It is crazy how much time passed without me being in Uganda. A year and a half is a long time. What is crazier is how so many things are the same while so many are different. Kampala is changing, and it has been great to see the new development. The city is cleaner. There are so many new buildings. It is quickly developing and changing. The way people are dressing is different. So many things different, but so many the same.
I used to go to the slums almost every day but since I have been back, I have only gone twice. There are many reasons, I guess, why I haven’t gone. Mainly, I am so happy being at home with the boys that I don’t feel the need to go anywhere else. I get why moms want to stay at home now. I never understood it before, but I guess I am changing too. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the kids drive me so crazy, I feel like if I don’t get away from them I am going to explode (like when they find a variety of creepy insects, today a giant cockroach and praying mantis, to chase me around the house with). But mostly when I am not with them, I miss them like crazy and count the seconds until I am back home. So I find reasons, to not leave the house for days in a row. I never thought that would happen to me. I love the city, the noise and chaos, but now I love being home more.
However, one of the main reasons I don’t go to the slum any more is because it is too hard. When I go into the city, the last stop for the taxi is in one of the slums. The kids on the street there are in much worse condition and almost all of them do drugs. It is a dirty and dangerous place, and seeing the boys there kills me. It is strange, it upset me before to see them but not to the extent it does now. I see the boys at home and then the ones on the street and wonder who is going to come for them. Who is going to believe in them and give them a chance? Somehow because we are so happy at home, and I see where these boys could still be, I don’t know how to deal with it. I wonder why people don’t care and how they can see a monster in an 8 year old child. It hurts the most when I see a boy that I know and love still on the streets a year and a half later. One boy in particular, I fought so hard for him to leave that slum and his drugs and he was but now he is in a worse place than when I left.
In the other slum where I was all of the time, a friend has programs and has asked me to visit. I finally did a week ago. It was so sad to see so many new faces and even sadder to see so many of the same. The problem is now they are growing up and many people won’t let them at their programs because they are too old. Even if they did go to programs, they know their chances are gone. So they just stay away. Fourteen years old, 12 years old, 16 years old and left to life on the streets. No future. No hope. Just life on the streets.
It is too much. I don’t know how to love them where they are. I know I will fall helplessly in love with them and want to bring them all home. And I can’t. Each month we are barely making it; one more boy would totally break us. And the injustice of that is too much. They are no less worthy than the boys I already have. I cannot reconcile in my mind why some boys will get a chance and for the others they will just become men on the streets, crazy from their drugs, or dead or in prison. I can tell myself that at least 23 boys now have a new life, are loved and have a future but that seems empty. It doesn't seem like it is enough.
The second time I visited the slum, I saw a boy that I have been crazy about forever. He was wild and spirited, full of life and probably a little crazy. I remember a time one of the uncles asked him to come for devotions and his answer was he was very busy reading the newspaper. He can’t read. This time, he is different. A little less spirited. Maybe it is age, but probably the streets have just worn him down. He is 16 or 17 now and I wonder what will happen to him.
What will happen to all of them...