One girl’s wish brings water to Ugandan children

March 20, 2011

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KAMPALA, UGANDA – Job. What a superhero. What a fashionable life to aspire to. You know Job, that ancient Middle East sheikh who had it all — children, riches, health — then lost it all overnight. There he sits, in ashes, scraping his open sores with shards of broken pottery.

Yeah, this is what we all dream of: losing all we cherish, then having a nagging wife and kooky friends tell us to curse God and die, or at least fess up that everything is our fault, our punishment for our secret sins. You tell them to shut up. You present your case to the Almighty.

Then he tells you to shut up.

No, Job was never Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. Not with rotten luck like his. Warning! Stay clear of this guy! His ills may be contagious! No wonder this biblical name is hardly mentioned even in churches these days. Not without all that precious health and wealth.

But a 17-year-old Canadian says that the suffering fool who may have lived 4,000 years ago is very much her hero. And thousands of Ugandans will be better for it. “Job was my favourite book even before I got sick. It gives perspective to life.” This, from someone who is about to die.

Kaitlin Boyda, a teenager from the Canadian city of Lethbridge, Alberta, has a fatal brain tumour.

So Canada’s Make-a-Wish Foundation has asked its familiar question, “Kaitlin, what is your wish?”

This young woman could have chosen a trip to some fun-filled place like Disneyland, common for Make-a-Wish recipients. She could have had something for herself. Instead, Kaitlin thought about it and then donated her wish money, about Cdn $7,500 (sh18.2m), for clean water in Uganda. That was last November.

That would dig almost one borehole. Kaitlin’s family donated the balance for that borehole. Then it asked others to also give to Compassion Canada, the project’s organisers.

Compassion, after all, wanted 21 new boreholes in Uganda — in Kiruhura, Rakai, Masaka, Wakiso, Luweero, Bushenyi, Mubende and Mityana. Then something happened. Something big. One friend told another who told another who told another.

Canadian businesses heard about it. The Facebook network went wild. And in seven weeks more than $200,000, or sh486m, was raised to pay for all 21 boreholes.

Children and family and friends, more than 30,000 Ugandans, will now have clean water so they can live without typhoid and E. coli and you-name-it.

Some folks might think, well, a place like Canada has money falling off its trees. But I can assure you that many Canadians, while wealthier than most Africans, have their own money and debt issues. So this is a remarkable unfolding.

It is a reminder that the world’s best marketing plan is nothing compared to one compelling story. It also speaks of the power of one life. Yes, just one life. And something else.

No, this is not about money. Or health. Or even family and friends. Job was eventually vindicated and his former blessings restored. Kaitlin is about to die. In either case, both would tell you the same thing: this is all about a loving God.

Kaitlin has never looked skyward and shaken an angry fist. She has never asked “Why me?” Instead she has asked “Why not me?” She does not enjoy her suffering.

But she realises deeply that it can help others.

“It is not about me,” is how she simply puts it. And then, “My actions affect how others act.”

Hmm. There it is. A full life. With purpose. And joy.

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March 20, 2011 • Posted in ,
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