Go back now (link) ! For there are spoilers in this post if you read this one first. So you are now forewarned!
Savior was a little boy who hung out at the gate of our camp. He didn't smile and he didn't play. I took him to see a doctor in town because I could tell that he was really sick. He had worms in his tummy - three kinds. One was a full grown tape worm that was winning the fight in his body for the food he was eating. His arms and legs had grown so thin. He cried a lot. He didn't smile. I cried too. I just couldn't stand seeing a child in this state. Now most children in the village have worms. It's a common ailment among them but it usually doesn't make them this sick. Savior was also very poor and couldn't afford the medicines that would heal him. It weighed so heavy on my heart. I had to do something. I couldn't leave him like this. So I took him to see the town doctor who happened to not be in the clinic that day. There was a technician there though who agreed to help Savior. After all this, my heart had grown attached to this little boy. I got the medicine for him and left it with his grandmother to give him. As I drove away in the van that day I wondered if he had gotten the medicine soon enough. Would he live? Could he make it? Children often die before the age of 5 in Uganda. It's part of the rhythm of life there.
Eight months later and I found myself in a van crossing the Savannah of northern Uganda on the five hour trek to Pakwach again. The sun was streaming through the window burning my skin. I laid down on the bench seat that I had to myself and watched the clouds in sky pass above my head and I thought about Savior. I was afraid. I didn't think I'd feel that way but I was. I've experienced death recently and I know how it feels. I was anxious to find out if he was alive. We arrived in the camp late in the afternoon. I decided that I'd walk up to Savior's mud hut the next morning. I ate dinner and watched the stars in the night sky that are stunning in Pakwach. Because there is no electricity the night sky is inky black. You can distinctively see the Milky Way. I then went to bed early.
The next day I walked across the camp and made my way to Savior's hut. Along the way several children joined me. They are so excited when something different happens in the village. A foreigner is a rare treat. They don't speak English so I couldn't ask them if he was ok. When I got to Savior's home I found that his grandmother was very sick with malaria. The children were all gathered around staring into the hut. It seems as though my heart would be stretched again. Where was Savior? He wasn't there. He wasn't in the camp. He was too poor to go to school. I asked where he was and the children ran off. What was this? Where did they go? What happened? I talked a few minutes with his grandmother trying to determine if she needed medicine to help her as well when all of a sudden this little boy comes running full speed down the hill and straight into my arms! I burst out crying! It was Savior! He was grinning from ear to ear! He was alive and well! My heart just lept. What a gift this was! Thank you God! Oh thank you! He looked great. He looked happy. He looked well! I just hugged him and we stood there admiring one another for a few moments. The first time I met him he was very afraid of me. I frightened him. I guess he'd never met a foreigner before. But not this time. I so wish I could speak Swahili. But in the end, we got along fine without using words at all. The $2.50 I spent on the medicine to save his life - well it worked. He's healthy and well.
I have a lot of emotion invested in this little boy. I've seen him very sick. I bathed his dirty little body at the clinic. I've held him when he was afraid. It only takes minutes to form a bond. Savior represents all of the children of Uganda to me. He is the face I see in my prayers as I pray for them at night. I think his story is no different from the other children in the village and all across Africa for that matter. Next year I will return to Uganda again. I'll go up north and check on Savior and his family. I'm blessed beyond measure to be able to do this. I wonder what I'll find...
Living under His Grace and Mercy,
P.S. Savior's grandmother was up and cooking lunch the next day when I went to check on her. She'd beaten malaria one more time.