Voices From Uganda: Victor
It is very important work. Sometimes I pray over the children as I clean. Sometimes, somebody needs to be encouraged.
~Victor, the Mukono Baby Home Custodian
He sweeps, straightens, wipes down toys, and takes out the garbage. In a home full of babies, there is much to do, and his work is vital.
Essential workers. Our focus on them is sharper right now, isn’t it? COVID-19 has renewed our gratitude for those who provide the basic services that our world needs. We have a stronger grasp on how life would slow to a stop without the services they provide. And for a home full of vulnerable children in Uganda, there are many essential workers.
Victor is the custodian at the Mukono Baby Home, a healing home which is supported in part by Love Without Boundaries. He is wise enough to know that the baby home depends on his valuable work. In February, I had the great opportunity to interview him on a trip there with an LWB team.
I interviewed Victor in the grass under the shade of a tree, with the home he tends to as our backdrop. He walked out with a wide, bright smile, but uncomfortable, knowing I had questions for him. My notebook, pen, and questions flipped the spotlight onto him and made him hesitant. Not accustomed to standing out or talking about himself, he was friendly but quiet. Victor has always blended in alongside the band of hardworking people who care for the special group of kids who need them.
Although Victor’s job requires him to scrub floors and clean breakfast tables, he sees this work through a wider lens. When I asked him if he enjoyed his job, he settled in and responded, “It is very important work. Sometimes I pray over the children as I clean. Sometimes somebody needs to be encouraged.”
While he mops the kitchen, he prays over each of the babies by name. While he sweeps, he is mindful of who in his path might need to be reassured. Every corner of the home is under his care and is washed in his kindness.
After spending time hearing about his duties, I paid a little closer attention when I walked back through the baby home. I noticed the many trash cans that must stay endlessly full and all the bathrooms and spaces used by nannies and staff that likely require another cleaning not long after the last. I observed the number of little hands smudging surfaces and feet leaving clumps of dirt on the ground from their time outside. And all around them are well-used cribs, changing tables, and toys. There is a clinic, baby rooms, playrooms, eating areas, and offices. The Mukono Baby Home is a swirl of activity and life, all of which require hours of someone coming along behind to tidy and sanitize.
Victor arrives at 6:30 each day to do just that. Early every morning, the staff and babies wake up to their surroundings cleaned and prepared for another day. At the Mukono Baby Home, he is an essential worker.
I kept probing a bit to better understand this soft-spoken custodian
Why do you choose to do this work?
I am not after money. I am serving. God pushes me to keep coming here. I like what the organization is doing. They are changing lives. I feel peace in my heart.
What should people know about the work happening here?
Everything we are doing is for the better interest of the children.
What do you love about Uganda?
Everyone is social.
(Uganda is a deeply relational country, as demonstrated by how Victor started first with the people of Uganda. People matter to him.)
What do people need to be happy?
1. “First, you need to know who you are.”
2. “Focus on what you want.”
3. “Look at everyone as God does.”
4. “Do for others what you’d have them do for you.”
Victor’s feet are firmly planted in a position of service. He knows who he is and told me again and again that his identity is found in his faith. His goals are simple and clear. He desires to serve and to have a happy family.
The children at the Mukono Baby Home are special gifts with a variety of chronic and complex medical needs. After experiencing significant traumas, the kids need a refuge. They need “mamas” to love and care for them, They need mamas to love and care for them, to begin healing the kids’ physical and emotional wounds.
The precious kids and staff at the home are a family, and Victor helps that family function. He makes their space safe, clean, and ready for each day, so the nannies, nurses, and social workers can keep the kids safe, nourished, and growing strong. He is a dedicated, generous man, doing essential work in a very special place.