My friend Fred, a member of the Change the Truth board of directors, just returned from his third trip to Uganda to visit the children at St. Mary Kevin. Fred is a psychologist in his real life in Portland, Oregon, but when he goes to SMK, he is Captain Freddie, a tireless advocate for joyful living, who is all about playing and having fun.
The children love him. They follow him around, happy to simply be in his presence soaking up his cheerful demeanor. Fred is known for encouraging the children to pick up trash and keep the grounds clean. They trail after him, trash barrels in hand, singing and skipping, delighted by their leader's love and attention.
The kids started calling him Captain Freddie back in 2008 when he first traveled to SMK. It's the perfect moniker for this pied piper.
Fred spent a lot of time during his past two visits talking to the children about life in America and encouraging them to ask questions about that. He also talked about cherishing and treasuring what they have, including their pleasant memories of lost family members and friends.
But I think the biggest and best gift Fred gives the children is his time, his attention, his smile, his bear hugs, his laugh and his open heart.
When I asked him to sum up this most recent trip, he simply said:
"Being with and helping the children at SMK helps me become a better man."
We are so lucky that he has chosen to spread his love amongst our beloved children in Uganda. While he's busy becoming a better man, kids like Queen, Sarah, Nelson, Eddie, Mary and Moureen are becoming better adjusted, more grounded, more loved, more confident and increasingly hopeful.
Not a bad deal, captain.
|Fred gets his hair braided|
|The pied piper in action.|