During the coming days, we will be sharing stories from team members who were a part of the recent mission trip to Uganda. These stories are some insights into their experiences. We are grateful for their willingness to share.
From Scott Williams
This was a transformative and completely different trip for me than my first journey to Uganda. In some ways it was much more joyous; I got to experience the change that our support can have just by seeing the difference in places and people over a couple of years. In other ways this was a very hard trip. I saw many things I haven't yet been able to process that caused great pain.
Regardless I have come home with a very different feeling than before. The first time I wondered what the purpose of me going was; it wasn't clear that I actually achieved anything by being there. This time I left knowing we had done good by sharing our time and love with the people of Uganda.
There are many individual moments that stand out in my mind from this trip. It's hard to pick just one, from seeing the complete turn around in Damali, my family's sponsored child, to seeing how one well completely transformed and energized an entire community in Butangala. And then to see how an entire school that Hearts and Hope doesn't even directly support had such an outpouring of love and support because of the generosity of one man to go the extra mile to became the "father" of one very special girl. No words can express that experience.
But there are two events that have really stuck in my head, maybe because I can relate to them to some degree on a personal level. They both happened only a handful of hours before we left Uganda in a tiny village outside of Masindi. They both were great examples of Christ's love. But one has left me filled with gratitude while the other makes me angry beyond comprehension.
I know several teachers here in St. Louis that teach in very difficult situations and give daily beyond what is required of them because they love their students. I had never, until I met Adam, met a teacher who was willing to walk four to five miles each morning and then four to five miles each night to teach students in a small two room church and to do it all for no pay because the school isn't sponsored and can't afford to pay him. I was so moved by his commitment to God and to the education of his students. I won't forget his face, and I pray that God can grant me just a portion of that kind of servant's heart when I don't feel like getting out of bed to go to work.
After meeting Adam we had the chance to play for a short time with the children of the school, most of whom were preschool aged. I handed a soccer ball to one boy, probably 3 or 4 years old. He just held it; he didn't seem to know what to do next. A teacher explained to him that he should put it on the ground and kick it to me. We kicked the ball back and forth 7 or 8 times and then he just stopped. I kicked the ball to him and it just rested right on his foot and he didn't move. He stood there with a blank, exhausted look on his face with the ball sitting on his foot and he didn't move.
The image is burned into my head. This boy was sick. He was suffering from malaria, a death sentence if untreated, and we were told he hadn't been given treatment. This child is the same age as my children, and he could very likely not be alive the next time a team makes it to this remote village.
The treatment the boy needs isn't expensive by our standards, maybe $3.00. But because of distance to medication, lack of resources and medication being hoarded by those with means, this boy and countless others could die. It makes me so angry to think that $3.00 could be all that stands between the life and death of children like this.
Hopefully this particular case has a happy ending. There was no way we were leaving without making sure this kid had the means needed to get the medication. One of the team members provided money for the treatment as well as extra should another student need it. I pray the medication was available and got to this poor child as quickly as possible. I can't get the picture of him standing next to that ball out of my head. No life is worth less than $3.00.
Adam, who teaches at the school in Kijimbura.
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.