In 2002 Mirembe House (a Youth for Christ social outreach and home for teen mothers) was at capacity. Due to unfortunate circumstances the number of girls in need of shelter and guidance was continuing to grow. Meanwhile, for those who had been resettled with babies, life was proving to be equally as hard. Many of these young mothers were bright. Their schooling had stopped due to rules, family problems or lack of fees. In addition, young mothers were in varying stages of AIDS. Due to social stigmas, lack of treatment and/or costs, most girls never knew what was attacking them. Their fight for food, shelter and care for their babies superseded any personal physical battle…
Annet was one of these young mothers. She was perhaps lucky, as she was well aware of what was happening to her. She was desperate to know that her beautiful little girl Vivian would be somehow cared for down the road…
“After helping to raise funds for Mirembe House (building opened in December 2001), I thought I was done…my time in Uganda was completed — first trip was 1998). But, to now personally know so many of the girls and what their plight was, it was not an option “not to try” something. Every minute I experienced in Uganda I wished I could share with someone back home. I wanted them to have the pure joy that comes from so many Ugandans regardless of their circumstances. I really believe there is something good to learn from everyone. And, while I desired for these young mothers and/or their children to have a chance at school, I also wanted someone back home to experience the beauty of Ugandans. In addition, most of my friends and contacts were NOT wealthy people. So, I proposed a “one at a time” plan. Give me one girl or child in need and I would try to find a personal sponsor to send them to school as well as stay connected in their life…” Teresa Spurlock
Jack was a businessman and colleague of my husband. He was kind and generous. And as we found out later, he himself was raised in a Washington State orphanage during his early years…We told Jack about Annet and Vivian. He did not hesitate to become the first sponsor in the Starfish Programme…
Annet lived just long enough to hear the news from a distance. While internet was quite remote and unusual back then, she managed to get to a friend who had internet and sent me a short note in her own words:
Prais be to the highest Lord.
Thank you for all your prayers and thank you <for a sponsor for> school fees for Vivian. I really appreciated so muchand may the almighty be with you always in each and everything you plan to do for the rest of your life. I was admitted to hospital on the17th of sept and they discovered i had toxoplasmosis in r/o creprococcal which i discovered to be celebral mlaria but i thank the Lord. He really healed me with it and i pray to God to be completely HIV-V<free> and i know he will make me free with the virus so keep on praying for me while am on treatment…..”
Yours in christ with God`s greatest command
All stories do not have a happy ending. God did not heal Annet; it was too late. Vivian was 4 years old when her mom died. She was taken in by a YFC staff member and happily attended school for years. In 2004 my whole family was able to attend her baptism ceremony (and bought/brought the dress for her to wear!)
Jack’s family faithfully wrote and sent care packages for her each trip we made to Uganda. She returned the gesture with elaborate thank you cards plastered with stickers and markers they had sent. Years passed. Margaret (YFC foster mom) left YFC but continued “mothering” and ensuring Vivian was getting the best education possible. However, years later, I was tearfully told that the paternal grandfather of Vivian had shown up “to claim her”. Culturally, in Uganda, the paternal clan wins nearly always when a claim is put on a child.
Currently we have 130 lives in the Starfish Programme at varying levels. Over 200 have passed through over time. Each has (or had) a sponsor family that was faithful to send school fees, write letters and send packages each year. The transformation of lives has been on both sides of the ocean!
Kathleen is now in her 80’s. She has been sponsoring Richard since he was 8 years old. The first letter she received from him, she was so moved she put it in a frame. Richard is now 16. He had some difficult years, but his commitment to school has pulled him through. He is now in a boarding school (level S4). We recently surprised him with a visit and groceries (during exam time). His smile, laughter and appreciation were priceless. One woman – one boy. The world changes.