that we cannot begin to conceive. One of the women we met who lives in a rickety shack outside the Village Project asked that we pray for God to give her walls for her bathroom. Wow. Some of the things I learned were less serious, but still valuable. Such as, when they tell you not to drink the water, you really shouldn’t drink the water. Also, that twelve women really can share a bathroom the size of a phone booth for ten days and still call each other friend at the end of it. I’ve learned that two monkeys the size of a one year old can scare the living daylights out of you and make you run for dear life back into the house. And that they will steal your brand new tennis shoes. I’ve done a lot of great things in my life. I am blessed in many ways. This opportunity will, I’m sure, rank up there with one of the best things I ever do in my life.