A man of joy

We can live in any situation with joy from God

Jackson Smiling

Back in January 2013 some of you may remember the story about Jackson, an orphan from Kajo Keji who was severely disabled due to polio. When I first met Jackson in 2012 he was resorting to crawling to school 6kms there and back every day because his three-wheeler chair had long since rusted. MAF was able to help fly the frame back to Kampala where we located funding and a way to refurbish the chair and then MAF donated the freight needed to fly the large chair back to Kajo Keji.

We had only thirty-minutes allocated on the ground to locate Jackson and give him the chair. The moment of those photos was a moment I will never forget. After Kajo Keji was largely evacuated due to wide scale militia attacks, it has weighed on my mind whether Jackson had made it out of Kajo Keji safely and wanted to find out his whereabouts.

Knowing we were heading to one of the largest settlements in Uganda, finally I was able to make contact with some South Sudanese pastors from Kajo Keji. They came back with the great news that they had found Jackson safely in Arua where his school had been relocated from Kajo Keji in January. With great joy we were reunited.

Jackson is studying to be a doctor and looked very dapper wearing a suit with very smart shoes compared to the flip flops we had last seen him wearing in 2013. He recounted how twelve armed Militia entered his school in Kajo Keji and began shooting at their school at 11am while they were sitting an exam.

“We had nowhere to run so decided to lie down."

They were only three metres away, shooting for up to fifteen minutes, and just a metre from Jackson two of his fellow students were killed. They robbed everything they could find, including the school bag that we had given Jackson in 2013.

“The boy who was shot was right next to me. I couldn’t get my phone so I grabbed my wheelchair and went home. Mama Susan (Director of the Orphanage) prayed with me and counselled me.”

Jackson then went onto explain how he was brought 137kms from Kajo Keji in South Sudan safely to Arua in Uganda.

“My wheelchair was tied behind a boda boda (motorbike taxi) with all my belongings tied onto the boda and me sitting on top of everything.”

Jackson completed the September exams they were sitting when the attack happened once he arrived in Arua in January.

We’re hoping to take Jackson on his first flight with MAF from Arua so that he can sit one of his medical exams in December in Kampala.

Yet again, I am astonished by Jackson’s broad smile…one of the broadest I have ever encountered, and his stunning attitude, even after all he has been through!

For most, it would be enough to have lost parents through war, let alone managing the twisted spine he has from Polio without letting it hold him back. And now this latest trauma of seeing his fellow students killed. Yet he is determined to achieve his Masters and a PhD in medicine and continues to thank God for all of His faithfulness to him in his life!

Thank you for praying for Jackson. We’re so relieved to report that he is safe and excelling at his medical school in Uganda.

Story by Jill Vine Photos By Clare Wise De Wet

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