Her day consists of sitting or standing in the busiest part of a bustling metropolis. She pleads with people, holding out her hand with dark brown eyes to those who pass by. Your first thought is to fill the hand, but you know that she doesn't receive it and that it wouldn't help. In her case she is just a means to an addiction for her mother. At other times she stands at busy intersections and walks from each stagnant car. Car to car, hoping for something, anything. A bit of food is what drops into her hand. The feeling of helplessness resides in the deep part of your heart. Then you remember, Psalm 9:18 which states, "For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever." If only she could know; she will know. If only they all could know and accept. They can be released from the slavery. She fears the streets for multiple reasons. The dark nights there are frightening. Then the government authorities come and gather all the begging children off the streets in hopes to solve this horrendous problem. They do what they think is best and send them to a "rehabilitation center." A relative might come in hopes to retrieve children so the cycle can begin again. If not you stay until you are taken back to Karamoja just to return again to Kampala.
This is just an example of some of our children we are ministering to in the slums. Briana and I have started a school (mostly Briana, I am just helping establish, create activities and teach on Fridays). We get to hear some of their stories from them, from the leaders in the community and from their faces. Today when I asked our translator and community leader how many of the 18 children beg on the streets. "All of them but 2" was his reply. "It is how the parents can make money. It is not good, but how else can they make money?" He makes a good point, they are like refugees fleeing from the insecurity of their own fighting, and lack of resources. These choices have sure dug them a hole, that is not easy to get out of. So we go to offer something. You have to start somewhere and 2 1/2 hours for 3 days a week seems so insignificant but by the look on some of their faces it means everything. They get to hear about the God who loves them, and we have hopes of educating them. It gives them some regularity, and excuse to be off the streets. And so we start somewhere for it is better than nowhere. Our classroom is a glorified shack, glorified because it has a bench. But it is better than nothing (our new motto). I am quickly reminded there is no "drug free" zone, as a drunk woman crowds around our circle and wants to participate in our fun. There are a lot of quirks but through it all we are praying that God would change their story and reputation from children that beg on the street to children of God.