If this is the first post you’re seeing, I would highly recommend that you read about the reason we’re going to Uganda at all here first.
But now, why Watoto? Some of you may know that for the last three years, I’ve had my eyes and my heart set on India. I applied to CBC planning to do my internship in India. Before Karl and I even started dating, he knew that India was part of the future for me. I wanted to go to a small orphanage that had HIV+ children and just join the permanent staff that looked after them, becoming a sort of “house mom”. I didn’t want to teach, I just wanted to go and love children. In a caste-based society, poor children are already seen as not being worth much, but being HIV+ makes you worth even less. I wanted to go to these children whose country had abandoned them and show them love, to tell them just how much they really are worth. I wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus, eating with modern day lepers without fear, without hesitation.
But that door just never opened to me.
For months I looked. I asked around. I networked. Nothing was right. There was a few opportunities that would have me teaching, typically in very large orphanages with hundreds of children. I considered these options, but I never felt like that was what I was supposed to do. My vision is specific, but I don’t think it is unrealistic. I know that the orphanage that I am supposed to go to exists, and Karl and I still plan to find it. We both believe that this passion and drive that I have is God given and that it will happen, but it’s just not for right now.
So, again, why Watoto?
During the 2016-17 school year, two girls in the same program as me were on their internship at Watoto, which is how I found out about it. I watched their posts and I read their blogs. The whole time I thought, that’s what I want to do, it’s just in the wrong place. There they were, loving on babies who had been abandoned and orphaned, doing exactly what I wanted to do. My good friend and mentor Kathleen (who I would not have survived this year without), and I had many long conversations about my internship. I would be lying if I said I never cried in Starbucks. We talked about India options, we talked about South Korea options, but nothing was ever right.
During one especially tear-filled meeting (again, in Starbucks) together we both felt, for the first time, that Watoto was a viable option. Where as with other options we had discussed, I always had a bit of a sick feeling in my stomach about them. For the first time I felt a peace about going somewhere other than India. I didn’t want to waste this year, this amazing opportunity. Karl had also always been very hesitant about going to India, and Watoto felt much more like an opportunity for him to be able to dip his feet in, rather than having me pushing him into the deep end of missions.
The more I learn about Watoto, the more I see how good of a fit it is for us. Watoto also has a ministry called Living Hope which “works to restore dignity to vulnerable women. Many of the women are HIV+ and have been victims of human trafficking, left to bear the brunt of AIDS, war and social injustice.” I am hopeful that I will get a chance to be involved with this ministry while we are there as well. I am so excited to partner with an organization that sees so much value and worth in both children and in women, two groups who are often marginalized, and especially those who are sick.
As you can see, it’s been quite a journey. This year of figuring out internship has not been easy and has weighed heavily on me for many months. I am so thankful to finally have everything settled and to feel settled in that decision. We really hope you will join us as we embark on this adventure to Suubi, Uganda.