About a year ago, I came to find Project Orphans, a non-profit organization based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma that focuses on helping kids and families in Kampala, Uganda who are in serious situations and poverty, on Instagram. At that time, I was doing a lot of soul searching within myself in regards to what I wanted my life to be about. I've always had a heart for kids, especially orphans and coming across Project Orphans was a reminder to me on what God has called me to do with my life. With that in mind, I made the decision with the help of my parents to sponsor a child and that's how Ronald became a part of my life from miles and miles away. Through this organization I have communicated with him through letters, have had the ability to send him gifts and receive updates from him, and provide for him to have an education. I always said I wanted to take a trip to meet him, but I never thought the opportunity would present itself so soon and in all honesty I would say that with the hopes that in the future like years from then it would happen, but I didn't wholeheartedly believe it would happen. When Project Orphans reached out to me and other sponsors to go on the next trip, my reaction was immediately, "Yes!"
There were so many bumps along the way to getting there, especially financially, but God is truly our provider and with His provision comes peace despite the current circumstances. God provided in ways that only he could. Starting with a job that I didn't even apply for, extra checks that came in the mail that weren't expected, and with the kindness and patience of the Project Orphan's team. Was it stressful? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes, yes, yes. Satan really tried to get in the way of this trip. There were times where I wondered if God was even in it because it was causing so many problems behind the scenes, but He came through. He always does.
I felt so much peace when we landed in Kampala, Uganda. The Project Orphans' team welcomed us with open arms and it honestly felt like home rather than a strange place. I went on this trip with the expectation to see God and more importantly to give of myself to the community in Kampala, but I ended up being filled with the joy and love that fills the hearts of the Ugandan people more than I believe I gave of myself. I didn't realize how empty I truly was.
Our first day in Kampala, was a memorable one. We went from home to home performing medical check-ups on the children sponsored through Project Orphans and got a first glance on where the kids live and at the Kampala community. The poverty level in Uganda is very high and it was honestly overwhelming to behold the circumstances in which a lot of people in this country, at least in Kampala, live in, but the Project Orphans' kids were extremely taken care of. The work that this organization has done in this community has been life changing for not only the locals but to those who are a part of the organization whether it be through sponsoring kids or supporting the organization both financially and through prayer. That same day we met Ronald. He happened to fall in a ditch a few minutes before we were there which we all found rather humorous. It was such a sweet moment for my sister and I to meet him and his family. The pictures and letters that were sent to us from him perfectly depicted him and his personality. It was humbling to see the difference a few dollars a month can make on the lives of these kids and the gratitude of their parents. As a sponsor, it brought me relief and peace that Ronald was better of than I deemed and that I have been able to make a difference from miles away. The days after that consisted of big medical outreaches in both central Kampala and Pearl Village where we assisted with measuring and recording height and weight, taking blood pressure, giving out de-worming pills, and prescribing glasses. I loved serving in a way that I hadn't before. When your willing to be used by God, He uses you in ways you never thought possible. He takes you out of your comfort zone, across the world maybe, with strangers at times to show you how endless His power and love in you and for you is. He uses what you deem as incapable within yourself and equips you to do the very thing you said wasn't for you. There is nothing too hard for God or with God and sometimes it takes taking a leap of faith to witness that.
Out of every single experience on this trip though, the one thing I loved the most was witnessing the strong sense of community. No one felt like a complete stranger, rather a fellow member. It was a glimpse of the Kingdom of God for me and what it truly means to live as one body of Christ. It was inspiring to see how their joy was rooted within themselves and not their surroundings. Everyday in Kampala was full of laughter and another measure of God's joy. From listening to the kids worship in their native language, to dancing with them in the middle of the village, to witnessing an elderly cry because she could finally see with her new glasses, to seeing some of the kids swim for the first time, and getting to know some amazing people this trip pierced my heart and I whole heartedly recommend for anyone to partner with Project Orphans in whichever way that they can. This organization is about more than just feeding children and providing them with an education, but about changing their lives, including your own, giving them a solid chance in life, and bringing glimpses of heaven on earth. Thank you Project Orphans for allowing me the opportunity to serve by your side.
Written with love,
Maali Padro, Project Orphans Missionary & Child Sponsor