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Garden of the Lost and Abandoned: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Woman and the Children She Saves

Review

Garden of the Lost and Abandoned: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Woman and the Children She Saves

Uganda is a country situated in East Africa. To the east it borders with Kenya, to the north with South Sudan, to the west with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the southwest with Rwanda, and to the south with Tanzania. It is a presidential republic, in which the President serves as the head of state and the government at the same time.

From 1969 to 2015, Uganda’s population grew from 9.5 million to 34.9 million. It has the fifth highest fertility rate in the world, and its median age (15) is the lowest. In addition, Uganda is one of the world’s poorest countries. Thus more than 50% of children under the age of five and 38% of school-aged kids live in poverty. Based on these grave statistics, one should not be surprised to hear that there are approximately 5,000 children between the ages of 7 and 20 who live on their own on the streets of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

"People like Gladys make this world a better place and bring hope to those who have lost faith in humanity. For that reason, this book should be read."

But in this poor country, there is one woman who tries to give hope and new life to the children who are either lost or abandoned, or both. Her name is Gladys Kalibbala, a journalist for Kampala’s newspaper, New Vision, who began writing stories about children found by the police. Soon thereafter, she had a regular column called “Lost and Abandoned,” featuring profiles of the kids referred to her by either the police or social services.

Jessica Yu met Gladys while filming a documentary about population issues and decided not just to include her in the documentary, but also to write an entire book about her efforts to save the children. Gladys’ life and work are put in the context of Uganda’s history, its current political and economic situation, and the everyday life of its citizens. The accounts of the many children who Gladys has saved are both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and certainly capture one’s attention.

GARDEN OF THE LOST AND ABANDONED provides a different perspective on life and what is needed to help others. You don’t have to be rich in material possessions to lend a helping hand. Sometimes sheer determination and strong will are all you need, which is exactly what Gladys has been blessed with, along with altruism, a big heart and a stubbornness that allows her to get things done. She also started her own agricultural business that has enabled her to provide homes and a livelihood to those most in need.

People like Gladys make this world a better place and bring hope to those who have lost faith in humanity. For that reason, this book should be read.

Reviewed by Dunja Bonacci Skenderović on December 8, 2017

Garden of the Lost and Abandoned: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Woman and the Children She Saves
by Jessica Yu

  • Publication Date: November 7, 2017
  • Genres: Biography, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • ISBN-10: 0544617061
  • ISBN-13: 9780544617063