Meet Loyce: A story of hope and transformation

Meeting Loyce turned my life upside down. In August of 2013, I was working in a short term medical clinic in war torn  Arua, Uganda. Most of the people I saw had serious but treatable illnesses such as malaria and water born illnesses. I wasn’t thinking about the needless suffering and death that had been occurring before our trip, or that would occur after we left. I was feeling good about the people who were receiving medical care while we were there….

Then, I met 5 year old Loyce, also known as Lucy. She was suffering from severe malnutrition.  She was literally starving to death. Her mother, 21 year old Jesca, had 4 other children and a hopeless stare that haunts me to this day.

I had always known that there were starving children in the world, but I kept that knowledge at a comfortable emotional distance. Now I was EXPERIENCING it. While I was worrying about spoiling my children with our over abundance, Jesca  hopelessly watched her daughter die from starvation. How is this possible? Loyce was so ill that she would need months of medical treatment and nutritional supplements to become well. We would be gone the following week.  With my heart shattered, and not knowing if anything could be done to save Loyce’s life, I  grabbed my 2 sons and their friend and we prayed.

After we retuned to the states, a member of our American team wired money to Pastor John Paul of Arua Community Church. Pastor JP and church members used the money to obtain the appropriate medical treatment for Loyce. They spent countless hours ministering to the family and ensuring Loyce received the necessary medical care.

blog_photo3When we returned to Arua in July of 2014, Loyce was healthy and Jesca was smiling. They had found support through Arua Community Church. Jesca was selling beans and avocados to support her children.  They were regularly attending church and Jesca had shared her testimony in church through tears. Lucy’s life had been saved and there was such joy in seeing the transformation! But Loyce was still solemn and withdrawn.  She was still so vulnerable, and still living in the hopeless cycle of extreme poverty.

Unfortunately, this is not an unusual story in this remote village. Families often can’t afford to send their children to school, and if they can, they will preferentially send their boys.  These uneducated girls are unable to make a significant  financial contribution to their family, so they are sold into marriage during their early teen years. The girls often don’t have choices regarding marriage or reproductive rights. The men may take more than one wife, and the sole responsibility of supporting and raising the children falls upon the women.  These poor girls and women are not equipped to support a family. The injustice and hopelessness of extreme poverty was incomprehensible to my American mind.  My convenient excuse of, “If they were really willing to work hard, they could raise themselves out of poverty,” was no longer working. But when I thought about how I could help Loyce and many other children truly break free of the chains of extreme poverty, I felt utterly hopeless…but out of that hopelessness and prayer were born Solid Rock Christian School and Zozu Project.

blog_photo4Loyce is now 6 years old and is attending Solid Rock Christian School. She is not only receiving an education, but is also being loved and cared for by the amazing staff, teachers, and plentiful volunteers at Solid Rock School. She has a sponsor, an “American mom and dad,” who are providing for her ongoing education,  nutrition and medical care.  She is now smiling, running and playing with the other children. Most importantly, Loyce and her family now have hope.

We have hope, too. We have now visited Solid Rock Christian School and seen the incredible staff and teachers in action. We have met  Arua Community Church members, the Solid Rock School committee, and the surrounding community that is dedicated to helping these children thrive. Together, Americans and Ugandans alike, we can truly change the lives of the children in Arua.

  • Elaine

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