Some days, I am surprised by how things still surprise me and I didn't realize what was happening sooner. There are moments when I feel like, "oh duh. Obviously." And that surprises me and then I wonder why I didn't figure it out sooner.
We love our boys, but we know that they need to maintain and repair whatever relationships they can with their families. Some of the boys are truly orphans. They have neither parent. However, they do have aunts and uncles, or grandparents. There are very few of our boys that have completely nowhere, no one, or no safe place to visit. So we encourage them to be involved with their families. Every time there are family meetings or reunions, we suggest that they go and take part in the discussions.
That was what happened this past weekend. One of the boy's families told him there was a meeting over land. He doesn't have either parents, his grandparents are indifferent to his and his siblings' existence, but he does have an aunt that loves him a lot. Since he was the oldest boy of his father, the father's land should have went to him. But land issues in Uganda are not easy. They cause many conflicts. There are issues of land grabbing, selling off land that doesn't really belong to the person, fake land titles, etc. The issues are endless. In some cases, the conflicts result in violence, witchcraft, and death. So you can imagine my concern when the meeting was over the land.
Sunday, he called asking for money to come back home as the meetings were over. He made it seem like it was urgent that he leave then. Sunday night passed, he didn't come home. Monday morning passed, he did't come home. All phones were off, and no one in the village was answering theirs either. I'm sure you can imagine my worry and panic. When your kids don't come home on time, I think it is most parents first instinct to worry that they were in an accident or some thing has happened.
So when he showed up Monday afternoon, without a care in the world, I was happy to see him but also was furious because I was so worried and he thought it was absurd that I would be. He basically laughed at me for thinking he was hurt or dead, or who knows what. He thought that it was so crazy that I would be worried that he didn't come home on time, and that I was overreacting.
And then it occurred to me. He didn't know how to deal with someone being worried about him. It had never happened before. He was so small when he ran away from home and no one went looking for him. No one lost sleep because of his absence. He learned that he wasn't missable. No one cared about his existence. If he didn't come home, no one cared. I think it was the first time that someone had been worried about him.
Imagine, living 17 years of your life and not knowing that your existence matters to someone so much that they can lose sleep, that they care so much about you that they aren't fine until they know you are safe.
That is life for these boys. They are reckless with their lives because they don't understand that they are so loved and that someone cares about their safety and well being. They don't understand that someone can be worried about them because no one ever has before.