While traveling in Uganda in October, I met a little boy named Clinton who tried to sell me postcards. I made a promise to him, and I broke it. To make good on my broken promise, I need to find Clinton. I'm working on it, and updating the blog on the way...
Some gigglng, a lot of background noise, some more giggling, and another click. I have to admit, my efforts were laughable, even to me. No, especially to me. I was trying to call Uganda, to find a little boy I'd met who'd tried to sell me postcards. Who may or may not be an orphan. Who called himself Clinton. In other words, I wasn't just searching for any old needle in a haystack, I was searching for a particular needle in a haystack.
"Friday?" I shouted into the phone. There was a screen of static, and behind it, more peals of laughter. "Is Friday there?"
Weeks earlier, while Jesse and I were still in Africa, Mr. Friday had introduced himself to us as the Public Relations Director for the Bwindi Orphanage. Although he'd told me right then and there that he had no idea who Clinton was among the 250 orphans, Friday was my best hope for finding Clinton, simply because I'd already had a conversation with him about Clinton. Imagine the alternative: calling any orphanage, anywhere in the world, without the benefit of a point-of-contact, and looking for a kid you'd met who'd tried to sell you something.
Founded in 1998 by a Mr. Ignatius and a Mrs. Bright, the Bwindi Orphanage began as a shelter for kids whose parents were dying of AIDS. Left to fend for themselves, the kids would have to beg for food, if they got a chance to eat at all. In fact, as the orphanage's website puts it, the orphaned kids would "eat by chance, but not by choice." I don't know about you, but that really strikes me. Eating by chance, instead of by choice. Worse still, the kids were often put in the hands of caretakers who wanted them around as much as the next orphaned HIV/AIDS victim, and they were beaten by the very people who were supposed to be giving them shelter.
I know, I know. If you've heard this story once, you've heard it a thousand times. After a while, you turn off. There's only so much you can do, and we all know that that's very little. But what if, what if you could change just one life? Rather than trying to take on the world, to "boil the ocean" as my best friend's husband puts it, what if I found Clinton and helped him change his own life? After all, at just seven years young and already a salesman, he already seems to be making his own strides.
Anyway, without much luck in getting in contact with Friday, I decided to try to call the founder of the orphanage, Mr. Ignatius. This time, I got through, but only to Ignatius's brother, who informed me that Mr. Ignatius is in the hospital, with malaria.
To be continued...