Plymouth Forum on Uganda October 19 

October 14, 2014

Be honest. What’s your first response to the word “Uganda?"

a)     Blank stare

b)    Umm- is that in Africa where they have Ebola?

c)    They persecute gays.

d)    Visions of Idi Amin, genocide and people fleeing the Lord’s Resistance Army

e)    Great place for a safari and gorilla trekking

f)     Please don’t tell me you’re going there- it’s too dangerous.

These are several responses I received from friends and family when I announced I was travelling to Uganda with Pilgrim Africa and Catherine Willis Cleveland to see if there may be a role for Plymouth Church. I thought about what I might experience, given my life as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa years ago and was surprised.

“You are welcome. You are very welcome!” is the warm English greeting that enveloped us everywhere in Uganda during our 14 day trip. Though it took me time to adjust to different accents and vocabulary, I was delighted to be able to talk directly with Ugandans of all ages. From the Minister of Health to the village school teacher, I experienced Ugandans as genuinely warm, friendly people. They are open to real relationships, serious, heart-felt sharing, laughter, learning and hard work.

In this country the size of Oregon, more than 70,000 people die yearly from malaria, most children under age five. As partners in the Rotary Malaria Project trip, we assisted Ugandan teams to test a model for malaria eradication. Going house to house, we diagnosed and treated malaria and assessed bed net use in one of the most malaria infected regions of the world. Hoping for more help, villagers were eager to be tested and grateful to be treated. Expensive and difficult for many to get a sick child to the nearest clinic for life-saving treatment, it’s heartbreaking to know that malaria means death for many.

We also visited Beacon of Hope School, a high school founded by Pilgrim Africa in 2006, to provide education and treatment for orphans and child soldiers. The school serves over 500 students. Education is recognized by Ugandans as the key to future survival and development. We witnessed a talented, spirited choir, dance teams, a malaria drama, physics and agriculture classes and testing of student-designed robots. Deeply touching, eye-opening, amazing dedication and work!

Is there a role for Plymouth Church in Uganda? What do you seek as a Plymouth member when you think of participating in a global partnership? Please join us at the 10 am Forum, Sunday, October 19, in the Lounge and consider the options as Catherine Willis Cleveland and I share our experiences from big city life in Kampala to rural villages in Katakwi. Four Ugandan high school students from Beacon of Hope School and Pilgrim Africa staff from Uganda and Seattle will join us, along with founders Calvin and Dorothy Echodu. Bring listening ears, open hearts and questions. See you there! -Carol Mooney

Meet Our Guests

Traveling from eastern Uganda, these four students from Beacon of Hope share their transformative journey.Patience is 16 years old. She is from Ariet, a rural and impoverished village in Kumi District. Patience loves to study history, read novels, play netball, sing and dance. Her dream is to one day become a lawyer.

Captured by the LRA and forced into war as a young child, Denish found healing and a new path at Beacon of Hope. Today, Denish is a top student in the Robotics program, loves physics and chemistry and dreams of becoming a doctor.

Mercy is from Obia, a rural village in Gulu District. She loves to sing, dance and study history. Mercy is a survivor. Orphaned at a young age, she was later abducted during the war. After the war ended, Mercy's aunt brought her to Beacon of Hope to heal and begin a new life.

Yasmin comes from Soroti town, and loves to read and watch movies. She excels at both mathematics and English. As one of the top students at Beacon of Hope, she dreams of becoming an engineer.

(click here for photo album)



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