Featured Community: Amatsiko – HOPE. Helping Orphans And Vulnerable People Through Empowerment
“Thank you for the overwhelming and breathtaking message”. Tears welled up in my eyes as I read the words in the Facebook chat message on my iPhone, from an individual more than 10,000 miles away, whom I had never even seen in a picture or spoken to before in my life, prior to that evening. The extreme feeling of gratitude that was expressed to me in those few words and throughout the rest of the message that followed was nothing other than what had to have come from an absolute unconditional love that knew no bounds and had only the highest regard for any and all life on this planet. It was as if I could feel the vibration sweeping over my body, telling me “This is it! This is why you are here!”
It seemed like a simple enough gesture for me to do. Writing an article about things like this is what I am passionate about and enjoy, and it’s my current method of contribution to help bring about a moneyless society and resource based economy. I had been planning on writing articles about communities and giving updates on them and this one in particular seemed to touch my heart, so I didn’t even think twice about offering for it to be my first. But upon the message I received back from Alex Atuheire, who coordinates efforts for the children in Amatsiko, I realized it was more than just an article. It was reaching out to other people. It was offering help. And even though I didn’t have any money to donate, I could do something that didn’t cost me anything at all, other than a bit of my time. And still help them.
Who is Amatsiko and what are they doing?
Amatsiko is an organization that primarily focuses on making a difference in the world by responding to the needs of children in the area surrounding Lake Bunyoni, in the Kabale district, in southwestern Uganda. While the area is lush and green and may appear like a little piece of paradise to us, in recent times many children living in the area have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS after the virus was brought there by a Ugandan railway construction worker several years ago.
Not only is the Kabale district the recently added thirteenth high-risk area in the country for the HIV/AIDS virus, with an infection rate of 12% compared to the national average of 6%, but among the poverty-stricken villages there are also many children that have been born to teenage mothers and have been abandoned, children who have HIV/AIDS themselves, children simply living on the streets, and yet even other children born by mothers with mental disabilities, which is actually a situation that is rampant in the Kabale District.
Often, the lack of resources in the area denies these children any sort of even basic education, which could give them a foothold in modern society and help them to lift their communities out of the poverty and suffering they are currently experiencing. And not that much is needed, either. Things like electricity, clean water & good food, pillows, blankets, books, maybe even a few computers, etc… Things that most of us reading this take for granted. These things make a HUGE difference in the lives of people that are living without them.
The Children Really Are Our Future
Children born in these villages have great academic potential to influence the future economy and contribute towards the world but very few ever get the opportunity of access to education. These children have either poor or no guardians and need resources to allow them to be educated. When these children are given these things, they are suddenly brought up to a level that is above just trying to survive. They are brought up to a position to thrive, and help those around them thrive as well. Kindness is contagious. Education is contagious. Loving yourself and your neighbor is contagious. These are the things we need people to be spreading in this area. Not HIV.
And it’s evident also, in what the children are wanting to do with their lives. Eleven year-old Anisha Atukunda wants to be a doctor so she can “help my family and community in turn”. Twenty one year-old Anthony Isaac Kamukama also wants to be a doctor because “chemistry is easy to me”. Twenty three year-old Keneth Arabaasa studies physics and math and would like to become an engineer. They see the potential. They want to make the world a better place. And that will just be the start. These are real people, with real hopes and dreams. They experience real pain and suffering. These are our neighbors in this world, our friends, our family. What we do to them we do to ourselves. These people are our hope and future, just as we are theirs.
Action Taking Place At Amatsiko
Amatsiko is addressing these adverse conditions head-on by providing food and shelter to nearly 200 children who would otherwise have nowhere to go. They are also looking for sponsors for these children’s education and currently have twelve students that are being sponsored. There is also hope that with help, those at Amatsiko can open a community nursery and primary school, targeting the most impoverished areas, so all the children can receive at the very least a basic elementary education.
It means a lot to these children to know that there are people out there that actually care about them and want them to live a life that is rich and fulfilled. We have the power to help these children, not only by donations, but by putting forth the time and effort necessary to create systems that keep these things from happening in the first place. We have the capability to show these children that there is a better way, to influence them with a mindset that not only dislikes the unnecessary pain and suffering of others, but finds it completely unacceptable and does everything in it’s power to stop it and create a world that is free for all to use and enjoy.
Let us, together, help these children, and others like them, and help ourselves in the process. Let us create the world we desire, one effort at a time.
Thanks to people like you and those at Amatsiko, these children have more HOPE everyday.