A Life Worth Living

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Gloria has a story to tell.

She sits down at a wooden desk with a couple sheets of paper and a pen. She has thoughts to convey. Feelings to express. Her mind processes the thoughts, connects with her heart and seamlessly mixes the emotions in with the facts. Neurons fire, synapses switch on and off, sending signals from the brain to the brachial complex where nerves cause muscles to expand and contract. Tendons lengthen and shorten and her hand and fingers manipulate the pen she holds. Ink flows through a small tube to a stainless-steel ball encapsulated at the end of the pen and as her hand moves from left to right, the first words appear on the paper as if by magic. The once-empty space, now extends a greeting. “Dear Sponsor…”

It happened in mere seconds. From a thought in her mind to words on paper. Now, it might not seem like a monumental thing. It’s just a couple of words, right? But, as the thoughts and emotions continued to flow through to her hand; as her hand continued to move across the paper and the ink continued to flow; a story would be told that will make you see it for the miracle it truly is…

“Dear Sponsor,

I am grateful to God and you for loving me and blessing me so much. How are you?

I am very fine and proud of you for transforming my life by educating and taking care of me in everything. I cannot forget how I was before I was brought to Nantale Lifeline Children’s Home way back in 2012. This was shortly after our Home Village Lobolatek in Kitgum District was attacked by rebels.

Many people lost their lives, young and old. We almost starved to death. We ran away from our homes and they were set on fire. Our parents’ cows and goats were slaughtered. Our gardens were spoiled; young and old women were raped, including children. Many young boys were always in hiding, running up and down. We could not go to school. At our school is where the rebels camped and life was too difficult and miserable for us.

Fortunately, one of my Aunties lives in Kamwokya – Kampala City. She decided to bring us to her one-roomed house. We were eight children. My parents were sickly and hardly had anything to survive on. At my Auntie’s place, I became sick and my brother also became sick and we used to have only one meal a day.

Many times, we would sleep on empty stomachs. Our clothes became torn. I was very miserable and thin. Someone then connected my auntie to Nanatale Home. 

I joined the home when I was in P-5, but I has spent a long time without schooling. I did not know how to read, write or speak English. I only knew my local tribal language. I did not know how to bathe properly, wash my clothes, prepare some food or clean the house. I had never seen a TV, sewing machine or a computer. I began to learn all things slowly.

You have saved me from early marriage because in our village, a girl marries at the age of 12 years. You saved me from child labour, early pregnancies, being kidnapped and raped and all ignorance.

Due to too much suffering, I used to hate everybody, thinking that they also hate me. I was shabby, but now I am clean and smart and I can speak and write English very well. I am no longer shy and timid.

I have discovered my life-skills in that I have learned to use an electric sewing machine, a computer and a cooker. I can bake a cake, prepare a meal, crochet a table cloth. I can play and smile with others.

I have been transformed physically, morally, mentally and socially by all the help you have given me. Thank you so much for educating me. I am a wonderful girl today because of you.

I look forward to setting and helping other vulnerable children to be educated and being independent financially by finishing my studies and specializing in a hands-on life skill.

God Bless You so Much.

Yours, Gloria”

Gloria wrote just a little over 490 words telling us her story, but when you read between the lines, it’s far more than that. Far more.

The first part of the miracle, is that she is able to write the words at all!

It is heart-breaking to even consider what this young lady experienced as a young child. It is mind-numbing to consider that such places as her childhood village still exist in our world. A place where local tribal culture says that it is ok to marry a 12-year-old child. Where children are subjected to hard labor and their education is neglected. Where females are second-class citizens. Where infidelity is rampant and AIDS is still one of the leading causes of death. Where orphans are created on a daily basis.

 It is unacceptable that monsters such as Kony, an infamous and notoriously cruel rebel leader, exist in our world. It was he, and the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army that attacked the village Gloria lived in. It was this band of thugs who murdered, raped and pillaged the village, leaving a place of poverty and abuse even worse off than before.

This is the terror and adversity that Gloria faced when she was just a young girl. Had she stayed, she would likely have perished. If she had survived, she would have gone on with very little education and would certainly be married with children by this time. Children she couldn’t care for properly. Children who would also be raised without education. Also subjected to child labor. Also subjected to a life without the Word of God. And the cycle would have begun all over once again.

But that didn’t happen.

It didn’t happen because Gloria’s Auntie made the decision to take Gloria to her home. It didn’t happen because Gloria was then taken to Nantale’s where she has lived since. The significance of that single event in her life has altered the future. Not just for Gloria, but for her future children and every person she might meet as she makes her way through life.

Just imagine, if it were not for her Auntie’s actions, if it were not for Nantale’s Lifeline Children’s Home…if it were not for you and your support for this mission, Gloria would not exist as we now know her.

If she lived, and that’s a sad and big if, her life would have been yet another tragic tale of poverty, suffering and ignorance. It would have been a tale of abandonment, neglect and abuse. A tale that would repeat itself once again with her own children.

She would have never had the education to understand that the culture she came from was wrong. She would have never experienced the love and care that every child deserves and have the desire to pass it on to her own children. She would have never learned to read or write, sew or bake. She would have never learned about God and Jesus. 

The story that Gloria tells is sad beyond words, but powerful beyond measure. The tale of her young life and the comparison of what was to what is, has become a gift she can give to her own children and everyone she meets in life. That is the second part of the miracle. 

The last few months I have talked about managing expectations. I have tried to illustrate through stories, the significance of a single life. Gloria’s story brings it all together. Her story is what this mission is all about. 

Her life is a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the world, and now, everything that is right. The transformation was made possible by one simple thing. 

Love.

God asks us to care for orphans and the desire to do so is written on our heart. When we act upon that, we do so not knowing who they will become. We only know that we are leveling the playing field by giving them what every child needs and deserves. We only know that they didn’t deserve the life they had and that no child does. We do so because children are precious and they are the future. 

Gloria has a story to tell. It is powerful and very important. It is a story of triumph over tragedy. A story of love conquering evil. A story that will echo through time and change many lives for the better. 

Thank you for making it possible for her to tell it. You gave her the education. You gave her the ability to value by comparison. You loved and cared for her from afar. You participated in the miracle as God worked through you to make one little life…a life worth living.