[Thanks to all of you who have responded to my request to help Joseph. his need for funds for schooling has been covered. A school has been secured, textbooks and materials purchased, and Joseph has started school. This will literally change Joseph's life and lift him up! I hope to update you later in the week with a report from Joseph on his first days in school. Thank you! If you'd like to know more about how to support kids like Joseph, check out the work of Embrace Uganda. (If you don't know about this, read my former post below.)]Last Summer, when I was in Uganda with my family, the Embrace Uganda team we were with moved into the orphanage at Agape Children's Village, located on a hilltop on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital. It was there I met Joseph, then 17, who slept in the bunk opposite mine. Learning of Joseph's interest in astronomy, one night my son and I took him out on the field above the orphanage to name constellations. I was impressed at his desire to learn and, later that evening, when he gave the devotion in our house, at his ability to give the truth of Scripture.
There were many children at Agape, of course, and many in our house, so in the five days we were there our one-to-one time with each of them was limited. Providentially, however, on the fourth day we were there, I was sick (the usual stomach problems), and Joseph was sent home from school because he was tardy, and so we spent the afternoon in our bunks across from each other talking. He agreed to tell me his story.
At four months of age he said his mother, who suffered from a mental disability, was crossing the road and was struck by a car and killed. She managed, however, to throw him under a bush on the side of the road where he lay overnight. When he was found the next day, a policeman took him to his father's house. As he was firstborn, his father wanted to sacrifice him to the ancestors (seriously!), so his grandmother fled with him to Kampala with only the clothes on her back. She couldn't care for him, so he lived with his brother, who shortly thereafter died, and then with his sister, where he was barely provided for. At nine, he was taken into a Compassion International project, coming to Agape at age 12.
Recently Joseph had to leave Agape, as he turned 18 and, in Uganda, when you turn 18 you can no longer stay in a children's village. He is living with his sister again, in a small house with no electricity, with no funds to continue his education (which, in Uganda, is free only for primary school). In his last email to me, this is what Joseph said: "I am scared that I may not be able to achieve what I need in life, most especially access to high quality education, not only due to lack of encouragement and love from my relatives. I am feeling very sad and rejected for that. Thats why I am striving for an education, that I may forget all this. It has forced me experience feelings I would not at my age. Every time I am asking myself whether God will enable me to achieve my dream because every day down the road things worsen."
There are a lot of children in Uganda that need an education, but this is one that God has put on my heart. I'd like to raise $1200, so that Joseph can be educated for an entire year in a boarding school, out of the difficult environment within which he now finds himself. I already have more than enough for 1/2 year, but I want o give him the whole year. If you are moved to give, you can do it through Paypal. See the box in the sidebar, or click on Give in the box below. Or if you need a tax deduction, give via the Embrace Uganda website. (You'll need to click the Donate button by Scholarship Fund, and then on the PayPal screen click the "Special Instructions for Seller" link and note that the contribution is for "Joseph Semanobe Scholarship." I'll be regularly updating the site with information about Joseph, so stay tuned. You can also create your own widget and insert it in your own blog. Help me get the word out! (Note that all excess funds, if any, will be given to Embrace Uganda to benefit other kids like Joseph.)
Finally, to ensure accountability, I am sending the funds to an African pastor in Uganda, Michael Okwakol, who we have worked with in the past. He has located an appropriate school for Joseph and has ensured that the funds are properly applied. Furthermore, he will maintain contact with Joseph and monitor his progress.