Imagine if you woke up this morning and the entire state you lived in was transformed into what can only be called ‘sheer desperation’.
(Please have the perseverance and courage to read this entire story)
When you awoke, you were sleeping on a piece of foam 4 inches thick, 4ft wide by 6 feet long. The foam was crumbling from rot and dirt. It is more of a barrier from the hard floor than a comfort. The blanket you are under is tattered and full of holes. You wonder how you could possibly be comfortable. Then you recognize that your comfort and warmth was coming from your spouse and four children sleeping around and on you…on that one mat. As you lay there wondering how this has happened you focus on the ceiling and you recognize that your home is now the one room mower shed that is typically in the backyards of most American homesteads.
As you quietly get up to try to understand how you are in such horrible circumstances you first see the ants and the cockroaches scamper from under your bed and the one chair in the corner. As you open the door to outside, all you see are others in the very same circumstances. Your TV’s are gone, your beautiful home is not there. Your car is not there and if it was, you realize $3.50 for one gallon is more than 3 days wages that your husband brings home.
As you peak outside, you smile a little, when you see in the yard, a mother Hen with 8 little chicks scampering around her. They are very cute as they chase that little grasshopper in hopes for some breakfast.
As you step out of your home into the light of the new day, your stomach growls. You know that you are going to need to eat, but even more you know your spouse and children will be rising soon and they too will want to eat. So you peak back in your new home…the garden shed. You see a very small blue plastic bag. Your are curious. You find beans and some rice and one nearly blackened banana. As you look around for other food items, hoping for a nice bowl of cereal and cold milk, or bagel with cream cheese, or fresh bacon and eggs on toast…you recognize there is not even a stove or a microwave to prepare such foods. You stare at the walls and understand there are no cupboards with dishes, no drawers with utensils, no sink for washing, no water to wash or to cook with.
You discover an aluminum bowl with a stick resting in it. You figure you could cook the rice and beans with some water so your spouse and 4 children may have some breakfast. You accept this reality and you take the cooking bowl, rice and beans, and prepare to cook it. You first look for the stove. It does not exist. It cannot exist in this new house…there is no space and even if I had the space it would take nearly a years wages to pay for a stove and even if I could pay for the stove, there is no electricity or natural gas lines to power it.
You feel like panicking. You are overwhelmed at your new reality. You look around your one room home…You see your other 2 outfits to wear, and the one or two sets of old clothes for each of your other 5 family members. There is no room. You can barely see the floor of your home because it is so small and there is no room for anything you possess and it is all just stacked upon each other.
You realize that in order to have some moving around space, you must try to create some living space outside. You have no lawn chairs or patio furniture, so you think to yourself that you will buy a floor mat that you could sit on and your children could play on. You hope it will be big. You go inside your home to find your money stash, or at least your debit card, or possibly your password so you can get money from your bank accounts. You soon discover they do not exist. The only money you have is 2 quarters, a dime and 6 pennies. You realize you are lucky, because that is the price of a small mat. But you pause and recognize that if you spend those coins on the mat, you will not have any money to buy beans and rice for your family tomorrow. You begin to cry because you now know that there is not enough food for lunch and dinner for that day. Just beans and rice for breakfast and you hope the school will feed your children. But you feel a sense of desperation because you know you cannot afford for your children to attend a school.
You tell yourself that you will worry about that later. For now, you need water to cook the rice and beans, for you can hear the kids stirring inside and they will soon be asking for breakfast.
You seek water for cooking the rice and beans. The only thing you find is a yellow gas can in the back of your house/shed. You grab it and look for the sink. It does’t exist. You look outside for a water spout to turn on so you can get a gallon or two of fresh water to drink and cook with. You notice your mouth is dry and you too thirst for water. You glance across the street and you see other people in the exact same circumstances. There is a group of ladies who are all filing in single file line, chattering with one another as they walk down the hill for a 2 mile walk to fetch some water for drinking and cooking and maybe washing.
If you are the mother of the family, you must decide if you want to go fetch water or send one of your older daughters or possibly one of your younger boys. Your 2 year old boy, now sitting on the floor with the ants scurrying around him just smiles and gazes at you with true love. You cannot believe that you do not have any pants for him, so he sits on the floor with ants with only a shirt on. He does’t mind. He doesn’t know any better.
You pick him up and give him a squeeze and you recognize that you need to pick up the ‘house.’ So, you awaken your other daughter…now 13 years old. You ask her to take the yellow gas can on the 2 mile walk to bring back some water. She doesn’t complain, gets up, rubs her eyes and sets off on the journey. You pray for her safety as she makes the journey. You pray the 17 year old boys of the town will not rape her and you pray that she has the sense to stay with the group for safety. You also pray that she has the strength to carry the 40 pounds of water back up the hill to your home on the 2 mile walk back.
