“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Lessons from Uganda

I just returned from a couple of weeks in Uganda. I was there with a friend and colleague, Dr. Rick Langer, speaking on issues related to Christianity and disability, at 3 different universities. Each of the three have an interest in increasing their work in the field of disability through offering either majors or minor programs of study. In speaking to these groups, it is always rewarding to "connect the dots" for people. People who have perhaps grown up in church and have a sincere desire to serve God but who have been largely blind to the presence of persons with disabilities in their communities. We left feeling that perhaps we have sparked greater interest and desire in first being aware of persons with disabilities, understanding a bit of their life experience, and then planning for next steps such that they would be included as integral parts of the church body.

At one university, we were invited to visit the home of a woman whose son had severe disabilities, including hydrocephalus which had been treated later in his life such that he was largely bed ridden. The mother told of how she is largely alone in the young man's care, with little help from anyone. As we stood on the porch of her home, one could see the steeple of the Catholic church, perhaps 50 yards from her home, and the gates of the university 100 yards away. As we addressed the students, we repeatedly spoke of how there were people desperate for help, only 100 yards from the gates of the school. The students were studying in the school of theology/child development (an interesting combination) and were very interested to learn that they could have a positive impact on a family and learn about children with disabilities simply by taking a short walk.

Other children were sequestered in rooms or parts of small stores. One grandmother was raising 10 children, one of whom was a girl with disabililities by trying to sell chickens that she raised in a small 6x6 pen. You could see the struggle on her face. Once again, this woman was in the community close by to the University where students could have a huge impact on the family.

It is my hope that should I return to this part of the world, things would be different for these families. There was an incredible gathering of people in the know, who didn't know each other but together comprised a critical mass to get things done.

We left each session very encouraged and very excited about what the future holds.


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