Kitega Community Centre
I don’t know why it has taken me so long to write about the Kitega Center (http://www.kitegacc.org). It is possibly my favorite place that we visited in Uganda. Those children were so precious to me, and I think it took me a long time to process what I saw there. I am still processing, but I am also remembering which is why I think it is time to finally write and share about it. While preparing for this trip, the Kitega Center was the one that kept coming back to my mind. I was so anxious and excited for this place in particular. The center takes in kids who have been rejected and cast out by their communities. This whole trip was about the orphans rejected by society, the most vulnerable, but these kids were considered even less than the other orphans we met. Most of them weren’t even orphans. They were rejected because they were born with special needs. These kids were not seen as valuable or as having a worthwhile future. Some were turned out from their homes and families. Others were hidden from society because the family didn’t want the rest of the community to know that they had a child with special needs. Others were denied food and clothing so that more could be spared for the other members of the family. The center deals with cases like this and many more. They go out into the community and search for these children. They offer them a place, a refuge, where they are accepted just as they are. The center gives them food, water, clothing, tutors, and most of all, the love that they so desperately crave. The most vulnerable are taken in and shown that they are loved and cherished by the One who created them. The Kitega Center offers hope to the children who had none, joy even in the saddest situation, faith that the community will one day accept them. The work that the Kitega Center is doing does not stop here. They offer support to the families and teach them how to better take care of their children. They reach out to the community to show them that these children are precious and should not be outcasts. They are a light in a very dark place.
Our time at the Kitega Center was very short because it was far away from where we were staying. The short time did not prevent us from attaching to the children and drying our tears when we left. There were about twenty children at the center when we arrived, and they greeted us with laughter, songs, and the biggest smiles we had seen in Uganda. We sang songs with them and then did face painting, balloon animals, coloring, bubbles, fingernail painting, and much more. I played with a little boy named David (yes, we met a lot of David’s) whose smile and joy I still remember. He was about five or six and loved my camera! At first, I would take pictures and then show them to him. Then he wanted to take the pictures. So I put the shoulder strap around both of us, picked him up, and then walked around so he could take pictures. He used hand motions to tell people where to stand and then moved the camera around to get the best angle. It was so cute and he absolutely loved it! I was ready to take him home with me. I know he is going to be a photographer someday. God has given him a purpose and a future because no matter what his community has said, he IS worth it, he IS precious, and he IS loved.
This was a lesson in seeing everyone through God’s eyes, and I am so thankful for the ones who taught me this lesson – a joyful little boy, and all of the workers and volunteers at Kitega Center who work hard every day to bring the best future possible to the children in their community.