Today started like most days – Ken making me an egg and roll. But I knew that the day would have a significant affect on me and possible others.
I hired a boda boda driver to take me to Namuwongo slums – where they are demolishing the homes (more like shacks) that are within 30 yards both side of the railroad tracks. I knew how to get there but he decided to go the LONG way around – believe it took forever.
As I continued walking in the Namuwongo Slums I saw this older man and woman just sitting in front of their torn down home. They just sat there looking hopeless and not knowing what to do. I sat with them and asked MANY questions. Wanting to know if they have family in the village that they could go to and he said they had no one. He also told me he had 8 children and his wife. Then he pointed over to a pile of “stuff” underneath a blue tarp – all his worldly possessions. Soon after we started talking a crowd started gathering. Because the man and women didn’t speak English very well – I had several who were interpreting for me. One lady named Olivia didn’t live in the area that was being demolished but she said she was there because many were her friends that were being forced out. Many were leaving with not more than they could carry, because they could not afford to hire trucks to transport their belongs. Then there was Nathan, another kind gentlemen who helped me talk with the father. Nathan had just come off work as a security guard. After about 45 minutes trying to assess the situation, I knew that this was the family that God has sent me to. I tried to be discrete because I knew that we could only help one family and not everyone that were standing and listening to our conversations. I told Olivia who was a strong woman with a good head on her shoulders, that I wound like to try and find a place for this family. That our ministry would pay the first 3 months rent and rent a truck to move their belongings. She IMMEDIATELY started making phone calls to brokers (real estate agents) trying to find something.
We were led to many different places and each time we reached there “they had just been rented”. Everyone in the slums was desperately trying to find roofs over their heads. We walked and walked – up and down hills. Even the Ugandans who were walking with me were getting tired. I know I walked the entire distance of this large slum at least twice trying to find a place that we could rent and with EIGHT kids. There were some that we could rent but not with that many children. We were on the other side of the slums – across the street with is a little nicer area – but nothing. Even a house that Isa, the man we were looking for a house, said was empty and his friend owned it – had “just been rented”.
After walking for almost 3 hours with no success – another call was made by Olivia (she must have made at least 20 phone calls) and there was a 2-room place on the other side of town. We decided to board a taxi and drive there. There were five of us all-together. I forgot to mention that our friend ABDUL which we have known since he was a kid was working alongside us also. He is now 19 years old and is S1 – equivalent to 7th grade. He is such a sweet heart and he and his dad also live in the slums. But their home is not set to be demolished for another 2 months. We arrived on the other side of the slum area in a much nicer area – not a slum area at all.
While we were waiting for the broker, I said we need to pray about this – and so the five of us joined hands and prayed that God would make a way where there seemed to be no way. The broker showed up while we were praying and then we set off on foot again to go to the house. After walking about another 30 minutes we arrived – only to be told that there was no vacancy. We decided to wait for the owner of the home. As we sat and waited for the owner Isa fell asleep for the second time – he had fallen asleep in the taxi van. He was exhausted. Finally, the owner showed up and said that he had a couple that he needed to evict – they hadn’t paid their rent and they hadn’t been there in 2 months and had left their belongings. The owner assured us that we could have the place within 2 hours – after he cleared out their belongings. YES we will take it!!! So we needed to back to where we started and then up a huge hill and around the bend. After about another 30 minutes, I saw this nice van coming with a lady driving and I asked her if I could get a lift from her – I would be happy to compensate her – she said she would do it for free – so three of us got in and she took us to where we needed to be to sign the papers and pay the rent. Olivia and Abdul arrived about 10 minutes later.
Once inside we sat in this beautiful living room waiting for the papers to come out. I decided to start getting my money ready – when I discovered that I forgot to bring the big bills to pay the rent. Oh NO, I thought we are going to lose this house too. I told the owner’s son that I would race back to Maria’s Place on a boda and return within the hour. They agreed and everyone else just sat and waited for me to return. Of course, my boda boda ran out of gas. Then we were off again and I was able to run inside my room and get the money and I was on my way back.
Driving back to the owner’s house – I spotted a truck, I made the boda driver stop as I walked up to this man just sitting in the truck. I asked him if we could hire him to move the family. He gave me a fair price for one trip – but we knew it was going to be at least 2 trips. So we agreed on a price and then the truck driver followed us to the home where I was going to pay the first 3 months rent. Quickly payment was made and money was given and we were off to go and pick up the belongings of Isa and family.
We drove into the slums and people were walking everyway – many times we had to have things removed from our driving path in order to get through – all the while driving either on the rail road tracks or right next to them. We finally arrived to the small pile of Isa’s belonging covered neatly under a blue tarp. The little man, Isa, had been holding tightly his carpentry tools the entire time. I had heard that he was a really good carpenter and will be able to continue to provide for his family. I told him I would hold the tools and protect them while he helped load the truck with Abdul and Nathan. Quickly everything was loaded into the truck and it was time for me to say my farewells as it was starting to get dark. I had given Abdul the remaining part of the truck rental money once all the belongings were completely moved. Nathan and Abdul assured me they would stay with the family until everything was done
Isa and his mother continued to thank me over and over and the smile on his face said it all. He had not smiled all day – until I told him that I also had brought the truck to move his belongings. It finally registered that not only was he moving to a much nicer place, rent paid for three months, but all his possessions would also be moved. He wasn’t going to have to leave anything behind. The smile on this little 53-year-old man was so rewarding – I felt so blessed to be able to be a small part of changing his family’s life. Where he lives is NOT in a slum area – it’s a row of houses in a nice cement courtyard behind a locked gated fenced. He has outdoor toilets and even showers just within a few yards from his home. He has electricity and he even city tap water if he wants to pay a small fee. Otherwise he has a well just around the corner from his house with FREE water.
Thank you Lord for bringing Isa and his family into my life. BIG ENDING – Isa was a Muslim, but he says he is now going to go to a Christian church because he has seen the love of Jesus. Praise the Lord!
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