Do you ever have those experiences that completely transform the tone of your entire day within an instant? That’s how I feel every single time I read my friend Abby’s blog. Now you might be thinking “wow, she must have some really hilarious kids, a very intense home improvement project, or an especially cute little puppy to have the ability to affect you that much”. Umm, not so much. Abby lives in Africa in a home for street kids. She takes care of these kids like they are her own and she deals with situations, emotions, and tragedy that is beyond my comprehension… and way above the abilities of most 20 somethings I know, and of most 60 somethings I know actually!
(so… she’s the white one! Abby or the people on her team took all of these photos. These are not Radiant Photos.)
The lives of street kids in Africa is something so difficult to hear about, that most people would rather not know about it. As a result of war, the HIV/AIDS virus, and severe poverty; 13% of all children under the age of 18 in Uganda have been orphaned. Once on the streets, these children experience significant levels of all kinds of abuse and mistreatment. They are hated and feared by the rest of the community, even though they are only children.
The kids are forced to sleep wherever they can. Since they are in danger of being taken by the corrupt police force, being kidnapped to be sold into slavery, or just receiving random beatings while sleeping, they never get to feel “safe”.
(This is where one kid chose to sleep so that it would be harder for people to get to him).
Here’s where some of the other street kids sleep.
These children, who are left to fend for themselves in a community that is out to destroy them, are the children that Abby provides shelter, food, medical care, education, counseling, friendship, and family to.
She has 14 of these children in her home in Kivulu and she (along with others in her organization, “A Perfect Injustice“) support another 100 street kids through a program that meets 3 times a week that provides many of the same things that the children who live in the home receive.
(Here’s Abby, providing medical care at the clinic.)
(There are much more graphic photos of her doing this on her blog, but I figured there were some people who wouldn’t appreciate seeing those!)
“A Perfect Injustice” also financially supports other street kids who have been sent to boarding schools where they receive the care, attention, and education they need. Thanks to the commitment and love that Abby and others have shown towards these kids, all these children are now being healed (medically, emotionally, and relationally). They now stand a chance for the kind of life that every child deserves to experience.
(They love soccer)!
(I think this photo is my personal favorite. This pictures just says “family” to me).
Now that we’ve been exposed to what she’s doing over there, we couldn’t help but participate! We support various non-profit organizations through our “Radiant Love” program so we’ve supported Abby in the past… and we can’t help but support her again now. So for every wedding we book from now until we change organizations (at an undetermined date), 10% of our shooting fees are going towards supporting these kids and the changes they are working so hard to make in their lives. (Click to read more about our Radiant Love Program and click here to see organizations we’ve supported in the past).
Nothing I can say could ever communicate what’s really going on with Abby and these kids in Africa. Luckily, Abby has an extraordinary talent for writing (and photography!) and uses these skills to reveal her heart and explain her world to everyone who takes the time to read about it.
So please, PLEASE take the time to read at least this one blog post from her regular blog that we believe is life changing. If you don’t love it, then you never have to read another blog by her again (even though we might still share her posts on our blog from time to time)… but I think you’ll be hooked!
Street kids are not dangerous, no, street kids live in a world of danger.
We had another boy shot by police officers a couple of nights ago. He was doing nothing, absolutely nothing wrong and he was shot in the leg for it. A couple nights later he got very, very badly beaten again.
All of last week as well was too difficult for our street kids. The police and bad people continued to come in at night and beat the children up, steal from them, and arrest the older boys. One of the male social workers who works in Kisenyi (the primary slum the kids in our program live in) told us that we had reduced numbers of kids coming that week because there were many that were beaten so badly they couldnt travel the short distance over to our programs.
I will never forget the boys who came up to me just last week to tell me that they were hurting because they were beaten by police the night before. Joseph put his arm around my shoulder and told me as tears began to fall down his face that his body hurt because he kept getting beaten at night. When I told him that I prayed for him every night and that we were all working to do something about it he began to walk away sadly.
Last night I was talking to a volunteer who was staying in a babies home in Kampala. She told me that she had come to Uganda because her friend was telling her it was such a beautiful, safe and easy country.
That hit me so hard that I couldnt say anything (until I slowly recovered and tried my best to politely agree with her). How can one city have two worlds that are so completely different. How can a girl enter and leave a country and believe that it is a place that is purely safe, easy and beautiful?
I am having a hard time lately, I entered so easily into the world of street kids. Entered into their hearts, their lives, their dreams…
“I want to study.”
“I want to have a home.”
“I want to go home with you.”
“I want to have a job.”
“I want to be safe.”
“I want to not be beaten at night.”
And now I am beginning to enter so quickly into their pain, or at least a piece of it and it is not easy. Street children are so tough, stronger than any child, any person should ever have to be. You would never believe what they go through when you see their beautiful smiles, they still have found a way to grasp joy and love.
Street children are… children. They should be going to school and getting hugs when they enter the house. THey should not only be tucked in at night but have a bed or at least a blanket to sleep with.
And yet my children sleep in alleyways and gutters. They get sick because they eat from garbage cans. They get arrested and put in prison. They cant go a week without getting beaten. They cant keep a pair of shoes because they get stolen off their feet. They get abused in every way.
When I first came to Uganda several years ago I really wrestle with God about how He could allow people to suffer the way that they do. I dont struggle with that anymore. I have poured out my heart to Him, I know He listens. I know that He feels more pain than sweet Joseph when Joseph is kicked with police officers steel toed boots, when he is beaten by battons and hit with rocks. God has a heart that not only hears but resonates with street children, He is one. I see Jesus’ face in my kids. I feel so close to God when I am with them. I feel so alive.
God has a heart for the suffering and He has given us a large call to do something about those that are opressed and abused. One day He will lift up all of those who have suffered injustice and He will punish those who have oppressed the orphan and the widow.
It hurts my heart yes, it actually breaks it but it is so worth it to enter into their worlds and to bring them light. To tell them about a God that loves them. To play with them. To lift them up and tell them that I love them and what they are so good at.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Posted on Jul. 12th, 2009 at 10:11 am
Of course Abby has many more AMAZING pics on her blog and also some videos that help you really connect to the kids that she’s dedicated her lives to. Here are some of my favorite cute kid pics of hers!
(Abby has stories about all these kids on her blog).
(Abby said that he carries his little brother rain or shine, even when he’s stuck wearing snow bibs (and sweating profusely because of it). She said it took so many shots to get this picture because he would never push back when all of the other kids crowded as close as possible for the picture).
(She said it was really hot out this day, but he loved the jacket so much, he wouldn’t take it off)!
Scottie and I have committed to reading at least 1 blog post from Abby every day for the next 2 weeks. We want to be reminded every morning that there are bigger things going on in the world than we see every day in our tiny little lives. We hope you will join us in this commitment to be inspired every day by how love can change everything.