June 20, 2011

Uganda Day 5 Amazima

Our team traveled to Amazima Ministry today to help with the feeding program.  We arrived and all the children were sitting in a recently built open air chapel.  These children are from the Karimojong tribe, who are the poorest of the poor.  They are bussed in once a week to the Amazima compound to play and eat.

I met some tween boys that fell in love with my sunglasses and camera.  Roy, my new Ugandan friend, was such a charmer!  He spoke very good English and was very curious about Americans.  He kept telling me, "Mzungu (white person), give me a sweet!" With hundreds of Karimonjong children around, I knew better than to open up my sweet loaded, goody packed back pack in front of everyone.  I would have been mobbed!  So of course I snuck him a sweet on the down low…lol!  Roy…that boy, so cute!

A little girl, about 12-18 months old, came crying holding her arms out to me.  I scooped her up and she laid her bald head on my chest and there she remained for the next 3-4 hours.  She had a running nose, and probably a weeks worth of crusted over snot and dirt in each nostril. She had on a camouflage button up shirt and a tattered pink skirt.  She was covered in the infamous Ugandan red dirt, like most of the children, and myself at the moment.  And like all the infants and toddlers there, she had on no panties or diaper.

I carried this sweet girl around the Amazima compound as I searched for little girls with hair.  Little did they know that my Jansport backpack was FULL of barrettes, beads, combs and all other goodies!  I spotted a few of the younger girls with hair, they were babies or toddlers.  Most had yarn braids or extensions.  Their older sisters were caring for them.  I tried my hardest to single them out quietly and hand over the loot.  Not possible. As soon as this Mzungu took the backpack off my back, those kids came running!  They knew that meant there was something coming out!  I tried to explain that the girls would be getting headbands soon, but since I don't know Karimajong they continued to beg.  Girls with hair begged for the beads.  It broke my heart.  One girl told me, in broken English, that next time I come she will have hair and I can give her beads!

These girls had no idea what barrettes were. It was so funny watching them try to figure them out!  But after they did, they LOVED them!

And they LOVED the headbands of course!!!

The children were very aggressive when we were passing our bows and other gifts.  I understand their aggression, as many of these children have to fight for their lives.  I watched as children climbed a mango tree to shake the green unripened mangos loose to fall to the ground.  The other children scattered and danced around the base of the tree hoping to catch one of those mangos.  They hoarded their findings in their clothes or in bags.  The child I carried around Amazima had no way of getting a mango, as there didn't appear to be an older sibling to look out for her.  So I traded a sweet, or candy, for a mango for my child of the day.  She held on to that mango for two hours, not letting it out of her hand or sight.  Everything it fell out of her grip she screamed for me to pick it up before another child did.  It saddened me to see these children of God scavenging for unripened fruit to eat.

When feeding time came around, many of my team members served the children out of these huge pots o ver fires.  They were served rice and beans and little pieces of chicken.  I'm sure there were only 4 chickens to feed over 200 children.  I got in the food line with my little one on my hip and they served her a very large  bowl full to the brim.  We walked over to one of the shaded play areas and i sat down to help feed this little one, or so I thought.  She got down!  I couldn't believe how this little girl could scoop up that rice and beans, so pipping hot, and pile it into her mouth!  In the place about the size of an American bathroom, there were about 15 children squatting over their hot meal that they are bussed in for once a week.  I can imagine the anticipation and excitement these children felt.  They scooped up that rice and beans with their little fingers.  Each child had a very small piece of chicken on the bone.  Very small babies were gnawing on chicken bones and navigating to the meat. The small babies that were being carried by an older sibling were being fed with love.  The little one I had wasn't claimed.  It saddened me to think how did this little one get on that bus?

When it was time to leave, I tried to find someone to take this little girl that I got to love on.  No one would take her!  All the older children, obviously tired of caring for smaller kids, gave me the "no way am I taking her," look!  I was baffled, but could understand.  Finally, I found a girl about the age of five or six.  She carried of my baby of the day and wandered off.

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