Rising From Disfigured to Dignified
Traveling at first light in the Child2Youth well used van, hundreds of brightly clothed people danced as a reflection on the window as we sped along. Sites and smells of Mukono filled my senses as I wondered what was in store my first day in Africa.
Steven Ssenyonjo was filling me in on the hundreds of school children we would be addressing in the makeshift village schools. Out of the three thousand children we saw that week, one child stood out as special and I could not get her out of my mind.
In a village in Uganda, separated from the other children I noticed a little girl standing by a tree intently watching me. Being shy, her face was half turned away from me and she held her hand behind her back. I thought, “this tiny child wants to give me something.” I called to her and the students became very quiet and their eyes grew large as Steven motioned her forward.
Reluctantly she stood before me and I pulled her arm from behind her back expecting a rock or a flower. I stifled a gasp as I noticed her hand was almost gone, her fingers were nubs and melted together. Terrible scars were on her withered hand and up her arm. I took her little face in my hand and turned it toward me to tell her she did not have to hide her it and was shocked to see the side of her face was all scarred and skin terribly rippled.
Holding my breath, trying to contain my emotions, I picked her up and held her in my arms. With my hand on her chest I told her I could feel that she was very good on the inside and God had sent me here to tell her she was beautiful on the outside as well and that she did not have to hide her face or her hand any longer.
I asked Steven what happened to her. She had fallen in a fire, as many children do, and was lucky to be alive. Because she is “damaged” she is treated badly and no one cares about her future. I said, “keep track of her and we will find her a sponsor.”
After we arrived home to California, Steven told us in a letter “a miracle happened that day.” Unknowingly I had honored her by picking her up and holding her and that gesture had elevated her from “damaged” to very special.
Dianna is now sponsored, being very bright she is top of her class and is going to be a Doctor and help “damaged” children like herself.
To find our how you can help our children fulfill their dream of going to school contact: Steven Ssenyonjo