A Child’s Smile

A Child’s Smile

by Sr. Monica Prendergast MMM          Ireland/Uganda             22.06.2023

This morning a child smiled, and my heart gave a throb of joy.  Little Joseph had been sitting around for two weeks wearing the sad expression of a child deprived of sufficient protein due to poverty at home – a poverty made worse when drought caused shortages and therefore price increases.

Joseph’s little eyes lacked the lustre of the average child.  He showed no interest in anything, despite our efforts to stimulate him.  But today our efforts were rewarded, thanks to good food and a lot of love.  And I pondered on the number of children who cross our path here in Kitovu, Uganda.  So many come suffering from malnutrition, anaemia, malaria, AIDS.  We have cured many, others have come too late.
Health education is the key to a better life, but poverty is the major obstacle.  It is a strange paradox as we reach the end of this era and the new millennium is starting, that poverty remains the greatest enemy to good health.  What a century of achievement: we have gone to the moon, seen every form of advanced technology and science. But alas, our children continue to be hungry and even die of that hunger.

Here in Kitovu, a day is spent listening, speaking, healing, and so often pondering and wondering will justice someday prevail.  Will our children in this millennium be slow to smile and will hunger continue to deprive them of health?  ‘The hunger is eating me’ is a phrase I often hear from people who come to our Department, asking for a little food.  As Christians, we must ask ourselves can we properly receive the Bread of Life without sharing bread for life with those in want?   It is a big challenge to the rich in developing countries, and to the wealthy nations who spend millions on arms.   Surely the words of the Prophets of yore are still more relevant today: “Do good to the orphan, help the widow, seek justice.”

What a day of celebration we will have when we can really say “nation will not life up sword against nation, neither will they learn war any more”!

Editor’s Note: First published in MMM Yearbook 2000.


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