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Was I just a Tourist - Part 2
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By Tree Galbraith

In 5 editions of Christian Life in London, we are presenting a remarkable story, a true story, about the journey by Tree Galbraith and ten others to Uganda as part of the with "Just Cause Education Outreach". (Tree is short for Teresa – but if you called out to her: “Teresa”, she is unlikely to respond as she has not gone by Teresa for a very long time.)

In the last segment Tree described the lead up to the trip and how it came to be. If you missed Part 1, Click Here

They had expectations - were those expectations accurate? Realistic?
Let's join Tree and her fellow disciples as they head out on a gospel mission of learning and teaching, giving and receiving appropriately titled: Was I "JUST" a Tourist?

Was I just a Tourist PART 2 - The First 3 Days


After a 30-hour trip we arrived in Entebbe, Uganda and were greeted by Sara, Michelle and our new Ugandan friend Alex. Exhausted and exhilarated, we loaded the hockey bags and luggage full of donations onto the “coaster” (bus). Off we drove in the darkness of night to arrive at the Nile Guest House in Jinga. There was no time to rest. We sorted out the donations we would need for the next day and found our rooms. The sound of roosters, the mosquito nets and unpacking filled our little room with love and friendship. It was a very short night; 6:00 am came too early.

We boarded the coaster and were off to Kasaga to meet Fr. Dennis and attend mass in our newly built St. Kizito Church. We had seen the construction updates and pictures but were very excited to see the site itself. As we approached, we saw the humble beginning of the original site of St. Kizito. We stepped off of the bus into a Ugandan world of hugs and handshakes, immense smiles and warm loving touches like I've never experienced in my life. There was no place on earth I’d rather be! Hundreds of beautiful, smiling children and women dressed in traditional Ugandan Gomesi, village children mingling about and banana leaves decorating the entrance to the church. It was amazing. I heard the words "Muzungu muzungu" (white people) for the first time. Some children were even afraid of us!

We were led to the front of the church and sat on plastic chairs, and I will never forget this. There was a beautiful little family, 2 babies, moms and a grandma sitting on the floor in the corner of the church. I could not help but think of my two grandchildren. I waved at the little girl and she got up and walked over and sat on my lap for the rest of the mass. Talk about the thrill of the day for me!

We arrived home, had our first of many nightly debriefing sessions, and packed the donations for the nursery, primary school and the Baby Sanctuary Parish Clinic. Off to bed early tonight.

Day 2 we arrived in Nazigo for our school visits. The primary and nursery schools were adjacent to the church grounds. It was a funny site to see cows wandering around the playgrounds. We were encouraged to visit the primary classrooms. I popped into a classroom and sat among 90-100 children to watch the teacher demonstrate long division and each child had twigs as their counters.

After a traditional Ugandan lunch and meeting with the school staff we joined the children. I met Evelyn; a beautiful special needs child, who held hands with me the rest of the visit. They were excited about the new soccer balls we had brought with us. They ran and played barefoot and happy as could be. I sat with my songbook and sang numerous songs with small groups of enthusiastic singers.

We proceeded down the dirt road to the Baby Sanctuary Clinic with bags and bags of medical and baby donations. The grim, undersupplied, primitive clinic delivers babies, gives vaccinations and provides counselling. Rose and her helpers were humbled with the donations of medical supplies, cloth diapers and baby clothing. Our mission group was comforted to find out a week later, that the 2 day old baby we saw, whose mother had died during delivery, was gaining weight and had no diarrhoea, thanks to the baby formula that we had delivered. I have since been informed that the baby is now being sponsored because of our story. Small graces. I had to leave the clinic and wandered outside, surrounded by God's nature - beautiful trees in blossom, as I prayed and cried. I joined the group outside as Rose gave all the new moms diapers, supplies and baby outfits.

A small group of us returned to the clinic the following week to help clean, disinfect and assist Rose with jobs she needed done. We were blessed to see a beautiful baby born 2 hours before our arrival. He was a gift of Hope. We brought a picnic lunch to share with Rose and her small staff and the new mom was treated to it as well.

My sister in Canada had given me a donation, prior to my departure, and asked me to buy suckers for the children. Sure enough I did find them in Uganda and I was excited to share them with the Grandma and siblings of the new baby. It delighted us to see Grandma lying down outside, under the tree sucking on her "sweetie". During the day many children received vaccinations and were treated to the special treat.

I was in awe all of Day 3. We departed for Busoni and arrived to find a very rural village of desperate children. There was poverty everywhere and I had to remind myself that through my eyes, I saw them as poor, but through their eyes everyone was poor. Pastor Timothy greeted us and invited us to be with "His People". We delivered the donations to them. We had brought enough food to feed the entire school population (students and staff). It was going to be a feast for all thanks to Just Cause.

Next, we wandered down the red dirt trail to Lake Victoria where we departed in an old boat for our next adventure in the village of Nanso. As we came closer to the tiny village I closed my eyes and said a prayer of thanksgiving. All my dreams of helping the unfortunate and hard work during the previous year were unfolding in front of me. When I opened my eyes I caught a glimpse of the beginnings of a school structure. A group of us spotted the chicken coop that had just been built by the Just Cause young adult volunteers in July. I picked up a tiny infant who was crying and joined in the parade to see the chicken coop. We travelled up the path towards a broken down wooden structure where hundreds of children were huddled into tiny classrooms. We took many pictures of the smiling students and staff. I had become quite adept at taking the picture and quickly hitting the review button as everyone loved seeing their picture. The tiny primitive benches and broken down walls were held together with so much love and enthusiasm for learning.

HOPE WAS WRITTEN EVERYWHERE IN THIS VILLAGE!


Sarah and Michelle gathered the troops together and we followed them down the hillside toward the new school foundation. Local men were working on building the walls. Primitive tools, homemade red bricks and yellow jerry water jugs were strewn everywhere. There was work happening every minute!


Seeing the school being built, homemade brick by homemade brick, and the dedication and commitment was truly awesome. I was deeply filled with Pride and Hope knowing that our financial aid had brought about this Miracle.

We proceeded back up the hill to listen to the humble headmaster, Joffrey, address the assembly of Canadians, parents and students. We presented him with a School Bell (a request from last year) and brought out the donations of books, toys, sports equipment and clothing.

There was pure Joy in the air. We paraded down the hill, singing and dancing to Bernie’s guitar music. It was like a scene out of Sound of Music! My special moment came as I happened upon headmaster Joffrey on the path. I had been carrying a rosary (that one of my Canadian friends had given me) and a special hand painted rock which said Hope (made by a teacher friend at RMC). The Spirit prompted me to give him these small gifts as a sign that I would not forget the Village of Nanso and the promise of continued prayers and financial support. I pray every day that my promises will be fulfilled.

It was indeed a heartwarming day. I will never forget all the miracles and personal connections that I made this day. It amazes me the number of peoples lives I have touched in the few days we have been in Uganda. It feels like I've been here for weeks and it's only been 3 days!

We arrived back at the hotel very late. As a group we ate together and shared our excitement about our "work day" at the church the next morning.






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