"Glory be to God for His mercies are enduring. We are blessed, for He is our Lord and King for He made this country and He still owns it. May His blessing continue to flow over this land, keeping us closer and heal our deep wounds, creating a fellowship, a family, a country, and giving us one voice, a voice of truth so we shall forever live in Him and for Him. Uganda my country and my motherland" - Caleb Tukahirrwa
Our team of six women have had the most extraordinary time on their recent trip to Uganda. We'd love to share some of the passion and work being done in this unique and wonderful country; so read on to catch some of the vision!
Above: Our phenomenal HOPE: Education volunteer team
The beginning was a time of preparation - supporting the local economy by purchasing all the necessary stationery and conference equipment, photocopying training manuals for the conference participants and travelling to our first conference venue, COME Uganda, located in a village, Lugala, about 30 minutes out of Kampala. New friendships and partnerships were formed as 40 leaders from the local hospital, schools and churches gathered together for lessons on leadership, health education and teaching.
"Being my third trip to Uganda, I feel like I am home again. The team has been warmly welcomed and it's been wonderful meeting up with friends again that I have made over the years through these trips" - Karen.
Above: Learning and being equipped; putting together conference bags
After wrapping up COME Uganda, our volunteers embarked on a journey to the north of Uganda (Kitgum) to work with the Irene Gleeson Foundation//Childcare Kitgum Servants which has 10,000 students enrolled across three sites in Northern Uganda. Students live outside the school grounds but receive two meals a day. Running palliative care hospices for AID patients and a paediatric wing on site, they also have on staff, school clinical nurses. Over a period of 3 days, head teachers and leaders, and all 150 staff participated in training - with lessons in strategic planning, vision planning, First Aid and teenage health, English Writing, management, IT and more.
"A constant of my time in Kitgum was George, who was at least 80 and greeted me as I came and went. He had a faded HOPE bag that had been used every day since last year. George sat in a small office and joyfully counted the chalk for each classroom every day. I tried to imagine the things that George has seen and lived through. I have been blessed by his joy" - Michelle.
Above: Michelle & George
The final stop was at Watoto, where the team spent four days working with the staff and teachers. Upon arriving at Watoto Laminadera, the team immediately noticed the atmosphere of unity, joy and passion that was so palpable.
"At the end of our four-day conference at Watoto Laminadera, the Head Teacher of the primary school made this comment to me...'This was a place of fighting' he said. He went on to explain that the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the infamous rebel group that tormented Northern Uganda just seven years ago, once had it's headquarters at almost the exact location that the community now stands on. So where violence, destruction and evil were once planned, we now stood together talking about leadership, children's health and improving teaching techniques!" - Becca.
Above: Just some of the participants throughout the Uganda trip - joy in learning!
A highlight of the trip had been listening to the incredible men and women speak their vision so passionately for each of their schools. While our volunteers came alongside to champion them further, the overall feeling of trust is undeniable. Many people may not see teaching/learning in this light - but it is fundamentally at the core of all that these volunteers do. Those who are learning, trust that they are being equipped with the vital ingredients they need to be able to change their country. The teachers trust that those they are equipping will pass on the torch even further.
Above: The future generation will be impacted by the seeds being sown now
We are all in this race together, hand in hand, embracing one another toward that end goal. Methods may change, wars may try to leave their mark and we are constantly learning from one another, but one thing we can be sure of; there is undeniable value in what is being built and there has never been a more perfect time to see this HOPE through to the finish line.