As I write this, drums are beating in the front yard of Jajja's Kids home. The energy is joyous as Ronnie and others teach traditional music to our children. Sitting next to me (and reading aloud each word I type) is 9-year-old Kayondo. He was 4 when Ronnie brought him to our home.
In Kayondo's own words:
"I came here in 2012 when the year was ending. From 2013 to now is five years. I like education and I love Uncle Jeff for the English he taught me because when I came here I didn't know a single word from English. I thank Uncle Richard for the dancing and drumming that he taught me. I thank Uncle Ronnie for the clothes that he gives me and the school fees. And I also thank Jajja Diane for the text books that you brought for us.
When I was at my mother's home I was still in baby class (nursery school) and Uncle Ronnie brought me here and he started teaching me from here. Then he took me to primary school and now I am in Primary 3."
Kayondo is one of the lucky ones. He could have been lost to street life, but instead he is here. His smile melts my heart, his hug lifts my spirits. He is serious about learning and has the confidence to thrive. His mother is back in their village, suffering from HIV. It is difficult to imagine the life of Kayondo and all our nineteen children if not for Jajja's Kids.
The level of poverty in this country is profound. Roadside homes are often made from bits of lumber haphazardly constructed. Dirt roads are deeply rutted by heavy rains; paved roads can be so broken that two-way driving is hazardous. Very young children beg between stopped cars. Despite severe hardships so many Ugandans face, there is also much love here. People are often warm, friendly, open and caring.
We are forever grateful for the generous support that allows our program to survive and our children to thrive. But we are outgrowing our rented home! More than ever we now need a place to call our own. At this year's annual fundraiser, we will launch a campaign for a permanent home in a healthy environment for Jajja's Kids.