My job as Executive Assistant mostly keeps me in the IJM office in Kampala, doing computer work and running around the office setting up meetings, organizing files, sending emails, etc. That’s all great fun (well, okay, sometimes it’s not so fun), but over the last few weeks I found myself feeling more and more disconnected from the the heart of IJM’s work in Uganda: caring for widows and orphans in desperate need of legal representation, food for their families, and hope for the future.
And so today, at long last, I put aside my office duties for a day and headed out with Claire, one of our Aftercare staff members, to the isolated rural villages and dusty roadside towns where our clients live. (The Aftercare team makes bi-weekly visits to our clients’ homes to check up on them, bring basic food supplies, and pay children’s school fees and medical bills as our budget allows it).
As Claire went over the list of clients we’d be visiting today, I recognized the names of all the widows from case records and reports I have been compiling and editing, but most of the names meant very little to me. Thankfully, as we traveled from house to house, those names became faces, real people with hopes and dreams and fears.
At one house, Scott, our Communications Fellow, interviewed our client to find out more about her story. I watched her smile shyly at first introductions, then grow somber as she remembered the traumatic events surrounding her husband’s death, followed by laughter as she expressed the joy and hope that the work of IJM has brought to her family now. I thought more than a few times today, “This is why I am working for IJM. This is why I am in Uganda right now.” It was incredibly refreshing.
I would like to tell you that all of these “this is why” moments involved some deep moment of introspection followed by a grand realization about the nature of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But a few of them just involved beautiful African children.
Like this moment:
And the moment that followed about three seconds later:
And last but not least, definitely this moment too: