Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Ibra is a funny kid.  Not funny, ha ha, although sometimes he is.  But funny different.  You never know what you will get with him.  Sometimes he is cute and charming, sometimes so serious, sometimes goofy, sometimes a mess spiraling out of control, sometimes telling me everything, sometimes inventing stories to cover up and distract me from the real issue, sometimes the perfect kid, sometimes the kid I want to shake.

But always the kid I love.

When I first met Ibra, he seemed to have it all together.  He would come to programs.  Helped with medical.

Soon that all changed.  I started to rarely see him.  When I did, he would be drunk or high.  He was a mess and there was nothing I could do.  I continued to try and connect with him but he was distant.  Aloof.  Never so far but never so close.

At one point, the ministry I was helping before had rented a room for the boys on the street to sleep in at night.  One of my favorite things to do was visit them before they went to sleep and share a Bible story with them.  Not all of the boys could fit in the room, but they would all gather there to hear the story and get a small snack before bed.  It was a great time.

One night, I had gotten to the slum and found out that there was a party.  It was some holiday, I think the equivalent to our Labor Day, and all of the boys were at the party dancing.  While the uncle and I contemplated what to do, we found a few boys.  We decided that we would just go get them.  We decided that half knowing the boys wouldn't leave the dancing and music but we thought we would try.  As we walked to the party (really just an open space where the kids normally play soccer) we decided it probably wasn't the best idea for me to enter, so the uncle went in to get the kids.  I stood outside and down the way a bit with a few of the boys when all of a sudden there was a stampede of shouting kids running right for me. I think that was one of the best moments of Uganda (and my life) ever.  They all were shouting "Auntie Amanda".  So the boys we never thought would leave, left the party just to see me and hear the story I was going to share with them.  (I am still in awe and so humbled by the love these kids give me every day.)

As we were walking toward the room, Ibra came up and grabbed my hand and held it as we walked.  It was the most unexpected thing to ever happen.  It was then that I knew we were connected and he would be ok.  From that day on, we continued to grow closer and I got to know him better.  I think it wasn't long after that that he had stepped on something and his toe swelled up and got terribly infected.  Trying to get the infection out (squeezing the toe as hard as I possibly could) was a real lesson in trust for both Ibra and me.  It of course was excruciatingly painful, but he let me do it.  When it was too much, we went to the clinic for shots and medicine.

I remember the day that I asked him if he wanted to go back to school.  It never occurred to me that maybe the boys would wonder why I had asked them.  In my mind it made sense.  I loved them and didn't want them on the streets, so the logical thing to do was get them off.  Later Ibra told me he was really shocked.  He had no idea why I would choose him.  He told me he did too many drugs and wasn't an easy kid.  He told me he thought he was never going to get a chance.

I am so proud of the young man that Ibra is turning into.  Before we had a cook, Ibra would cook for us each night. He is an amazing cook.  I don't know where he learned but everything that he made was delicious.  When I tried to cook, he would laugh at me and with me, especially on the days he thought I should make the posho.  He has developed a relationship with his family again and makes sure that he talks to his mom frequently.  He is protective of me and I never have to worry about my safety with him.  He is trying to change from his bad habits.  I know everyday is probably a struggle for him to make the right choice.  But he continues to do so.  He dreams of being a doctor one day.  I really hope he is able to be.  He has a kind and compassionate heart.  He would make a great doctor.

Meet Ibra!

in his school uniform

on our way to drop me off at the airport

cooking after he was caught in a riot and tear gassed

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