Saturday, 10 September 2011

A trip to Uganda Wonen's Concern and the Rahab project

In August a team of six people went to Uganda to visit two projects.

Asantha Wijetunge describes his experiences...

For me this was my first trip to Africa, as was the case for many of our team of six, and although I had some idea of what to expect in terms of land/cityscape and culture, I was simply not prepared for the tremendous welcome we received wherever we went. To be honest, being greeted with shouts of joy, singing, clapping and dancing was a rather foreign experience, and certainly not something we would ever experience back in England!

Building work at UWCM
The first week was spent in the company of UWCM (Ugandan Women Concern’s Ministry), with the aim of better understanding how they go about supporting vulnerable people within local communities who are often affected by HIV/Aids, and thereby act as ambassadors of the project on our return. It became quickly apparent that Edith Wakimure, Annette Sobbi and the rest of the team are doing an incredible job of equipping the people they come into contact with, with the skills, resources, knowledge and confidence to make a real difference to their lives. Whether this be through setting up a centre for teenage mothers and teaching them new and self-sustaining life skills, mobilising communities to build shelters, educating people about HIV/Aids or running a prayer and porridge centre for orphans, it is obvious why Edith was presented with an award by Kofi Annan in 1998 for her work in helping to eradicate poverty in local communities. UWCM now finds itself in a transitional leadership phase and so our prayers and thoughts go out especially to them, though we are confident that God will continue His great work and His light will shine through all the team there.

After having thought that our first week couldn’t have gone any better, we were then bowled over by the experience of our holiday club and the incredible nature of the girls at Rahab. This is an organisation which houses young girls, who have previously been forced into a life of prostitution and have lived out on the street. It provides them with emotional and physical support, structure in their lives, education by raising fees to send them to boarding school, and of course most important of all spiritual nourishment. Although naturally many of the girls were somewhat shy and reserved to begin with, they gradually began to open up and share their thoughts, hopes and concerns with us – what a privilege!
Annette and Andrew

Our week was spent doing a variety of activities, in accordance to our theme “A great youth with a special calling”, which had been picked in advance by the girls. These included discussing a Bible verse each day, chosen to enhance the girls’ confidence and for them to realise the special nature of what it means to be part of God’s Royal Family, as well as various arts and crafts, sport, singing and prayer time.

Unfortunately our time in Uganda had to come to an end, and so on saying goodbye to both organisations a few tears were shed, mainly in recognition of the relationships which had been built and strengthened, as well as for the amazing work accomplished by all involved. It was an amazing privilege to represent St James and go out and witness the work being done to share the love and good news of Jesus.