Our most recent thief is out on bond and presumably headed to the village to get the money by selling his family’s land. Meanwhile the police are processing the file in preparation for taking him to court. They have far less faith than I do.
Seems there are lots of people wanting jail time around us right now.
A previous thief (who stole even more than our current thief and has paid nothing towards his debt) showed up at our gate asking for a character reference so he could attend seminary at a donor’s expense. (!!!) Seems the administration heard of his theft and demanded a letter of absolution before processing the application.
And now employees are stealing things from The Keep including cash.
Knowing how fed up we are with thieves, what employee in their right mind would risk stealing from us right now? And yes, at this point we will certainly haul a thief to jail over $80 and an iPhone case because, simply put, rehabilitating thieves through compassion and grace simply does not work here. There’s this mentality that mzungus will get all puppy-dog-tails and butterfly-wings when a local turns criminal. Why? Because Mzungus are here to help Ugandans. And we don’t want to do anything too harsh to a criminal (like put him in jail) because that criminal undoubtedly has an oft-contrived sob story justifying his actions.
Yes, we are here to help Ugandans, but are any of us here to throw millions at a bunch of criminals hoping good will come of it? (That question remains hypothetical lest I pursue parallels that will ultimately lead to a discussion of local pastors and politicians.)
I’m fully aware of the speck and the plank parable. It is of utmost relevance in my life. Each one of us is a criminal in our own way. I get that. So my hard stance now bothers me just a tad.
Fortunately, some missionary friends, each measuring their time in Uganda with decade-rulers, have set my mind at ease. They tell me I’m doing the right thing and that in their experience there simply is no other way to handle these situations here.
With all that said, I’m at peace over this. I’m not (quite literally) losing sleep with this case like I had with previous cases.
It stings, sure. But between venting here to you fine people and hearing from others that have walked this path, I’m at least settled. For now.
One thing I can definitely say about Africa is that we can never be settled for long.
Stay tuned and thanks for the support. I really appreciate you all.