Children playing football....A child at the blackboard
A story about bringing in a new child to a Children's Village in Uganda:
The laughter of a happy child can be heard as you approach one of the family houses at SOS Children's Village Entebbe. As I walk through the front door, a child yells from behind the closet, "Come and find me!" I quickly figure out that the children are playing some sort of game. I needn't interrupt, so I just stand and watch. There is sudden excitement as the little girl discovers where her big brother has been hiding. He lifts her high in the air as a reward and they hug amidst lots of laughter. I am amazed at what I see. It's not because it's the first time that I've witnessed children expressing such warm emotion towards each other. It is because of the tremendous change I can see in this little girl who came to the SOS Children's Village just a few weeks ago.
I will always remember my first encounter with Rose. I saw a frightened little girl who looked much younger than four as a result of malnutrition. She seemed to have mixed thoughts about what was going on as she clung to her father.
Rose was identified by a social worker who was out on his daily rounds in the community. She was living with her father and several other male adults in a small one-roomed mud house with a rusty tin roof. Rose's mother abandoned her at birth (she was apparently mentally unstable), leaving Rose alone with her father, a casual labourer.
Every morning the men went out to till people's land and Rose was left alone in the house until they returned late in the evening. She went without meals and only ate when her father came back. There was not much inside the house apart from two old plastic containers, a saucepan and plastic bags, which they used for bedding. Even though Rose was almost four she couldn't speak and only looked up whenever there was a conversation.
The process of admitting Rose to the SOS Children's Village began. It was difficult because it involved quite a long and rigorous court process. Her father, who knew that moving Rose to an SOS Children's Village was the best thing he could do for her, was almost ready to give up, but he hung in there. Thankfully it finally came to an end after four months and Rose was taken to her new home: SOS Children's Village Entebbe. Rose will keep in touch with her father as she grows up because SOS Children's Villages has a policy of ensuring that children maintain contact with their family of origin where possible.
I had never imagined I would stand here today to witness this little girl come out of her shell, to see her get along with her new family, playing and, above all, being able to laugh like that and I come to the conclusion that there is hope. This laughter I hear means there is hope!