Uganda – 5 minute highlights

27 10 2013

This morning I was given 5 minutes at Romsey Baptist Church where I grew up, to share briefly about my trip, so it seemed sensible to share it too to give you a high level overview, just incase you’re not interested in all the stories as they come out!

For the last 4 years have been working in the IT team at Compassion UK doing all things data – and it’s fun! They are based in Weybridge in Surrey, but this time last week I was privileged to be in the beautiful country of Uganda!
I joined a group of American sponsors and their tour leaders and spent a week in “The Pearl of Africa”, where they would meet their sponsored children.
We stayed in Kampala, which is just on the edge of Lake Victoria, and is the capital city.
Our first full day there we visited a one of the many projects in the country.
We got off the buses down the road from the project and could just hear screams as if One Direction had arrived! We were greeted by some of the girls who did a dance, and then by hoards of beautiful children! We had some time in church with them where we heard more about what goes on there.
This particular project ran both the Child Development through Sponsorship Program (CDSP), but also the Child Survival Program (CSP) which is where babies and their caregivers, and also pregnant mums, are supported. They are cared for, fed, taught how to look after themselves and their children well and also taught income generating skills such as woodwork for the men, and jewellery making, hair braiding, weaving, sewing, and other crafts, for the women.
On the Thursday we went to visit the Compassion Uganda office in Kampala. We saw the piles of letters from children ready to be checked through before going on to sponsors, and all the pigeon holes where all the check letters from sponsors are put ready to be delivered to the projects. We shared devotional time with the staff and I also got to meet their head of IT!
We spent three days with Leadership Development Program (LDP) Students. These are young men and women who have been sponsored as children, completed the program, excelled academically and shown leadership potential. These outstanding students are then sponsored through their university course (at a higher monthly rate of course!) while simultaneously studying on the leadership course, to become exceptional leaders within their professions.
We were invited to attend this years graduation ceremony on the Friday, and spent the preceding two afternoon sessions with them, leading seminars, and participating in a ceremony in which we washed their feet and prayed with them. It was also a time where we got to experience the incredible joy of African worship! I have some great videos of this!
Saturday was the day the American sponsors had been waiting for! The children came from all corners of the country, accompanied by their project workers, and all gathered in Kampala. We went to a small amusement park in the city and each sponsor met their child, some for the first time, some had met once before. We took them in and while some enjoyed the rides a little less than others (they most likely wouldn’t have experienced anything like it before!), at the end of the day, when sponsors and children exchanged gifts and prayed together, you could see how much the whole day had meant to them.
This was the group of all sponsors, children, and the project staff that had brought the children for the day, I think we totalled about 84 people!
The last day we visited Deliverance Church and very briefly had a quick look around the Compassion Project office there and met the project director who was a formerly sponsored LDP student! Then there was just time for a quick stop off at the market before our flight back.
The whole experience really was mind blowing. We met some of the most inspirational people, covering all ages, but it was really special to meet these graduating students who are the future of that country. I was chatting to one girl who told me she wants to be a reverend and then go on to be an MP. And while that may sound farfetched, it’s already happened once. A lady called Margaret graduated from the Uganda LDP Compassion program and in May 2011 was elected as a Member of Parliament.
When we were there they talked about how one day, a formerly sponsored child will lead their country. What a day that will be!
This trip was a little different to the normal tours because we had such a focus on the LDP students, but because of this we didn’t really see the poverty in Uganda, we saw the difference and success of Compassion in the lives of those who were once in poverty!
I know most of us wouldn’t be able to afford to sponsor one of these students, but every single one of them started out as a child in poverty that needed a sponsor, just like the ones available now for sponsorship.