Wednesday July 23, 2008
This morning we are departing the Uganda mainland at a black coal harbor boat landing ringed by grimy huts with numerous large bags of Ugandan coal stacked and awaiting transport. Children with blackened feet, dressed in rags, smiling, wanting to hold hands encircle us. A 35 foot ancient wooden boat with a 25 horsepower outboard motor arrives. Ten nervous Mzungus are individually carried to the narrow leaking craft so that we do not contact the contaminated bacteria laden water. We embark for an hour and a half ride across Lake Victoria to Lingiri Island.
Lingiri Island is home to 2000 inhabitants in three separate villages. We are visiting the largest with 400 hundred adults and 600 children. 56% of the islanders are HIV positive resulting in large numbers of orphans. About 30 women referred to as "Mommas" care for as many as 17 children each, most of which are not their own biological children. They live in traditional one room grass roofed mud huts all sleeping on the same floor. These are conditions that even Pastor David considers rough.
The island has a school and Father's Devine Love Ministries has been providing tuition for about 30 orphans so they may attend. Pastor David envisions planting a church and building homes for the orphans. Some of the team visits the school classes, Laurie administers first aid to an infected sore, I walk the property that Pastor David is attempting to purchase for the project, we pray for the "Mommas", and depart for the return trip to the mainland with images of extreme need etched onto our hearts.