In this issue: News from the ground. Phoebe writes …. Primary Health Care latest Maidstone Rotary Family visit their sponsor child… Meeting Gladys Water please!
PHOEBE WRITES ….
Very exciting friends as Bethel moves forward from strength to strength. Children at Bethel school are one of the smartest in Gulu schools. The Head teacher is tremendous and all our primary going children at Bethel speak in English fairly well. The school is doing really well in her quest for upright moral standards.
A community that heard education as a distant story can now feel the impact right in their homes, as children come back home singing new songs and writing words here and there.
Pupils at Bethel join their colleague in cutting his birthday cake
Though it looked impossible at the start, I see a bright light getting closer to this formally war ravaged village.
1. Bethel school children love debates. Come ready to challenge them.
2. Football, netball and a game called “skipping with ropes” – you probably won’t beat them at this.
3. Of course our meals are greatly improved, courtesy of GMI-UK
4. Bethel school compound is wide enough for play.
5. The Ministry of Education has licensed the school and this is very exciting too.
Thank you from my heart for all the support you give to Bethel school.
PRIMARY HEALTH CARE
As I write the first draft of the THET grant has been sent out to the newly formed GMI community health programme and work is underway training the village heath teams. So far 30 Community Heath workers have been on two training courses and 30 Traditional Birth Referral attendants have received their first round of training. Each of these health volunteers are now back in their communities learning on the job, practicing the new skills they are developing. We have had some very positive responses in those communities already with basic health education being very welcome. Pregnant ladies are now pleased to visit their local health care facilities where before they were reluctant. The Village health promoter at Pabwo health Centre does a routine check on the numbers of his expectant women at the health Centre. He says the number has since increase from 4 to 11 women reporting weekly. Local churches have also got on board with donations of mosquito nets and baby baths being given to some of the communities.
The Rotary Club of Maidstone, Riverside have very kindly helped GMI with the building of 2 classrooms at Bethel School. The children at Bethel were so pleased to use these classrooms, and say a BIG thank you.
FAMILY VISIT THEIR SPONSOR CHILD…
In April the whole family went to Uganda for two weeks, myself, my wife Lorna and my three children, Becky (aged 23) Sam (aged 21) and Jacob (aged 15). We went to visit a project in Kampala that we support, visit Becky’s sponsor child in Gulu and also have some holiday as well.
Becky and Sam had not been to Uganda before and their first shock (of many) was when we visited the Miles 2 Smiles nursery is a slum area of Kampala. There is something deeply shocking when you see poverty close up, meet real people struggling day to day to survive. Its makes you feel a mixture of emotions: sadness, pain, gratefulness for what you have, wanting to help, overwhelmed by the magnitude of need. The lasting memory for me was seeing the home of a lady who washes other people’s clothes for a living. Her ‘house ‘was a single room 8’ by 6’ with no electricity, no water, soil floor and mostly taken up by a bed for me, and her two children and with washing hanging above it to dry. She was definitely on the poverty line.
Later in the trip, we went for a safari in Murchison falls, which was amazing, yet a huge contrast to the other parts of the trip. Then we drove north out of the park to Gulu on a journey that would have been impossible a few years before due to the presence of the Lords Resistance Army. At Gulu we stayed in a local hotel where years before the LRA has started, which was kind of eerie. Pastor James and his wife Phoebe came for dinner that evening and round the table told us their story and the terrible story of the area and the LRA. We didn’t know what to say when they finished. It was so awful. Yet amidst the despair, death and pain was hope. People like James and Phoebe who are helping rebuild communities. They had started up Bethel Christian School and pastor James supports a network of some 300 churches.
The next day we visited Bethel School and all had a go at teaching a lesson. Mine wasn’t very good, which was ironic, as I am a trained teacher. I failed to adapt to the Ugandan style of teaching and got blank faces when I asked my questions. Never mind. In my class there were 78 children and the largest class in the school had over 100 children in it. We presented a plaque from Maidstone Rotary Club who had funded the building of a new classroom, and Becky met Gladys, who was understandably very shy. Lorna, a trained nurse, helped the school nurse understand how to use some of her equipment and medicines. After hearing that she worked in a surgery the nurse insisted on calling Lorna Doctor, which she found amusing. We then had a very special time when we were invited out to a local village to meet Gladys parents and relatives. They were all waiting for us, with chairs laid out under a tree in the shade (it was very hot) and treated us like royalty. It felt very surreal. After a special moment when Gladys prayed for the meal they brought out some great food although eating the chicken’s gizzard was definitely a new experience.
Pastor James then took us to visit a well being dug with funding from Gulu mission in another local village. It was about twenty meters from the village and would mean that they would not have to walk 1km each way twice a day to fetch water in future. The village elder told us how grateful he was and what a huge difference it would make to his village.
The trip has been very special. We have all been impacted. We intend to keep in touch with Pastor James and Phoebe and help them where we can, as well as continuing to support Gladys. Becky plans to return to Uganda next year for a month to work with one of projects we visited.
In April this year myself, and my family took a trip out to Uganda. This trip included many eye-opening experiences for me but one especially touched my heart.
A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to start sponsoring a child in Africa and my parents came across Gulu Mission Initiative whilst attending Spring Harvest Christian event. It was then that I started to sponsor a beautiful little girl called Gladys Akello who was 5 years old at this time.
It was a long journey across questionable roads to get to Gladys’ hometown of Gulu in Uganda. We met with the director of Bethel Christian School, Phoebe and her Husband. They showed us around the school and introduced us into a couple of the classrooms where we were thrown in at the deep end and had the opportunity to teach a lesson to the children which was very daunting.
After this we were then introduced to Gladys (now 7 years old), which was a very special moment – one that I know not everyone is able to experience so I am very fortunate for this. We were then invited to go to Gladys home and meet her family. It was a short drive from the school and the whole experience was incredible.
Gladys’ home was what I can only describe as a mud hut in the middle of no-where. I met Gladys Mother, Father, siblings and other extended family – all of who were extremely welcoming and grateful to us. They then cooked us a typical African meal of boiled chicken, mullet and rice, which we had to eat with our hands!
Gladys is a beautiful young girl, very polite and a total blessing to her family. It was good to see that her family had strong Christian faith and obviously loved her very much.
I was told by Phoebe that without the money I sponsored, Gladys would not be able to go to School as her parents had split up which meant the Mother could not afford to support Gladys on her own which made me feel very privileged to be able to provide this for Gladys.
To sum it up meeting Gladys was a once in a lifetime experience and I would urge anyone who has the opportunity to do it.
Water is a very basic need for anyone, and yet there are still so many people (that we now know) who do not have access to safe drinking water. I am very pleased to be able to report that after my last trip to Uganda where I met some of those ‘waterless’ people in one such village, Pabwo – our friends at Anazao http://www.anazao.org.uk/ have made it possible for a water bore hole to be dug and this village now has clean drinking water.
As you’ve read from these reports, they show we had a most remarkable and inspiring time. Every time we ask, ‘did you gain more than you gave?’ We always hear a RESOUNDING “YES!”
Ever thought about making the trip yourself? Seriously, why not think about it?
Other ways of getting involved include sponsorship (teachers … children … or specific projects like some of those mentioned)
Or how about getting us along to an event you could put on … how about ‘a Uganda night’ you could try cooking some posho! We’d love to tell you the story face to face…
For more information about our future please contact us. Or why not follow us on Facebook?
Gulu Mission Initiative firstname.lastname@example.org www.gulumission.org