This is a guest blog written by Trine Parsons. Trine traveled to Gulu with St. Mary’s School this summer and will be a freshman in the fall.
On July 12, I returned from Gulu, Uganda. Myself as well as nine other St. Mary’s School students traveled with three teachers and another adult to Uganda for three weeks. In that time period I have learned the best skills and life lessons I ever could. I have never been in such a loving and tightly knit community. Everyone no matter what age would run up to you with the biggest smile on their face and hold your hand. All of the little kids were itching to be able to attach to you. All of this love is developed from children that were abandoned, orphaned, abused, abducted, the cruel list of situations these children have gone through is unbelievable and yet they seem to have the most innocent love for everyone. This continually made me wonder how this was possible. How these kids could not be more scarred than they were. Through my travels I learned to love like they did.
The children and the people living at Mother Theresa’s Primary School, where we were working the majority of the time in Uganda lived with next to nothing.
Before we traveled to Uganda we all had to read a packet about the economic differences of metropolitan areas to small African villages. It told us that many people living in poorer parts of Africa spend a dollar a day. That struck me as unbelievable, I do not know how I could have a budget of one dollar or less a day. As I read it clarified that even though to people living in the United States think of these people in Uganda or other places as poor but in reality they do not view themselves that way. Yes they have little no know money but to them that is their usually income and they do not view themselves as less fortunate or poor. They have learned only to live off of the necessities. Even reading about the kinds of poverty beforehand it still startled me when I met kids that had no shoes and only one shirt that was ripped. By seeing all of this I began to grasp what these kids needed, not just material goods but emotional needs as well.
While in Uganda I was able to ride boda’s through town and around bumpy side streets. I got to peel a mango and eat it like a apple. The culture is so different than anything I have ever experienced. As we walked into town we passed grazing cows and goats tied up by the road. We continually had people staring at us in awe while little kids would yell, “Munu, munu…” which I discovered ment foreigner. I loved learning little bits of the language. I was able to remember quite a few words but the pronunciations, not so much. Part of what made the experience so great was being able to make so many friends. We visited Sacred Heart which is girls secondary school and Laiybi which is the boys secondary school. We made so many friends and we had a great time. I was fortunate enough to see Obina Brian who goes to Laiybi lip sync to Rihanna’s Diamonds. I also was able to visit many different NGO’s in Gulu. One of my favorite NGO’s was MEND. It is a branch of Invisible Children that provides jobs for twenty two of the most vulnerable women. It provides them with a support structure as well as counseling they may need, it also teaches the women to be seamstresses so they might be able to create their own business later. Fourteen of the twenty two women were previously abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Despite that while we were about to leave they began to dance. Soon we all joined in dancing to lively music. That I why I love Uganda we could dance with people we just met.
I found myself at home in Uganda. In the summer of 2014 my goal is to return to Uganda for three months. I want to raise $5,000 to bring with me so that all of the bricks for the secondary school, that would allow deaf children to go to school, can be made. In Uganda I would like to become functional in sign language to act as interpreter for people in the United States. I would also like to create fun ways to teach English to students. My name is Trine Parsons and I have found my passion by traveling to Uganda. Because of that I have never been so happy.