A team of nine of us went to Uganda for two weeks at the beginning of June. Six of us are staff members of the organisation Youth With A Mission and the other three are students on a five-month Discipleship Training School (DTS) under the auspices of the University of the Nations. The focus of the school is to be a “Voice for the Voiceless”, geared towards social justice and compassion.
This school has a three-month lecture phase during which students work on their personal character and develop their relationship with God. Each school has a specific focus but there are always core subjects common to every DTS. Students are prepared to take the message and the love of God to other cultures and nations, learning about cross-cultural diversity and participating in God’s purposes for the places we visit during the practical outreach phase. In this way, they apply what they have learned on the lecture phase and can use their different gifts and skills, working in teams and taking on responsibilities for some of the practical areas of the outreach.
So we could say that one of the objectives of the Uganda trip was to fulfil the DTS requirement of participating in an international mission trip.
However, for one member of the team, this was his second visit to Uganda. Sergio and his wife Olivia have had a conviction for several years that God has called them to support and help the poor and needy in Uganda and in 2018 they went on an initial trip to spy out the land and see first-hand what the needs were and how they could make a difference in this country.
On this second trip to Uganda, we went back to visit the people and places that Sergio and his wife had seen the previous year. This year we had been given several large bags of clothes, toys and school materials to donate to needy children in foster homes and mercy ministries.
We also saw how, with a relatively small amount of money, we could give some very practical support. For example, a friend had donated 50 € with which we bought an enormous sack of rice for a foster home of 30 children. With another donation we bought basic items for people in prison.
In another small foster home where a woman we know as Mama Dorah has fostered 12 needy children in her own home, there was no bathroom. We gave her some money to fit out a small bathroom and to build a pipeline to a septic tank outside. The renovation work has been done and it means a real life-style improvement for the children.
Another aim of the trip was to meet new people and opportunities since we feel that God has opened a door for us in Uganda and we want to continue sending teams here for many years to come.
In this sense we were able to work with a mission called Mercy for Life that was originally Catholic, although they also work with other confessions. They are based in a very poor area where they are providing their neighbours with very practical help. One example is building four latrines in an area where there is no sanitation. This was a project they worked on together with YWAM Chico (USA). They care for many poor children and send them to school. Just by looking at these children and spending time with them you realise that they are not only cared for physically but also spiritually and emotionally. Mercy for Life Works in many other areas too, such as working with the elderly, in prisons, supporting local communities to have access to clean, safe water by establishing community boreholes, helping young single mothers, supporting people with no access to medical services so they can have surgery, safe baby delivery, etc.
We could say that we reached our objective on our trip to Uganda. We were only there for two weeks, but we worked in a culture different to our own; we worked alongside Africans in a variety of ways, showing love and compassion to children and adults in different spheres: on the street, in a prison, in churches, in primary and secondary schools. Each member of the team worked hard, giving their all cheerfully, taking on responsibilities and facing problems without complaining. All in all, it was a good experience. What we were able to do and give may seem like a drop in the ocean when faced with the tremendous needs we saw in this country, but for those we came into contact with, our small contribution was positive and well-received.