Mariam is in college. Mariam is a Certified Nursing Assistant on her way to becoming an LPN. Mariam’s salary is more than 10 times that of the average rural Ugandan woman her age and will be 20 times more when her degree is complete. Mariam is a 19–year–old-single, Christian woman with no children. She speaks two languages. She is healthy, happy and loves the Lord. She wants to spend her life “helping those who are sick and give the Glory to God.”
Statistically speaking…she shouldn’t even be alive…
The plane was cruising at 25,000 feet. Snow-capped mountains crawled below us as we sped through the air at more than 500 miles per hour.
In front of me, bouncing on his mother’s lap was a very young boy; maybe 6 or 7 months old. He was a handsome little guy with intense, brown eyes, olive skin and a little fountain of hair erupting from the top of an otherwise bald head.
He made grunting sounds as he bounced and occasionally squealed in delight when his mother would lift him a little higher than his own efforts had accomplished. It was on one such bounce that elevated him above the headrest, that he noticed me.
I was a bit sleepy and was thinking about a nap, so I had put on my sunglasses to help block out some light. It was those sunglasses that caught his eye. He stopped bouncing and peeked around the corner of the headrest, leaning forward with a little frown on his forehead. His eyes stared intently into mine, which were hidden behind the sunglasses.
His frown deepened and he moved his lips and made a funny little sound. He was trying to communicate with me, but seemed concerned about what was behind the glasses. I smiled. He looked down at my smile, but then back up at my glasses and the frown remained firmly in place. I tipped my glasses down and showed him my eyes. The frown disappeared and was replaced by a huge grin replete with a single tooth offset from the center of his shiny, pink gums. The concern gone, he giggled and reached out a hand towards me. In an instant the little guy had found reason to trust a total stranger.
It struck me in that moment, that there is such beauty in that innocent trust. But there is also a great deal of inherent danger. There is untold potential in such a young mind, both for equal quantities of good or evil. It also struck me that being responsible for what is written on those clean little slates is a huge responsibility indeed, and that the input given will play a large role in determining the quantities of that good or evil.
The little boy in front of me looked very healthy. He had chubby cheeks filled with color. His eyes were bright and aware. His body was being fed good nutrition. His little mind and soul were being fed with love and affection. The way that it should be.
That’s the thing about us as human beings. We are comprised of three interconnected elements that are all interdependent; at least as long as we are physically alive. If the body is not fed properly, the mind and soul will both suffer. If the mind is not fed properly, the body and soul will both suffer. If the soul is not fed properly, the body and mind will both inevitably suffer as well.
And it can’t just be any food either. The quality of that food will have a big impact on the growth of all three. For the body, that means the right quantity and proportions of quality proteins, fats and carbohydrates and all the macronutrients they embody. For the mind, quality nutrition and input are required for the synapses to grow and create even a simple functional path. The higher the quantity and quality of nutrition and input, the greater the potential for quality output.
For the soul, it’s faith, hope and love that come from God and His son. Three critical things that embody many other elements fed by the mind through our five senses.
Interdependence. Input. Output.
Perhaps there isn’t a better example of all of this than Mariam.
Mariam was one of several children that her mother gave birth to. Her mother started having children when she was just 15 years old. The father of the children contracted HIV/AIDS from another woman and gave it to Mariam’s mother. When he discovered that they both had the dreaded disease, he left her alone with all of the children and never returned.
By all rights, Mariam had very little chance of even surviving as one of several children in a home that was deep in poverty. By all rights if she did survive it would have been because she was forced into some kind of labor or illicit servitude at a very young age.
Statistics say she would have been illiterate. Statistics say that she would have been sexually abused and pregnant by the time she was 15. Statistics say she would have had as many as 5 children herself from as many as 3 fathers. Statistics say she would have likely contracted AIDS and would eventually die from the disease, leaving her 5 children to suffer the same fate as her.
Statistics say that she would have died without knowing the Lord.
What saved Miriam from the terrible reality that most young orphans and females in particular are subjected to in Uganda? What changed her dire circumstances so dramatically that she would rise far above the norms for young women in Uganda?
Simply put; it was the source of all of the input to her body, mind and soul.
For orphans and children in poverty, there are two general realities. Death or survival by intervention. They key here is who intervenes and what they give the children to survive.
One reality is that the individual or individuals that intervene have their own interests and not that of the child, as their motivation. They enslave the children in exchange for food and shelter. They use them for manual labor, or for sexual exploitation. The “education” that the children receive is not reading, writing and math. It is how to steal. How to cheat. How to use others to get what you want.
Not how to give, but how to take. Not how to love, but how to hate. Not how to serve God, but how to serve Satan.
Interdependence. Input. Output.
Thankfully this didn’t become the source of input for Mariam’s body, mind and soul.
Perhaps one of the most loving things Mariam’s mother did was to ask Irene Nangobi to take Mariam into our Life of Favor Children’s Home.
There Mariam was given good nutrition for her body. There she was educated. There she was given spiritual instruction and God’s Word and she learned about Jesus.
There she was given the right kind of input for mind, body and soul.
Without the right food, Mariam’s body would have suffered and not been healthy. Without a healthy body and good education, Mariam’s mind would have suffered. Without a healthy mind and God’s word, Mariam’s soul would have suffered.
Interdependence. Input. Output.
None of it could happen without you. And we are so thankful for all that you do to make it possible to give Mariam and thousands like her everything they need, not just to survive, but to thrive, body, mind and soul.
These are the children who will break the cycle that creates orphans in the first place. They are the children who will generationally change the lives of many thousands in their own communities, their country and all around the world. They will become a living perpetuation of the good that you are doing in God’s name.
Food for thought indeed… and so much more.