This morning as I had just left the house I was just beginning my short walk to work when I noticed Barbra (one of the girls from Sojourn who is also part of our Family Development Ministry) walking towards me. She was coming to let me know the new headmaster at her school needed to see me. As we were walking she began asking me about a little girl who we she and another one of the guys from our community group had brought food to a few weeks before. I was like, “Oh, you mean Atim?” She quickly said yes and let me know she’d seen her on the walk down to get me. Atim was at her Jaja’s, who happens to also be the neighborhood witchdoctor. Jaja - this means grandmother in Luganda, but is not necessarily always a blood relative. it could be an elderly female relative or tribesman)
Apparently, on her way to find me Barbra had seen Atim sitting on her Jaja’s front stoop washing dishes. Barbra asked why she wasn’t at school and the Jaja interjected saying Atim had come to her place the night before because her mom had been drunk and was beating her badly. The Jaja said Atim would be staying with her for a bit. The Jaja was asking Barbra if she knew what requirements Atim needed to bring to school. **The Family Development Ministry (known stateside as Plant:Uganda) covers cost of school fees, uniforms, breakfast & lunch and coaching. Parents/Caregivers are required to provide “school requirements” which at the primary level are toilet paper, brooms, notebooks and pencils. As we walked by the Jaja’s place we let her know what requirements Atim would need to bring to school. Atim’s Jaja said she would be getting them today. She also explained Atim’s uniform was at her mom’s house, that they were going to go pick them up today and that Atim will be back at school tomorrow. She went on to say Atim’s mom had shown up at her house late the night before causing a scene and “coming after” Atim.
Maybe you remember hearing about Atim from this blog several months ago. After the initial post Atim went to stay with an Auntie (like the term Jaja, this can be but is not necessarily a blood relative) for several weeks, but it was not long before she was back at her mom’s house. I just found out today the reason why she left was because her mother would continually show up drunk and make trouble for everyone. Eventually the Auntie said she could not handle the mom’s shenanigans and sent Atim home.
A sweet, shy, timid 7 year old girl. This should not be her burden to carry. My heart is heavy. I spent much of the day praying over this situation. What do we do? How do we respond? I started out praying for wisdom and boldness in response for Dan, Loring, BW’s and myself….as the four of us are most keenly aware of the situation. Then I got to thinking of the FDM. How it is no mistake or coincidence any of these families are a part of this ministry and brought into relationship with the Sojourn community.
What is our collective response, as the church. If Atim’s Jaja, a witchdoctor, so willing opens her home and offers to buy all the requirements she needs for school, how much more will the church do? We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. How will we rally around and care for this girl and her mother? I do not know, but I am expectant of what might be done. How Jesus might use this to stretch us and grow us and, most of all, to show this beautiful little girl that she is loved and worthy of much.
How much more will we do?
This question echos in my heart. Please pray with me for Atim, her mother (Awuma), and the Jaja. It is no coincidence our paths have crossed. The people of Sojourn have been given a great opportunity. How will we answer? Pray for faithfulness to the gospel and courage to respond. Pray.