We made our second attempt to see James on Saturday (today is Monday, and we are at the airport waiting to begin our flight home), and the road was no longer blocked by repair work, so we successfully reached the school. We spent the afternoon with James and the other sponsored children. We took them into the nearby city and updated some of their clothing needs and gave them a good lunch.

It is too easy to forget, when we return home, the needs of deaf children like these. We drove into the school yard and all the children rushed to greet us – how often do they get to see a vehicle up close or, even more unusual to them, get to ride in one. They stand staring at us as we climb out – they know we’re there for James and the other sponsored children. They seem happy and well adjusted to this school environment, and they wave and seem joyful if we give them the slightest attention.  But under the surface of it all, we wonder what life apart from this protective environment means for each of them. Deaf children in Uganda are not regarded well by most people in Uganda since no one has any idea what to do with them.

Most have families that they will go home to for the holidays in two weeks, but there is a small group, James among them, who have no one and who must stay at the school – his vacation last year resulted in four months spent as a runaway, you may remember. This year, we can’t enable any such further misadventures, and there is no one to take him, so there he stays. Another small girl has a clan, but they seem to be in disagreement about her care, so they will not be picking her up for the holidays this year. I’m sure she doesn’t know this as yet and is expecting to go home to see her family.

We were very glad to see James. We were reminded again that these children are at the bottom of the destitute of the world. We feel like our meager efforts are like trying to fill an ocean with an eye-dropper. And yet these four that we have found sponsors for could not be even in this place, happy among their peers and in school, without the help they are receiving.

James was truly happy to see us, holding my hand at times, putting his arm around me at others, reaching out to help Gail climb down from the car (that was a first – it has taken time for him to warm up to her). We hugged good-bye, and he was comfortable enough with his circumstances to ask in signs what I took to mean, “You’re coming back, right?” When I nodded yes and smile, he was satisfied. And he stood happily with his friends waving as we drove off.

Now there is another request. Another deaf girl has been left at the school, her family too chronically ill to care for her. She is in effect an orphan because of this, and she is also on the list of those who will be staying at the school during the holiday. If anyone would like to volunteer to help this eight-year-old child, we would need about $40.00 per month. You can email us or contact us through the comments following this post and we will get back to you.