Need a Dad
Rebecca Nakanjako was recently guest speaker at Christian Center
School in Hayden. Rebecca was orphaned in Uganda at a young age,
losing both parents to AIDs. She is currently attending North Idaho
College with the hope of becoming a nurse and returning to her country
where medical services are so desperately needed. She arrived in the
U.S. about two months ago and resides with Brian and Maren Snyders,
who travelled to Uganda last May with their family to work with a
medical missions team in the Jinja area. Brian is a physician at
Prairie Family Medicine in Hayden. Maren spoke about their experiences
in Uganda, and Rebecca shared the moving story of her life of poverty
and despair, and how an encounter in a shop in Kampala changed
everything. This is Rebeccaís story.
ďI am here for the very first time out of Uganda. Uganda is very hot
so I need many jackets here. The reason that I am here is to become a
nurse. The nurse that I really want to be is the person the God can
use to touch other peopleís lives. The desire for becoming a nurse
started a long time ago. Itís where my story begins.
I grew up seeing people who were suffering from HIV. I studied about
it in school, I knew its symptoms and signs and how it affected people
by the time they died, so I hated it. I was told my parents died of
HIV. My dad died when I was 2 Ĺ and my mom died 3 years later. I donít
have any pictures of my biological parents. I started thinking how can
I help. I wished these things would not happen.
My parents died at a very young age. My dad was 30 years old and my
mom died when she was 26. Many people die in Uganda and donít even
make 50 years old. I had the fear that I donít want to be sick. I
didnít want to get married and have kids because then you die and
leave them, and they turn out to be like me.
I lived in many homes with my relatives. They would not treat me the
same way they would treat their own kids. Before I was 18 years I ran
away. I moved to the capital (Kampala). It was 4 hours away from my
home. There were not many good jobs because I had just graduated from
high school. It means something different if you donít have papers to
show to get a nice job. I worked in restaurants as a waitress and I
happened to work in bars where they sell alcohol and food. This was
not the place I wanted to be. I donít want to wait wine and alcohol so
I asked God to provide me with a place where I could just be behind
the counter and not be touched by drunkards and all that.
Being a girl, these people want to take advantage of you. And once
they know you are just surviving, they treat you any way they want. So
I told (the owner) that I was leaving but I didnít know where I was
going. I didnít have a house yet or a room to stay. I didnít have
anyone in Kampala. I did have a few friends but they were also
surviving. I could not stay to them. So I left the job and I got the
little money that I had and I looked for a house.
I got a house. I didnít have a mattress, I didnít have anything. I
looked for 4 days and got another job and I started working. But it
was not easy. They were only giving me $60 a month, no food, no
transport. My rent was $40 a month. I would walk miles and miles from
my place of work to where I stayed. But all of that was fine because I
thought, no one is going to make me work from morning to night, no one
is going to abuse me, no one is going to call me names, call me an
orphan. No one is going to think you donít have a parent so they can
do whatever they want. I was comfortable in the small room that I had.
Sometimes it would rain and it would leak and everything I had would
get wet. But I was still happy, it was ok.
I wish that I had a foundation where I knew Christ, where I knew the
love of God and how He cares about me. But I am happy that with
everything that happened to me, all that I encountered, God was there.
God was the voice that was calling me and I believe He was the One who
was leading me. I have two biological sisters and a brother, but we
did not grow up together. When our dad died they separated us. I have
only seen them a few times my entire life. I know that God has His
reasons as to why He made us that way and why He chose that path. And
with His great plans I never dreamed of being in this place. It never
crossed my mind until when Paul and Pam came at my place of work.
Paul and another person who were working in a home for street
children came to the store I was working. I was there, as I was
working 7 days a week. As he entered he talked to everyone. He doesnít
care whether you like him or you donít. He started speaking the few
Ugandan words he knew. My friend just started laughing but for me I
didnít find anything funny about what he is saying. I was just in the
corner very quiet, very serious with my job.
I never listened to what he had to say until he turned and came
across to me. He said, ĎAre you wounded? Who wounded you? Why are you
sad? You have to tell me.í But all I could think to say was, ĎI am
fine, I am happyí. But I wasnít happy. I didnít want to talk to him. I
didnít want to answer his questions, but he kept on pushing me and
asking me who wounded me. And that question really was making me
remember all the hard times that I had been through, all the beatings,
all the bad words, all of the voices that I had listened to.
He said, ĎI wish I was your dad because I know of someone who can
heal all of these wounds and this sad faceí. When I heard someone say
I wish I was your dad, it was too big for me, because no one has ever
wished to have me as their child. So the tears started coming to my
eyes and I didnít want my bosses to see that I was crying. We were not
allowed to talk to customers and I didnít want to show this stranger
that what he was saying was true. Because the tears had come out and I
couldnít do anything about it, I just ran from him. I ran down the
street, so he never understood why and what he had said.
He asked my friend what he had said. He said if he has done something
wrong he would come back to ask forgiveness. I later told my friend I
donít ever want to see that man again. I was very angry that he made
me think of these things that I am trying to forget. I was taking care
of myself and I was feeling like I am good for nothing, no one wants
me. Here was someone who said he cares for you. One of the things he
said to me was this is not your destiny. In my head I am saying what
is he talking about? He doesnít know where I come from, he doesnít
know anything about me, how could he say that this is not your
I know that it was true. It was God saying he doesnít see me as this
person who is dirty, who is good for nothing, who is feeling all these
things. Who is cold, an orphan, who is wishing those two people who
died from HIV were still alive. So it was hard for me to hear him say
that he wishes he was my dad and (it was) funny enough that he was a
white person, so this cannot even happen. So when he said all those
things I didnít say anything because I thought even if I say to him
whatís in my heart, he will go back to America. I didnít even know
where America is and I will never see him again. I thought about it
when I went back to my room and I sat and thought about this over and
over again. Then I felt good. I was crying. I was feeling so good. I
was feeling someone has said they wished I was their child.
He came back two weeks later with his wife and he found me in the
same spot that he had found me before. And I was very quiet. He wanted
to know why I cried when he talked to me last time. He thought I
didnít know English so he had the taxi driver translate to me. But I
understood. I just didnít want to talk. I told him he made me cry
because he said he wanted to be my dad and I couldnít believe it. It
made him cry to know that I wanted to be called someoneís child, a
person that belonged to someone.
I wished that I knew who I am in Christ. I wished that I had known
what I know now. He created everything and He created me. I wish I had
known how to ask him to lead me. But I am grateful for that I had His
small voices talking to me. And that now I know Him.Ē
Paul and Pam, missionaries sent out from Portland, Oregon, adopted
Rebecca and have now sent her to North Idaho to continue her education
while residing with their friends, the Snyders.