Our time in Uganda has been both amazing and heart-breaking at the same time. There is so much to tell and share, but I wanted to share about one experience that was particularly eye-opening. Yesterday, we arrived at a distribution site to cheers and smiles as our van pulled in. There was a large crowd and many children sat waiting for beds.I noticed that as our Health Alert Uganda partners lined the children up to receive their beds there were still many sitting on the ground. I thought that perhaps they weren’t finished or that they were there with their siblings. As we finished distributing the beds, I looked over to see the remaining people crowded around the Health Alert Uganda staff. Seeing so many that didn’t have beds, nets and bibles concerned me. I was nervous that a mistake had been made and that they were supposed to get beds but were being turned away because we didn’t have any more beds to give them.
As we began to load the van to leave, I learned that all of these children and their caretakers had come there to sign the children up for the Health Alert Uganda program so they could receive a resettlement kit. The HAU staff explained that many of these children and caretakers live with HIV/AIDS in secret because of the stigma and shame associated with the disease. Living in secret means that these children live without the anti-viral medications that they desperately need. Organizations like HAU have programs to provide healthcare and help to these affected children, but, of course, they cannot help them unless the children or their caretakers will come forward and share that they are HIV/AIDS positive.
Because of the work of Sweet Sleep to provide beds, mosquito nets, and bibles to these children, many children have been enrolled in the HAU program and will receive the much needed health care. We pray along with HAU that many children and their caretakers will come forward as a result of Sweet Sleep’s work in Gulu.
There are no words to describe how I felt when I saw so many children infected with HIV/AIDS. Sweet Sleep is making a difference here. The work must continue so that we can continue to serve the children who wait for beds and care. As you read this, know that your support through prayer and giving is literally changing and saving lives in Uganda.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – James 1: 27
*written by Lauren Farmer