Last Summer I travelled to Nakosongola and discovered the most amazing place, ‘New Beginnings Children’s Village’. As I stepped off the bus to a mass of happy little faces with children of all ages swarming and shouting ‘Welcome Auntie’ I knew I was going to enjoy my stay. We quickly got to know Junior, Faith, Somia, Ivan, Wilson, Sandra, Sarah and many more of the children. On our first evening we attended their devotions and we were moved by their warm welcome to us. They sang, danced and prayed and it was hard not to be touched by their faith and joyfulness.
New Beginnings is run by a guy from Kilkeel called Roger Annet. Roger has given his life to helping these children find a better life. Most of the children who stay at New Beginnings were street kids or orphans or had been abandoned. Some of the children had suffered terrible abuse at the hands of their families and the stories were heartbreaking. However, in spite of the hardships of their past lives, they are now grateful and happy to be in a safe place and thanks to Roger have a positive outlook for their future.
The children were desperate to please and help and craved affection. I spent all my spare time in New Beginnings, cuddling! Roger explained that the children were so grateful for the help they had received from Northern Ireland that they were keen to show their gratitude by looking after us. They certainly kept us entertained, especially the village clown, Junior. Junior suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome and is a loving, funny little boy. A lot of the children at New Beginnings have special needs, some as a direct result from abuse or neglect. It occurred to me just how different things would be for them if they were back in Northern Ireland. Many of them would receive specialist one to one care.
New Beginnings seemed a world apart from everything I knew, yet it was such a happy special place that I began to wonder who actually had it right – us or them. You could not fail to see God working in these children’s lives, who count their blessings every day. They have few clothes, no toys, no colouring in cupboard, no sweets and no teddies. The only family they have is each other; they are like a big group of brothers and sisters. They look out for each other, they quarrel and the older children keep the younger children right.
And they all love their Uncle Roger. For many of these children he has literally saved their lives. I was totally inspired by Roger’s work, yet he is so modest. There are many obstacles put in his way making it difficult to help these children, yet he freely gives all of himself to make sure they all have the very best he can provide. I have never met anyone so selfless.
The £700 raised by Moneyrea Primary School this Christmas will go a long way towards feeding the children and contributing towards their education and I know all the children will be so grateful to all their new Aunties and Uncles from Moneyrea.
Here are some pictures from New Beginnings in Uganda, the charity we have been supporting this year.