Who's that knocking on my gate?

One of the unique things about living here in Uganda is that you never know who is going to show up at your gate.  People knock looking for work, looking for assistance, from some committee or looking for handouts. This happens at least once a week, if not more.

About six weeks ago we had a mother show up at the gate with a child wrapped in a blanket.  There was a huge language barrier with me only knowing bits and pieces of the local language and her only knowing bits and pieces of English.  I understood the point that she was trying to get across is that her child was sick. The mother handed me a wrinkled up piece of paper from a clinic. All I could make out was the child had some testing done and it all came out negative.  She also had a list of medications she was supposed to buy.  Apio was not around to translate for me so I called her and had her translate by phone.  I would pass the phone to the mother and she would pass it back to me and I would get second hand what Apio translated.

From the bits and pieces I could understand the child was sick and could not be treated here by doctors in the local clinics.  Because of her child’s condition she was forced to travel to Mbale, which is about 2-3 hours away.  She was requesting assistance with transport to get her son to the hospital there. Kari and I have really worked hard to developing a plan and a way to help people in need, but we want to make sure that we are doing it in the right way and not just being the westerner who hands out money.  Money is not always the answer.   We want to make sure we are truly helping and not making the situation worse by making someone to become dependent on hand outs. We have tried to let the Holy Spirit lead us in our giving.  One of the hardest things about living here is telling people “no” who ask for money every day. When giving money we want to make sure it is going to the right cause and not going to enabling a cycle of bad habits.  We felt led that day to provide funding for her and her son to get transport and food and get to Mbale.

A few days ago, she showed back up at the gate. This time she was in need of transport money again.  Again the language barrier was there and this time Apio was not available by phone.  I was however able to get ahold of a young man who helps out with the ministry.  Again we did the translation game through the phone, it was a literal game of telephone.  I do not know how much was lost in translation or even if I got the whole story.   
Pierce peeking out the gate to greet visitors

I cannot imagine as a parent, having a sick child and not having the means to get them to the care they needed.  I cannot imagine the pain and anguish of having to go to a complete stranger’s gate and knocking, hoping and praying for assistance to get health care for my child. We are still not even sure how the lady came to be at our gate, maybe God led her there.

Did we do the right thing?  Did we help the situation or make the situation worse?  This is a question we ask ourselves each day when trying to make decisions.  Pray that we will continue to be guided with wisdom from God in dealing with situations like these.

Matthew OrtegaComment