JINJA, Uganda — Feeling God’s calling to work within the orphan ministry, Haley Lawson has traveled to Jinja, Uganda, leaving her friends and family behind this holiday season.
After high school, Lawson began school at Savannah College of Art and Design. Following her freshman year, she took a semester off, feeling God’s call to work with orphans in Africa.
“I ended up raising my own support and traveling to Uganda to work at Answering for the Children,” Lawson said. She was only 19 at the time of her trip.
Lawson said she spent two months in Uganda, and fell in love with everything about it, even saving up enough money to travel there the following summer.
Since her trip to Uganda, Lawson has traveled to Mexico, Russia and India to work with children. In 2011, Lawson received her sociology degree from Newberry College with a minor in social work. Lawson has spent the past two years working in Charleston with The Jubilee Market, an organization that helps rescue and empower women who have been affected by human trafficking in India.
Lawson, an administrative assistant with The Jubilee Market, said she enjoys the work she’s able to do on a daily basis.
“The founder of the organization is practically my second mother,” Lawson said.
Because of their close working relationship, when Lawson felt God calling her back to Uganda in September, she said the founder had nothing but blessings and support to send her with. While in Uganda, Lawson said she’s still able to edit videos and manage social media for The Jubilee Market. She will remain in Uganda until March 2014.
Lawson says her life on a daily basis can be quite hectic, but rewarding. She’s currently living in the area of Walukuba, in a children’s home called Answering for the Children. The home has 31 children ranging in age from 2 to 16. Each home has a “Mommy” and “Daddy” as well as herself and four “aunties” who are staff members that help out within the home.
Each morning at 7 a.m., Lawson said she puts 20 children into a car to drive them to school. Twice a week, she’ll do the grocery shopping for the home. At 2 p.m. each day, she picks up the first grade and second grade children, picking up the rest of the children from school at 4 p.m.
Her nights consist of helping the children with their homework.
“I check every single assignment,” Lawson said. “Sometimes that could last until 9 p.m.”
Although her days are long, Lawson said they are rewarding and she wouldn’t trade those times for anything. Unfortunately, she said, with the holiday season fast approaching, she’s been trying to raise the funds to do something nice for the children this Christmas.
“Money is tight right now,” Lawson said. “We have really cut corners everywhere. Any contributions that have been coming in have been going to feed the kids and repair necessary things in the home to keep us running.”
Lawson said the staff within the home has decided if enough funds come in to help them for the holidays, that they will then use the excess funds to bless the community and other homes in the area.
Lawson said the best part about her work in Uganda is the children.
“They keep me smiling on the rough days, when I feel like I’m not cut out for the job or just feeling tired,” Lawson said. “Their stories are heart breaking and it blows my mind at how amazing God’s grace and mercy is. It shines through these kids faces everyday.”
Those wanting to make monetary donations can do so by going to www.answeringforthechildren.org. Stories from the children in the home can also be found on the website. Lawson’s blog of her work with orphan ministries can be found at alivebyhismercy.blogspot.com.
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.