Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hope House

Oh my goodness, if you aren't already following the Ugandan adventures of BooMama and Shannon from Rocks In My Dryer, please start!

I can't begin to describe how my heart pounds as I read their stories and look at their pictures. I don't know if I'll ever get to go back myself, but I'm returning to Uganda vicariously through them. I know what they're feeling. It is so overwhelming to see the extreme poverty and the needs everywhere you look. Kids dumpster diving for food. Adults maimed in the civil war begging on the street. But then you see good things that are happening, and see the smiles on the children's faces, and you know that Uganda is a place of HOPE!

And it reminded me of a picture of my daughter at Hope House when she went back for a visit after graduating from high school in 2005. Kasana Children's Center is caring for close to 500 children and a few of them benefit from the first building my hubby worked on while we were there: Hope House. A home dedicated to caring for infants and toddlers who have been abandoned.

We just called it "The Baby House" while it was being built. Then we got our first baby. A little girl who was about 10 months old but weighed less then 8 pounds. The second-born twin of a woman who died in childbirth, blamed by her village for that death, this helpless little baby had been starved, neglected and abused. Bouts with viral meningitis, cerebral malaria, and who knows what else plus numerous seizures had left her limbs permanently stiff and unwieldy. Someone from her village had finally dropped her off at Kiwoko Hospital. They did what they could but that wasn't much. She was too far gone. They asked New Hope Uganda Ministries to take this little girl "home" for the short remainder of her life. We named her Nakato Hope and she lived not quite two weeks after coming to Kasana. I'm sure that during those few days she was held and loved on more than in the whole first ten months of her life. Staff and older orphans lined up to help care for our first baby.

And when she died we mourned. Even though we knew it was inevitable when we got her, it was still really hard. But I wrote at the time what encouragement I found in Philippians 3:20-21: “Our citizenship is in heaven. We eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” [emphasis mine]

Then someone suggested that we christen the building Hope House after the little girl who lived such a short time but had a huge impact on so many lives. And if you look closely at the picture, you'll see painted on the wall the verse from Isaiah 40:31 and the words "Welcome to Hope House: In loving memory of Nakato Hope".

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