I forget that not everyone has seen what I have. Not everyone has experienced ALL the emotions I have. I just assume that because I saw it, so has everyone else.
I was at my favorite local coffee shop, trying to pretend I was a cool hipster – Ha! Who am I kidding! – when I started talking to the owner about the kids and moms in Uganda I get to work alongside. She asked me about the school fees that I raised a few months ago. I was trying to explain the school system there and how not everyone gets to go. That if you can’t pay the $45 school fee, you can’t go. That if you don’t pass the exam to upper school (equivalent to 7th or 8th grade year), your schooling is done. Your education is over. That’s why vocational schools are important, to teach them a skill, I told her.
She asked, “So, do they want to go to school?”
In my mind I thought what a silly question. Do they want to go to school? But then I remember how some mornings I have to drag my kids out of bed to get them to school. Our kids have NO idea what opportunity they are given.
And in that moment, I felt the tears building. Fighting their way up to my eyes. All I could think about was the high school kids from Aparisa village (one of the two villages I advocate for) asking me if I was the one paying their school fees, and then shaking my hand in their native way that communicates love and gratitude.
A lump in my throat.
“Yes,” I whispered as I nodded. “They want to go.” Oh, how they want to go! The tears were pooling. “I’m sorry,” apologizing for my emotional response.
She was kind and gracious as I tried desperately to collect myself.
Why do I react this way? Why am I so overcome with emotion and tears? It was the same response yesterday morning when I was taking the kids to school, listening to the morning radio program raising money to pay to dig wells and provide filters for people in Zambia. When I heard the voice of the Zambian man, it transported me back to the long walk to a new well that was put in in one of our villages.
A long walk.
A walk to life.
To clean water.
To say we take clean water for granted is an understatement. We don’t ever have to worry about water making us sick (unless you catch your 4 year old licking the stagnant pond water). But honestly, in our happy, comfortable lives, we rarely think twice about those that are without.
Without clean water.
I hate it when my kids wake up sick in the middle of the night. And not for the reasons you’d think. Not because I’ll be tired in the morning or they won’t be able to go to school the next day. No, I don’t like them waking up because immediately my mind goes to all the children who call out for help in the night with no hope for help. No mommies to comfort them. No access to Motrin to bring a fever down. I think of the grandma whose hut I spend the night in and her 5 year old twin grandsons. If they wake up, she can’t run down to the 24-hour Walgreens.
It wrecks me to the core. I’ll be holding my sick baby and crying for all the other babies that are without.
Mothers without ways to help their babies.
Having gone to Uganda twice in six months has destroyed me in ways I could never imagine. And I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to recover. Some days I just want to forget. But other days, I’m afraid I will.
Because if I forget, then what? I go on living my comfortable, educated, clean-water-drinking life. But then I’ll be without…
And that seems like the scariest place to be.
“Don’t live vicariously through people who are actually changing the world. Join them.”
–Dru Collie, Sole Hope
If you’d like to get involved and help provide education, clean water, or meeting medical needs, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org