I have never really liked personally telling my story. In many ways Abaana started by just one ordinary person, following his heart. However, looking back to what Abaana has achieved, one lesson I have learnt is this: if God can use a 19 year old to make a difference, then God can certainly use you. I have no super talents but God gave me a passion for children in need, and since then he has equipped me to fulfil His purpose for Abaana.
In 1997 during a gap year, I had the opportunity to visit Uganda. I had longed to visit Africa for some time, and I was not sure what I would face. I could literally tell many stories of what impacted me. But a few simple stories I will never forget…
Not long into my trip I met a six year old girl called Mary. During a church service, Mary started to jiggle. At first I thought that she was just enjoying the music, but when the music stopped Mary carried on jiggling. I leaned forward and saw that she was distressed so I asked an African lady to take her to the toilet. After the service I learned that Mary didn’t need to go to the toilet.
There was actually a four–inch worm crawling about in her underwear. She had probably drank the eggs of this worm by drinking from a poor water source. What other choice did she have if there was no access to clean water? I also learned that the worms only come out by themselves for one reason. Overcrowding! There were too many worms inside Mary and not enough food. Mary went on simple medication and within two weeks, all the worms were gone. If Mary had not received medication she would have died from malnutrition. To think that Mary would have died from drinking water made me mad. I knew I had to do something.
Later in the trip, I was at a newly built school. Interviews were being held for a free literacy course. The interviews took over three days and 100s of children waited patiently with their parents. Unfortunately there were only 30 places available. For years I had taken education for granted. I never really saw school as anything more than an inconvenience. This made me feel pretty selfish. The next day many of the rejected children came back hoping to get into the school. For two weeks I watched these children come back only to be turned away. I wondered how I could help. After counting the money left in my account, I worked out that I had enough to support five children for a year to go to school. The next day five children walked up to the school. This time they were not turned away.
This was the start of Abaana!