Writing from Lira

 

Hi friends of Otino Waa. My name is Amanda Lawrence and I am Otino Waa’s Media and Communications Coordinator. What this means is I’m the one (usually) writing Facebook posts, blogging, updating the website, writing, sending newsletters and trying to help you stay up to date and connected with Otino Waa. I first visited Otino Waa in 2011, then again in 2012 and 2014. Over the years I have the really fun job of providing photography and creating videos for the website, media and our fundraisers. After my first visit to Otino Waa, I became a board member and in October took this part time position on the Otino Waa staff.

 

Today, I am writing to you from Lira, Uganda. I’m sitting on a tile floor because it’s the coolest surface I can find as it is still the dry season and it is hot!

 

I’m exciting to be able to write on the blog from my own perspective and share my own stories with you for the next 10 days. Bare with me through the sub-par writing and grammar mistakes – I’m going to blame it on jet lag.

 

I hope you enjoy reading through these updates as much as I will enjoy sharing them. These kids are truly amazing, beautiful, talented individuals who love their sponsors and are so grateful for the opportunities they’ve been given. It is such a privilege to be a part of their story – I hope you feel the same!

 

–Amanda

Hi friends of Otino Waa. My name is Amanda Lawrence and I am Otino Waa’s Media and Communications Coordinator. What this means is I’m the one (usually) writing Facebook posts, blogging, updating the website, writing, sending newsletters and trying to help you stay up to date and connected with Otino Waa. I first visited Otino Waa in 2011, then again in 2012 and 2014. Over the years I have the really fun job of providing photography and creating videos for the website, media and our fundraisers. After my first visit to Otino Waa, I became a board member and in October took this part time position on the Otino Waa staff.

 

Today, I am writing to you from Lira, Uganda. I’m sitting on a tile floor because it’s the coolest surface I can find as it is still the dry season and it is hot!

 

I’m exciting to be able to write on the blog from my own perspective and share my own stories with you for the next 10 days. Bare with me through the sub-par writing and grammar mistakes – I’m going to blame it on jet lag.

 

I hope you enjoy reading through these updates as much as I will enjoy sharing them. These kids are truly amazing, beautiful, talented individuals who love their sponsors and are so grateful for the opportunities they’ve been given. It is such a privilege to be a part of their story – I hope you feel the same!

 

–Amanda

 

Yesterday afternoon I went to Otino Waa with Rory and Pam, Otino Waa’s directors, and their two daughters, Abbey and Allie, and the two interns, Emily and Jen.

 

During January, we took in an additional 26 students (24 orphans, and 2 mom’s kids) bringing the total population of Otino Waa up to 291. When we arrived yesterday the kids were just getting out of class and coming out to play. In addition to the 291 kids, there are over 100 children who live in Lira but go to Otino Waa school, brining the total school population over 400!

 

It definitely felt like there were more children running around then there were last year.

 

I had a chance to walk the grounds and see the progress on the Primary school building and look at the new houses that were built in 2014, which completed Circle 4.

 

But I also had some time to just hang out with the kids and watch them play. The littlest ones are so tiny, some of the new kids have huge smiles while others still have the frightened, uncertain look of a child who has been through more then anyone ever should. The older children say that in time this will give way to smiles, play and becoming happy little kids again. But for some, the healing will take more time.

 

 

 

In the sea of new little faces bouncing up and down, swinging on swings, going down slides, dancing and chasing, I recognized two faces that filled me with Joy.

 

About a year ago when I was at Otino Waa, I joined Rev. Dickens on a trip out to the bush to assess and interview children on the waiting list. We had been driving for hours, bouncing down muddy dirt roads, we were dusty, tired, hot, and honestly I just wanted to go back to Lira, shower and eat. But when we arrived at the last home, we found two children who had a very sad story. They were orphans, their father had died years before  and their mother had died recently. She had been murdered – inside of their own hut…while they were sleeping next to her. Their countenance was stony, empty, afraid, they were truly traumatized.

 

After leaving the bush I hoped that these two children would be among those chosen to fill the open places at Otino Waa.

 

When I saw Linda yesterday, she had the biggest, brightest smile, her eyes were shining and she was surrounded by her new friends. I asked her if she remembered me and she said she did. I tried to express how happy I was to see her at Otino Waa, I feel like I witnessed a miracle.

 

The other face that I was so excited to see was a little girl named Juliet. I had met her the same day I met Linda. She came walking up to our group carrying a jerry can of water on her head, barely dressed in rags. But she was sharp, bright and strong. She, along with her older sister, was also accepted into Otino Waa.

 

She’s the one with the biggest smile in this photo.

 

 

 

This is the reason we do what we do. Stories like these are what motivate me to to share the story. There is so much pain and injustice intertwined in these kids’ lives – but each child has their own rescue story and transformation from sadness and despair into hope.

 

I know that sounds so cliché. It really does, I admit it. But my brain cannot find words to express it any other way. This redemption story reflects the image of what Christ has done for us – taken us from a hopeless situation that we could never change or get out of on our own, and intervened, turning our world upside down, and beginning to rebuild, repair, and restore the broken places in our lives.

 

I think I will always wrestle with the problem of evil and suffering in this world and wonder why there is so much pain. But today, I cannot help but acknowledge the fact that there is restoration happening in this world all around us. Suffering does not have to be the end, it can be made into something beautiful and good. Although this is easy to say and hard to believe, today I was given the gift of seeing it first hand, with my own eyes and it is undeniable. God is at work, healing, restoring and rebuilding.