An update from founder: Rodney Callanan
As I write this and contemplate the year ahead for Droplets In A Stream (DIAS), I am both excited at the prospect of what is ahead and humbled at what we have achieved.
From unsure beginnings by 3 like-minded friends some nine years ago (who were not quite sure how to make a difference), DIAS now has a solid team of 8 leaders and dozens of volunteers making significant changes in the lives and activities of our partners in both Kenya and Uganda.
I am so grateful to these people for their investment into the organisation. Many sacrificed annual holidays away from their families to join us on trips to Africa, often not knowing what to expect or what they would be doing once they get there. Not one of them ever complains and many return with a new found passion and motivation. Many others stay connected, becoming increasingly involved.
I cannot claim credit for this inner transformation, but it is something I have come to expect and look for in each one of of them. If I can help them engage and connect in a meaningful way, then both they and DIAS will benefit and ultimately so do our partners.
In June last year, 6 of us visited Uganda for 2 weeks, spending most of our time at Kyampisi Childcare Ministries (KCM). Then in November I had the pleasure of taking my wife along, spending another 2 weeks there. As the name suggests, KCM is a not for profit organisation set up to care for children. Its primary focus is rescuing and then caring for victims of child sacrifice and bringing justice to the perpetrators.
KCM are literally working and ministering in the face of pure evil and darkness. Daily they see the worst of humankind – horrors that I simply could not put into words.
Thankfully, they also see justice being brought to bear against the perpetrators and it is such victories that bring hope and life. DIAS is committed to standing with these people in fighting evil and bringing hope.
Much has been said about alleviating world poverty and much is being done to reduce it. But there is a harsh reality that undermines the efforts of these well-intentioned people, keeping many of the poorest from breaking out of the cycle and this is the prevalence of violence in the absence of justice.
Founder of the International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen writes about this in his book, The Locust Effect: “Indeed, for the global poor in this century, there is no higher priority need with deeper and broader implications than the provision of basic justice systems that can protect them from the devastating ruin of common violence. Because as anyone who has tasted it knows, if you are not safe, nothing else matters.”
During my first ever visit to Kyampisi in 2014, I met a little girl called Hope. She has made a lasting impact on me, just as she has done to hundreds of others. She has come to embody the work of KCM. She has the most infectious smile and the moment she sees Peter Michael, the Director of KCM, she giggles with joy and laughs out loud.
Unfortunately, that is the only sound she can make. When Hope was only one-year-old, she was abducted and given to a witchdoctor who held her in his shrine for 1.5 years. She was used as an instrument of his evil practices: pulling her teeth out, cutting her tongue and regularly draining her blood to use in rituals. He then discarded her by throwing her away in a basket, into a swamp.
Fortunately, a passerby heard her faint cries and found her. She had malaria and was so malnourished that she had to spend weeks in hospital. Since then Hope has been kept safe and cared for at St Paul’s, which is a KCM safe house and rehabilitation centre for victims and survivors of such abuse.
In November while in Kampala we were able to get an MRI scan of her brain. The visiting neurosurgeon from Australia told us the sad news that due to the regular bleeding, her brain had not received sufficient levels of oxygen. Hope had suffered permanent brain damage, the result being similar to cerebral palsy, leaving her unable to walk or talk and requiring full time care.
In the face of such terrible stories, I am often asked how we can know that what we are doing by supporting groups like KCM will actually make a difference.
Some hear about such atrocities and struggle with the idea that investing in such organisations is wise. Their initial reaction of shock is replaced with anger and disbelief that any good can come from such a situation. Often their focus is placed on condemning the perpetrator to some form of violent retribution, believing that such a form of revenge will balance the injustice.
Others hear about the crimes and quickly react by dismissing the events as something that happens in another part of the world, where there is no hope of change. Not wanting to hear about such events, they insulate themselves from the news and so do not carry any guilt by association.
Still others receive the news and their shock is soon replaced with compassion for the victims and a desire to bring justice and transformation to such a broken society. They may not know how this can be achieved, but they ultimately believe that good can overcome evil. They also believe that the vulnerable and defenseless need protection. This group responds positively to such injustices.
I fully understand this is a complex problem, requiring intervention and support on many levels. This includes political will, a strong and fair justice system, community education and sensitisation, and a support system to rehabilitate the surviving victims.
While we know that we have little chance of bringing justice to all situations in the world or even all of Africa, we do see evidence of change in Kyampisi. Just last month, the witchdoctor that did these terrible things to little Hope, was captured by the Ugandan Police due to the tireless work and pressure of Kyampisi Childcare Ministries. Without their determination and persistence, this man would still be free and continuing his evil practices on the innocent.
These are the change makers of the world: people sacrificing their own peace and safety; advocating for justice; fighting for freedom; standing up for the vulnerable and bringing hope to the lost.
These are the people that Droplets in a Stream support and stand with.
And it is with your support that we can stand with them. Together we all make a difference. One child at a time is coming out of darkness and being given a chance to live life freely and with love. On the other side of the scales, one perpetrator at a time is having his day in court.
Yes, it is slow, painful work, but we stand alongside tireless and dedicated people and we see the results, real life changing results, bringing justice one person at a time.
As Bono said: “Caring for the poor is not a matter of charity; it’s a matter of justice”.