Below is a testimony of the couple who came to Uganda on their honeymoon to help us with the work in the village. We loved having them here and they were a great help to us. Hope you enjoy.............
From: David and Bethany Allen
We wanted to start our lives together serving others in the nation of Africa, where we feel as though the Lord is leading us in the future. Therefore, after we were married on June 14th of this year, we headed off to Uganda. We were excited to get a wide variety of experiences, knowing that we would enjoy our first week in Uganda honeymooning with an African safari. After that, we met with the McKenzies and stayed with them, which allowed us to see and experience some of Kampala. Then, it was time to head out to the village of Bakka where we would spend the next 10 days.
We stayed in the one hotel in the village for 7,000 shillings a day ($4.25 US). It really wasn’t worth more than that. We had bucket showers and pit latrines for toilets (holes in the ground). I think the worst part though was that there was a bar attached to the hotel, which is really where they make all their money. The Africans can definitely party all night long. For some reason, they feel as though they must always keep the music REALLY loud. So, obviously, our big challenge was trying to get quality sleep. After a couple of nights, we learned to adjust. Our worst night was Saturday night; the music was loud until around 2am, there was prostitution going on in the room right across from us, and men chatting right outside our window till around 4am. Needless to say, we were tired the next day. We understand that is how village life is, but it is not great to come home and sleep in that environment. Because we were sort of the guinea pigs that went out there (we were told we were the first whites to come and stay longer than a day or two), these types of results can always be expected. However, I think we have all come to the realization now that for the next volunteers, there will be other accommodations out there to stay in. But hey, someone had to try it out to see what it would be like, and we were happy to be the ones to do it!
On the flip side, upon arriving, we received the usual and amazing welcoming from the children. Their smiles and “Hello muzungu” made us feel right at home along with the hospitality from the head-master of the school and Pastor, Joseph. This is something that never ceases to amaze us. We love the African children…it is pretty much impossible not to. Your heart falls in love immediately.
While we were there, we were able to do a variety of things. The major event that took place was 2 days of HIV testing; out of over 300 HIV tests given… only 18 came back positive. Praise Jesus!!! None of them the school children. On the same day, while the testing was taking place, we were able to get pictures and bio’s of all the children so that they can be put on the website. We also vaccinated and gave vitamins to the children and their families. It was a CRAZY day with lots and lots of people. They were terrified of the word “vaccination,” and refused to be vaccinated, but eventually agreed. This we believe will be a huge step for beginning to improve their health.
The other days in the village, we taught at the school before lunch and hung mosquito nets in the afternoon until evening. We were blessed to be able to teach English and Science to the children in grades P3 through P6. The children in these classes range from ages 8 to 16. Neither of us have any experience in teaching, but found delight as we saw the lights going off in the children’s heads. We taught: the respiratory system, health, insects that spread diseases and prevention of diseases, sentence structure, and conversational English. The education as you can imagine is not very good. Pretty much, what school consists of is the teacher writing something on the board and them copying it. There is really no “teaching” involved. Needless to say, the children can copy great…but they know nothing about what they are copying. This school has some students who are very gifted and intelligent. Unfortunately, they are not challenged by their current structure. However, we were extremely impressed at how fast some of the children caught on once they had a “teacher” to teach them.
After the morning teaching and lunch, we would go to hang nets in the student’s homes. We went on foot to all the homes; the distance to the homes can be up to 4 miles and they can sometimes be hard to locate, so the job of getting to the houses can prove to be difficult. We definitely experienced that on Saturday, as we spend the whole day walking to the homes and hanging the nets. If we tell you we were out for a good 8 hours, you would think that we hung a lot of nets. But the reality is that it is hard work…and we only hung 14 that day!! However, we were still proud! Total, we were only able to hang 39 nets but feel some peace in the fact that every net hung will protect at least 2 people, because a person who has their own bed is rare. Unfortunately, there is still much work to be done in hanging the nets (the people have absolutely no clue how to hang them), but we pray that the Lord will provide workers in order to finish the job. This task and opportunity that we were given to hang the nets was very pleasurable to us. We loved working together and actually getting to know more of the village adults. Nothing beats the smile and gratefulness they had on their faces once they saw the net up.
We have loved being here and living in the village (although it definitely was not long enough). We have memories of the children’s laughter and experiences that we will treasure forever. We believe that there is HOPE for the school, for the village, and for the people of the town. What we think is really needed there is some people to commit to living out there (or close) to work with them. It is such a BIG task, and the McKenzies cannot do it alone (as they are doing sooo much now!). Short term and long term would both be effective and useful…but most of all long term. They need someone who really has a heart for village life and wanting to commit to these people. There is so much physical and spiritual work that needs to be done there, but we think you would find it more than amazing! We find ourselves very thankful for this opportunity that we were given and hope to be able to come back and do more.