Thursday, July 16, 2009
by Meg Garner
Today was one of my favorite days in Africa, as it involved continuing to build relationships with our friends at TrueVine and working on painting the walls of the schools there. We also had the incredible opportunity to serve the Karamajong children at Smile Africa, Pastor Ruth’s beloved ministry.
The day started with a thoughtful family time amongst our team. Then, we traveled to Vision Nursery School, where Pastor Peter and many of our team members have a heart for the ministry there. These were three, four, and five-year-old children who had the opportunity to attend school. The five-year-olds, for the first time, experienced a commencement ceremony. It was preceded by traditional African song and dance, as well as inspirational messages from Pastor Peter and Tom. Thanks to the Dirks family, each child had a blue and white commencement gown and black mortarboard, along with a certificate, which marked their first educational success. The families that paid their school fees on time were then given goats (that had ridden on motorcycles five at a time! Sadly, only four made it). All of us experienced the joy that each family experienced when being given the goat, which serves as a savings account for a Ugandan family.
From Juba, where the school was located, we traveled to downtown Tororo, the location of Smile Africa. We were blessed to help provide Feed My Starving Children nutritional food to about three hundred of Africa’s most difficult, aggressive children. Many are nomadic and orginate from Northern Uganda. The children were eager for our arrival and their midday meal, but greeted us with song. I took to one particular child, who appeared sick and abandoned, lying on the cool cement floor. I stayed with the child the entire time we were there, to ensure that he was eating and given attention. Many of us passed out the plates of fortified beans and rice that the children ate happily. We were able to bless many of the children there with our undivided attention, if only for a few brief moments.
The rest of the day unfolded as Natalie, Timmy, Sequoia and I started painting on a blank wall of the TrueVine preschool. Our ideas morphed into something that could be both a teaching tool and colorful scenery. We were graced with an audience of preschoolers as we painted shapes, numbers, the alphabet, and emotions that they may feel. Afterwards, children played and recited what we had written. For the first time, the school looked like an environment conducive to fun, enriching learning.
Nearby the school, other team members painted a local woman’s home. They primed the quaint but fortified concrete structure for the bright turquoise paint that would decorate the interior and exterior.
Many of our other team members participated in a widow’s outreach for Pastor Patrick’s congregation in a village nearby. The widows were encouraged not only by our team’s presence, but by the sewing machines purchased so that they can establish dignity through making their own creations. Several of our team members were uplifted by the commitment of these women and this congregation to Hope4Kids and TrueVine ministries.
We ended the encouraging, full day by swimming or relaxing by the pool, before having dinner at our hotel as a team.