OpED: Uganda-One of the poorest countries yet filled with a rich soul and grit

An Opinion Piece written by: Rachel Guy

Showing Up Can Be a Simple Step to a Staircase that will Lead to Immeasurable Possibilities

Eleven years ago, at the age of 15, I had the opportunity to go to Uganda. Uganda is a hidden pearl, or as coined by Winston Churchill it is the Pearl of Africa. Uganda is a hidden pearl of beauty both in the breathtaking landscape of the country and the radiant people. I just love the people of Uganda. There is a joy, a pure joy, that radiates from many of their souls. As one bumps around on the deep, red clay dirt, one can find a stream of hope and joy amidst the government’s foolish decisions that have left the people living in dire conditions. Their economy is as bumpy as the bumpy and dusty dirt roads one drives but their spirit is one of grit and stronger than the intensity of the burning sun. God’s love is upon this nation. Though they often do not know when food will come, they hope.

My life was forever changed when I said a resounding, “YES!” to go to Uganda in my teen years which would hold the doorway to relationships and an opportunity I would have not imagined.  God will always bring things into our laps that are sometimes unexpected and to me I wonder if often His plans are not what we thought as simply seen through Isaiah 55:8-9 shares, “8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord, 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Though we think we know God’s plan He knows best. His voice is always the voice of life and truth as seen in Psalm 119:105 which shares,  “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” As I got off the plane 10 years ago, I did not know what God had planned.

While on this first trip, I visited a school now named Gateway Nursery and Primary School. God allowed there to be a special bond made between myself and the people at the school. Months after this trip the founders of the organization that led my first trip, Sixty Feet, asked me if I would consider starting a ministry for the Gateway Nursery and Primary School. Not long after with much prayer, I started the ministry called His Love and SONshine.

The ministry initially partnered with the school by helping to provide funds for most of the teachers’ salaries. This ministry has been the reason why this school has been able to stay open and continue to teach children in a Gospel-centered manner.  Over the past couple of years, my board and I changed how we were supporting the school by transitioning out of sending funds for teachers’ salaries to now doing child sponsorship. This has been a huge blessing because I believe that people can even more so have a connection to the people at the school through pouring into the children and the child sponsors can write notes to the children which is the bridge to the sponsors. The desire is also to see this kind of monthly support bring about more self-sustainability for the school.

The school has 220 students. Our ministry partners with the child sponsorship organization, Bright Point, to do child sponsorship. Through this sponsorship, the sponsor can pour into the children at the school in a meaningful way through the financial support that provides what can be a ticket out of poverty to also a meaningful pen-pal type of relationship by writing notes to the children and to pray for the children.  We recently hired our dear friend who is a Ugandan living not too far from the school to be our child sponsorship coordinator. Charles visits the school to check on the kids and to see if they are still attending school, and how they are doing.  He pours Christ’s joy out in everything he does, and he passes out the letter templates for the children to write notes to their sponsors and they receive notes from their sponsors.  Currently, 23 children desperately need to be sponsored so that they can continue to receive this hope-giving education.  

My fifth and most recent trip was this past March. I got to stay with a dear missionary friend of mine named Ava Weeks. She has been a missionary for nine years in Uganda and is a grandma. I learned so much from my conversations with Ava about the culture, the government’s control, and life in Uganda. I was able to just live life with her for a day. I went to two grocery stores with her. One of the grocery stores I call the Ugandan Costco. I was able to spend a day with Ava and meet her amazing Ugandan team that she works with and goes to a government-run orphanage and I got to go with them. I spent most of the rest of my trip with my Ugandan child sponsorship coordinator, Charles. He and his family are truly family to me. He was my driver on the trip, and we went to the school that I have a ministry for along with Charles and I doing a pro-life conference.

As we visited the school, Gateway Nursery and Primary School, we got to visit with the principal and have lunch with the director and his wife of the school. Charles passed out the child sponsorship notes to the children. These letters are so meaningful to the children. This is a Christian-run school. The director of the school, Pastor Ernest, and his wife, Mama Catherine, are in their 70s and have over the past 40 years taken in over 200 children from varying backgrounds who need a home. Pastor Ernest was put in prison by Idi Amin years ago and the pastor and his wife are people who are very Godly, kind, purposeful with their time, and courageous. They love the Lord so much.  The principal, Henry, shared they are doing vocational training by bringing some of the older children to a bakery to teach them how to bake. The school is also teaching the children how to care for bunnies, which could lead to future work. Henry and the teachers are striving to set these children up for success.

I was able to meet all the teachers at the school and I was able to meet almost all the children who are sponsored at the school. I was able to go to the classrooms and meet most of the children. What I so value about the school is that they want these students to have an excellent education that is Christ-centered.  Throughout this ministry, we have been able to partner with the local Ugandans by making sure their school stays open.

I was able to also do a pro-life conference with Charles while in Uganda which was the first ever pro life event in Kampala of this nature and was a 40 Days for Life event.  We had speakers talk about the abortion issue in Uganda even though it is against the law there and we talked about how moms and families in crisis pregnancies can be better served by local churches. Charles invited so many people from many different walks of life to gather together to learn about local Uganda ministries and about 40 Days for Life to be inspired to get involved in ending abortion, loving the moms and babies and how to be a voice for the babies and moms in crisis by seeing the church rise up to accept and love these moms not shame them as Pastor Magazi spoke of. It was powerful to hear that many of the reasons why women abort in Uganda are the same as the reasons in America such as feeling shamed and having financial struggles.

I hope that through this blog you are encouraged to consider becoming a child sponsor through the ministry. This sponsorship helps the child be able to stay in school by helping to pay for the child’s tuition and they are given a snack or breakfast and lunch. Www.hisloveandsonshine.org and click “become a child sponsor”

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