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jena49

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Reply with quote  #1 
A lot of strange things happen when you cross the Nile River and end up in a refugee camp for internally displaced persons.

You gain this sense of being out of place and far away and a little afraid and even more broken.

I guess when I planned to go to Uganda, I didn't realize that we were heading up to Northern Uganda, a place that has been torn by war with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that is fighting guerilla warfare in villages all across Northern Uganda. We visited our well projects in a place called Lira, which is about a 5 hour drive north of the capital city of Kampala - and just on the outskirts of the violence. As we drove, we encountered the powerful force of rushing water of the Nile River over rocks and in between lush vegetation - as well as several UN and International Red Cross trucks . As we continued on, baboons lined the side of the road. As did the military.

The war has essentially been going on since 1986 and it has killed and displaced millions of Ugandans. I've never been this close to war before. I've never before seen people afraid for their lives. I've never felt the slight worries about the safety of my own life. And I've certainly never been so disturbed by the inhumane conditions of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp.

It's just plain awful. 1300 people, chickens, cows and goats are crammed into a small plot of land surrounded in barbed wire. Their villages too insecure to live in- just this week, 5 women were killed by the LRA when they were out in their farms. The city is safer, and the conditions are horrific, most people have lived here for 3 years now - but it's better than risking your life out in the village.

The children are literally STARVING. Three out of four children have those extremely bloated stomachs that are an indication of kwashiorkor, severe malnourishment. Families have constructed mud huts. The hut is smaller than my bathroom at home- and seven people sleep in one of them. There is no water because the well is broken, the latrines have overflown with excrement, some children have no clothing, and everyone is suffering from severe coughs. Food is scarce, fear is high and hope is buried.

I guess when I come face to face with the real people who are REALLY struggling to survive, I get confused... and then I get angry.

The situation just doesn't make sense to me. I honestly have had a hard time with God on this one. I stand in the midst of STARVING families who live in most inhumane circumstances. These are hard-working, compassionate, intelligent people who have been run off their land, away from their homes because of the rebels, whose children are not being fed, who face disease and discomfort every day. They do not complain - they just keep moving forward trying to find a way to survive the day. But why is it that I have every physical need in order to live well? I didn't do anything to earn this? It makes me so angry that there are billions of people in this world whose basic needs are not being met.

I've been in East Africa for the past 25 days now. I have seen, touched, smelled, encountered the reality of extreme poverty. I am closer to understanding all the implications that are involved when they say that 1.1 billion people in this world live on $1 a day, when they say that poor countries are unable to address their own development because they are funneling all their funds towards debt repayment to rich and unforgiving countries, when they say that 80 percent of deaths are due to water-borne diseases, when they say that 6500 Africans are dying every day because of AIDS.

I've walked with the women who carry the filthy water on their heads for miles every day, I've sat with people living with AIDS who know they will not survive simply because they cannot afford the $7 every month that would provide them with the medicine that will keep them alive, I've seen people laying on the dirt road utterly sick and dying from malaria because they cannot afford a basic mosquito net and treatment for the disease, I've met hundreds of orphans who cannot afford to go to school, I've come to dread Saturdays because it is the day of too many funerals. This stuff is real. And each day I'm seeing people that I will never see again because they are not going to survive. And I carry the burden of knowing how easy it would be for those with resources to give to those with little -- and confidently say that this assistance would dramatically change this continent.

I can tell you for a fact that Africans are the most hard working, committed, faithful individuals I have ever met. Any thought about Africans being victims or incapable people should be eradicated now. The work that is going on here on the ground is unbelievable. The things that these communities and local NGO's are doing here are humbling and amazing. But they can't do the necessary work without the help from the nations and the individuals who some how hold these resources in abundance.

The G8 summit is just around the corner. This is an incredible opportunity for our world's most powerful leaders to reach outside of themselves and courageously commit themselves toward debt cancellation and poverty alleviation. I want to shout out and say, "Hey world, this has got to stop!" And now we have an opportunity to say that - loud and clear.

