On August 6th, I followed Babra Namutosi, Assistant Programs Coordinator, onto a packed night bus. We’d be traveling to Agago in search of Blessing Marion’s family.
This is one of the programs Wells of Hope Ministries offers: Family Tracing. WOHM believes in the importance of developing familial bonds to help a child grow and find a sense of belonging. To accomplish this goal, WOHM visits the children’s families, assesses the living conditions and situation, and facilitates a connection between the two parties.
In the case of Blessing Marion, she was born in prison, attended a daycare in Luzira, and arrived at Wells of Hope when she turned four years old. We had a contact for her, so, we packed our backpacks, hopped on the bus, drove up to the northern part of Uganda. Bags were pushed into my face, feet crept slowly into my space, and the seat got more and more uncomfortable. The bus ride was not my favorite part, but it was all worth meeting Blessing Marion’s family.
Upon arriving to Agago, Blessing’s grandfather, Uncle Francis, offered us a ride to one of his houses. Blessing’s grandmother welcomed us into her home. The house was comprised of three barren rooms – one for cooking and two for sleeping.
Slowly, we began uncovering the pieces of Blessing’s family. She has three grandfathers, one grandmother, three uncles, two siblings, and nine cousins waiting for her. They were very excited to see pictures of Blessing, as none of them have met Blessing before. They want to teach her the local language, introduce her to her family, and ensure that she is provided for. Her grandfather shared their economic struggles with Babra and me, confiding in us that they cannot provide for the eleven kids living in the household. The grandmother does most of the work, relying on farming for sustenance. Regardless of their circumstance, they look forward to meeting Blessing, asking that they get to spend time with her.
After finishing our visit in Agago, we left for Gulu. It took us about four hours and multiple modes of transportation, but, we somehow managed to make it work. In Gulu, we met another Wells of Hope student and attempted to reconcile him with his aunt and mother. Our second visit was not as successful as the first, but I enjoyed meeting the family, even though they could not understand my English.
Overall, I experienced so many firsts during my trip Family Tracing. I got to laugh and smile a lot and help Blessing be reunited with her family. I’m beyond thankful for this opportunity.
Written by Anooshka Gupta, intern from University of Michigan, USA