Uganda 2019 - Part One
In early July, I was given the opportunity to visit Uganda, Africa to see first-hand the work of the Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB). The CFGB donates money and works with local organizations to provide nutritional supplements, clean water, agricultural training and mentoring and other resources to refugees and residents within Uganda. We traveled under the leadership of ERDO, one of the Canadian organizations that partners with the CFGB in their work. ERDO is a branch of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.
There were four of us from Canada on the trip. Three of us were named Dave, and the other was Merle! We were hosted by the head office of the Pentecostal denomination in Uganda (PAG). They were wonderful hosts and drove us around much of the northern half of Uganda and introduced us to many people that they help, with the support of CFGB.
Our first day, we visited a South Sudanese refugee camp in Northern Uganda. It wasn’t what I had in mind when I hear the word “refugee camp.” This camp was over 35,000 acres in size and has been around for almost 40 years. People had plots of land to live on and farm, and it was not just a “temporary home.”
We were able to meet with a representative of the Ugandan Prime Minister’s office. They are quite appreciative of the work that the church does to help the refugees, and shared some other needs that she hoped could be addressed.
Many aspects of life there are certainly different than those in Canada. Mosquito nets are commonplace. Many of the washrooms (better known as latrines) are not much more than holes in the ground. In the past, ERDO was able to donate some “VIP” latrines to a school on the refugee camp, and we were able to see them. Upon inspection, it soon became apparent that “VIP” doesn’t mean what I though it did! I learned that VIP stands for “Ventilated Improved Pit.” And even the VIP latrines don’t have toilet paper!
Another important aspect of the work that is being done in Uganda is the provision of water wells. We visited a well near the school that provides clean water to the community. Water is something that we take for granted in North America, but in many places, something as simple as a source of clean water is a rarity. The photo below shows some local children pumping water for the community.
Over the course of our time there, we were able to meet with many local people in various rural communities. Some of the places were quite a way “off the beaten path.” During our travels, our Land Cruisers got stuck more than once! In some cases, we were probably the first vehicle they’d seen in a month.
It was great to get to meet the people and hear what they are struggling with, and how they have been helped.
One of the services that is provided is counselling. The refugees have been through a great deal, and when they arrive in Uganda, they need help processing everything. I was able to meet with one young lady who, along with her husband, received much-needed counselling from the local church, as well as nutritional supplement for herself and their new baby.
Some of the things that struck me are the gratitude that they have (when they don’t have much more than that!) and the sense of community. They enjoyed being around each other and were very welcoming to any visitors.
More to come. But in the meantime, if you have any questions, leave a comment or send me an email.