On my last day in Nkokonjeru, my fiancé Kollin and I went for a final visit to St. Anthony Nursery School to say goodbye to the children. Kollin is the Theology Content Writer for CARITAS For Children and this was his first trip to some of the locations of the child sponsorship programs. I accompanied him and volunteered at St. Anthony. Saying goodbye was very difficult as we had grown to love the little children at St. Anthony. Kollin and I were very blessed that both Benedict, the boy he sponsors, and Verone, the sponsor child of my parents, attend Baby Class at St. Anthony so we got to know both little boys very well, which made saying goodbye doubly difficult.
As a parting gift, I had a few items of clothing and some snacks to give to Verone. He and his twin sister are cared for by their aunt, who lives very close to St. Anthony. Although she does her best to take care of the children, she struggles to provide enough food to eat, let alone pay school fees as well. When she heard that the daughter of Verone’s sponsor had brought him a gift, she came to the school right away to thank me. It was wonderful to meet such a selfless woman who is mothering two children who are not her own, and the deep gratitude she expressed was very humbling. What’s more, before I left that day, she brought a gift of her own – a lovely hand woven pot holder for me to take back to my parents.
In this instance, like in many others throughout my time in Uganda, I was reminded of the story of Jesus and the widow. In the account taken from the Gospel of Mark, Jesus praises the poor widow who donates two small coins because, “she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:44).
With each school, convent, and community organization that we visited, the generosity that Jesus saw in the widow was demonstrated time and time again. We were welcomed to new schools with dancing, singing, and homemade gifts, and before we left each day, we were always urged to stay for tea. By the time I was ready to come home, I was laden with so many gifts that my suitcases were about to burst.
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts that I received is the lesson of how to give generously and with great love.
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