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6,000 Shillings

By Heather Coughlin

God’s witness to us is both subtle and obvious, mysterious and clear, vague and specific, and it is - in His way - both personal and universal.  And He will use all things - great and small - to paint a picture of His unfailing love.

I recently had the privilege of traveling on a Vision Trip with Fashion & Compassion to a slum in Kampala, Uganda called Acholi Quarters. 

After being in the city a short time, we realized we were left with 6000 Ugandan Shillings (the equivalent of $2 USD) for the remainder of our stay. With great clarity, I can trace the adventures of our collective 6000 shillings…

It sat nestled in Michele’s travel wallet, waiting to be frequently disturbed by adolescent hands (Michele’s 14 year old son, Ben, and my 12 year old daughter, Ailish, joined us on our travels to Africa).

One morning, Ben was late for breakfast and he was craving pancakes.  He took the 6000 shillings to the restaurant counter of our hotel and ordered his pancakes, only to find out that they were out of batter.  No pancakes; shillings back in wallet. 

Another night, Ben and Ailish wanted ice cream from a roadside stand.  Not having enough money for the both of them, the 6000 shillings traveled back to the wallet. 

The next night, Ben bravely negotiated with our hotel’s staff over a deposit to play a game – the deposit amount: 6000 shillings. After a large group of kids took over the game, Ben came to our table and asked his mom, “Should I ask the group to make their own deposit and get my 6000 shillings back?” On principle, Michele said yes, and Ben and Ailish approached the group, successfully retrieving our money.  6000 shillings back in place.

The next morning we returned to work in Acholi Quarters as Ben and Ailish played with the neighborhood kids.  The quiet morning turned into chaos as a young child was electrocuted by a live wire in water, and her father held her lifeless body while he screamed. We sent our ambassadors, Ailish and Ben, into the crowd of kids to retrieve all of the details. Instead of answers, they brought a severely limping child to us.  I’m a nurse, not a great one, but this child’s knee had been opened all the way to the exposed cap and they thought I’d know what to do.  I yelled for the wet wipes and instantly assessed that this was an old wound that he reopened.  It was extremely large and red, scabbed, infected and draining - and I cannot imagine the pain this child had endured.  Without thoroughly cleaning the wound and taking antibiotics, he would surely loose his leg.  And without any medical attention whatsoever, its possible that he would become septic and that he would die. 

We inquired of his parents.  None available. 

Who is he living with?  An uncle that he rarely sees. 

Ok then…what are our options here?  Can we send him to a hospital or a clinic?  One of our Artisans, Lucy, agreed to take the boy but what money did we have among us?  Nothing. Nothing between all of us in that room.  Nothing but….6000 Ugandan shillings.

Michele grabbed the money and off Lucy and the boy went.  And we all knew that it wasn’t enough.

An hour later, Lucy and the boy returned.  His wound had been cut away and cleansed, packed and bandaged, and he’d been given a course of antibiotics to take.  And Lucy had been given the bill for all of the work……….6000 shillings.

Does God love the poor and oppressed?  Yes.

Does God love the voiceless populations?  Yes.

Does God reveal Himself in mighty ways when resources are not available and the situation seems impossible?  Yes.

And does God reward those who are called according to His plans and purposes by allowing them to see His face and watch His unfailing love in action? YES! YES! YES!

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