Dad’s can turn garbage into a soccer ball.
Dirt into breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And boys and girls into men and women.
Richard is Colline’s uncle, but every bit her dad (I wrote yesterday about how she went from slave to daughter.)
He wakes her early for chores because “this is family.”
Richard teaches her to nurture. Colline gathers her siblings around a blue tub for a bath, pours clean water, lathers and rinses them before bathing herself.
Richard teaches her to work early and work hard every day. He watches, smiling, so proud.
With the broom she made herself, Colline sweeps the kitchen and laundry rooms as the sun rises outside the walls.
She bends over tubs of dirty clothes alongside mom, who just gave birth to a little sister two days ago – scrubbing and rinsing, scrubbing and rinsing.
Mom wants better for Colline someday – but first there’s more work to be done.
The water’s all gone and there are meals to cook and dishes to clean. Colline leads the other children on a hike along a narrow path to the village well.
Then she drags the dishes out into the yard – more scrubbing and rinsing, scrubbing and rinsing. (With help from Emily this morning.)
A dad teaches a daughter who wants to be a nurse someday that dreams – answers to many of her prayers – are watered by the sweat of her own brow. There is climbing to do.
So a dad gets his daughter out the door to school on time – 7:30 for Colline. She returns home just after 5 in the afternoon and sits down for a snack before the work of being family begins again.
A good dad teaches his children that potatoes are a gift from a good God who causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall. A gift from a sponsor whose $38 became seeds and shovels, blue laundry tubs, beds and blankets, health check-ups and medicine and dental exams, shoes, school uniforms, a free education and books and tutors, a bible, seeds and shovels…”too many blessings from God and her sponsor,” Richard says.
Colline covers her face, smiling through her fingers, whispering her gratitude. And it’s not a quick prayer.
A dad teaches his daughter to take enough and share the rest. With the small. And the smallest.
Colline was born behind high walls. Poverty tells her there is no way out but poverty is no match for a good dad.
With the help of her sponsor and a nearby church, mom and dad will boost Colline over these walls and out into the wide world some day – to light and love. This grinning eleven year-old can tell you what’s on the other side: A university, a nurse’s uniform, a family of her own sitting around a table under a roof whispering thanks to God for too may blessings.
Good dads lay down the kind of wisdom and ethics and praise a child can stand on, footholds for the ascent. Work ethic, responsibility, compassion, family, generosity, education, faith…
Richard is a good dad. And I want to be. But the walls are so high…
When my children turn five they begin the climb out of the American dream – upward to go outward. At five we sponsor a child in their name. This first opportunity to give is a gift to them too.
Not just a penpal halfway around the world, but a face on the refrigerator, a name slipped into bedtime prayers, a lesson in generosity, gratitude – the hard work of being family.
Loose change and crumpled bills are saved and given at Christmas, letters are written and mailed and two lives are changed: sponsored child and child sponsor.
And when Penelope got to deliver a persuasive speech to her class on any subject she wanted? I hit record and just watched, smiling, proud at how far she’s climbed in just four years.
Help two children climb.
Be sure and check out Emily’s great post (with video) about our time together with Richard & Colline today. For more stories, videos and hundreds of pictures from Uganda please visit CompassionBloggers.com/uganda