It seems that the best way to truly comprehend the struggles of our African brothers and sisters is to live near them, and give a compassionate ear to the hardship they endure every day. This summer, Skylar and Amanda Aaseby, along with their two sons, are living in a small, rural town a few hours north of Kampala, Uganda. They are sharing quarters—not with other muzungus (Ugandans' term for "white people")—but with Africans. Malachi and Caden, their children, are playing with African children who are often barefoot and wounded, but smiling nonetheless.
Making the decision to live alongside the people is not just a loving thing to do, but a difficult thing to do. The Aasebys' home consists of four 10x10 rooms, which is a normal sized space for a Ugandan family of four, or even eight. Since moving into their home, the Aasebys have experienced dried up water pumps and have gone several days without electricity. The Aaseby family is now able to lend an ear (physically, not through e-mail or text message) to some of the struggles our African friends usually endure alone. It seems there is no better way to develop appropriate solutions than to see the issues with our own eyes. Our experience beside them will help us propose solutions that are feasible from where they stand every day.
Thus far, the Aaseby family has been engaged in very practical work. This week, Skylar helped our friend Lubega build a toilet. Lubega's family had been without a toilet for several months, and their budget hasn’t allowed for windows yet. Since Francis’s family cooks over a fire indoors (as is standard procedure in East Africa), ventilation is poor, leading to chronic coughs and headaches. Sickness is a part of everyday life. Because the Aasebys are living among the local people, they are able to observe the many environmental factors that cause so many to fall ill. Amanda, a Registered Nurse, has had the opportunity to observe how their healthcare system is responding through volunteering at the local dispensary twice a week.
We sent the Aaseby family to Uganda not in power, but in weakness (1 Cor. 1-2)--not with inexhaustible resources, but as people of character. They are living with the Ugandan people, and as their neighbors, they have the opportunity to see the daily struggles of an impoverished Ugandan with their own eyes. We believe that they can make a difference not by the power of money, but through education. Living beside impoverished people allows the Aaseby family (and others who will follow) to be able to see from their vantage point with more clarity. Because of this experience, they will be able to offer solutions that are feasible for people like the Lubega family to implement. We are grateful for the Aaseby family, for the experience they are gaining, and for the hope that they are able to bring, showing ‘the way things are’ don’t have to always be. They are not handing out money for a quick fix. Rather, they are allowing their friends to teach them through their experience, and offering themselves (namely, their time, critical thinking and skillful ingenuity) to assist in improving the living conditions of our dear friends.