by Kaitlin Curtice
Since November 2006 I have been sponsoring Mutyaba Dunkan from Uganda through Compassion International. Compassion’s mission statement says:
“In response to the Great Commission, Compassion International exists as an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.”
While Compassion prides itself on being a Christian-based organization, its practical goals can be clearly seen on the ground. My dream of meeting Mutyaba Dunkan finally became a reality as we stepped out of the car and onto his school grounds. His compassion worker, Grace, quickly earned my respect as her love for the kids poured out around us.
After picking Dunkan from school, we headed to the Compassion Center, where the roughly 260 sponsored children go every Saturday to play, eat, receive health lessons, and attend bible studies. The four workers who are constantly manning the center deeply impressed us. The parents of the children being sponsored equally respect the Compassion workers; the Center is slowly in progress, being built solely by the parents in their gratitude of all that this organization has done for their families.
Just weeks before our visit, Grace told me that they received the birthday money I had sent Dunkan about a month before, and that his mother had just picked up the money in order to buy him a new pair of shoes and a few other gifts. After looking through Dunkan’s Compassion record and enjoying a snack and tea with him, we headed to his house in a nearby village.
The tin roof was recently broken off by a storm, and the bricks making up the walls of the house were slowly crumbling. We took off our shoes and walked into the simply decorated living room and sat down on the one couch the family had. Dunkan’s mother spoke in her native Luganda as Grace translated:
“Thank you for coming! We were afraid you would not be able to come, but you are here. We are so glad you have come. You have helped us so much. Thank you for praying for us. Thank you.”
My few gifts to Dunkan, such as a bubble wand, toothbrushes, and a prayer journal, were seemingly insignificant compared to the gifts his family lavished on us as we were about to leave. Dunkan brought a beautiful, woven mat, a bag of eggs, ground nuts, and sugarcane to the side of the couch where I was sitting. With all the hardship this family has faced, they chose to bless us with gifts, all luxuries they were giving up because of the willingness of Compassion to find a sponsor for Mutyaba Dunkan.
“Almost Awake,” the following poem, was written in spring 2009 in thought of meeting Mutyaba Dunkan:
As of late, your dark brown skin
lingers in my mind.
A hint of dirt, sweat,
childhood settles around me,
and your small eyes glue
my feet to the ground.
This, this is it
You walk: step, step —
leap into my arms,
and a new world opens
between our touching chests.
You are no longer a sense of me,
Piece of me,
I pull you away for a moment,
hold your face between my palms.
This is what is real to me,
this daydream yet to be lived.
So I sit herein Midwest society,
clutching your picture in my hands.
I’m coming, I’m coming,
I’ll be there soon.
— Kaitlin B. Curtice