Reflecting back to the beginning of our journey August 2, I had many reservations and concerns about this trip to Africa. I knew travelling to a third world country would be very different experience but would most likely be a journey in “personal growth” I had never encountered in the past.
As well, travelling with a group of volunteers that I didn’t know very well, for me was unnerving. So far, we have been very busy travelling to schools, a clinic, going by boat to the Nanso school, leaving donations and interacting with so many school children. We have also spent almost two full days helping with the interior wall plastering at the St. Kizito sub parish.
My experience in the past few days had “many roses” – that is, many very wonderful and heart warming experiences. I have been so impressed at how gentle, respectful and attentive our Ugandan hosts have been towards us.
I am finding that our group is learning more about each other and seems to be developing a real sense of community and as we discover all this newness together. Personally, I am feeling so much more comfortable, not only with the strangeness of a new country but with the camaraderie that is developing among group members.
The team has engaged in good conversations over the past few days regarding our efforts to be sensitive to our hosts in things that we do and things that we say. One of our volunteers made an effort to explain that when we have conversations in the bus that in any way seem negative it was important that and our Ugandan host, guide and go to guy Alex, understand we are in every way trying to be respectful to our Ugandan hosts and friends. Alex replied by explaining in his own words what is it like to be around Sara and Michelle and the volunteers that keep showing up. He says that we are like family. His mother died at an early age and Alex has had to fend for himself for many years. With this team and with previous volunteers, Alex says he feels a sense of closeness and a deep sense of love that obviously comes both ways with this wonderful young man. As he expressed sadness and even loss at the thought of us leaving, he added he wished we could all be like Sara and Michelle and keep coming back. For me this is so remindful of my days with the medical relief teams in Ethiopia who developed close friendships with our Ethiopian hosts. On so many occasions the medical team departures were an emotional event not only for our Ethiopian friends but for the Canadians. This conversation with Alex was very moving for all of us. I was so touched by the beauty of this young man and the simplicity of his expression.
I have been so thankful that Alex is part of this mission team because my son Sean has had someone to hang with and what a choice of guys to do that. When Sean goes out into the city of Jinga I have no fears of him being alone – I have the sense he is with a comrade, a good dude, and, a personal body guard – I couldn’t have wished a better comrade for Sean and as most of the team is much older, it is great that he has a buddyhis own age.
Next steps on our journey will hopefully involve getting to know the immediate area and people of St. Kizito sub parish. The hope is that with a process like ground mapping or something similar, we will be able to discover further what assistance St. George parish might be as our partnership with this community continues. Stay tuned!