Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back to Reality (Reflection)

I have been home for about two weeks and I still cant go 10 min. without thinking about the people of Uganda. Every worry I have goes away when I am in Africa. I have no cell phone, wallet or personal care in the world, only the care of these people that need me. The second I get off the plane in Africa, I feel this amazing sense of home and where I belong and need to be. This is where I am supposed to be. These people have changed my life in more ways then they will ever know. The people of Africa are the most pure example of perseverance, community, and hope. These people have nothing, but everything that I want. They have no money, clean water, food, shelter; but they have the most amazing smiles. Their smiles are the most inspiring thing I have ever seen. It is better to have nothing, but everything; then to have everything, but nothing.
Since I have been back I have not bought any material object for myself, not because I am taking a stance against it, but just because I would feel disgusted with myself. In America we live in a very individualistic culture, where it is all about how much money can I get, not worrying about those around you that are struggling and suffering. In Africa it is about how can we all survive. The sense of community that these people show is shocking. People from the village gather to help re-build each others houses when accidents occur, they give each other food when their hungry, and comfort each other in times of need.

Upon arriving home, I have started planning for the next trip in 2 years from now. My Brother (Adam) and I will be hopefully teaching at Tororo High School for the Summer. Idaha and Henry have informed the teachers that we are planning on coming and we are trying to get a house and a price range, we will be staying for about 2 months probably. My mother will be going on a mission trip there, Me and Adam will be on that team for the two weeks she is there, and then go back to teaching at the high school. If you are at all interested in going to Uganda, please contact me!!!!!!!

I will never forget these people or their stories:

1. The Pastor of Namnoya (Traveled 20 miles on bike in the bush to lead his church)

2. Tororo High School-Idha (the Heart of GFR in Uganda) and Henry (Two of the most inspiring and uplifting people I have ever met)

3. Kampala Night Life- (Lee's Dinosaur Call and the bar that we, the white people, walked into and they instantly change the TV Celine Dion on rotation until we left.

4. Fred, Aka Hollywood-Best Bus Driver Ever, enough said

5. Jerome- The hardest working man in Uganda, The Soul of GFR in Uganda

6. The naked boy in Gulu-He walked around and no one looked at him any different, him and his best friend just held hands and walked around smiling. This is my most inspiring image that I will take away from the trip.

7. Sleeping at St.Mary's in Gulu with the Night Commuters- I can not put into words how many emotions I felt that night, but i will try : inspired, scared, cold, overjoyed, exhausted, emotionally drained, proud, welcomed, and crazy.

8. Dead Hippo floating down the Nile- Just Cool!

9. Bosco- Malaria might have drained him for activity in the beginning, but his smile and laughter really kept me going in the end.

10. The Team: This was the most dynamic and well connected group of people I have ever met. We really pulled together and carried ourselves because of some unfortunate circumstances. It was an amazing experience seeing how this trip affected my dad, and how it has opened is eyes and mind, I have never been more proud to call him my father. And meeting a person that I truly care for and connect with, is an added bonus.

11. Becoming Numb to Guns.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Now when people think of Uganda, they think about the 22 year civil war, the longest in Africa, and the Invisible Children taken in to the Lord's Resistance Army to become child soldiers. This is the place where the movie Invisible Children is filmed. So we left very early in the mourning for a 6.5 hour bus ride, until we finally got there. We arrived and went to a IDP camp, where women who had been raped by the Rebel LRA army, and had children who were outcome of that. In the IDP camp we walked to a small village of hut houses and quickly the children flocked to us. This was the most amazing part of the trip so far, these kids had the most amazing smiles. This amazed me because these kids didn't have anything, some not even clothes but they were smiling and playing with each other. If these children were in America they might be shunned from their community for not having clothes, but not these kids. They held hands, laughed, and played with each other. I will never forget the children of this villages smiles. Following that visit, we heard testimony of the women who had been raped by the rebels. They told us how they have couped with the situation, and what they need. Their answer for their most important need shocked us education. Above clean water, food, clothes, or shelter; these women wanted to be educated. We gave them all the supplies we could and left for the hotel.

