We might have the watches, but they have the time!
On the 2nd of September, I returned with a wonderful team of eighteen people (9 young people and 9 young at heart!) from an amazing two week mission trip to Uganda.
The journey was to South West Uganda, to help with a water and sanitation project through a small charity called WATSAN (originally started by Water Aid). Our primary work was to help the local WATSAN team finish construction of some new toilets in a local primary school of 400 children, and also, to help construct the protection for two springs to provide clean water for a local village. In addition, we also provided some consultancy advice to 3 hydro-electric plants, visited a mission hospital, supported some health and hygiene education sessions, helped lead church services with 100’s and 1000’s, spent time with some orphaned and disabled children, and finally, put on various activity days for well over 1000 children and young people!
Following our very busy trip, it will take a while for us all to fully reflect on what we learned as a team and individually. If you have been to Africa you will know that it is an amazing continent full of extremes and it would be so easy to focus on all the problems and difficulties e.g., lack of organisation, poor use of resources and corruption. However, there is so much which is positive that I would like to highlight what the Ugandan people have a lot more of us than us and we could learn from them:
More Time – despite that fact we have more watches to wear, it is clear that the Ugandan’s have more time!
More Family – despite many families being depleted, for example through AIDS, there is a wonderful sense of family where all are included as ‘brothers and sisters’ even if they are just cousins!
More Friendship – despite the many pressures to just look after oneself in a harsh environment, there is a great sense of friendship amongst people where ever you go!
More Life – despite having less material things, Ugandan people seem full of life, most notably seen in their open homes which always extend a warm welcome and hospitality even to strangers!
More God – despite facing many more hardships than we do, most Ugandan’s are alive to God in their Christian faith, regularly worship their creator, pray often and give thanks every day.
In Matthew 25 it says: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me. I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did for me.”
In summary, we went to Uganda and were able to help a little, but we have all received back rather more in return. And so now we are back, my prayer for the team and for myself, is that we might in the future be a little more Ugandan than UK!
With my prayers October
James – Rector of St Peter’s with Blessed Mary
15th October 2017