Sunday, December 19, 2010

Angels make Christmas memorable for six orphans

From the Parkville Luminary

FORT PORTAL, UGANDA—Try as they might, Annet, Jannet, Peter, Violet, Patrick, and Adolf are having a hard time forgetting Christmas, 2009.

Newly orphaned, isolated, and alone, the six kids, ages 4-13 at the time, were more worried about surviving than they were about celebrating.

“Christmas (2009) was not good for me, I had no clothes and we did not go to church,” said Violet, 9. Peter, 11, said Christmas “was not different from other ordinary days because even then life did not change because we had no any meals (except for) a neighbor who offered lunch.” “There was nothing special about last Christmas because we did not have any new clothes, no special meals and no parents,” said Janet, 13.

The oldest orphan, Annet, vainly tried to hold back tears as she recalled the 2009 holidays. “Christmas day was worse because it was the first Christmas with out our beloved mother who would try to make sure we have special meals and sodas. In the night it rained heavily and we did not sleep as the rain got to us through the dilapidated roof. Actually, I hate even recalling that Christmas because that is when I realized we were typical parentless because there was no one for us,” she said.

The six were left alone last Christmas after their father abused their mother, eventually killing her. Then, the alcoholic father killed himself, leaving Annet and her five younger brothers and sisters orphaned. None of their relatives would, or could, look after them, so they were absolutely alone in the world.

Enter Betty Mujungu, a journalist at Life FM in Fort Portal. As I first reported last summer, Betty produced a story about the orphans’ plight, featuring the kids telling their pathetic tale. In the radio report, the children talked openly about how they were suffering and didn’t have enough to eat. Annet told Betty about how one of the younger girls injured her leg escaping from a would-be rapist. Upon hearing this tragic story, Life FM’s listeners sprung into action. Ten different donors generously gave food and clothing to the children. Another donor is paying for all the kids to attend school.

Touched by the orphans’ story, Betty and her mother Edith Birungi decided to take in all six kids about four months ago. The orphans now call Betty “Dear Aunt” and Edith “Mum”.

Since they now have a home, Betty said the kids’ lives have “completely transformed into average standards of living with the children accessing both the basic and secondary requirements. Exposure to a new friendly environment of desirable dressing, schools, shelter as well as feeding makes the children hopeful of a life they never anticipated.”

The kids seem to be doing fine in school. “I didn`t know I would perform as good as this in class before, because in the previous days my studies were on and off as I would be frequently shut away from school due to failure to pay school fees,” noted Annet, who plans to be a doctor.

--Photo--The six orphans, looking "smart" in their school uniforms.--

The orphans have not only excelled at school, but they are also opening up to the community that embraced them. They participate in a weekly Saturday children’s radio program on Life FM. Betty observed that this show “has enhanced their communication capabilities because they can now talk with out fear… and teach their fellow children.”

Given their new life, it’s no surprise that the children have high hopes for Christmas 2010. This year, they want a celebration complete with new clothes, special meals, and a visit to church. Betty has assured the kids that she will “fulfill all of their demands.” Betty and Edith also plan to make a special Christmas cake to celebrate the holiday. “I am happy and believe we shall make it even when challenges come our way because it is not so easy to take good care of a big family like this…,” Betty said.

I have always loathed sappy sweet, corny holiday movies and TV shows, the kind that always make my wife cry. After learning about what Betty and Edith have done for these orphans, it’s hard for even a curmudgeon like me not to believe in angels and in Christmas miracles.

--To hear a radio report about Betty and the orphans, click here. Scroll down a bit. The story is called, Peace Journalist embraces orphans.--

1 comment:

  1. Steve, Such a moving story and looks like a happy ending you see those kids?