This is really important. I can't emphasize it enough. Please do what you can, wherever you are for our brothers and sisters here in Africa. Whether it's your voice, your financial contributions, your prayers, your personal investment...we need you. Please.

After a restless night from the IDP camp, I went with our team and purchased the necessary parts to fix the broken well. Blood:Water Mission has now provided clean water for this refugee camp, thanks to those who have been supporting us. I'm so thankful that we were there and that we have the support to be able to tangibly and immediately alleviate a situation. The well was fixed the next day.

The suffering here is real, but the strength, hope and provision of God, though hard to explain, is much greater than any of the hardship.

Be blessed.

Jena
Marlo

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Reply with quote  #2 
I know living here in the US we have no clue of what real suffering is and sometimes it is difficult to comprehend the alarming injustice that is taking place at this very moment.
So hearing the urgency of this compells me to break from the apathy that too often creeps up on me

Thank you for sharing your heart and experience in Africa
Hearing about this grieves my heart deeply and angers me as well
But, I believe that is something that God can turn into action.

1 Peter 1:13-15
13 Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former IGNORANCE, 15 but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct;

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Lynn

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Reply with quote  #3 

Folks, if you have not already done so, PLEASE sign the ONE campaign's letter urging President Bush to take action at the upcoming G8 summit to cancel the debt of these poorest nations and allow the possibility that hope can be restored in the lives of these brothers and sisters that Jena is speaking about in her post.  Here is the link:

http://www.one.org/addmyvoice.aspx

 

Thanks and blessings,

Lynn


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Jen

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Reply with quote  #4 

Like Marlo said... those of us who live here in the US can not even understand this concept of suffering. Sometimes I get so frustrated with some people I know because they get all upset over the fact that they can't buy the latest cd or they miss one day of that Starbucks coffee because they don't have the money for it. 

 

I recently read a book by K.P. Yohannan about his ministry Gospel for Asia and what he wrote simply changed my views on things. He drove home the point that America is rich for a reason.... and the reason is not so we can keep everything to ourselves. 

 

Thanks for sharing this with us, Jena. I will be praying for you and the team and the people of Africa.

 

Just a couple quotes I heard last week:

 

"Today Christians spend more money on dog food than missions."

             -Leonard Ravenhill

"You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."

             -Amy Carmichael


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damage

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Reply with quote  #5 

many people in highly industrialized countries think they're poor when they can't afford to buy branded clothes, shoes, or eat at gormet restaurants, or if their houses are not as big as their neighbor's mansions. they've never seen poor until they leave the comforts of their homes and see children walking barefeet, in torn clothes, filthy and dirty with grimes from the street, living in dilapidated houses, sleeping on cardboard boxes, eating dirty or rotten food from the dumpster, or dying of hunger.

 

Jena, you and your team out there in Africa are always in our prayers. I copied and pasted your message and emailed it to everyone I know and included a link to the 1000 Wells Project and BWM in the hopes to eliciting some action.

 

Take care out there!

 

Liquid

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn

Folks, if you have not already done so, PLEASE sign the ONE campaign's letter urging President Bush to take action at the upcoming G8 summit to cancel the debt of these poorest nations and allow the possibility that hope can be restored in the lives of these brothers and sisters that Jena is speaking about in her post.  Here is the link:

http://www.one.org/addmyvoice.aspx

 

Thanks and blessings,

Lynn

Done. thanks for the link.


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5candles

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Reply with quote  #7 

Thank you Lynn. I added my voice yesterday.


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soccer36

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Reply with quote  #8 

added mine right now...

Jenica

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Reply with quote  #9 
I just wanted to say thanks, Jena, for sharing this with us. I've read this post 3 times now, and every time I read and learn something new and my heart aches more and more for the people of Africa and around the world who are suffering. Your descriptions are vivid and paint a horrific story, and yet it is clear that God is working in and through you through your work over there. Thank-you for having the strength and courage to step up to this mighty task. My prayers are with you.
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