Meet Kato Joseph. He lives in Uganda, and I can’t believe I could love someone so much from all the way over here.
I was hooked when I saw this 8 year old boy standing up under the weight of an oversized brown suit that encased him like a junior knight’s armor. Kato needs armor, because he lives in a country that has been ruled by vengeance and violence since before his parents and I were born. As a child, I studied our ancient Revolutionary and Civil Wars in my air-conditioned US school with the gross Salisbury Steak lunchplate. Kato’s mom, Jowelia, listened to automatic rifle fire and screaming each night as her mother tucked her into bed. Idi Amin ruled Uganda when we were little girls, massacring up to 300,000 people and expelling the Indian minority, entrepreneurs who took a chunk of the economy with them when they left. He pushed his luck and invaded Tanzania, resulting in Jowelia’s hometown of Kampala being captured in 1979.
After Amin, President Milton Obote rose to infamy with one of the worst human-rights records in history. He was followed by Tito Okello, who lost Kampala to the National Resistance Army. Over and Over, Kato’s homeland has been that doll that loses an arm, a leg and some hair while grubby hands tug and snatch it from each other. In the devil’s usual sick manner, armies with names such as “The Holy Spirit Movement” and “The Lord’s Resistance Army” have forced or coerced children into being soldiers. In God’s subtle way, a quieter movement has been invading the country, one that demonstrates the heart of the true Lord.
Kato’s parents grew up surrounded by rage and fear. Today, their son and his twin sister are encouraged by strangers and given opportunities they never had. A few years ago, the couple struggled to find menial labor that barely bought a few servings of rice for their 7 kids. Now they have piglets, goats, chickens and seeds each year for planting. Kato buys them with his Christmas and birthday gifts. Malnutrition got to him before we did and robbed him of the intellect that might have taken him beyond kindergarten at the Compassion International Child Development Center he attends. No matter, because Kato overflows with love and blesses his whole family when he receives a blessing. Ocean-crossing kinship fills the air with sounds of livestock and laughter, drowning out the memories of shouts and gunshots.
If you haven’t heard of Compassion International, I must not have met you yet but I’m glad you’re here. You’re on the verge of an experience that will have you hugging your mailbox. I believe in being both generous and wise, so feel free to research them before you fall in love and begin changing the life of another Compassion kid who’s been waiting for a chance. To save you some time, a man named Bruce Wydick at the University of San Francisco led an independent study that was published in several journals in 2013. The group studied 10,444 adults who had grown up as sponsored children through Compassion International. The study determined that child sponsorship increased the probability of a child completing secondary school by 27%–40%, completing a university education by 50%–80%, and obtaining a white-collar job as an adult by about 35%. Many sponsored children become doctors, teachers, mayors and governors. Some even become lawyers, inspired by the wonderful people at International Justice Mission who work with Compassion to rescue and rehabilitate victims of abuse and trafficking. All sponsored children receive education, food and medical treatment at centers that are hosted by local churches. Their parents receive education on health and child-rearing, as well as prayers and help from the child’s teachers and sponsors. The Child Development Centers are closely monitored by an accountability team that has made Compassion #2 on Charity Navigator’s list of 10 Charities with the Most Consecutive 4-Star Ratings, and #8 of Charity Navigator’s 10 of the Best Charities Everyone’s Heard Of.
I don’t know about you, but once I heard about Compassion International, there was no way I could buy one more wrinkle-fighting cream or upgrade my superphone before I made a commitment to spend a teensy $38 per month helping someone survive and thrive.
Now that I’ve introduced you to Mr. Kato Joseph, I have in my hands the information on three children who need sponsors right now. I am participating in Compassion’s “Release 3” project, sharing their stories and praying that Deysi Calle, John Michael Enriquez and Mathias Kokou Aguedji get sponsors this month. Tomorrow, I’ll introduce you to John Michael. Please let me know if you will be the one to take care of these little ones. If you have any difficulty responding on WordPress, you may reach me on Facebook or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.