Defining Moments. You know those times when you look back and realize the moment that everything changed, even if maybe you didn’t realize it at the time. I think for me, this story I’m about to tell is one of those moments when I realized Uganda would never leave me. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m walking across a frozen and barren lake in the middle of Canadian winter, or flagging down an auto rickshaw in the heat and craziness of Delhi; Uganda is always there, just beneath the surface, part of who I’ve become.
The first time I traveled to Eagles Wings, I arrived with a team of engineers and architects. One of my teammates was sponsoring a child, Quarish, and was looking forward to meeting him. One day while working on the property we came out of the bush sweaty and tired from hauling heavy survey equipment from one end of the property to the other, when Edith, the student sponsorship coordinator asked my friend if he’d like to visit Quarish over lunch and I was invited to come along. It had been one week since he’d left the busy streets of Los Angeles and four since I’d left the snow packed prairies, and we were both rookies to African culture. Neither anticipated how the coming events would change our perception of what it meant to give out of sacrifice.
Quarish lives not too far from the Eagles Wings property. We pulled up to his house and were introduced to his mother who was also caring for 5 additional children. The two youngest came over and sat in my lap, running their hands along my strange white skin. Edith explained that these two precious girls sitting in my lap were HIV positive, and that’s when my heart started to crack. Quarish gave us a tour of the land, proudly showing us his room, excited that he had the opportunity to show his home to his sponsor; an opportunity that not many sponsored children around the world get to realize. After visiting and having a tour, we prepared to head back to the property and back to work. Quarish’s Mom turned to us with sadness in her eyes and said she had nothing to give us. We insisted it was ok and thanked her for welcoming us into her home, when one of the younger children ran up with 3 eggs and said “here we have this to give him.” She proceeded to take the eggs and place them in my friend’s hands, giving him literally all she had to give.
The next morning, our hosts baked up an omelette with those eggs and brought them over for my friend to eat. He looked up with guilt and tears in his eyes and whispered “I can’t.” How do you sit down and eat what you know was someone’s last meal? How do you then come home and live out generosity that costs something? Every time I enter my kitchen to bake, I pull out the eggs and remember the way I saw that Mother demonstrate that it is more blessed to give than receive, to give until it hurts and then keep on giving.