Walking through Cherish for the first time is an experience that I can’t ever forget. The gorgeous land that is Uganda is first of all, breathtaking. The people of Cherish have an authentic joy and passion for life that cannot be taken away. And the children are the sight and sound that take you to a place which (in my own words) must be Heaven. The HIV/AIDS disease does not determine the atmosphere at Cherish. Even through the daily medicine calls or quick treatments to open wounds, Cherish has established such a presence of hope and abundance of life, that sickness or illness holds no power over anything. With that in mind, children are jumping off of swings, playing rowdy games of soccer, painting masterpiece self-portraits and carrying you into countless games of “bolingo ya-ya”. As each child develops with love, education and support, you see the trajectory of their lives rise against the currents of lost potential.
One of my favorite memories happened during my first trip to Cherish (2013). I was leading a small painting class in front of the homes, and wanted it to have a therapeutic focus and effect. As each child and teenager painted different versions of trees, discussions of identity and courage came forth. I was speechless and teary-eyed as I listened to the simple profoundness of each individual. With paint smeared all over our hands, the Ugandan breeze testing the weight of our paper laid out on the grass, and deep souls uncovering, I had my slice of heavenly eternity. It is forever stamped in my memory and heart.
Three years later, I have made a total of two trips to Cherish. There are some people on staff that have truly changed my life and perspective. Always teaching, always growing. A few months ago I became more familiar with the 6:3 Exchange, and now I get the privilege of sponsoring a “little man”. He’s hilarious, has such a personality and I love our conversations.
If you ever get the chance to go, you need to. I wish everyone could witness this Heaven on earth. Each day you will wake up as if you were in a dream. Each child will make your heart light. Each story will cause you to kneel in gratefulness and for the inquiring of miracles.