Empowering HIV/AIDS orphaned children in Africa to a self sustainable future

Catherine Koch

Catherine Koch

Founder and President of Love Is The Answer, a Canadian registered charity serving orphaned children in Africa.

Up Close ~ From A Distance


Yesterday 2 counselors from the NGO and I traveled once again to see the children, both the families of Gideon and Betty. I went bearing small gifts for them all, some used clothes that I had washed and ironed after purchasing them earlier at the open market in Mbale.

Betty was happily surprised to see the counselors and me again so soon after our last visit. She ran off quickly to find the boys, Morning and Peter. Rose and baby Stella sat with us and we started our visit by discussing the baby’s health care, in search of clarification. Since my last visit I had gone to the hospital and learned some information but had found a few of my details were askew. Please forgive… earlier misunderstanding led me to mix up a few names on my last posting… Rose is the mother of infant Stella, the child with ‘hyrdocephalus’. As I write this I am still not sure who ‘Josephine’ is or where I got her name from… perhaps she will surface soon, or, oh, did I just feel another blond hair turn grey 🙂 With the confirmed info from yesterday, I have just been to the hospital again where I met with a very helpful and caring counselor. We are continuing to work together to bring the support to Rose and the care to Stella that they need.

Soon Betty returned with Morning and Peter, we all shared hello and gathered together for a visit. Before we had arrived I gave the bag of clothes to the counselor and asked her to please distribute them when she felt it was a good time. Soon, she started bringing out the gifts and handing each to the person they were meant for. Two flowered dresses for baby Stella, a couple blouses for her Mom, pants, shorts and a couple shirts for both the boys, a few blouses for Betty.

There was surprise and joy, there were smiles, except for Morning who maintained his serious and withdrawn demeanor during the entire visit. He did go and try on his new things within minutes of receiving them and came out of the hut to show us all… first the shorts and shirt and then the pants…wow, everything fit him very well!

When all was received, Betty knelt to me (a girls way to show respect) and spoke gently, seriously to me in her own language…’May you be Blessed’ the counselor translated, ‘May the work of your hands be Blessed.’

We embraced one another for a long few moments until we both giggled…I prayed her prayer…’Indeed, May This Girl In My Hands Be Blessed.’

On to Gideon’s… when we arrived we were told the children were at their property doing some work. What a wonderful very unexpected surprise to pull up there and see a small community effort in motion. Neighbors, big and small were helping Gideon and Helen to cut away and burn some of the brush outside and to start and clean up on the inside of their house. Naume and Martha were off somewhere with relatives. It was a happy visit.

We took more photos of the roof and discussed the extent of the work that needs to be done. Upon closer look we realized further information is needed as several of the beams that make up the roof trusses need replacing as well as all of the iron sheets. We’ll consult with a couple professionals to obtain guidance and receive a few quotes.

There were many neighborhood children nearby, so eventually we asked Gideon to come into the back of the truck where we could discreetly hand him a bag with a t-shirt for each of his siblings and a dress for each of Helen’s little girls. He was surprised, happy, grateful. After discussing a few other details about plans for the immediate future, we shared a hug. I reminded Gideon, we will continue to do our best together, step by step we will carry on, we will do what we can, when we can, keep heart. And there it was again, seemingly this 16 year old boy’s life credo…’I will never give up’ he said smiling.

As we headed away down the dirt road our driver turned the radio on. Immediately I could hear someone was singing a remake of Bette’s great song ‘From A Distance’ … and the message, and the timing, and the season, and the children, and the Love all came together in me and some tears rolled down under my sunglasses, my heart flowing over with Gratitude for the depth of connection and soulful gifts being shared on this inspiring, wondrous journey…

‘…From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It’s the voice of hope, it’s the voice of peace,
it’s the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed…’

Many Blessings…and to ALL a Good Night!
Cath xoxo

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