You have heard the story of Uganda’s Forgotten Children before, maybe from a rally, a church event, or a news report. With wide eyes, you listened to the tragedy that is, in fact, reality for hundreds of thousands of Ugandan children who are kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced to become child soldiers, all for one horribly twisted agenda.
The brutality and injustice of these accounts captivated you for days, or even weeks, as you pondered how such evil could occur, especially to children. And many of you did something about it, you refused to forget the forgotten. You may have given a gift, purchased a t-shirt, or began a campaign to raise awareness. But what happens when our lives resume their normal pace and we gradually forget what once so deeply moved us?
The truth is, remembering the sufferings of the innocent–those we cannot see, hear, or touch–is a discipline. Something as heavy as the burden of suffering is a difficult concept to constantly keep in perspective. It isn’t comfortable, and it requires every inch of our heart and mind to even begin to understand. It is a discipline that can only be cultivated through our refusal to resign ourselves to the ease of convenience.
True compassion begins with observing and remembering, as Jesus did: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” Mark 6:34 (NIV). Keeping compassion at the forefront of our minds allows us to sow the type of love-in-action that can truly change the world.
That is the beauty of the story we’re about to share. It all starts in Gulu.
The city of Gulu is home to thousands of orphaned and abandoned children, some former child soldiers, some whose parents or family members died from HIV/AIDS. All have endured more than a child ever should in a thousand lifetimes, from the brutality of the LRA or the relentless hand of disease.
In 2006, the Good Samaritan Vocational School was founded with the mission to reclaim the lives of these children by providing a safe haven to recover physically and emotionally, while also equipping them with practical vocational training to ensure a hopeful future. So far, the school has graduated 450 students who are now serving their communities with a new set of professional skills. Both the individual and community transformations have been remarkable.
Even with their success, Good Samaritan had one tremendous need to be met in order to truly thrive: a consistent source of clean water. Purchasing water and having it shipped to the school was an overwhelming expense that often had to be supplemented with hauling water from another source for many valuable hours a day.
And then a group of strangers remembered. The congregation of Christ’s Church in Roswell, New Mexico, moved by the plight of the world’s water crisis, raised $15,000 to provide a deep bore well for a community in need. They hadn’t specified where the well should go and suddenly the need was clear, the Good Samaritan School in Gulu.
The impact is staggering. The former soldiers and slaves who were forgotten by the world are now the architects of Uganda’s future. Isn’t it amazing how a simple thing like water changes everything? And it was all started by people just like you.
But there is still more work to be done. Over 1 BILLION people still do not have access to clean water.