Friday, August 13, 2010

Dress A Girl

Mission Moments-Uganda- Dress A Girl Around the World

Spending months hosting sewing parties at Summitview, collecting dresses from friends and relatives from Loveland to Canada, made it possible to pack two suitcases with dresses, undies and dolls for the girls in Uganda and Kenya. What a joy it was to see each unique dress with its colorful design, bows, buttons and trims. Each dress had a pocket so the girls could carry their dolls with them around the play yard. No two girls are alike and neither were the dresses.

Within the first few days, we loaded up our bus and drove the 15 minutes from our motel in Tororo, Uganda to the Smile Africa Bison site. Monday through Saturday, 400 children make their way from surrounding villages by foot to receive two meals, medical care, education and most importantly the love of God demonstrated by Pastor Ruth, the teachers and cooks. The ratio is 7 adults to 300 to 400 children on any given day. Hope4Kids has partnered with Smile Africa to dig a fresh water well, erect a shade structure for the children to eat under, a clinic, several classrooms and a latrine. Construction is also underway for a water tower that will make showers possible and a girls' dorm.

Life in Africa is not only hard- it's cruel. When the children began coming to Marty's Kitchen at Smile Africa and refused to dig in trash heaps to provide food for the family, a job mostly for girls- they were thrown out of their homes. Now 40 girls live under the care of Smile Africa widows and will soon move into the dorm with these loving caregivers.

The children come dirty, hungry, sick and lonely. Children as young as fours years old carry baby brothers or sisters so they too can get fed. Then they must set aside their own childhoods and care for them all day. Just getting hundreds of children bathed, their wounds dresses, malaria medication passed out and porridge into their plastics cups, then into tummies, takes hours with so little help. Of course, the older ones step up to take responsibility as is their role at home.

The day we dressed the girls, we asked their teachers to begin with the littlest girls first. Some were little more than a year old. We did the best we could to find a dress to fit them. Because they are not used to seeing Mzungus (white people), we made plenty of babies cry. The toddlers, then primary girls and finally pre-teens took their turns being fitted for a dress. There was no arguing over who got the prettiest, no foot stomping that they didn't want THAT one, just gratitude and smiles as these mostly barefoot and ragged girls were treated as princesses for a few moments. They especially loved the undies and were showing them off to each other. Once outside again, they played with their dolls and twirled their dresses-just like any little girl would with a new dress.

As our team of women dressed the girls, we were all giggles and smiles too. I got to say "Edie made that one, Shannon made that one, Linda made that one" and so on. When I put the dress that my nine year old grandaughter made on one of the girls, I couldn't hold back the tears- tears of joy that I was so blessed to be the one able to be part of those Holy moments- dressing the naked in Jesus' name.

We are still making dresses for Kenya, Guatemala and Uganda so please continue to sew so we can continue to bless these precious children around the world.

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