At devotions Lee mentioned he wanted to stay at St. Mary's Hospital, the place where invisible children was shot, to sleep with the kids. I quickly jumped on this. This is a once in a life time opportunity to stay with these kids and hear so of their stories. We rode a bota bota (motorcycle) there and were quickly question about what we were doing there. The security in front could not believe that three Americans would want to stay and sleep on the floor of the hospital, and he tried to make us stay on a bed in the guest house. We refused and eventually he lead us to a place where we could sleep outside with some of the people. This place was amazing people were everywhere on the hospital grounds. I laid next to an 18 year old boy who walked here from about 5 miles away to stay every night. The kids stay at the hospital so they are not taken by the LRA to become child soldiers. We were introduced to a man in a wheel chair who spoke perfect English and showed us around the paraplegic part of the hospital and introduced us to some of the residents. At night a family gave us food to eat including salted ants, that they had collected for the lights. Then we tried to sleep on the floor but couldn't. How could these people do this everyday, you sleep on a straw mat without a pillow or blanket on a cold floor; just for their own protection. We tried to leave the hospital early so we could go on the safari, but they would not let us out of the compound until 6 o'clock. This was for our own protection. So far this is the most memorable part of the trip.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 10th

Today we went to Bill's sponsored family, this was an amazing experience. We drove for about 3.5 hours to a remote village, where most of the children had never seen a white person before. Need less to say we chase away every little child. The women that Bill sponsor's was a truly inspiring lady. She was clinically dead for a hour, and when they were about to barying her, she coughed. She has lost alot of her hearing and sight because of the trauma, so her young son interpreted her for us. After Bill's gave them gifts, the entire village gave us a speech in appreciation for our support and travels. This was followed by a song and gift presentation to use, which included; sugar cane, eggs, a roster, and pineapple. This was amazing because these people have nothing, but they are willing to give up all they have to give us appreication, this is truly humbling. After that we drove home, this took about 9 hours, not joking. Tommorrow we have a free day, and we are going to go to the black market.

Monday (June 9th)

Yesterday, we traveled 6 hours to reach Toro to see Toro High School. This was a school started by Ida. While touring the school, I began to wonder if I would like to teach at this school during the summer. The girls sleep in a dorm, which is about the size of two American classrooms. They are forced to sleep there so that they will be protected at night. The classrooms had the bare essentials (some desks, a chalkboard, and some paper). Following the tour, the students acted out and sang a song for us. This is where I truly saw how talented some of these students are. I was amazed to see interested the students are in learning. The students in this school were very smart, not just for African education standards, but for American standards as well. After that we went and played the soccer game against the high school team. I thought that they would be an easy pick up game. But no, they had an referee and rules were enforced. We ended up loosing the game 2-1, and a girl took me out. This was a great day for the team. Tomorrow we drive to Kamwenge to see Bill’s family, and then drive home!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday Church

To describe what todays ceremony in words would be an injustice. The people of the village greeted us with excitejment and rejoice. The church sang about 5 songs and then the mass started. The pastor gave an emotional, heart felt speech about his happyness of his people and his heart for all the work we put into making his home and church. This was the most emotional church I have ever been to. There were alot of the elders of the church crying because of the fact that for their first time in their lifel, they had a roof on the church. This was a very impactful ceremony. Following the mass the people of the village wanted to show all their appreciation for us, and they did this the only way they knew how, by sacraficing a goat. (If you want details I watched their entire thing) We left the village and headed to Dan's sponsored family to see their progress. After walking deep deep into the bush, because the bus could not get any further, we reached Dan's family and were amazed to be greeted by another village, agian with branches, song, and dance. We met Dan's family and were amazed to see their progress and growth in just under a year. Dan gave away more then a suitcase of things to them, and you could see the unbreakable joy in their eyes. We watched the villagers sing these amazing songs, and then started to dance. The ceremony ended with me and the kids singing in a conga line. All in all it was a very interesting day. Tommorrow the team will visit a High School and will have their first exhibition soccer game, as Global Family Rescue ("White People") take on the Tororo High School team at 2 oclock.

P.S. I will not be able to have a blog to tell you how the match went because we are staying over night, so check ESPN for the details.

Saturday, June 7, 2008