Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yesterday, Melissa, Katie, Betty, and myself went to Bugembe, a small village north-east of Jinja. The drive there was beautiful – a wide open road with a village on a hill in the distance. We had gone to visit a good friend of Betty’s, Mama Baraka. We call her Mama Baraka because she is the mother of two beautiful girls, one of who’s name is Baraka. The other’s name is Rakira, and is particularly afraid of Mzungus (what many Ugandans call us ‘white’ folks here). Mama Baraka has one on the way – she hopes it’s a boy! The father of these children has left his family and has turned his phone off, his family left in a room that is about 9’x9’.
Mama Baraka’s rent is equivalent to about $8/month. Because she cannot work, she cannot afford rent this month and relies on the generosity of neighbors to help her get through these days. When she has her baby in about 2 weeks, she will be expected to pay for hospital services.
When we went to visit them at about 3:30pm, they had not yet eaten. I’m not sure if they ate after we left.
Experiencing these beautiful people, this scene, was difficult and heartbreaking. And as the sun seeped through the window of that tiny room, I realized that in a couple hours’ time I would be at an ATM machine in Jinja withdrawing the equivalent of $800.

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