Uganda is wrapped in red roads, like ribbons around a present, and we followed them today--this motley crew of five jet-lagged storytellers, kissing Africa on the cheek and gripping her ancient hand.
And I held a dying baby.
He was 18 months old, but he weighed less than either of my babies when they were first born. And he was too weak to cry, so I cried for both of us there in that pediatric wing of Kampala's only hospital.
A hospital that has no well or clean drinking water, that makes mothers sleep beneath the cribs of their infants because there are no beds, that has a mortuary for the babies right beside the wing.
"Don't cry," his mama said to me. "God is still alive."
Another bed held a seven year old boy, just seven pounds when they found him abandoned two months ago. He was so stunted he looked three years old. He smiled and cooed in my ear.
And Evah is the mama for all the abandoned babies. She is a warm woman with a soft face and sad eyes, because her husband died two years ago in a car accident--and she started the orphanage, Destiny Villages of Hope, years ago with her husband, as well as a church for 2,500 in the middle of the second largest slum in Africa--Katwe.
We walked the dirt path of the slums lined with garbage and babies in underwear and distended bellies, and the children all wore shining smiles while picking at gnats in their hair and carrying jugs of dirty water. Piles of trash, and mothers washing clothes in buckets, tin and cardboard and plywood nailed together to make homes.
A little girl, no bigger than a thimble, ran to me, wrapped her arms around my neck and wouldn't let go, and I held her there amongst discarded Coca Cola bottles and plastic wrappers.
And God was there too.
In the color of skin, leaping rich off their bodies, in their laughter--which carried across the trash, like a bright yellow bird--in Mama Evah and her church with its plastic chairs, and then, we drove into the lush countryside filled with banana trees and corn plants and Jackfruit, and we found Destiny Villages of Hope.
We found 1,500 children rescued from the slums and given a second chance, thanks to Mama Evah--and World Help, the organization we flew here with: a Christian organization that partners with Evan, empowering locals to do good in their own country.
Kids from the slums of Katwe are now being taught how to read and write at Destiny, are being given clean rooms with bunk beds and steaming plates of rice and plantain for lunch, singing hymns and playing the bongos, kicking soccer balls across the red dirt.
We laid out rolls of canvas and paints and the kids, they made art on the dusty floor. The swirling of tempura colors, the swish of brush against canvas, the children grinning up with white teeth, and Mama Evah in a chair watching it all with her sad eyes.
And so this is Africa--the wounded heart of the world where people with strong backs and shining eyes forge onwards.
I held a dying baby today, friends.
And I saw God.
Will you help us?
Mama Evah wants to build a third rescue home for abandoned and neglected babies. Will you consider helping Evah save more children from the slums? IF EACH OF YOU GIVES JUST $2 TODAY, the first phase of the rescue home will be FULLY FUNDED. Here is the link. Love to you (and thank you).