Why I help-Audrey Patra
Many people tend to think that I am too generous; just because they have watched me remove my pair of shoes and hand it over to a needy person and thereafter walk home on barefoot. They have seen me give away my last piece of bread. Others have even watched as I solicited school fees for a ‘stranger’s child’ with a lot of passion as if it was my own. I do this not because I am too generous, but I do this because I own nothing. Everything that I have belongs to God.
When I was a little girl, my parents taught me to be kind and generous to other people. At that time “other people” literally meant siblings and cousins. I was the fourth of nine children so sharing was inevitable especially with five younger siblings looking up to me and I looking up to three of my elder siblings. At first the idea of sharing didn’t bother me much because we had so much to share; our father was a wealthy man and provided everything we needed for our welfare. However, the feeling of “sharing doesn’t hurt” was only as short lived as our father’s wealth. By the time I was 13, it was getting harder to share without feeling the pinch. Not when you had to take a slice of bread, which in itself was not enough to satisfy your own hunger, and break it into nine equal pieces.Important lesson about sharing as was taught by my mother was that the one who breaks the bread takes the last piece after everyone else has picked to confirm that you tried your best to have all pieces equal. I learnt sharing both the hard and the easy way and most importantly I learnt to always hold the needs of others above my own.
When I was concluding my degree at Makerere University my evenings were filled with moments of reflection. I was very grateful to God that something which had once seemed like an impossible dream had come to reality; completing my degree course. My parents had instilled in me the desire to have an education. Our father often told us, that once we had an education we could achieve any dream we had in mind. I had many dreams and I desired to study so that I could achieve them. However, when my father’s wealth started dwindling, my assurance of attaining an education was reduced to an impossible dream. My father could not afford to pay my tuition.
Getting an education was not an easy road for me to tread. I had gone from begging on the streets, to being chased out of university hostels, to being chased out of examination rooms, to shedding tears, to dropping out of school, to everything a young girl of my age could possibly do to attain an education. It was not easy at all but the grace of God sustained me.
From the moment I joined the university, my tuition fees, my hostel fees and money for living expenses came through toils and struggles. I did not have a paying job but I was doing a lot of volunteer work and ministry; my tuition was always a combination of gifts, bonuses, allowances and loans from friends. God kept opening rare doors before my eyes. I had three dramatic, but miracle filled years at the university.
After completing my course, as I thought about my life, I realized that God had seen me through a lot. I thanked God for the kind friends and also strangers who held my hands when I needed them most. I wondered how many girls could be in this world waiting for a kind stranger to help them cross the bridge from dreams to realities. I remembered how even a simple act of kindness could save my day. Sometimes I would meet someone and they would give me 500 Uganda shillings and that would provide food for supper. I knew for sure that I didn’t need to have so much to help someone else. I only needed to have a heart to help.
Regardless of the size of the help, it can make a difference in someone’s life. I believe there’s no amount of oxygen that can be underrated by a dying man. With all that God has done for me through the kindness of strangers, I decided that I would reach out in any way I possibly can and extend my hand to those in need. I want to be part of God’s plan to help young girls and boys who like me need help to reach their dreams. I find joy in building bridges to help people achieve their dreams.
If there were no generous people in this world, I wouldn’t be what I am. “He that has pity upon the poor lends unto the Lord and that which he has given will he (God) pay him again” (Proverbs 19: 17). I am eternally grateful to the strangers who decided to lend to God by giving to me. I in turn will do the same for others. This is why I help.