By Dirk Hamp
During June of 2008, we returned to Uganda with a team of 45 people, many of them youth, to Kaihura in Western Uganda to work in our daughters home village. We lived in the village, learned about the childrens needs, carried the water with them, ate with them and shared their rooms.
Throughout, we wrote a blog where many of us had an opportunity to share their impressions. Janes story, more about the work of Embrace Uganda , and our trip blog can be found at www.embraceuganda.org. The following is an excerpt, written a few weeks after coming home:
Since coming home from Uganda, I have struggled to figure out why I am here, in this place.
I think back and believe that one of the most important things that I have done, personally and professionally, this entire year, was to purchase, to load and to deliver mosquito nets to the children in Kaihura, on behalf of Embrace Uganda. I would like to go back to that local shopping district in Kampala and do it again and again, to provide nets for more and more children.
It made a significant difference, and it was mine to do.
No other amount of time or money was better spent this year. While working in the clinics in Uganda, I mostly saw children sick with malaria. It is the leading cause of illness in Kaihura and the single most common reason why children miss school due to illness. Prevention through nets is cheap and easy.
These days, here in the US, as a community pediatrician, I spend time having to convince families to vaccinate their children according to schedule against preventable diseases, and many argue and refuse.
I listen to teenagers who dont care about their education and scoff at their parents efforts trying to encourage them to do well in school. I am asked to medicate them to help them do better in school. I am unable to say the things that need to be said about discipline and motivation without drawing fierce expressions of disapproval from frustrated parents. Meanwhile, these very children are overindulged with every amenity and gadget available to this culture, beginning at a very young age.
In Uganda, we saw children who are begging for help, holding our hands, or asking us in scribbled notes for financial help for them to be able to continue in school past seventh grade, to be able to learn a skill, or to go to college. Not having a pencil or a notebook can keep a primary school student out of school. The equivalent of an ipod can send a child to secondary school for a semester, including room and board.
I understand the principles upon which this, our, nation was founded. I realize I can say and write these things because of the freedom and the education granted to me in this country. But I wonder if we are not wasting our time and resources, if we cannot return to the next generation of this nation a sense of appreciation and gratefulness for the blessings that we have been given. Meanwhile, wouldnt we accomplish more giving to those who really want our help?
I am encouraged by the youth on our team to Uganda this past June, and by the support that we were able to receive to take resources with us to the children of Uganda. These are signs of hope, and some of these youth may go on to do world-changing things because of how they were impacted by what they saw in Africa.
Will I be able to find peace of mind simply by remaining here and continuing on in the way things were? Will I look back one day, knowing that I did the best to live a life full of days of significance? Did I make a difference?
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Often quoted, often true and important to remember; but often, we dwell on the things that we think we cannot change, having decided in our own wisdom.
After Uganda, I believe that for many of us in this part of the world, that there are more things that we can change rather than things that we cannot change, and that it takes not only courage, but also willingness.
May we be good listeners, as God will continue to share His wisdom with us.
If you liked this article, check out: Grace for Sale
Dirk is a general pediatrician in Wake Forest, NC. In 2007, he and his wife Paige, who already had four older children, adopted an eight year old girl from Uganda. Jane’s story is an example of God’s ability to take an impossible situation and to work modern day miracles to create something good. Since their return from Uganda, the Hamps have continued to help raise awareness and funds to help support orphans in Uganda. More information can be found at www.embraceuganda.org.