Recently, I went to Uganda to meet Irene, a girl who I had been keeping in touch with over the years.  Her family lives in a rural area, a four to five hour drive from Entebbe.

I flew into Entebbe but had to get to Kampala to meet the people who would be driving me to see Irene and her family.  Joe and his friend drove me to Kampala. On the way to Kampala, our car was pulled over by the police. (The police in Uganda carry their rifles strapped over their shoulders which felt slightly intimidating to me.) The police were looking for a way to fine us, perhaps for a missing light on the car or for overdue registration. The driver and Joe left the car and spoke to the police in a small brick holding area as I waited in the car.  Being on a semi-deserted side road, I had no idea what was going on.  It seemed like an hour had passed by as I waited, but I'm sure it was probably more like 20 minutes.  I am still not exactly sure what happened and why we were pulled over, but I was relieved we were let go. 

After driving hours from Kampala, we reached the bottom of a mountain without paved roads.  We had to drive for another hour to reach Irene’s home.   As we drove up the bumpy mountain road, I watched children and adults walk up and down the hillside to collect drinking water.  Once they collected the water, they had to carry their heavy jugs all the way back home.  I wondered how the children could find time to walk miles up and down mountainous roads to get to school when they were so busy collecting water.  

I do not suggest traveling to Uganda right now as it is politically unstable and the people are recovering from a long and harsh drought.  People are starving and dying from lack of food.  Those in power are receiving most of the aid.  I am concerned for people like Irene and her neighbors who are outside the city and so far from receiving assistance.  There are children in these rural areas trying to survive on their own without having parents.  Many of these children have lost their parents to AIDS.  

There is so much help and assistance that is needed.  Please open your heart to the rest of the world.  Whether it is Uganda or another part of the world, please remember that we are all part of one big human family.  

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The smiles on the faces of Ugandan children are heartwarming.  Their smiles are reminders of how there is hope and love in circumstances beyond our imagination…Here is a video of something we share universally as humans…a love of sports!  Notice the Ugandan boy handling the soccer ball with bare feet!!


 
 

I met Joe through serendipitous circumstances.  I mentioned my plans to travel to Uganda to a teacher I really liked. She told me about her friend, Joe, who lived in Uganda who was an amazing young gentleman.  He had once been a sponsored child and now was trying to give back by helping other young people in Uganda find ways to financially sustain themselves.  When I contacted Joe, he happened to be working in the city closest to the rural village where I was traveling to see Irene. He told me he would meet me at the airport in Entebbe and drive me to Kampala. What a relief! In my emails back and forth to Joe I was able to hear the passion he had for the people of Uganda. 

Joseph was sponsored by a non-profit organization to help children from poor families in Uganda to receive a quality education.  Now in his early twenties and no longer a sponsored child, Joseph desire is to give back to his community. He was elected chairperson of the youth in Masindi town parish. His intention is to help the youth of Uganda build a sustainable financial future for themselves and their community.  Joseph has started beehive projects to produce quality honey in Uganda.  He also has the dream of starting a technical service company to help get jobs for young technicians and to build industrial skills for vocation students in Uganda.