Uganda (MNN) — It doesn’t matter how smart you are. As soon as you’re placed in an unfamiliar situation, you feel anything but smart, right? You know that feeling of not belonging.
This is how it is for the Karamojong in Uganda. The Karamojong are extremely savvy people when it comes to cattle and farming. They are experts at what they do. But in more recent years, their lifestyle has become unsustainable.
Many women and children traveled to the City of Kampala out of desperation. The reception is anything but friendly. What exactly happened at home that changed their life so drastically?
Every Child Ministries is on the case. Lorella Rouster of ECM says, “Right now, in the month of November, a team of Ugandan workers from Every Child Ministries is doing a needs assessment survey in Karamoja in the North East corner of Uganda.”
While the roads are passible, ECM is hoping to find an answer to their question. How can they help the Karamojong get back to their feet?
Rouster explains, “They have been on our hearts for a long time, and we’ve been helping mothers and children in the city of Kampala that end up there as beggars on the streets. But as we’ve got to know their needs, we’ve just had this growing conviction that their problems are really rooted in their homelands.”
Rouster says that the needs in Karamoja are vast. For ECM to peer deeper into the situation is to ask, “What part of the puzzle has our name on it?”
Rouster says the Karamojong are a proud, pastoral people who practice traditional religions. Some of them have come to Christ, but the majority continue to practice animism.
Rouster explains why survival in the city is not any easier than survival at home. She says, “Coming to the city really is not good for them. They’re pastoral people. They’re not adapted to city life.” This means they don’t have the skills to enable them to survive in the city.
It doesn’t help that they are looked down upon by the people in Kampala. This is because they speak a different language, have a different culture, and are many times dirty from living on the street. Even the government looks down on the Karamojong.
“They’re really not appreciated in the city. They’re very much hated there, and almost always they are forced into begging. And that is dehumanizing and demeaning for anybody,” Rouster says.
ECM has been working with the Karamojon children and their mothers. They’ve taken many children into their boarding schools to give them a safe place to stay. Once a week they have meetings with the children’s mothers to provide practical advice and share the Gospel with them.
Rouster says while this has been helpful, they need to find the true source of the problem. Now ECM is looking to find how they can help them raise their cattle to be sufficiently provided for. How can they once more be sustainable?
Part of this investigation includes contacting the relatives of those women and children they are ministering to in Kampala who are still at home.
Rouster says, “They also are investigating up there and are just asking God to show them one or two of the most important contributions that ECM might make back in the homeland. We really have a heart to see the Karamajong come to Christ, to see churches really firmly established in their midst.”
Rouster asks that you pray for safety and good health for ECM’s team.
Also, “Pray for God’s clear direction that we will just agree and see together what it is that God really wants us to do. And then also pray that God will open the hearts of the Karamajong to the truth of the Gospel in greater numbers.”