This summer, I’ll be going to Uganda, Africa with my husband and a group of about 20 others… Here’s why.
When most people hear “Uganda”, they often think the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) whose practices include the murder, abuse, and abduction of children, as well as forcing children to serve in this army as soldiers. The LRA use children in their army because they find that they are easily replaceable. By replaceable, they mean that they can substitute fallen child soldiers with new ones by raiding villages, killing family members and neighbors, and abducting children. This army is known for the unspeakable acts that its members both force onto children and force children to do.
In one word, it’s sickening.
Unfortunately, this is not the only trouble that Uganda and it’s children are currently facing. The AIDS epidemic is ravaging through the Africa leaving many orphaned children behind. The people in Uganda are among the poorest in the world, with many living on less than $1.25 a day. In addition to all of this, illiteracy is extremely common, making it difficult for Ugandans to educate themselves and create a more positive future for their families and country.
Thankfully there is hope.
When I think of Uganda, I now think of Watoto. Watoto is a holistic care program whose mission is to rescue, raise, and rebuild. They’re rescuing orphaned children, and give them homes. REAL homes. These children are not just put into a run of the mill orphanage, they are brought into to Watoto village that contains many homes, a school, a clinic, and a community center. They are given a home with a house mom who will take care of them and the seven other children in the home. In a real way, they are given a family.
Many of the children in Watoto have terrible and often abusive histories. Some of them were forced to do terrible things in the LRA, others walked the streets after their parents died from AIDS, and still others were involved in human trafficking and used as sex slaves. These children need to know the love of family, they need to be able to feel like children again.
Watoto’s goal is to do this and more for the children they care for. They hope to raise up the next generation of Uganda as a loved, loving, and well educated people (and they’re succeeding, check out THIS video), so that they in turn can become leaders and create a better Uganda for future generations.
This is a cause that both my husband and I feel led to support. While we’re in Uganda this summer, we will be helping to build one of the homes that these children live in. We will also be using or skills in photography and video to bring back some of the stories that we find there, in order to further spread the word about the wonderful work that the people behind Watoto are doing.
Not surprisingly, the cost of traveling halfway around the world and building a house is not cheap. There’s building supplies, air fair, lodging, vaccinations, and more to think of. After everything is said and done, my husband and I will need to raise $4,500 EACH in order to go on the trip. That’s a total of $9,000. Usually, we’re not the kind to ask for favors. We like to do things on our own, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and all that… But this, this is bigger than us, and we need to set our pride aside and ask for help.
For this reason, you may likely see quite a few posts on this subject as we find new ways to fundraise, and as we prepare for the trip. If at any time you feel inclined to make a donation you can head over here and make a donation online through PayPal. Just make sure to specify who the donation will be attributed to (Josh and Kelley Johnson) by clicking on the little plus sign next to “Team member you wish to donate to”, and then writing our names in the box that pops up.
If you ever want anymore information on this subject, please feel free to ask, I’d love to talk with you about it.
Thank you all in advance for your support, comments, thoughts, and prayers.
-The African Traveling Kelley