Transcendent Spirit: The Orphans of Uganda (Douglas Menuez)

I posted this earlier on our family's adoption blog ( As a book review, it's fitting for this space as well.

We recently got a smoking deal on several Uganda-related books on Amazon. Among them was this amazing photographic journal showing the plight of Ugandan orphans.

The reasons for abandoned children in Uganda (or any country) are many and all very sad. Transcendent Spirit addresses them all, including AIDS. poverty, lack of education, political unrest, and murder. On each spread there is a massive, beautiful photograph of one (or several) orphans, and accompanying it there is a name and description of that individual's story.

This book puts specific faces and smiles and tears and hurts on the unfortunately vague term, "orphan." One young girl (Zaina), whose past includes the death of her entire family to some strange curse (her tribe's concept of the AIDS virus), was apparently asked by the author/photographer what she thought was most special about her. Zaina's response was: "The most special thing about me? That I am alive."

Other orphans featured in the book talk about their escape from their terrible circumstances due to traveling to the United States with a concert/musical/dance troupe known as Spirit of Uganda (since 2008...previously known as Empower African Children). Their performances raise money and awareness for the orphanages in Uganda. I have not yet had the honor of seeing one of these presentations, but I'm definitely adding it to our family's life experiences list.

The book is really a picture essay, and what is said about pictures being worth a thousand words is very true. We just received our copy today, and have all sat together looking through it a few times. It helps us understand more about Miriam's culture. It helps us feel the hurt of her birth nation. It helps us realize that when we talk about how "there are 147 million orphans in the world," each one of them is just like the hurting, crying, starving, sick children and teenagers in Transcendent Spirit. It reminds us that every one in that 147 million has a name, a face, and a story.

I'm so thankful that in April, when we finally are united with our baby girl, that there will be ONE LESS.