I was sick this week. Sunday morning I felt fine but by evening I was curled up in my bed with a raging fever. My daughter brought me extra blankets and a heating pad but I still felt cold and miserable. I am lucky. I have someone to care for me, a warm, dry home, and a cozy bed to curl up in when I feel sick.
While I was waiting for the fever to break I kept thinking of a little boy I met at God’s Grace Orphanage last summer. He had climbed into my lap while I was reading with the children and he stuck to me like Velcro for the rest of our time there. He was recovering from malaria, a common parasitic infection in Sub-Saharan Africa that causes recurring bouts of severe fever and headache. According to the World Health Organization, in 2010 there were about 219 million cases of malaria with about 660,000 deaths, mostly of African children. These statistics are chilling, and as a biology educator I was aware of them, but it wasn’t until I held that feverish little boy that the disease itself became somewhat real to me.
A lot of great work is being done on malaria treatment and prevention but what this little guy needed at that time was a warm body to hold him and make him feel cared for. When I finally put him down he burst into tears. The tears did not last long however because a “big” kid (maybe 8 years old) immediately came and comforted him. That is the beauty of God’s Grace Orphanage, and many others like it. The wonderful Ugandan women and men who have taken it upon themselves to look after orphans are providing a home and family (albeit a very large family) to these vulnerable children. If it were just a matter of cuddling kids and making them feel cared for I think even I could manage it, but these dedicated people have to provide food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and education if the children are to have a future. Simple sustainable projects like putting in a garden to feed the kids, or starting a mushroom growing operation to generate income help these women and men continue to help the children. ISEE solutions is dedicated to helping make this happen.