Just a few hours before we left Jinja, I finally met my sponsor girl.
After a few days of being in town, I got a glimpse of what life was like for these kids and how much the staff at Children of Grace truly cared for them. I really felt for these kids and how hard their lives were without food, education, and somebody to guide them. As soon as I signed up to sponsor a child, I bugged the mentors about meeting my sponsor child before leaving Uganda.
So it happened that the following week, my sponsor girl had gone back to the village, which was out of CoG’s jurisdiction. The mentors told me to pick another one, as if picking the first one wasn’t hard enough. At the office, I read story upon heartbreaking story about each child that had applied for sponsorship. And it was tough, but I narrowed it down to four kids. I told the mentors to pick the one that needed it the most and who hopefully hadn’t gone back to the village.
On our very last day, we had a couple hours to shop for souvenirs. We dropped off part of the group in Jinjatown, and Mary took me to meet Shifah.
First, we went to her Aunt’s house, where Mary thought Shifah would initially be. When we arrived, her aunt told us that Shifah was at school, so she tagged along with us to find Shifah. After talking with the school teachers, we found out that she wasn’t there either. Our next stop would be her grandmother’s house, which is where we finally found her.
The story I learned about Shifah is that her father passed away, and after that, her mother abandoned her. Typically in third world countries, when a woman’s husbands dies and she finds another man to marry, the new husband doesn’t want to provide for the children from her previous marriages. What happens is that these kids are left with the child’s paternal family, so their mother can run off with the new man.
Shifah’s grandmother doesn’t have the funds to take care of her but wants her to go to school. School in Uganda isn’t free, not even government school, so Shifah was repeatedly sent home because she couldn’t pay her fees. Hence a reason they applied for sponsorship. Shifah lives with either her aunt or grandmother, both of whom live in one-room houses and care for other children.
When I first met Shifah, she seemed scared. I’m 95% sure that she had no idea what was happening. In her eyes, a mzungu came to see her, and grandmother was very happy. Then grandmother told her to greet the mzungu and take a picture with her. Shifah’s grandmother brought out her school folder, and Shifah showed me her work and her grades. I’m happy to say that she is doing pretty well in school!
During all the commotion, some of the neighborhood kids came out to see what was going on. When they saw that I had a camera, they wanted me to take pictures. These kids weren’t shy about getting their picture taken either!