Part of the preparation of coming to Uganda included learning about some of the culture and of course the water situation for a typical Ugandan. When I first heard that the average Ugandan that collects water for the house was usually a seven or eight year old girl, my immediate thought was to liken it to my daughter who was seven at the time.
The journey that this young Ugandan girl would walk every day (if not several times a day) to collect water for her family is often long, dangerous, tedious, and more often than not, is taking them away from being able to go to school just to bring home unclean water. This immediately broke my heart. I couldn’t even fathom the thought of my own daughter having to do this.
My initial reaction included thoughts of sadness for the young Ugandan girls and gratitude for my own children’s fortunes. I became so thankful for the options that my family and I are afforded. Options to take medicine when sick, options to eat when hungry, options to drink when thirsty, options to worship whatever god you choose, options to get an education for free… the list goes on and on.
Now that I’m in Uganda and have spent several days around the local children I feel a part of me changing heart.
On Tuesday after our second day of digging wells, we had the opportunity to visit a local primary school and do crafts with the children. It was an afternoon I’ll remember forever. The children were so happy to see us, so surprised that we brought them markers and stickers, and just incredibly thankful. I spent much of the time taking photos and showing them to the children who have most likely not seen themselves on camera before. They LOVED it and I did too. I’ll never forget my time with them, even as short as it was.
Additionally, while driving around the local villages, I noticed that there are so many children out and about. You see them and may first feel sad because they don’t have nice clothes or a nice house or toys or (fill in the blank with what you think kids need to be happy).
But there has been something else I’ve noticed.
They seem content. They play with rocks (or sticks, leaves, trash, etc.). They have shelter (mostly). They have family. And as they say here in Uganda, they are “fine.”
The children in America would be so bored.
I now find myself thinking that if my children could experience this life, they would have such a different view about things. And maybe it’s my job to teach them that. It can be so hard in a world of “stuff” making us happy, and a “bigger is better” mentality to really get down to realizing what you need to feel like you have “enough.”
Simplicity. It’s a beautiful and under-rated thing.
So now I wonder… who am I sad for? Who really has a better life? Is one life better than another because of options? I know most would say yes to that answer and I certainly am still grateful for the options I have because that is what I know.
It’s a process. I know God broke my heart for Ugandans and I am still in the process of learning the why and how. I also feel God tugging at my heart strings more than ever to give to the needy. I think being able to provide clean water to so many is an amazing opportunity. I wish I could provide even more necessities to those without. But I don’t look at those less fortunate with pity. Only love.