Please don’t send me to Africa!!
Posted by Pat Fuggle on 31st May 2016
This was my prayer in 2009 when Norman announced that he believed God was calling him to go to Uganda with a team from our church! I justified my decision by organising a team in Chipping Sodbury to pray for them while they helped children & young people in a slum area of Kampala! While there, Norman was asked by several young men if he could sponsor them to go to University. At the time he had to decline as he didn’t have the funds but later that year his Dad died & left him some money. We both felt it was right to use some of the inheritance to help young people to go to University. Babies & young children tend to attract people’s financial support but teenagers struggle to find funds for their higher education.
In 2010 & 2011 Norman went to Kampala again to set up a committee to select students who would benefit sponsorship. Each time I avoided joining him but found it difficult to understand how deeply he was affected emotionally when he returned from his visits.
In 2012 I went back to Essex to visit a close friend who had terminal cancer. On my return train journey I started to think why I was being so stubborn about refusing to go to Uganda? I realised that my friend could no longer travel anywhere but I was still fit to travel! To Norman’s amazement I told him that I was prepared to go with him next time!
So in January 2014 I experienced Ugandan culture first hand! Being driven round roundabouts where there is no right of way & learning to trust our very calm driver who just launched onto the roundabout surrounded by boda bodas (motor bike taxis) weaving in & out! Attending a church service which started at 8.30am & went on until 3.00pm! Norman was asked to preach for at least an hour!! Experiencing African time! When we were asked to be ready at 8.30am but that really meant 10.30am!!! Walking round the slum area of Kysengi feeling that we were intruding but realising that the women were so grateful that we were visiting them! Going to our driver’s home in a shanty town for a meal where the whole village seemed to appear to see white people eating in their home for the first time!
My emotional response was initially anger that a huge wealthy government building overlooks this slum area where families are living in such squalor! But I was also amazed that, although people have so little in terms of material wealth, the children are always happy & smiling & their school uniforms are always immaculate!
On this visit we met the students who we were sponsoring through university & they were all so grateful. This was a very humbling experience but even more so when we returned in January 2015 to attend one of the Graduations & a party for all 10 graduates! We were very moved by their background stories. The aim in setting up this funding was that,when these graduates have jobs, they will contribute towards other students so that eventually Ugandan graduates will support other Ugandan students.
I am so grateful that I was eventually able to see this all for myself!
Photograph of a Graduation Party in Uganda.