Yes, dear reader, you read the title correctly. I’m going to Uganda. Little old me in big, beautiful Uganda. I can hardly sit still typing those words.
In June I’ll be spending a month in Gulu, Uganda volunteering at a school populated by orphans, former child soldiers and other children in need who possess leadership potential.
Back in December, I felt God stirring me to make use of my summer in a new way. Usually I have a big bike adventure, raising money for LiveStrong or some other worthy cause, but this summer I’m taking on a whole different kind of adventure. After watching a video about two regular guys who built an entire brick school out of dirt, I knew I wanted to be part of the work happening in Northern Uganda.
But what did I have to offer? I’m not a foreman or an architect who can create a school. Trust me, you do not want children occupying a school built by me!
I’ve got three skills. I teach. I write. I ride my bike really far, albeit very slowly. Really, I’ve only got two and a half skills at best. Apparently that’s enough because an idea began to take form in my mind and heart.
What if I ventured to Uganda and helped the students write their stories? What if I published their stories in a book, with all of the proceeds of book sales going back to the school?
All of a sudden it felt like all my summers with the Northern California Writing Project learning to teach children to love writing were coming to a pinnacle at that very moment. I could use my heart for writing with kids to help these children write their own stories. With a pounding heart and trembling fingers, I emailed my idea to an organization working in Uganda.
Then I waited to hear back from them. I waited to feel confirmation from God that this was what I was meant to do. And then I waited some more. I waited for weeks.
I didn’t hear a thing.
Then it struck me, chances are if I wasn’t hearing God, it wasn’t because he wasn’t speaking-it was because I wasn’t listening.
So I did a daring thing.
I turned off my television for 10 days.
I know it doesn’t sound very daring, but for me it was. I decided that for 10 days, I would actively pray and listen for direction. In the third day of my fast from television, the organization emailed me back. They loved my project idea and specifically wanted me to work with students in Gulu. I was thrilled and began to plan the details of my project and trip.
Since that time, Northern Uganda and the Ugandan children have received a lot of press about the oppression inflicted by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. In a time when many people are voicing opinions about the turmoil in Uganda, I know that now is the right time for me to go and help give voice to the stories of the students there, to let their stories speak for themselves.