Sunday, April 22, 2007

Extraordinary people

Last week Sarah showed me one of her babies. She had delivered her exactly a year ago in the clinic. Later, I asked Sarah if many of the children she had delivered were brought to see her. She answered yes, but that this one was special. Her mother had been young, alone and ‘disappointed’ to find herself pregnant. So Sarah helps. She visits 3-4 times a week, gives her money when she can, and acts as a second mother to the child. I told her she was amazing. “No! I am responsible for her. What else should I do?” I asked her how many other babies she supports like this and she smiled, shook her head at me and got on with her work.

Yesterday I bought a fridge. I got chatting to the Ugandan Asian businessman who sold it to me. He had fled Uganda as a teenager in the Amin years and settled in Manchester. He returned to Uganda for the first time in 1990. He found a terrible mess. Shocked and desperate to help he decided to help an orphanage. He bought beds, mattresses, sheets, doors, iron sheets for the roof and was happy with his success. When he returned to the orphanage four months later everything had been sold. So he decided he’d have to start his own orphanage, and he did. He fund raised, found some land and built it. The model he describes sounds like a good one. There is a ‘mother’ to every 8 children. She sleeps with them, feeds and dresses them and now takes them to school (also built by him). He gets legal guardianship of the children through the court otherwise when they reach 5 or so and can work someone turns up to claim them. He told me of one eight month old baby brought to him at 1am by two policemen who had heard her crying and had found her in a skip. She’s now a thriving seven year old. He called her Stella.

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