You pray that the water source will not have any animal feces in it or that the rain from last night, as it washes to the water source, doesn’t encounter any dead animals and carry more disease to the water you must drink everyday. You pray that maybe today the water will be less milky colored and more clear. You pray to God that He will protect the family from all the disease that this water brings with it. You feel overwhelmed that it is the only water you have to drink, period.
If you are the wife, you do all you can to keep your mind off of your daughter journeying to the water source, so you get the others up and ask them to clean up around them, you send them off to the school that you hope will let them attend without paying and maybe even feed them.
You are beginning to become so desperate that you and your husband actually consider having you go into town at night, where the truck drivers park their trucks and pay 2 or 3 dollars for sex with you. You know if you do this, your kids will eat much better, but you worry about HIV. You know it will embitter your husband even though you both agreed it’s the only way to provide for the family. You haven’t caved in to that temptation yet, but you are growing ever more desperate every day.
You hope the dollar your husband makes that day will be stretched further as you encounter others in the same circumstances at the market. Maybe some trade and bartering can take place. Instead of buying a mat for the front of the house for the kids to play on, you can be resourceful and pull some of the local reeds that grow nearby and find some old string and tie them together and make a flat mat, so that the kids aren’t directly in the dirt.
If you are the husband, you get up, frustrated, that you are headed into town or down the road where you might find a farmer who will give you 50 cents…maybe up to 2 dollars for your day of working in his fields. You know that amount of money will barely sustain your family with the rice and beans so you at least may not starve to death. You are losing weight because you forgo some meals, hoping the farmer might provide a small meal for your work, so your children may have a little extra food as they are growing.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU FACE THAT DAY?
You have no stove, so you cook your rice and beans behind your house over firewood.
You find out your kids are not allowed to attend school because they do not have a uniform or school supplies, or the administration fees for them to attend so the teachers may be paid even a little.
You wait for your husband to come home, hoping he made a little extra money that day.
You pray and hope that your children do not get sick, especially from Malaria from mosquitos, because you have no medicine and cannot afford to go to any hospital.
You pick wild bananas in hopes that somebody, maybe even a tourist, would journey past and pay you a quarter for some bananas, but you recognize that everybody is selling small bunches of bananas. You pray someone buys yours.
You hope there is water left over from breakfast to feed the tomato plants on the side of your house, so you don’t have to take another 4 mile trip for dirty water. You hope you can trade your tomatoes for some corn or an onion or a mango.
You pray to God for this all to change. You are working very hard, there just is not income.
You pray to God that a Christian from a more prosperous part of the world might choose to give and help and serve. You pray that thousands of Christians around the world would sacrifice as much as they can every month to help conquer this injustice.
You met an American missionary today who asked you what you hope would happen first so that your life might be less desperate…you reply…I beg that my children could go to a good school, where they can eat, receive a good education and change their future. You say that you can get by, but you are praying to the Lord that your children’s future will be better because they learned new ways of life through their school and education and world exposure.
You thank the missionary for coming to visit you and you hope that he will preach at the church you attend on Sunday.
You sing to the Lord nearly 10 times a day… songs like… “God you are good, God you are good, God you are good, you’re so good to me.” You sing it with a smile knowing that you will join Him for eternity and it is there you will have no tears, no starvation, no hurt, no thirst and pure joy.
You are joyful, even amidst all this day’s injustice.
READER…IF YOU WANT TO BE A SOLUTION TO THIS INJUSTICE….PLEASE START BY DONATING SOME OF YOUR MONEY MONTHLY. www.ReturnHope.com I am asking you to consider sacrificing eating out one time a month as a family. You can take that $40 and give it to the least of these through Return Hope International. The 40 comes from Matthew 25:40. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, that which you do for the least of these, you do unto me.” Just click the ReturnHope Logo and donate.
It’s not the 40 that is such a huge amount that helps so much…it’s the power of many of us giving 40 dollars each a month. Call your friends and have them join you in giving 40 a month for the least of these. I will come speak and tell stories and show pictures at any group you request me to join. We must do this together. The eternal impact is huge!
THEN PRAY ABOUT TRAVELING OVER TO UGANDA WITH US AND MEETING THE AMAZING UGANDAN PEOPLE.
YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Please remember what Jesus said…
“Where you treasure is…there you your heart is also.”