This summer I went to Uganda as part of a team from my previous congregation of Bangor West. We went with an organisation called Abaana, which is a Christian based charity set up for the benefit of less privileged people in Africa. The word “Abaana” comes from the Lugandian language commonly spoken in Uganda and means “children.”
For the last 20 years Abaana has been seeking to empower the children of Uganda to build a brighter future for themselves by; construction schools, sponsoring children who cannot afford the fees, and by rescuing children from the streets.
There was 18 of us on the team in total, 16 traveling form Bangor and then our 2 translators who joined us once we got there.
We spent the first week visiting some projects that work with street children. We spent 3 very different days working with boys living on the street, ranging from going to a remand home for children awaiting court dates, visiting and teaching at the Street School and also a final day of street reach with 60 boys who came along to play games, learn about Jesus and be served and fed by our team! It was a difficult experience to witness so much need and brokenness. Yet in the middle of it we saw God moving and offering hope to all no matter what the situation!
For the rest of that week we went to the New Life Homes, which offers temporary foster care for boy that have come off living on the street. They range from Isaac who has been in the homes for 4 years to Ramadan (a 6 year old) who has been in the homes for only 2 months. These boys welcomed us with songs and dances and their was a real sense of pure joy! Each day I would tell them a Bible story and then we would make craft with them and play some games. Whole we were there we were put into “families” with the boys which allowed us to get to know some of them in particular and allowed us to learn their names, stories and have the chance to pray with them.
On the last day some of the older boys were interviewed about their lives; how they ended up on the street, how they were brought into the homes, and what it meant to them. It was heartbreaking to hear their stories and picture them living on the street. But at the same time it was great to see how God was moving in their lives bringing them out of the streets to a safe home with food, beds, education and adults who fully love and care for them!
For the second week we traveled to a school in a town called Lweza, which is an area right on the shores of Lake Victoria. Our time there consisted of us running our own 5 day holiday bible club programme. We taught about how we were created by a God who loves us, we told the kids about how God is for us, how God will love us forever and how God is always with us! We did crafts that will help all the kids remember these and the children were all so proud of them, some bringing them back in days on end! We also had a “dance station” where we had praise songs blaring as well as singing some of their own songs with them!
While at Lweza we have also helped constructed a set of latrines for the female students. Up to then the girls were using the same toilets as the boys, and this caused many of the girls to stop coming to school as they got older. We finished our time their at the school by handing out 14 suitcases worth of clothes to the children that had been donated by the church. We were greeted with pure shock on the face of the headmaster who did not expect so much clothing to be given out and there was such elation from the kids as we helped them pick out their own outfits, especially as many will never have got anything that is purely theirs without it coming through older siblings!
During our time in Uganda we as a team told the story of the resurrection 19 times in various settings to a total of almost a thousand children. And every time we told the story the children would applaud when we said that Jesus had risen! It is a story I will never grow tired of sharing. It’s the foundation of our faith and reminds us that God’s love is so big and so strong that nothing can stop it, not even death! It gives us a reason to hope. A reason to believe that life will get better for all these children that we met.
If you would like more information on the work of Abaana, or would consider supporting their work by sponsoring a child please visit their website www.abaana.org or speak to me for more details.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”