I am really delighted that what follows is a guest blog written by Wendy and Lottie Percival who over the summer went on a trip to Uganda to help and serve in a community there. Enjoy!
God bless Chris
On Saturday 27th July John took us over to Alton and along with 12 other team members we got onto a coach with 14 huge black bags weighing exactly the maximum weight, we had our clothes and insect repellent in there as well as clothes for the children, around 50 pairs of school shoes 20 pairs of piedro boots for children who need extra support and foot correction, a wheelchair, lots of special needs toys and sensory items for a sensory room, crafts for Christmas card making for the children’s sponsors, ribbons for dancing and workman gloves ready for building.
By the time we got to the airport we had started to get to know each other better and after a flight to Dubai a short stop over and then a flight on to Entebbe we arrived in Uganda and stood out in the Sunshine waiting for someone from New Hope to collect us and it felt like a good team. The team was solid, everyone was kind but at this point we hadn’t realised just how we would bond and how 14 days later as we headed home we would feel sad at our time coming to an end knowing we had made friends for life!
So from Entebbe airport we had a crushed journey in a small minibus with all our big bags it was about 3 hours and the last hour was very bumpy and got very hot. We arrived at the new hope Campus and settled into the girls room , that was Kate, Lottie, Hannah and I, we had lovely patchwork quilts and mosquito nets which made us feel very safe, we slept very well.
On the first morning we had a tour of the campus that was to become our base over the next 2 weeks, the day was beyond what I expected, the tour of the New hope Community was lovely and inspirational and just so full of Africa and Gods love, we met many staff, we saw the children from the school (some of the 500!) playing out on a seesaw no concerns about health and safety no staff on playground duty just laughter and smiles that we soon realised was the universal language of New Hope despite what difficulties these children have been through or are experiencing in their families.
We spoke with the children whilst they had their porridge break. We saw the institutional ministry where New Hope is teaching Men and Women to be biblical versions of themselves and vocational training centre where young people are testing their callings and following them through with the encouragement they need from their elders.Its very important for Theology to be taught as many pastors in Africa feel a calling but are never trained. New Hope Kasana Childrens centres main mission is to bring the fatherhood of God to the fatherless, putting the lonely in families, and bringing his love and healing to the broken.
During our time there I worked in the medical centre for three days, taking blood samples from children with malarial symptoms and testing the samples whilst they waited initiating treatment or sending into the local hospital if really unwell, I was so.impressed with the children we met they were so brave they were so willing to be tested and even little ones sat still and quietly whilst they waited for results.
I had the blessing of being able to talk openly about Mental health with the medical officer who had lost her sister the previous year after many years battling with schizophrenia, I think the conversation helped us both realise some problems are world wide and despite living on different Continents its the same pain we knew, open communication is needed everywhere to stop it being taboo, we loved and supported each other whilst we made prescription envelopes and that time was a really helpful to me.
Meanwhile Lottie started on day 1 in TIJOC (Treasures in Jars of clay) the special needs school which has about 20 students, some live on site as they don’t have parents or guardians who can manage their needs and others come in from the local community. These children have many difficulties including Cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome and haven’t always had the help they need, some are tube fed and all are helped to reach their potential by the most amazing team of staff. Lottie loved it from day one, helped them make pizza, make Christmas cards for their sponsors, helped run a sports day and generally helped with care and cleaning. I joined her in the second week and as two of our team members (Occupational therapists) designed special belts and padding to make wheelchairs more comfy I set about sewing with our team leaders wife, this time was also a blessing to me!
New Hope is a charity that helps the most neediest of children, it schools, feeds and provides health care for more than 500 students.
One day we got to take some children home as it had been agreed we could see their homes, the distance they walked and those who care for them, the furthest was nearly 5km, so to get to school for 0730 they would have left at 0600. We met two children who live with their Grandmother following their Father contracting HIV and becoming ill and their Mother leaving them. This is a similar story for many children at New hope, though the organisation is really trying to help families and guardians manage within the community now rather than always providing family and orphan care. They do still have 8 onsite families led by house parents, these range from 16-24 children and we were lucky enough to have traditional Ugandan dinner and time with one of these families one evening which we loved.
As our team leader is a builder, New Hope had made an assessment to see who needed a new home most and a lady with her 5 children who were living in a small mud hut with their chickens was identified, the men of our team with a little help from us and a lot of help from a small team of Ugandan builders built her a four roomed brick house that totally blew her away, it was very emotional to see how happy she was with her new home.
As our team mate said in his facebook post “thanks to your help support and prayers and generous donations this lady and her family have a new home and couldn’t be happier, but more than this you have also provided 4 weeks of employment for a team of Ugandan builders who started the house, you have also supported the local economy as the materials and tools were sourced locally. In addition your generosity has also provided funds for the school, special needs school and a new laptop for the microscope and thermometers for the medical centre. We cannot thank you enough for the difference YOU have made.”
Lottie and I loved our time there though we did miss John and the boys and Milo (our dog) of course. Lottie has definite plans to return when she is older and I hope I will get to go back again but in the meantime we have links with people there we will care for and pray for always.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING US Wendy and Lottie