Although I’m enjoying my time in Uganda, this trip is about my students. I’m here to build relationships with organizations to make sure our 2017 Leaders have an amazing experience. World Smart is about teaching students about the world and helping them develop the heart of servant leaders.
On my second day in Uganda, I traveled from Kampala to Jinja. I had the privilege of meeting some of the awesome leaders at Soft Power Education. Soft Power is an NGO that works with students in government-funded schools in many rural areas of Uganda. Because most children from these areas do not complete their formal education, Soft Power supplements the students’ education with practical skills that prepare them for life as productive and self-sufficient adults.
I was fortunate to be given a tour of the Amagezi Education Centre which is maintained by Soft Power and is located in the heart of Kyabirwa village. Students from primary schools across the Jinja District can visit during the school year for hands-on learning sessions using equipment they do not have access to in school. Soft Power’s work includes repairing and renovating old school buildings, supplying computers to schools, and providing the training needed to use them. They also teach kids things like how to grow crops and manage personal budgets.
I spoke with the leaders at Soft Power about World Smart and what we are about. They were eager to connect and excited about our students coming to Uganda this summer. We agreed it would be an awesome experience for them to spend a day volunteering with the Soft Power team to see the challenges school children who are not much younger than them face on a daily basis.
On day three, I visited the Sole Hope facility in Jinja. This organization works to serve people suffering from Jiggers, an ailment that attacks the body through the feet. This is often due to unclean conditions and the lack of access to shoes. I heard from employees and volunteers about the work they do to serve the community and combat Jiggers which is caused by tiny bugs that burrow into the skin. They can cause discoloration, pain from ugly sores, and in extreme cases, death. Sole Hope has a facility dedicated to treating people suffering from Jiggers which also has equipment volunteers use to make shoes. These shoes are given freely to those recovering from and at risk for Jiggers. Sole Hope also provides a weekly traveling clinic to area villages to provide treatment. We are excited our World Smart Leaders will have the opportunity to learn about this health issue and to serve by volunteering on one of the traveling clinics.
After visiting Sole Hope, I stopped at Jinja Central Market. There were a lot of people selling fruits, vegetables, fish, clothing, and other types of goods. I hung out there and picked up a few items before lunch. I think this will be a good place for students to come and see how regular folks make a living and learn how to barter and buy ingredients for a meal.
I capped the third day with a brief tour of Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile River. It was interesting to see the small fishing villages with families trying to eek out a living. You could see the tough conditions, but also that they were not down and out and are doing the best they can with what they have, just like the rest of us. World Smart exposes our students to life outside of their small environment so they can see how others live. The goal for them is to understand their place in the world.
It also felt good for me to be able to dip my feet in the Nile. I’m not sure why, but it just felt special. I can’t wait for our Leaders to experience the same.
Byron the Adventurer