In a tiny ramshackled hut beneath the banana trees of a nearby village I visited, lives a grandmother desperate for the healing of her granddaughters. Special education in Uganda is virtually nonexistent, and families with special needs children more often than not hide their children away. Sometimes fellow villagers won’t even know the children were alive, until they are already dead. These granddaughters in particular suffer from lack of medical attention, therapies and the special education that might otherwise have allowed for communication and some resemblance of human normalcy. The older girl, at 20 years of age, has no language and stumbles about unevenly, grunting for food. Her grandmother has sadly accepted the state of her eldest granddaughter but seeks in anguish a way to save her second granddaughter from an almost certain fate.
I’ve been serving at Mercy Childcare Ministry (MCCM) in Uganda for just over six weeks, and I’ve had the opportunity to witness firsthand the compassionate work of this ministry in the lives of special needs children. MCCM gives children with special needs the chance at life that they otherwise would not have. A chance to receive therapies, education, health care, love, and attention. Every child's life matters, and MCCM offers support not only for these children, but for many family members as well. Throughout my time as an intern, I have had the privilege of tutoring several special needs children in reading, speech, and writing. I also spend time developing relationships and trust with many of them through play and assisting with daily chores and activities.
While there are schools for individuals with special needs in Uganda, they are rare and very expensive. Out of reach for the poor villagers such as the grandmother who is seeking help for her granddaughters. Other families are not willing to risk the shame of admitting their kin is in such a state. The small girl is only about age six and has a gentle smile and intelligent eyes. Her lower limbs twist in unnatural angles and are too weak to be of much use. Her mouth struggles to create the sounds needed for language, but she does her best to copy the sounds I ask her, and she successfully achieved at least resemblance of the presented tasks. My heart broke as I struggled for ideas to help, and for the state of this sweet child.
Jeremiah (pictured below in blue) is yet another special needs child whose situation in life has been defined by his disability. Due to his speech impediment, when he was lost or abandoned and found by the police, they were unable to understand him. He could not communicate where he had come from or who his parents may be, making the chance of finding his family slim without the assistance of a speech language pathologist and an assistive communication device.
In Uganda, there is no easy access to services that we often take for granted in the US, but I am thankful for Mercy Childcare Ministry and their commitment to those with special needs. And you can help. Sponsoring a child not only provides them with food and clothing, but a chance at an education and the attention they need to help them overcome their disabilities. Matthew 10:42 says, “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” God knows each of these children by name and every detail of their stories. He has compassion for them and a purpose for their lives. I praise God for the work Mercy Childcare Ministry is doing to not only reach these children, but so many others like them, and am thankful for the sponsors around the world who help make it possible for them to get the help that they need.
Written by Shiloh Sather, Uganda Intern
If you’re interested in making a personal connection with a child in a Children to Love partner country and supporting them in their growth and development in a tangible way, contact CTL today. Visit the website (childrentolove.org), call 661-588-9000 or email email@example.com.