Happy Father’s Day, Simon

“I need to meet him!” I yelled with excitement when I heard that there was a dad (the first and only dad I saw during my two week trip to Uganda) at our vitamin distribution.

But when I got back to the distribution site, I was devastated. He was gone. Day after day, I had seen hundreds of mothers bring their children to community health outreaches, but not once, until this day, had I seen a father.

I asked every mother in sight if they knew the where mystery man who brought the two little boys lived, but no one had a definite answer. After what seemed like endless searching, I finally found a mother who knew.

So we hopped in the van with her and her little girl (who had never been in a car before) and ventured to find him — Simon.

“Stop the car!” the mother yelled.

And there he was, riding his bike on the side of the road.

With a huge smile on his face, he led us proudly to his home, where I sat down with him and his wife, Smali. Simon and Smali are a young couple in their early twenties and like most people in their community, they farm and make bricks for a living.

I asked him why he brought his children to the vitamin distribution, rather than his wife. He told me he had heard about the community health outreach and wanted his children to go. Unfortunately, Smali had been working all day and was too tired to carry both of the children, so he volunteered.

The reason why it’s so rare to see men at distributions is because they usually work in larger towns away from their village, but Simon was able to stay with his wife and children, which allows him to care for them himself and watch his children grow.

“I love my family SO much… I want them to be healthy,” Simon said. He understands the importance of vitamins and deworming treatment, and it brings him joy to see his children receive them because he believes good health will help them live better lives.

“It’s the best when the children are healthy and when the whole family is healthy.”

Simon and his sons, Livingstone (3) and Laston (1.5)

“What’s your favorite thing about being a father?” I asked.

“I love playing with them. I love seeing them happy,” he answered.

His love for his children is obvious. He looks at them with admiration and hope. Since he can’t afford to buy toys, he builds them himself out of metal scraps and wood. Best of all, he makes the toys with certain intentions, like to help them learn how to walk.

It’s thoughtful acts like this that make us want to celebrate Simon and fathers like him.

So here’s to you, Simon, and to all the dads whose unconditional love leads to better lives for their families.

Happy Father’s Day.

This story was written by Jill Agonias, Vitamin Angels’ Content Marketing Manager, on her trip to Uganda in April 2015.

Images © Matt Dayka/Vitamin Angels

Vitamin Angels is a non-profit organization distributing vitamins and minerals to children and mothers in need. Learn more at www.vitaminangels.org

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