The program today was presented by Laine Wagenseller, a LA 5 Rotary Member. Laine was invited to hear about an Orphanage for young boys in Uganda and while he initially was not terribly interested, when he visited and saw the needs he quickly found a way to encourage teenage boys. Uganda is in the middle of Africa and has been left with thousands of orphaned children the result of brutal dictatorship and AIDS.
Laine’s first visit to the orphanage left him searching for how he could best contribute. He is a lawyer, not a nurse, dentist or doctor and as he said, spends most of his time arguing with others. He did not want to teach Ugandan’s how to sue each other. So far he has made 8 trips to the orphanage in Uganda.
Laine found his niche in working with the teenagers, knowing that most of them did not have the benefit of having a father during their critical developmental years. Laine told of listening to the story of one young Ugandan (Robert) telling that in the 4th grade his dad died, in the 6th grade his mother died and soon after his caretaker died, leaving him an orphan. Laine quoted from the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. The paraphrase is that it is very important for a young man to have a father to observe and ideally for the father to approve of and validate his beloved son. Without a fathers influence, many young men search for meaning and significance in life thru work, money, sex and lots of other harmful ways.
Laine has helped many of the young Ugandans by listening to their stories, bringing in other men to talk about growing up. Laine tells of one boy he took to the farm school, David, who when asked to pack his belongings came to Laine with just 1 shoe box with some sugar, a cup and a tooth brush, nothing else.
Laine’s final story was of Adolf, who was severely burned by his Aunt for taking food, resulting in his being unable to straighten his legs and essentially walking on his hands and feet. The Rotary Club in conjunction with the L.A. Burn Center worked together to allow Adolf to come to the US to have several surgeries to restore use of his legs. This was a tremendous gift to Adolf and a wonderful effort by LA 5 Rotary and the Burn Center. During recovery, Adolf stayed with Wagenseller’s brother and sister-in-law in Thousand Oaks, playing with their four children and going to school at Westlake Hills Elementary School.
When Adolf was asked what he was going to do, now that he could walk, he said he was going to Thank God.