His name is Blessing Suubi, and he is three years old. He has the pudgiest little face, and a belly that juts out like Santa Clause which accentuates the pills in his worn out onesie. The first day I arrived at Bulrushes Baby Home for orphaned babies in Uganda, he was my welcoming team. I creaked open the black wrought iron gate, and in the 7am cool sunlight I beheld his two foot, chubby, three year old frame for the first time. He waved ecstatically with one hand, and loosely held a bottle with another and grabbed my hand and dragged me around the babies’ home for the toddler version of a welcome tour. He calls me ‘mama,’ which made me feel special for about five minutes until I realized that he calls everyone ‘mama,’ with an energy and enthusiasm that could melt a heart made of stone. He became mine, and as the weeks passed we would greet me by clinging to my legs and screaming ‘Mama—peck!!’ and I would drop down to his level and he would reach his little lips up to my cheek and give me a sloppy kiss.
His name is Blessing Suubi, and he was abandoned a week before I arrived to Bulrushes baby home. I heard from another nanny that one day, his mom simply left. Three days later, a neighbor heard him crying and discovered him in their empty home. As I sat down for lunch with him every day, and taught him to sit in his chair and speak in English and bow his little brown head to pray, I wondered how you could leave such a precious child as this. What kills me is that he came to the babies’ home knowing how to pray. He knew English. And that means that his mom was most likely a middle class Christian woman. Questions fill my mind and I wonder if these questions will fill his mind when he is 14, 15, or 16. When he goes through his major stages in life will he ask himself why he wasn’t enough for her to stay?
His name is Blessing Suubi, and the last week that I was at Bulrushes baby home my stomach churned at night when I would think of him because I was worried about him. He was the oldest baby there, so he often was shoved to the side because the infants took up so much time and energy. His sidekick, a pretty three year old with braids was moved to another babies home a few weeks ago, I don’t even think he got to say goodbye. Now, he is regressing. He keeps peeing his pants and getting angry and hitting me. He gets in trouble all the time and is starting to not use a fork when he eats.
His name is Blessing Suubi, and I went to wake him up from his nap one day, as he lay outside under the lazy branches of a Ugandan tree. I softly prodded him to wake up, and then suddenly he woke up in a fit of terrified movements and his light blue cloth shorts turned dark as he wet his pants with terror. Then- out of nowhere he started screaming. One thing I learned from working at the Baby’s Home is I know what different crying means. I can decipher by the different pitches if it’s a fake cry, a cry of injustice as another child steals their toy, or if it’s a scary cry. The kind where something is wrong. This was a scary cry, the kind that had a dark, hysterical edge to it. I grabbed him and held him away from my body so I wouldn’t get pee on myself as I rushed him to the room to get him changed. I sat him down and on the ground and tried to get him to stand up on his own as I bent down face to face with him while I tried to will him to open his eyes. Finally he did, and it felt like my insides demolished like a glass window that just had a rock thrown through it. His dark three year old eyes bore into mine, they were piercing with fear and confusion. It felt like he was willing me to help, to change something, to give him some sort of answers or comfort that I couldn’t. I sat, face to face with brokenness, and my hands were empty because I had no answers or comfort. My throat felt thick and my eyes were hot and I just started crying too as I held onto little shoulders and scavenged my mind for some sort of healing.
His name is Blessing Suubi, and the nannies named him that because Suubi means hope in Luganda. Hope. That word seems so empty when it is face to face with a crying, desolate, three year old. But once my professor told me that hope was like a giant bird, grabbing you out of the ocean you’re drowning in and bringing you up so that you can see the promise land again. Blessing has hope that he will grow up with this ministry, and get an education, and have a life that’s his own. He has hope that one day, he will be brought to a home with a mama who loves him, and will never leave him. There is hope. There is Suubi.