Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Sam Ivin writes about his recent visit to Uganda

Sam is completing a foundation art course at Bucks University before moving on to a three year documentary photography course in September of this year. He has attended Saint James for the last nine years.

His story...

Firstly I'm so grateful for the opportunity to go on this trip, it's not every day you get to go to Africa! It was a hectic week but definitely worth it

I was blown away by the welcome we got at each of the communities. Nearly all of the places we visited were singing, dancing and wailing, constantly saying “Most Welcome”. This is testament to how much they appreciated us visiting, not just the financial help Love Africa gives.

It was also good to see how all the organisations carried out their work and seeing how happy people were with what little they had. Even in churches which were made out of mud and sticks, they were so grateful to God for what they had.

I found the work of Rahab shocking, the centre where girls who have been in the prostitution business are rescued and rehabilitated. Knowing how old these girls were, just young teenagers I was disgusted at the thought of them being prostitutes. When we were told that the younger ones were at school, (the youngest being seven!) I was completely shocked. I couldn't get my head around the idea of a seven year old girl being forced into prostitution.

A fond memory was one of a school, where we were sat down in front of hundreds of kids and had songs, poems and gifts given to us. They were all remarkably well behaved and disciplined-which surprised me.

When we saw the PEP projects it was clear how grateful people were for not being given immediate aid but knowledge. I also remember the first village we visited with Pastor Paul (Centre for Evangelism) where as usual we were welcomed spectacularly and then told how Martin had said how giving fish to a man will feed him for a day or give a man a hook and he'll be fed for life. I felt this was a good summary of all the projects. The projects were all about providing sustainable solutions, rather than just donating gifts.

I was also shown in this visit that we need compassion when helping people, not pity. A real love for the people we're helping, not just feeling sorry for them. Seeing people on the other side of world who have such a strong faith in God and love for people was amazing.