True Community

Leaving Uganda will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ve fallen in love with the people here. They are the most welcoming, generous and humble people I’ve ever met.

One lady I visited gave me a beautiful hand-made basket as a gift. It took her several months to make it. She filled it with eggs and avocados. Why does this stand out so much? She is a single mom, HIV-positive and struggling to raise two sons on about 80 cents a day. And yet she insisted that I take the gift. It will be one of my prize possessions.

The people of Uganda are also the most joyful people I’ve ever met, which is interesting considering most of them live on less than a dollar a day. One man I met told me, “In Uganda, you may not be able to afford dinner, but you’ll still wake up with a smile on your face the next morning.”

I asked our guide, Ezra, how people here remain so full of hope. He explained that everyone in Uganda takes care of each other. “People know their neighbors and look out for one another,” he said. “If someone is going through a hard time or grieving, he will be surrounded. No one goes through anything alone.”

In the U.S., we might have material possessions, but it seems they have something many of us don’t — true community.


Robyn Spencer, a full-time writer for Compassion International, is currently on her first Compassion trip to Uganda. Robyn is experiencing Compassion’s life-changing work first-hand, so she can educate sponsors and donors when she returns home.

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Saving Lives and Offering Hope

Late last week, I interviewed three families affected by AIDS. One was headed by a father raising three children on his own — he is HIV-positive and lost his wife to AIDS. Another was a 13-year-old girl who lives with her aunt — both are HIV-positive. And the third was a 12-year-old girl who lost both of her parents to AIDS.

Most of my days here have been full of positive, encouraging stories, but there are still a few that make me cry. But I’m so thankful Compassion is providing these families with medical treatment, food and counseling. The father I mentioned above is in a Compassion support group. “It makes me feel happy to have a place I can go and feel accepted,” he said.

We also talked with Patience, who heads up the health program at one of Compassion’s Uganda child development centers. “HIV is still on the rise in Uganda,” she explained. “More people are getting infected every day,” she said. “The other problem is that when caregivers are infected, the children are affected. We make sure that children in our program who are vulnerable to HIV are tested. We also make sure that the child is loved.”

Say no to AIDSOne woman told us that she is alive today because of Compassion. “They found me on my deathbed,” she said. “They took me to the hospital and had me tested. I found out that I’m HIV-positive.” Compassion is currently providing her with antiretroviral therapy. I asked her what she would like to say to those who give to Compassion’s AIDS Initiative. “Please tell them thank you,” she said. “Without you, I wouldn’t be here.”

If you’ve given to Compassion’s AIDS Initiative, thank you for your support. You are saving lives and offering hope to those who need it most.


Robyn Spencer, a full-time writer for Compassion International, is currently on her first Compassion trip to Uganda. Robyn is experiencing Compassion’s life-changing work first-hand, so she can educate sponsors and donors when she returns home.

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Amisi

AmisiLast night was one of the best nights of my life. I got to meet Amisi, my 5-year-old sponsored boy; the Uganda office was kind enough to coordinate our visit.

I have to say, Amisi has to be the cutest boy in the entire country. Of course, I’m sure I’m a bit biased. I was worried he would be scared or overwhelmed by Kampala since it’s such a large city. But he was so excited. As soon as he saw me, he ran to hug me. He loved the coloring books, stickers and his new ball, but nothing could compete with the doors in the hotel lobby that automatically opened. He’d never seen anything like it. He was squealing and laughing so loud I was afraid we’d get kicked out of the hotel!

He knows a few English words. He knows, “Jesus,” “Thank you,” and “sponsor.” He also knew enough to laugh at me as I tried out a few words in his native language.

I really didn’t think he would understand who I was, but the project director said he’s been telling all of his friends that he was going to meet his sponsor. He was excited all week.

If you are a sponsor, I would encourage you to check into visiting your child! It means so much to them — and to you! If you don’t already sponsor a child, please pray about it today!


Read all of Robyn’s posts from Uganda.

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My Biggest Fear

Photo of a Ugandan child taken by Keely Scott during Uganda blog trip - February 2008All of us have had a few highlights in our lives that changed us forever. Right now, I’m in the middle of one. I’m in Uganda gathering stories for Compassion. It’s my first trip to a developing country.

There’s only one problem. The thing that I was afraid would happen has happened. I have fallen head over heals in love with every child I’ve met. At each village we visit, children run up to you, wrap their arms around you, and before you know it, steal your heart.

Because poverty is so overwhelming, always before, I tried to distance myself from the stories. Without meaning to, I guarded my heart. But now these stories have faces and I’m completely attached.

But the surprising thing is, I don’t feel helpless. And that had been my biggest fear—finally coming face to face with poverty and feeling powerless to do anything. But I keep hearing from caregivers and children how much their lives have changed through Compassion’s programs. I can’t help but feel hopeful.

One mother today told me today how thankful she is that Compassion pays for her son’s malaria medicine. This has saved his life. Another told me there is no way her daughter could go to school without Compassion helping with school fees. Dickson, a student enrolled in the Leadership Development Program, said, “I hope Compassion sponsors and donors know their support is not in vain. You are helping to transform lives.”

So if you’re a sponsor or donor out there, I want to pass on these messages of hope. I pray they encourage your heart as much as they did mine.


Robyn Spencer, a full-time writer for Compassion International, is currently on her first Compassion trip to Uganda. Robyn is experiencing Compassion’s life-changing work first-hand, so she can educate sponsors and donors when she returns home.

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