Just a short walk away from our program offices in Maundo, Uganda, you will find the home of Sidoro and Margaret Onyango.
As you near the edge of their land, Margaret is there to welcome you with a big smile. She leads you closer to their home, where you meet Sidoro, her husband of 44 years. He clasps your hand in greeting and invites you to sit under the shade of their trees.
When both of their daughters and sons-in-law passed away, Sidoro and Margaret took their seven grandchildren into their home. The eldest, Eunice, is age 12. The youngest, Kasalina, is only four years old. All seven of the siblings and cousins are enrolled in our Orphan Sponsorship Program.
Eunice and Kasalina
When the parents of a family this size pass away, the children are often scattered to a variety of extended family members. It can be nearly impossible to support seven children on a typical salary, or through subsistence farming. Because of the generosity of Covenant Mercies sponsors, Sidoro and Margaret are able to support their grandchildren. Because of their sponsors, Eunice, Patricia, Yokim, Joel, Michael, John Martin, and Kasalina can grow up together as a family.
On a warm summer morning, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Onyango family and members of Covenant Mercies’ Maundo staff. During our conversation, Sidoro expressed the comfort he has in knowing his grandchildren receive quality healthcare, education, and nutrition. Margaret then shared this message for our sponsors and donors: “God bless you richly for all the wonderful work you have done in this household and the community. When I saw you arriving, my heart was filled with joy— like oil running over.” My own heart moved at this biblical imagery, recalling a passage written about Jesus approximately 700 years before His birth:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives,
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
(Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV)
Good news for the poor. Healing for the brokenhearted. The oil of joy instead of mourning. Christ, the fulfiller of Isaiah 61:1-3, at work in the lives of the Onyango family.
I reflect often about that sweet visit, meeting those children in their school uniforms and full of hope for a brighter future. It overwhelms me to think about the compassion, prayers, and generosity of the Covenant Mercies team around the world… about the caseworkers, churches, advocates, sponsors, and donors who are making this work possible. How to tell you about the profound difference you are making in the lives of these families? How to express the deep gratitude our staff feels for your partnership? I hope you know just how much we thank God for you.
The Onyango Family, July 2016