I spent this last Christmas and New Years with a few of my closest friends in Uganda. It was an amazing time, full of challenges of heartache and glimpses of God’s wonder in the beautiful landscape and people. (If you’d like to read more, check out the travel blog we created here)
I wanted to refresh some of these important experiences and landed on a page in my journal that was marked “NEVER FORGET” at the top. It was written to be read by myself in the future, but I wanted to share the heart-breaking and heart-changing moments with you all. Let me take you to the Katanga slums in Kampala, Uganda.
She walked up to me quietly and gently grabbed my fingers with both of her hands. She looked up at me and yelled out with her eyes for the warmth of a smile. It didn’t take long before I gave her the best smile my hard heart could give. She smiled back immediately, as though satisfied or relieved, and dug her head into my arm as though she were trying to hide in my very flesh.
As we walked, she carefully guided me through the narrow alleyways filled with bustling people and open streams of flowing septic. She would point and nod in the right directions when we got lost from the group in the maze of the slum. Her manner was that of a seasoned woman, one who knew more about the harshness of life than most women 3 or 4 times her age.
Her hand was bandaged with medical tape and an IV drip that was fed into her vein was attached. She noticed me looking at it and looked up and said softly, “measles.”
I looked around at the ground to avoid puddles of septic build up and broken shards of glass. For the second that my focus was off of myself I noticed that Agnes had no shoes on. She was barefoot. Those beautiful little feet, those of a princess, deserved shoes that lit up different colors with every step– not callouses, cuts, or infection.
Never forget Agnes. Never forget that poverty is not a statistic; it is a beautiful little girl who doesn’t deserve to live in a slum. Who doesn’t deserve to become deaf in 2 months without the proper treatment for her measles. If numbers, pictures, sad movies or stories of unfortunate people don’t give you the motivation to fight for the poor, remember Agnes.