Vicky Amito bowed in a deep curtsy as we emerged from our vehicle. This was the second village of grass roof huts, and not the last in a morning of moving portraits.
The two-week vision tour was a stirring “show and tell” for Visionledd founders Jim and Kathy Cantelon, now WOW (Working for Orphans and Widows). As International Director, my husband Richard, with the help of our wonderful partners in three African countries—Zambia, Malawi and Uganda, had planned a full agenda.
Everything was neatly ordered in this circle of huts. One even had a hedge row around it! It was peaceful as we took the white plastic seats that were provided. On a grass mat in front of us, 16 year old Vicky sat with her siblings and grandmother. The staff of Christian Counseling Fellowship (CCF) said the elderly woman was a strong believer in Jesus Christ who was often found reading her Bible. She was the main caregiver, despite frequently being sick.
The story unfolded…
Vicky’s parents had died. Her father, grandfather and uncle had been killed by the L.R.A. (Lord’s Resistance Army), leaving her grandmother (referred to as “Go Go” in Uganda) to care for three girls and two boys. Grieving and shouldering the burden alone, the “Go Go” decided in 1999 to take Jesus as her Saviour. She sent one of the children to bring the goat that was provided by WOW’s Community Support through CCF, along with an acre of suitable farmland for food and income generating.
Vicky had been a stellar student at the school in the Purongo area of Nwoya district in Uganda, and a leader in praise and worship in the Bible Club there. She had completed Primary 7 and last year finished Senior 1. WOW and CCF had covered the cost of school fees, uniform and supplies, but like all sponsored children, Vicky was responsible for a year’s supply of personal hygiene items for the residential school at a cost of about 100,000 shillings, or $40. Unable to raise that amount, Vicky was unable to return for the Senior 2 class.
We were painfully aware that this scenario is not unusual. Many others would be facing the same struggle. We also knew that breeching the protocol our partners had put in place was not done. But sitting under that tree, in the unmistakable Presence of God and sweet fellowship with this family, His Spirit moved in all our hearts.
Jim quietly asked our CCF representative, Karabanga, if we might be allowed to help here, and get Vicky back in school. For one entry fee into Murchison Falls National Park, an adventure we were looking forward to at the end of our tour, this aspiring nurse would get her life and future back. Grandma was fully prepared to pay for the boda-boda (motorcycle) ride to transport her there!
Jim was given the nod.
“How soon can you be ready to go back to school?” he asked Vicky.
“Two hours…NOW!” she said, beaming.
“Tell her to get ready”, Jim instructed the translator.
Vicky began to clap in gratitude. I hoped my quiet weeping wasn’t seen or heard.
Jim said, “I’d like to pray.” But Grandma’s heart was rejoicing. There was no mistaking her request, despite the language barrier— “Let me pray.” Her heartfelt thanksgiving was a sweet celebration of a twenty minute miracle!
Written by: Moira Brown