TRAVEL || Meet Evaline Aleper / by Madeline Harper

Happy Sunday, friends. I hope this beautiful March weather finds you well. Today I want to introduce you to my friend Evaline. This story is hard to share. Not because of the difficult times in it, but because Evaline was one of the kids I became closest to. She always wanted to be near me, took the time to teach me her language, taught me games and facts about every kid. Evaline is calm, she is humble, but oh she loves so fiercely. She decided I was her best friend and that was that. Evaline was so curious about life in America, she asked countless questions about me and my family. I had to explain everything in such detail to satisfy her curiosity. This girl is brilliant- she makes connections and is so insightful and my goodness I miss her. No matter the difficulty or tragedy in her life, she speaks with such joy! She is quick to praise, faster to laugh, and ready to make new friends at a moment's notice. So please, read Evaline's story with a heart ready to act. Read it knowing that there are thousands of Evaline's across the world who aren't as lucky to have a caring home like Elpis Ministries. They deserve the love and dignity that each child at the home is given. Read this with an open heart. 

 This is Evaline's story.

Evaline is currently fifteen years old. She came to Elpis Ministries Children's Home in the second term of 2008. I asked her to share a little about herself; she has two brothers and two sisters. She got quiet after that part, stating she used to have three brothers. When she was younger, her father had married a second wife, a common practice in Uganda, so after enduring abuse after abuse her birth mother left. Evaline's brother was four at the time and became sick. The step-mother didn't take care of him, she was abusive and left him to care for himself. He wanted water, yet when he went to fetch it, he fell in the well and drowned. Evaline's father left for Moroto for a time and her mother could no longer care for her. Evaline was told there was a place down  in Iganga where a Mzungu ("white person") took care of children and sent them to school. She took her younger sister Susan and left for Elpis. Evaline's mother left to go back to their hometown of Moroto, the north-eastern part of Uganda with her brothers, but is currently sick and hospitalized. Evaline's father is still in Iganga, I actually met him while we were walking through the village. I was immediately filled with anger seeing him, a natural reaction. I asked Evaline how she felt about him and she said, "I take him as my father, I greet him, and I forgive him even though he is here with another wife." We began to talk about her faith. It turns out Evaline didn't know about Jesus before she came to Iganga. She met the Lord through Philip, the owner of Elpis. Philip taught the kids prayers and told them the Good News, so she believed and startd living in Jesus. When asked if she could tell people one thing she's learned from her faith, it was "Jesus will never disappoint you. He has changed my life- by providing me whatever He wants. Because I was not even hoping that I would go to school, but because of Jesus I am now studying and I've got someone who pays for school fees and who cares for me." Her favorite thing about Elpis Children's Home is that she is protected and provided for, a theme not present in her life until she came to Iganga. Evaline will be a nurse one day, caring for patients and making them well. She will be wonderful at it, compassionate and steady. She took her time teaching me her language. She taught me the Lord's prayer and a Ugandan prayer, and her favorite sayings, "Mirembe nja Katonda, mirembe egitigwawo." [Peace of God, peace forever.] I asked Evaline what she wanted me to tell you about her and these are her final words to you. 

"I am Evaline. Jesus set me free, I can worship Him and I can praise Him. You can be in big trouble, but Jesus will never disappoint you."