My last visit to Uganda was pretty intense. I know how extreme most situations are in Uganda; however, I think for the first time I witnessed first hand how many lives and families are truly dependent on Project Orphans. This was overwhelming. These families and lives we are supporting aren't just distant names we are helping overseas. They are family!
When I returned from Uganda this past week an Amber Alert went off, in the middle of the night, and out of my subconscious I screamed to Kyron, "Don't leave me. You don't know what I've seen and heard. I'm scared."
That morning, when I woke up I knew something wasn't right. I even tried to get my lashes done and literally laid down and started to weep. Thankfully, I have a close friend who is a Trauma Therapist and was able to meet with me immediately.
(Ya'll, I've never even seen a therapist and never believed I would ever need too! Who truly needs to talk through things to feel better? This concept always seemed silly to me.)
That afternoon, I walked into her office and began to cry again (literally, what is wrong withe me). I started to share with her the story of the kids who were in our program and were being extremely physically and sexually abused by their father. Hearing my children, who I love so dearly, share with the police such horrific stories made me want to throw-up and nauseous for about a week. Then having to drive to arrest the man and seeing him brought up so many emotions. (This story is entirely too long to share right now. However, we will share as we continue to move forward with pressing charges and court hearings.)
Then, I shared with her about this sweet girl named Janat Nalujja.
During my first day in Uganda, our team was hosting a medical clinic at Pearl Village. I had met a sweet girl, Nafika, who we were enrolling into our sponsorship program and I wanted to see where she lived and slept. Tom, my favorite boda driver, Stevens and I asked Nafika to take us to her home.
(Note to everyone - anytime I jump on a motorcycle and venture away from George, our Director, I always seem to find myself in a position I did not expect).
When we arrived at Nafika's home, we noticed so many children living their at her home; but my attention kept getting diverted as I would hear a faint cry. I started walking through the dark home trying to find the noise. Then I looked down and thought I saw a baby laying under a blanket. I kneeled down and uncovered her only to find a sweet, young girl extremely malnourished who was laying in filth.
Poor Stevens, it was his first week with Project Orphans and I immediately told him to let the only adult in the home know we are taking the child. We cleaned her up and jumped on the boda to bring her back to the medical clinic. Holding that sweet girl on that drive to Pearl Village broke me in ways I can't even begin to put into words. She was seven-years-old and weighed less than my two-year-old daughter, Kynlee.
This past week was rough. However, there were several moments when I was extremely encouraged. For example, talk about a miracle, I randomly was put in first class on my flight to Uganda and was seated next to a person who ended up being a Duke Neurosurgeon. We spoke less than five minutes before we realized he was the doctor who helped coordinate care for Ian and Mark (two of our boys who needed brain and spine surgery). He literally was like, "Wait, what's your name?" Then typed my name in his phone and said, "Is this you?". Talk about an obvious in your face God moment!
(The conversation and God moments I shared on that eight hour flight encouraged me on so many levels. Dr. Mike spoke life over Project Orphans and lifted my spirits. I was honored to gain a lifetime friendship with a man who has the heart of the Lord and saved two lives who meant so much to our family.)
Well, as I shared that story with the therapist she stopped me and said, "Brit, just like you obviously see God in that moment when you were seated next to Dr. Mike - you need to see that the same God had you walk into that home and see Janet (the suffering, malnourished girl) whose grandmother needed the support of Project Orphans! He is the same God who brought those three children, who were suffering in silence and abuse for so many years, to Project Orphans - who finally gave them a voice and advocate to protect them."
It's hard to see God in the darkest times; but truly looking back on it - He shines so bright! Sometimes it can become overwhelming; but, what encouraged me was being reminded that all we can do is continue to walk through the open doors God sends us through and care for the children He puts in our path.
Project Orphans probably won't eliminate poverty, save every orphan, or change an entire country - but we will save lives. One-at-a-time. Day-by-day. And each and every life saved is worth it.
Brittany Stokes, Co-Founder of Project Orphans
***Our team would like to extend a special thanks to Allison Wagnon and The Gift Clozet for supporting the nutritional support and medical care for sweet Janet.