My Little Ugandan Silas

16 Jun

 Remember when I posted about my little Silas who we sponsor in Uganda?
(Who’s name on his info has oddly now changed to Sylus? I’m thinking maybe they spelled it wrong to begin with and now that he’s old enough to know better, he corrected them? Who knows?)

This first picture is the picture we picked off o the website.  Though thousands of miles away, he’s a part of our family.  We rejoice when we get letters from him. (Like, “Woo-hoo!! Silas wrote us!! *skip, skip, jump jump* all before leaving the mail box.)

His picture is framed on our wall.  We feel lucky to have our little Silas (Sylus!) (And encourage you to find a little “Sylus” of your own!)  The change we saw in only half a year was incredible.  Our vacant-eyed, seemingly little 6 year old boy turned into a plump, smiley 7 year old.  I mean, for real? Is he not the cutest kid ever?

I got this silly sense of security knowing that he was getting cared for, going to school, learning about Jesus.  I knew his family was getting some extra assistance, and his siblings, though not able to be sponsored like Silas (typically only one per family) were still reaping some of the benefits of Silas’ new life.  I sort of forgot just how Silas lived.  Lives.

But then, our newest picture of Silas arrived.  Silas is now 8.  If you think I jump and skip when he writes me, imagine what it’s like when we get his yearly picture.  I was estatic.  How had my plump child changed?  Would he have some hair in this picture?  How about his smile?  What crazy outfit would he be wearing.  I yelled to Dave and the kids as my finger was opening the envelope, “We got Silas’ new picture!!!”

And then I opened it.  And It wasn’t excitement and oohing and ahhing, it was hard to see.  Sure, maybe he was just having an off day or a bad picture.  (I certainly have my fair share of those!)  But in my heart, I think it’s more. 

I mean, look at his eyes.
Apparently you have to turn your head. Blogger won’t let me turn this.

Sylus is in Uganda.  The reality of Uganda and being a child in Uganda is stomach-churning hard to read about. Here are some quick facts I found.

  • 40% of kids under age 5 are underweight including mild to severe
  • 38% of kids under age 5 have stunted growth due to malnourishment
  •  36% of kids are being used in child labor
  • 1 in 35 women die in child birth
  • Average life expectancy: 53

Aids is a big problem in Uganda. 

  • 1.2 Million people live with Aids
  • 150,000 of those are children
  • 64,000 people died of aids in 2009 alone
  • 1.2 million children have been orphaned by aids

I won’t share Silas’ personal life story, but it’s a rough one.  And I think, looking at those eyes, he’s not in this happy Compassion school 24-7! His life is full of hardness.  And I’m afraid for him.  I look at the picture and I see not the young child in the middle picture who is drunk with the newness of attention, both with food and love of the staff and the ability to be a kid in a tough world, but one that has seen more than I can fathom, likely, sitting on my cushy green couch imagining in.

But the one thing that scares me so much is the LRA: Lord’s Resistance Army.  It’s a terrorist group that kidnaps Ugandan children and turns them into child soldiers, keeping them purely by fear.  They steal these kids, some SO very very young, (I think I read age 5 and up) murder in front of them, make THEM murder their friends etc…and really, what happens to these children literally makes me sick.

It is reported that approximately 66,000 children have been kidnapped by the LRA.

I wonder, Silas is 8. Prime age for the LRA. Might he know someone who has been taken at night?  I pray Silas is safe each night and he feels the love that we send him from so far away.

I urge you to watch the documentary called: Invisible Children.  It’s on You Tube and my computer is acting up, but here is the link to Part 1.  There are 6 parts, so if you search “Invisible Children Part 2″…etc…you can watch the entire thing.  I was SHOCKED when I watched this.  I really think everyone should watch it.

And if you watch it, or if you have seen it before, put a comment in and tell me what you thought.  Specifically of the sleeping arrangements.  That footage is pretty much ingrained in my head forever.

And then, one more plea if you’re not sponsoring a child.  Consider one in Uganda.  I know, there are many deserving kids ALL OVER that you could sponsor, but my little Silas’ eyes are speaking to me.  I hope they are speaking to you, too.


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