Today was an emotionally draining day here in Uganda. This morning Mayer was acting fussy right off the bat – just one of those “off” days I think. We had breakfast and then Keltie picked us up at about 10am. We headed for the RUHU orphanage. Keltie had picked up a whole box of chipatti (yum!) and we were able to give that to the kids as soon as we got there. They were very excited. Keltie left me at the orphanage and then she, the kids and Keith headed back to her house to drop her kids off as they weren’t going with us today. While they were gone I was recruited to “teach” one of the kids English classes today. I fumbled my way through a lesson in their English book – they were very attentive and sweet students. Their schooling situation is horrendous – they have one “teacher” for 80 students and the “teacher” didn’t even finish school. They have one workbook for the entire 10 kids in the class I taught. A dirty, hot and dark room to work in. They really need to go to a real school and we’re working on getting the kids sponsored so they can attend a nearby school. They don’t have any real public schools here, if you want your kids to go to school you have to pay for private school. They really need to go so that they will be one day able to break the cycle of poverty they live in. It will be life changing for them.
When Keltie, Keith and Mayer got back we met three kids at the orphanage in need of medical attention. Three ten year olds – a girl and two boys. The little girl (Farida) had an infected sore on the side of her face. Hamani had a rash and kept losing weight and Stuart has a whole in his leg, where you can see bone. So we took them to the hospital. The hospital here is CRAZY. I can tell you, it is not a place I would want to be when I was sick. We were there for at least four hours today. Farida was fairly simple – we waited for quite some time to get in and see the doctor but we got some prescriptions and she was done first. While Keith and I (and Mayer) were in with Farida Keltie and Patrick (orphanage director) took the other two and went to do their tests. Neither had been tested for HIV so that was first on the list. When we were done with Farida’s stuff, Keith decided to head back to the hotel with Mayer – by this time is was past lunch and he was getting fussy. So Farida and I headed up to meet the others. We found Hamani by himself in the lab so we waited with him until their medical test results were ready. I got those and then we all three headed to find Keltie, Patrick and Stuart in the xray dept where Stuart was getting his leg xrayed. The doctors were concerned that the infection had gotten into his bone. They also ran an sickle cell test on his as his spleen was enlarged. We won’t get the results of that until tomorrow. Stuart came out and we waited a bit – then we were told that the xray was done but the person who can read it wasn’t there at the time so we have to go back tomorrow to read the xray. When we met up with the others we realized that they failed to actually test the boys for HIV so when we finished at the xray department we headed back outside into the rain and down to the lab. We sat there for a while waiting and were told they ran the tests with the blood they already took from the boys and we needed to go to another laboratory for the results. So out in the rain again (by this time we were all cold!) and down to another building.
When it came our turn for the HIV results they called Stuart in first. They talked to him for quite some time and Keltie said she had this feeling he was positive. Out he came and they called Hamani in. They only talked to him for a few minutes but when he and Patrick came out we knew it was bad news. Stuart was negative but Hamani is HIV positive. Keltie, Patrick and I went in with him to the doctors office to officially have his results read and explained to him. The doctor was very nice and explained HIV, what he needs to do now, what meds he’ll have to take, etc. As he was talking you could see Hamani’s face just getting darker and sadder. At the end of the conversation Hamani started crying and trying to hide his tears from us. Patrick pulled him into his lap where they both cried together. Keltie and I sat and cried with them. For some time the four of us sat huddled in the doctors office crying for sweet Hamani. He has such an incredibly difficult life already, at only 10 years old. A life I can’t even imagine. And now this. Who knows how he got it – he’d been living on the street before he came to the orphanage. I don’t even want to think about what his life was like out there on his own as a little boy.
The doctor explained that he should be able to live a fairly normal life, but he stressed that the stigma is very bad and that we didn’t need to tell his friends at the orphanage. Hamani now has to go on medicine he’ll take everyday for the rest of his life. He should be OK. HIV isn’t the death sentence it once was, in the US people with HIV have an almost normal life expectancy. I’m not sure about here in Uganda, I know the chances he’ll get his meds everday are slim. He is malnourished and I’m sure still isn’t going to be getting the nourishment he needs to stay healthy and strong. Keltie and I talked about different options for him. Maybe a home in the city for HIV children where they can make sure he gets his medicine. Maybe he should be adopted. But who is going to want to adopt an HIV positive preteen boy from the streets? We’ll do everything we can to help him.
Tomorrow we go to get Stuarts xrays read. Poor Stuart was also from the streets. He and two other boys were scavenging in an abandoned building when part of it collapsed. Stuart was the only one to survive but his leg was obviously injured. This was MONTHS ago. He has lived like this for a long time. He is happy that he is finally getting some help. He has the best shy smile and such a sweet spirit.
I can’t even begin to tell you how these kids have gotten into my heart. These are LITTLE KIDS, little kids that have been through so much more than I can even imagine. When you look at them you see so much hurt, fear and neglect. But as I get to know them I also see so much potential. They want to trust, to be loved. They want to be a part of a family, to feel like they matter and belong. My heart breaks for them…I imagine everything they could be one day. And I see how their lives will turn out if they continue to live the way they are living now. I hope what we are doing is really helping. It seems like such short term solutions. Yes, Hamani will get started on his HIV meds, but what about 3 months from now? Yes, Farida ate enough and is finally full, but what about next week? I’m praying that God will show us what He wants for these kids and provide a way for them to be fed, healthy, safe and educated after we leave.
Like I said…an emotional day.
In adoption news – we have our ruling written. It has the wording we need to apply for a visa for Mayer. We have a visa appt scheduled for Monday. We are PRAYING we can come home next week. I can’t tell you how much I want to come home. I am soooooo ready. I like Uganda, but being stuck here stinks. I just want to take my son home. Please, please, please pray that we get a visa next week.