** This blog post was written by my friend Alison Gatt **
As most of you know my friend Lynda and I recently returned from Uganda. We went to work with schools, parishes, orphanages and local communities and to take donated goods and money. We were very fortunate to be able to distribute it to the communities we visited and were met with great excitement and such amazing gratitude.
In fact from the time we climbed onto a bus at Dubai airport, to taxi out to our flight to Uganda, we were constantly met with Ugandan people thanking us for “coming to help our people!”
The people are so very humble, so grateful and amazingly faith filled.
We donated stationery, reading books , sporting goods and clothes that many of you had generously donated.
The money we took with us was given to Fr Stephen Ssekiwunga. Fr Stephen had recently been moved to a really poor Parish. A parish which consists of 6 sub Parishes, all under his care. Fr Stephen had built up a great bakery in his previous parish which was self sufficient and helping support the whole community, he had also had great success in organising a soccer team which went on to do very well in the competition.
The transfer had left him feeling rather down, very challenged and in fact when Lynda and I first met him, he was rather deflated and close to tears. He had already planted some new crops, but was considering writing to the Bishop’s to inform them he didn’t feel “up to the job!”
Fr Stephen and the assistant priest manage on about $35 a month….
Lynda and I were so impressed about hearing what he had accomplished in his last parish and also so touched and saddened by his current sense of feeling overwhelmed . we instantly new this was to be where we could offer some help.
We learnt that Fr Stephen wanted to finish work on a very basic building frame he had- he had a vision of turning it into a chicken house, filling it with chickens and then selling eggs to help support the two priests and the villages under their care. The chickens could grow and then be eaten or sold off for further money to put back into the project.
Crops could be grown to feed the chickens whilst the bananas, maize and other planned crops could also feed the people and also be taken to market and be sold.
It was a real “aha moment” for both Lynda and I , without saying a word, we looked at one another and nodded!
We told Fr Stephen we would give him the money he needed to finish the chicken house, buy 700 chickens, some troughs for feed and water, some more crops.. WOULD YOU BELIEVE we gave him somewhere between $500-$600!
The change in him was amazing!
We then visited one of the sub parish Churches. A reasonably simple brick building, a timber door, no glass or such in the windows. The floor was made of rocks, loose rocks as big as our hands! The pews were the most basic of planks with a leg on each end.. The Altar was a very simple timber table…Thee was not even a cross as the building could not be adequately locked.
There was a small strip of concrete on the floor, which intrigued us.
Why was it there?? It had been the limit of the available funds.
We asked how much it would cost to finish the floor…..just over $200! We were once again able to hand over money on behalf of our donors.
Amazingly, the next day we received photos of the people mixing up sand and water and cement- the women and children walked distances carrying water in plastic bowls or buckets, the men laid the cement. That floor was finished within a day or two, with a real sense of excitement and pride-both from the locals and Lynda and I. (we didn’t do the work, though we would have liked to have helped, we were just thrilled at how proactive this community are ).
We still had money left and were expecting to find other projects in other areas of Uganda, but seeing the difference we were able to help instigate within this community we decided to stay with this one Parish.
The remainder of our money was left for a pig house and pigs! They are to follow!
The last night we spent with Fr Stephen we asked him what his big dream would be …..he would love to build a school. Some of the children walk up to seven miles to and then from school…They arrive tired and sleepy.
So on hearing Fr Stephen is coming to Sydney September – October we decided to run a few fundraising events to help raise funds to start a school.
I am sending you the flyer for the events…
We hope you can join us for at least one of our events, or help us spread the word.
With all the tragedy, the sadness and the horrible things that we hear about in our world, I hope we can all work together to help make a change for the better in this one world we live in,. If you cannot make it, perhaps you can find it in your heart to make a donation- yes it is tax deductible.
We are also after donations that we can use as raffle prizes.
On behalf of the people of Uganda and Fr Stephen, we thank you!
We would love to be able to share our photos and stories of such an amazing journey…