Her name is Grace. Actually, that’s my name too. Not my American name, my Ateso name. Yep, I have an Ateso name! Almost everyone here has a very hard time saying “Amber”, so Suzy’s mom named me Asianut (A-she-a-noot) which means Grace-and to be honest I’m so proud of it that I think it has gone to my head a little. =) I’m getting off track, though.
Our Grace was the last one to join our women’s group. We actually met because of her baby Gracious. Gracious just had her first birthday, but she looks like she is about 4 months old. She cannot sit or crawl or babble like most 1 year olds. The doctor told them she has a heart condition, but perhaps other problems as well. He recommended lab work as well as extra nutrition like milk and eggs, but Grace’s struggling family could not afford any of these.
As I looked at Grace with her beautiful, kind face and her baby who was obviously not growing normally, I wondered how she came to live in such poverty that she could not even afford milk or eggs for her baby. She did not personally ask for anything, but I could see her need was genuine.
Sometimes in Uganda the needs are so great, and there are so many requests for help or money that it is hard not to shut down a little. It can be difficult to know when to say, “Yes” and when to say, “No”, and so my prayer is that God would lead me to the ones He wants to help. Grace is one I felt God wanted to say, “Yes” to.
Grace and her husband Charles have 8 children and one is already disabled. Their family lives in a TINY, one room house with no running water or electricity. The house is so small that I’m amazed they are all able to sleep inside without piling on top of each other.
The couple married when Grace was just 16. Neither of them was able to finish school. Grace studied through primary (similar to our elementary), but because she came from a large family her parents could not afford to finish her education. Charles went through Senior 3 (similar to high school in the States), but his studies were interrupted when an insurgency destabilized the area in the 1980’s followed by Karamojong raids. The Karamojong stole all the cattle and killed those who did not have cattle to give. In the villages, this often left nothing for the people to sell in order to pay school fees, so many teens were not able to graduate. Because of the unrest in Uganda at this time Charles moved from the village into Soroti town and married Grace.
Once Charles arrived in Soroti he began looking for work, but jobs are very scarce in Uganda, and since Charles had not finished high school no one would hire him. He tried to dig and farm to make enough to keep the family going.
They soon had their first child, then their second and third. Their fifth child was disabled. They tried their best to get medical care to find out what was wrong, but with their very limited income they were not able to find a doctor who could diagnose the problem. Now, their son is 14, but is unable to feed himself or talk. Their fear is that the baby, Gracious, will have the same problems. Unfortunately, their financial situation has not improved much over the years, and because of their disabled children it is hard for both of them to go to the village to farm since one has to stay back and care for the children.
Hopefully, things have started to improve for this beautiful family, though. A very good friend has been writing to Grace and recently has helped with school fees for the children as well as set Grace up in a business where she can sell clothes. (The children were so excited to be able to study this term!) We are hoping the profits from the sale of the jewelry that Grace and the other women made will be enough to cover medical care for Gracious.