Sunday, November 8, 2009
by Dave M.
My first Sunday in Africa began at 5AM with the sound of church bells and the crowing of roosters on the outskirts of Tororo in Southeast Uganda.
Rising from my bed, I clothed and walked from my hotel room to the top of a nearby hill to watch the golden African sun rise over the African plain and valley below.
After breakfast, our group had our first “family” time meeting with Tom Eggum and his staff from Hope4 Kids International. Tom explained the “ruler of the road” and his staff summarized its many partnerships here in Uganda. The message I received was that, as ambassadors for Hope 4 Kids we are not missionaries. We are not here to “convert the heathen”. Hope 4 Kids is here to enable Ugandans to solve their own problems and help achieve their own dreams.
We then piled into the bus to attend church at the True Vine complex. Words cannot describe their joyous celebrations of dance, song, music and the word by Ken Jensen, a pastor from California and a member of our group.
After lunch some of us went to the local hospital, which is also indirectly supported by Hope 4 Kids. As joyous as our morning at the church, Pastor Eric Sabitti lead me through the men’s ward of the hospital which must resemble one of Mother Theresa’s hospitals in Calcutta. Emaciated bodies of just skin and bones lying on cots (or in one case, on the floor) partially covered by blankets, flies and filth. In most cases, these “patients” were attended by family members. I saw no doctor or nurse. Correction, there was one “doctor”, a witch doctor who was attending his patient and had placed a magical bracelet on his wrist. These men were dying of AIDS, T.B. diabetes, tumors or undiagnosed wasting diseases. Even if AIDS drugs were available, which they are not here , these men would die from simple lack of food. Here in Tororo, as in most of Africa, it is the responsibility of the patient or his family to bring to the hospital the patients’ food and medicine, if they have any.
Pastor Eric and I touched and prayed with each patient at his bed. I ended my day back a the hotel pool surrounded only by black Africans who could not help but notice my whiteness.