Today I went and visited a mother, Namakula, who lives in our village. Earlier this year, Namakula went to use the toilet, leaving her two-year-old daughter, JoAnn, behind for just three short minutes. When she returned she found JoAnn drowning in a pit of water that had naturally formed during the rainy season. JoAnn was submerged under water for just long enough to take her life. One of our EA Institute Students heard Namakula screaming at the top of her lungs as he passed by her place on the road. He ran to help and tried to resuscitate JoAnn, but it didn't work. He was there for Namakula’s last moment with her daughter.
Today, we decided to deliver a couple of photographs of JoAnn to Namakula, along with some notes. Pictures of loved ones are hard to attain here, due to the cost. Some parents will never have a photograph of their child. We hoped the picture would give Namakula something with which to remember her daughter.
I came along to help translate and offer moral support during this sad and difficult exchange. After some introductions I gave the Namakula the pictures of JoAnn. Immediately she wept. Her knees buckled and she wailed, loud enough for all of her neighbors to hear. This isn’t common in Uganda. Women don’t cry in public, even in private, it seems that their tears have all been cried long ago. I’ve never seen a woman here weep, and it was so instantaneous.
I was reminded of a simple truth: We are all human. Sometimes I think people forget that Africans are human. Most of the world knows them as mere statistics, or an HIV/AIDS ridden continent, or a conglomeration of war-torn societies, or maybe a Samaritan's Purse sponsor child.
But today, please remember—we are all just human. Today, I saw a grieving mother weep at the sight of her lost baby. I felt like I saw into her soul as I could see her wrestling with thoughts like “Maybe I’m not a good mother” or “How could I let this happen?” Or simply, “I’ll never see my baby again.”
We are all human. We feel. We cry. We laugh. We grieve. We experience loss. We make mistakes. We are all made in the image of God. Who decides whose life is worth more than another? It’s not just that Westerners forget that people in Africa are human. People in Africa believe they’re worth less, that they don’t count. A simple photograph brought this mother to her knees because someone else remembered her child’s life. Someone else counted her loss.
The truth is that Namakula’s environment is hostile. She should be able to go to the bathroom without worrying about if her own homestead will cost her child’s life. But that wasn’t the case. And now, she weeps.
We are all human and yet we make people feel like they aren’t. We put them in a place where they are considered less than. Why would you go across the world to help “those people?” Because they aren’t “those people.” They are people, just like you and me. They deserve a safe place to raise their kids like the rest of us. They deserve opportunities to go to school and good Lord—to eat. They deserve playgrounds and music lessons and sports programs. They deserve to be able to read in their own language. They deserve to have life.
“Those people” are people too.
God is responding to their cries and prayers through me.
How will you respond?