By Fr. Peter Vecellio, O.C.D.
A Happy and Blessed New Year to you all! I was privileged on the first day of the New Year to visit a home for disabled children here in Uganda. What beautiful and special children of God! What warmth and affection they show toward complete strangers like me! Yet, as I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a stigma against children with disabilities here in Uganda. They are seen as a curse and are often neglected, abused, or completely abandoned by their families. Edith, the saintly women who runs the Home of Hope in Jinja (who I learned relies completely on generous donations for the house), said that many children and even babies have been left outside their gate and are discovered by their dogs barking at the gate. How tragic! Yet, aren’t we in the west equally anti-life when we abort children with disabilities detected in utero?
Still we might ask ourselves: How can a parent abandon their child, especially if they are so vulnerable and needy? Certainly many factors are at work. One factor is poverty. Many parents feel that they don’t have the means to take care of children with such special and demanding needs. They feel, quite simply, overwhelmed. But they may also feel that they don’t have the skills to be an effective parent for them. This is where the work of Clare Byrne, whom I wrote about in a previous post, is so important. She trains parents of disabled children for three to four months and teaches them the skills that will meet the needs of their children. At Home of Hope, no parent training is possible because there is no trace of most of these children’s parents. Yet, in spite of such blatant disregard for innocent and precious human life, great heroes like Edith and Clare are born.
I am truly humbled by the amazing people that God is raising up here in Uganda! Where there is great darkness, there will always be great saints to counter that darkness with love, compassion and mercy. I think it goes without saying that there is great darkness all around us in the world. The question we need to ask ourselves is: How is God calling me to be a “hero” in that darkness? It may be in a small way. Everything great starts with little things. It is undeniable that all of us are called to heroism in some fashion because we’re all called to be saints. So let us begin, as we should begin all things, in prayer. Then let us be generous and not afraid in responding to God’s call. This is a worthy New Year’s resolution!
If you feel inspired to support Edith at Home of Hope, here is the link: