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St. Ameria is on the outskirts of a small town called Mbiko close to the larger city of Jinja right on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda. Edith, the headmistress and founder of the orphanage/school, was also an orphan, but was given a second chance by a relative willing to care for her. She was raised in the village where the orphanage is located now and considers it her lifelong home.

St. Ameria

In 1994 she began the St. Ameria home when four orphans were in need of desperate care and attention in her small neighborhood.
attention in her small neighborhood. When the children found out that there was a place of refuge in Mbiko for them, they flocked to Edith. 17 years later, the orphanage supports 55 children full time. When school is not in session, those 55 children consider St. Ameria their home. When school is in session, almost 70 more orphans take residence in the dorm rooms. During school, the home can have about 125 children. The 70 that come only during school months are orphans as well, but have foster care parents for the times that they are not going to school. The foster parents give a little bit of money for their "children" to be enrolled, but it is not enough for the needs of the children. Other children from the community are also involved in taking classes at St. Ameria's because it also functions as a government recognized primary school. This adds approximately 50-75 children during the daytime only.

Richard, the headmaster of the school, is also a teacher and the director of the children's choir at the school. The choir is called the Echo Children's Choir and the occasionally appears at churches in the community. Occasionally, the churches will take up an offering for St. Ameria's because of the children's

choir at the school. The choir is called the Echo Children's Choir and the occasionally appears at churches in the community. Occasionally, the churches will take up an offering for St. Ameria's because of the children's performance.
The kids are orphaned by many different tragedies.
The first is HIV/AIDS. It is impossible to walk down the streets of Mbiko and not meet someone affected by AIDS in a personal way. Not that everyone has AIDS, but almost every family has someone who does. Some of the choir's songs are based on personal stories of how AIDS had killed both of their parents, leaving them as orphans in a beautiful, but cruel world. Some of the children are from the northern regions of Uganda where war has been waged since the early 1980's. Many people have seen the 'Invisible Children', but they are all over Uganda, living in similar situations. The children migrate to the southern cities in search of safety, food, and shelter, but so many children do not find it. St. Ameria's opened their doors to these children, so many of them are there. Many children have actually seen their parents killed in front of them and have experienced a lot of spiritual, physical, and emotional damage.

The first time we went to the orphanage, we were appalled at the living conditions of the children. We took a tour of the place and there wasn't one building with electricity. They used lamps with toxic fuel, but had no other choice. They sstudied in buildings with missing walls and roofs. They slept stacked together because there was no other place. There were no beds and no mosquito nets to keep the yellow fever and malaria from their fragile bodies. There was a series of pit toilets installed by a short-term mission's team, but other than that, there was no evidence of Western sponsorship whatsoever. Many of the teachers are orphans themselves who feel called to help those who were in their situation.

The place was not safe. There were no walls around the buildings and sometimes children wandered off, to the nearby street or into the arms of a stranger. There were caretakers for the children, but when you have so many and more being added by the week, it was hard to keep track.

Edith, Richard, and the other staff at St. Ameria's have tremendously big hearts; hearts that are likened to that of our Father. St. Ameria's takes loving care of orphans, and has been doing that for over 17 years. They don't do it because they benefit at all.
All of these conditions dramatically changed 5 years ago, when Streams of Mercy began to support this home and school. Through the generous gifts of donors in the USA, several new brick buildings have been constructed, and walls and gates have been built to
provide the needed security for the home. New sanitary toilet facilities have been constructed. Streams of Mercy also helps with food, housing, and education for these children. We are grateful for the opportunity to transform their lives.

Photography by Nathan Golden.