This story is about a young man by the name of Mugarra James and his family. The You-tube video and story about Joseph Kony and the LRA in northern Uganda has caused quite a stir here, but the daily stories and struggles of the everyday people rarely get shared. It would not be hard for me to make a video with tears and grief, but I feel the courage and strength of the people are the most important stories to be recognized. The stories never finish and amazing individuals are making their way out of hard situations. This story is one of them.
James is a student who is now in a good boarding school and he is taking his second year of secondary school. He refuses to lose hope and seeing a chance for a positive future through education. Here is a photo of him:
His father Charles was a friend of mine for many years. He was one of the first people who helped me understand Uganda’s struggles back in 1997 when he was employed as a driver for the Bishop of the Catholic Church in this area. Life looked good when James was small but then his father Charles became sick with AIDS and lost his job. James is the second born of 4 children. Soon it became difficult for Charles to afford school fees for his 4 children, but Charles and his wife (who is also sick) did all they could to make sure their children went to primary school. I had lost track of Charles and did not know of his problems until a local hospital requested us to take his little girl Sarah into our home for HIV positive children. I was so saddened to find out that she was the daughter of my dear friend Charles and that he was so sick and living a hard life. We took in Sarah to the home where she is thriving. Here are photos of Charles and his wife signing papers to allow Sarah to live in the home.
Charles and his wife with their daughter Sarah
YES Uganda also built a safe house for the family. Charles’ health deteriorated very quickly, but he was happy to know his family had a home and his children were going to be able to finish school. Here is a photo of their old home and then the new one that was built.
Their old home that was falling into dis-repair due to poverty
The new home
This family is one of many in similar conditions. The young people are the hope of the future of this country. James and his brothers and sister now see a possible future. They are studying hard. Sarah is now on drugs to treat HIV and she is strong and doing well. Here is a photo of her at the home with her three close friends. Her mother is also on drugs but she remains very weak because she has had her disease long before the medications came to this country.
Sarah is the first girl on the left, strong and healthy.