Camp El Har (Mountain of God) is a place of refuge for children whose lives have been forever changed by the AIDS crisis. These children have lost one or both parents to the disease and may even be carrying it themselves. But it's not a sad place to be. In the world's eyes, these children are orphans. In their eyes, they've been given a new family and a new hope.
It's one of our favorite places to be while we're in Uganda. The children's laughter is contaigious, their worship pure, and their love unconditional.
Eva, one of the girls our family sponsors, lives here. Eva's father died of AIDS. Her mother is still living and has remarried. From what we have gathered, she was being mistreated at home and just as her mother was about to take her out to the bush and abandon her (something she had already done with her older children, but decided to wait because Eva was still too little), AMG took custody of her.
We had the opportunity to speak to a husband and wife (Americans) who minister with AMG Uganda for 3 months out of the year. They were there when Eva was first brought to Camp El Har. They said she hid under the table so afraid of other people. The thought of her cowering under a table, not completely understanding what was going on, and afraid that someone would hurt her breaks my heart.
But Camp El Har has given her a place to allow hope to grow inside of her. This sweet girl no longer hides from other people. In fact, she has become a strong role model at the Camp, leading worship and guiding the younger kids.
When she first came to Camp El Har she was in grade 3. Since she was struggling so much, they ended up sending her back to grade 1. The last few years we've been there, Eva has been within the top 5 of her class - a bright girl who only needed a chance to shine.
When we first met Fahad in 2008, he had sores on his head, his face looked swollen, and his eyes looked weary. His mother had passed away, and his father is a Muslim man with many wives. Fahad stayed with one of these other women, but was also mistreated (a common thing that happens in Uganda when a child loses a parent and they stay with other relatives).
AMG took custody of him and brought him to Camp El Har in March of 2009. In 4 months, Fahad changed so much that when his father was able to come visit him for the first time, he didn't even recognize his own son.
Each child living at the Camp has a story about the transformation that took them from overwhelming heartache to endless hope. And although these children continue to face struggles, they have a place to call home, and a family formed by God to help them through.
AMG is in the process of building a new facility that will be home to over 80 children and will include a chapel, classrooms, recreational areas, and so much more.
Before coming to Camp El Har, these children had very little chance of being able to attend school, recive medical care, or in some cases even survive. But AMG is not only allowing them the opportunity to do all of those things, but also giving them a chance to have hope. And that hope that lives inside of them, will one day help them change the world.