Lori Bonertz: "My Giving Story"
Although it is now 5 years since my husband and two of our daughters spent time in Uganda, we continue to feel connected to the people in the region we visited near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Because our focus for our travel was not to go on safaris but for my husband to help provide medical care at Bwindi Community Hospital, we were actually unaware of how close we would be living to the habitat of the mountain gorillas. We weren’t anticipating how beautiful the scenery would be and how closely we would encounter the wildlife. Although only my husband and one daughter were able to see mountain gorillas up close, we all saw the colobus monkeys at a distance, heard the booming sounds of amphibians in the pitch-dark evenings walking home after supper, and appreciated the birdlife.
Whenever Uganda is in the news, we listen much more carefully than we did prior to our trip. Our carved gorilla mask and the basket hanging on our walls are daily reminders of our time there, while our daughter’s Uganda soccer jersey remains her favorite. Most crucially, Redemption Song staff keep us closely linked with the children we sponsor (Angel and Kipson) and with the larger Batwa community. We love hearing about the children’s progress in school and feel distressed when they are unwell. Kipson suffered from malaria recently and we know how life-threatening this is. Angel would be a much heavier burden for our daughter to carry than she was 5 years ago and we hope someday they can reunite.
As in North America, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted learning for children and, much more worryingly, food stability. As I participate in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in my city, I worry for those with limited access to vaccine in countries such as Uganda. When I donate to Redemption Song, I know exactly where my money goes and feel confident it is being stretched to the max.