Dear Traveler: Happy Birthday, Dunkan

{ This series is dedicated to the reflections and remembrances of my travels, both near and far. I invite you to dream of the places you’ve never been, and remember where your feet have trodden. Let us adventure together. }

Dear Traveler,


Meet Mutyaba Dunkan.


He is twelve years old today.

I started sponsoring him about five years ago through Compassion International. That day I told God that if I were to start sponsoring someone, I would need His provision. I have never missed a payment. 

For years I have watched Dunkan grow through photos and letters, his handwriting in English getting better everyday. I’ve heard his simple stories and experienced his home from my home, his life from the words and drawings written in crayon or ink pen.

For years I dreamed of the moment I would meet him, see him, smell him and know the ground that he walks on everyday. I held on to that far off dream and desperately clung to the hope that one day I would see Uganda.

In the summer of 2009 God directed our steps to Kampala, Uganda. The dream came closer to reality as I hoped for the chance to meet Dunkan. Earlier that year, I wrote about him, about the reality of seeing him in the coming months:

As of late, your dark brown skin
lingers in my mind.
A hint of dirt, sweat,
childhood settles around me,
and your small eyes glue
my feet to the ground.
This, this is it

You walk: step, step —
leap into my arms,
and a new world opens
between our touching chests.
You are no longer a sense of me,
but a
Piece of me,

I pull you away for a moment, hold your face between my palms.
This is what is real to me,
this daydream yet to be lived.
So I sit here in Midwest society,
clutching your picture in my hands.
I’m coming, I’m coming,
I’ll be there soon.

If the dream of setting foot on Ugandan soil was not enough, the realization that I was soon to meet him brought a flood of excited emotions. After weeks of work and travel around Northern Uganda, we returned to the south, where we traveled about 30 minutes from where we were staying to Luwero district to finally meet him. It was July 15th.











As we pulled up to his schoolyard I imagined the very moment. Would he run into my arms? Would we embrace, our eyes filled with tears? Would he understand my love for him?

He was quiet. He was so sweet, kind, humble. His eyes looked down most of the time, unable to fully communicate with me through the language barrier. Still, we were there. We were together, our bodies in the same place at the same time.

I met his mom and sister, saw his home. He blessed me with gifts, the mat his mother made me and the tub of groundnuts that still sit in our cupboard, uneaten and untouched.

My journal entry from that day says, “His beautiful face was so wonderful to finally see in person. God is so very good to us.”









Hoping I get to see him again one day. Hoping we can continue to love and care for him from miles away, through time differences and language barriers. Hoping he understands more fully the love of God every day of his life.

Happy Birthday, Dunkan.

I love you.


5 thoughts on “Dear Traveler: Happy Birthday, Dunkan

  1. We just started sponsoring a girl through Watoto. Kaitlyn, you inspire me more that you know not just with your actions but with your engagement. Thanks for sharing this and the photos. So far away and so close.

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