It’s been 18 days since I’ve returned from Uganda and Kenya. I already miss the smell of charcoal burning, the long dinners with friends, the bumpy car rides with endless sites and smells, and even the hot and restless nights. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when seeing our projects implemented, but it is never too long before I start dreaming about what’s next. You might think that I spend most of my time identifying big picture ideas that include collaboration and high impact. I really do love that, but what keeps me awake at night are the individual stories. After my latest trip, it’s Felix that’s on my mind.
Felix is 5 years old. His dad is a peasant farmer. His mother died during childbirth. Since his father had nobody to help and was so poor, he tried to bury Felix alive with his mother. Felix was rescued and brought to Moyo Babies Home (a home for orphaned and abandoned children). He has received much love and has turned out to be quite a special boy.
I met Felix last July. I noticed him immediately. He was so excited when he was given a bouncy ball. He loved playing catch and was really good at it. Felix reminded me a lot of my son, Sam, at that age. If you gave him a ball, he would be entertained for hours. Felix was also kind and compassionate. He made sure none of the other kids took toys away from the younger or weaker kids. He also made sure they were included in the fun.
On my recent trip to Uganda, I learned that a new law had been passed in the country. All children in orphanages have to be resettled with relatives when they turn 5 years old. Felix was going home. He was going back to the father who tried to bury him alive. How could this happen? Who was making these decisions and did they know Felix’s story and all the other children who have stories just like him?
I shared this story about Felix last weekend with a firefighter friend who works in Phoenix. He said we do the same thing right here in our own community. He sees a lot of sad things. It makes him feel helpless and it even makes him question his faith. It made me realize that our world is broken. We have broken systems and broken people that need repaired. I’ve also learned that anything worth fighting for requires hope, patience, and warriors. It means that we may not win every battle, but we have to be committed to fighting the war if we want to be part of real change.
Felix went home in February. I’m going to try and get him in a boarding school, and I may even try to meet his family to learn how I can help them. I’m not sure if anything I do is going to help Felix, but I do know that I want to fight for him and other kids just like him. I’m also grateful for my firefighter friend and all the other warriors who choose to fight for others who can’t fight for themselves. Even though it’s painful, draining and dark, it’s a victory worth winning.