One night after long hours bent over a desk of University assignments I saw her picture there on my screen. In a bright yellow dress that reminded me of sunshine she stood there on a red dirt road. Her eyes looked deep and soulful and somehow I felt a connection with her. I knew that in spite of my tight student budget, she was supposed to be mine, and in that moment I decided to become her sponsor.
I printed her picture and put it up on my desk where I could see her during my long hours of study. I had never met this child, but somehow on the days I wasn’t sure I was smart enough or good enough or just plain enough to make it all the way to the graduation stage, Bushira’s picture was there somehow encouraging me to continue on.
Writing Bushira letters in those days provided me an escape from academics and an outlet to write about the simple joy in life. She would write me back and I was drawn to what seemed to be a very sweet personality. One time she asked me what I was studying. Funny she should ask, because right when I was in the middle of wrestling through what I would do with my life I told God that I would do anything but become an engineer, anything but that. And when I decided to say yes to the thing I said I never would, only God knew I would use those things I learned to one day size pipes and pumps for orphan homes in distant corners of the earth, even the one that Bushira herself lives in, and I thank Him for knowing me better than I know myself.
One of my childhood friends had the opportunity to travel to Eagles Wings and brought me back pictures and stories of Bushira. The picture of her in her bright yellow dress was replaced with a sweet portrait of her shy smile and eyes full of joy. And it was then that I knew I needed to meet her.
The opportunity to do so wouldn’t come until a few years later, in 2011 when I travelled to Uganda for the first time to both visit Eagles Wings and be part of an engineering team that would help them develop a master site plan, a vision for the future. I went to visit Bushira at her Aunt’s house, who had been her legal guardian before she came to live at Eagles Wings. When I entered the room she looked at the floor, too shy to meet my eyes, but then she somehow found the courage to come up and give me a hug. After introductions, she took my hand and said simply “Come.” She led me down a path to show me the graves of her mother and father and in that moment I felt the weight of what she lost in her childhood.
Over the years I have watched Bushira grow up through both the letters she writes and the visits I have made. She tells me life is beautiful and I marvel at how she has found a way with words. When I saw her in February, she somehow heard that I was traipsing through the bush and came over to find me. This, the same girl who was too shy to meet my gaze just a few short years ago, right before my eyes she is becoming. She tells me she’s my daughter and it creates in me a mother’s love. I look back at that very first picture I have of her, little did I know that red dirt she stands on would one day seep into all my broken places and stay there forever. And I thank God for Bushira and every single one of the other children there at Eagles Wings and I pray for them as they discover who they are and enter into adolescence. May God grant in them wisdom and a desire to become more like Him.