Hmmm…where to start. Or finish!
2222 km of travel, countless hours behind the wheel, four border crossings, 8 Nile River rapids, 2 bungee jumps, one health workshop, a dozen or so mountain gorillas, and tons of site-visits to amazing partners and new friends.
What a journey!
This July, Nadine and I were invited by the Segal Family Foundation to participate in their 2nd annual Health Workshop for their partner organizations in Kampala, Uganda.
On the morning of the 18th, we took off towards Uganda! Then promptly turned around because we forgot our spare tire back in town. 1 ½ hours later, we took off…again!
We drove through Burundi, to Kigali, Rwanda, through the city and then off towards the Ugandan border. There, we received quite the shock when a soldier’s gun went off right next to us! We saw the bullet impact the dirt nearby and made me jump out of my skin! Suffice it to say, the embarrassed guard slowly slinked off back towards his garrison tent as people were hustling around trying to find out what had just happened. We were a little jumpy afterwards. Welcome to Uganda!
The next day we arrived in Kampala! What a city! If Kigali is one of the cleanest cities I’ve ever visited, then Kampala has to be one of the craziest. Traffic is ridiculous. I will never complain about traffic in Edmonton, or Burundi for that matter, ever again! (Or at least until I start driving there again
That afternoon we made our way to the hotel where the health workshop was starting and had a bit of time to visit the local shopping center. New clothes or shoes? No thank you, my wife and I went directly to the grocery store, bought some deli meat and cheese, and ate up! We got some odd looks, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
Then the workshop started that evening with a cocktail party that included speeches from the Segal Family Executive Director, an award-winning Organizational Director, and the Ugandan Minister of Health himself! It was a great evening of networking, making friends and hopefully, planting seeds for future partnerships. Very exciting!
Then we were off to nearby Entebbe for the workshop itself, being held on Lake Victoria! Wow, what a truly amazing experience. There were a few dozen representatives from SFF partner organizations, all health-oriented, from 7 different countries (including Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Liberia, Kenya and Congo)!!! How awesome is that? We got to interact with, share experiences, and learn from people all across this great continent. There were some Americans and a few fellow Canadians present as well, but this conference was full of truly amazing and inspiring Africans. People that are working in some of the poorest regions in the poorest countries in the world, making a daily difference in thousands of lives.
To say that we learned so much and were inspired was a complete and total understatement.
What we have learned will help us develop and implement health outreach programs, behavior change communication, community health workers, and programs to help families achieve food security and prevent malnutrition.
It’s also pretty fun when a family of monkeys interrupts your brainstorming session.
Awesome. And daunting. The road we have ahead is an exciting but challenging one!
We wrapped up the conference with an African dance party and then we had the opportunity over the next few days to visit different Ugandan SFF partners.
We met with:
Straight Talk – providing tens of thousands of Ugandans with media and information about family planning, HIV and STD prevention, and many other topics.
NAGURU Teenage Center – providing the youth of Uganda with a safe place to receive services and education related to sexual health and family planning.
Set Her Free – rescuing young women from the sex trade in the slums of Kampala, providing a safe place for them to stay and equipping them with the skills they need to start their own businesses or find employment.
Kyetume Community Based Health Care – providing quality health care and community health outreach to a community of tens of thousands of Ugandans. An award-winning organization that was honored at the workshop cocktail.
Komo Learning Centres – providing educational solutions for the poor and needy in Uganda, and just getting ready to build a new health centre on their campus!
Soft Power Health – providing many different health-based services (family planning, dentistry, health education) to a needy community in Jinja, Uganda.
These visits were incredibly informative and inspiring. These are all truly amazing organizations, doing wonderful things in Uganda. If you feel like learning more about them, just click on each organization’s name above to head over to their websites.
Next up, we had a few days to relax a little bit in Uganda. Naturally, we didn’t. Check out some of our pictures for more info, haha! We plan to try and get some videos online soon, so we’ll let you know when we can get those uploaded.
We were truly blessed by our experiences in Uganda. Tired and exhausted, but so truly blessed. We made it back home to Gitega safe and sound on the 29th, and then headed down to Cibitoke for the BYFC staff retreat! A time of learning, and experiencing amazing fellowship with our friends and coworkers. We sure love Rwanda and Uganda, but Nadine and I know we are at home when we are in Burundi. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
As we finish up the summer, and head into more summer (the seasons here are really boring, but I’ll take it!) we have ahead of us some in-the-bush evangelism with Harvest For Christ, more meetings with the Ministry of Health, and continuing to push and prepare for permission to open.
A huge massive thanks needs to go out to the Segal Family Foundation. Without them, our experiences in Uganda wouldn’t have happened. Please, click HERE
to find out more about them and what they are doing to change how Foreign Aid in Africa is being done!
Our time here thus far has been challenging and eye-opening. As we continue to prepare to open the clinic doors, we are learning as much as we can and planning to open one of the best clinics in the country. We aren’t going to stop there. We are going to push healthcare beyond our clinic walls, integrate with our community, engage in radical partnerships, and hopefully develop innovations of our own. A huge thank you to you all for reading and experiencing this all with us. Your support means everything to us and to Burundi Youth for Christ.
If you ever feel like joining us in this great adventure, in any capacity, let us know!
BYFC is currently looking for someone to help with management and administrative consulting, as well as financial development and management. Teaching positions, communications, multimedia and information technology, the possibilities are endless. How is God calling you to use your talents? Maybe he wants you to come to Burundi. I’m just saying.
God bless you immeasurably! Thanks for tuning in, check back soon for more!