In the summer of 2008 and 2009, my friend Dianne and I went to Uganda. We had each sponsored a family in need from Namyoya and during these trips, we were able to visit them. Our hearts melted as we met with the families and school children. We both felt as if we had been called by God to serve these very poor but loving people. We each were excited to see what God had planned for us next.
In April 2010 our friend, Tusingwire Milton ( PED Ugandan Country Director) , sent an urgent email to me stating that the little pole and thatched roof school we had visited in Kamwenge had been destroyed in a fierce rainstorm. Having worked in the field of education for 38 years, my heart broke when I read this news. I immediately felt God nudging me to be the one to help solve this immediate problem. So I sent an email to Milton stating that I would personally help build the school. I had saved about $3,000 hoping to use that for a future trip to Uganda in 2010, but now I could channel that money towards a new school. Unfortunately, after getting exact costs from Milton, I was quite short from the $10, 250 that was needed. After doing some fundraising on my own, I frantically called Dianne asking for her assistance in this big project. With donations pouring in from family, hundreds of friends the First Presbyterian Church in Ottawa, and several organizations, the school was paid for! How excited we were! This project had grown from a small, one person mission, to one that involved hundreds of adults and students in the Ottawa area.
It was just overwhelming to see how God provided for the construction of this school. So I asked Milton if I could name the school GLORY PRIMARY SCHOOL, giving all the glory to God for its completion. The students and teachers, as well as the community, joyously accepted the name because they know that “GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME” and He provides for all their needs.
Once the school was finished, the community requested that Dianne and I be a part of the official dedication, which was scheduled for March 2011. We were so humbled by this request and could not possibly have turned it down. We packed our 4, 50 pound bags with additional gifts for our sponsored families and Glory Primary School and headed back to our beloved Uganda.
There were two days of festivities planned at the school. Milton, Dianne and I were greeted by all the school children as they marched and sang to us on our walk back to the school. Seeing Glory for the first time nearly took my breath away. It was painted turquoise both on the front and inside, and looked so elegant against the green vegetation. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, we were showered with gifts of banana fiber dolls and soccer balls, as well as a great variety of fresh produce from the families. As we accepted these generous gifts, we couldn’t stop thinking that this represented food that could have been given to their own families, yet they chose to be generous and give it to us.
We were seated as the guests of honor, but we assured the community that we were there representing all of our friends in the US who had made the school project possible. Every gift we gave the school, whether it was maps, dolls, soccer balls, math sets, or pencils, the children received with extreme gratitude. On the second day of the celebration, the desk/chairs arrived. This was probably our favorite part of the celebration. As the desks were placed in the classrooms by the children, the school seemed more real than ever. This was especially significant for me because, for a number of years, these same children had been ridiculed for the inadequacy of their old school “facility”. I know they couldn’t have been more proud as the prayers for their new school became a reality right before their eyes.
A delicious feast had been prepared for us—one that the children typically had only once a year, if that. A goat had been butchered for the occasion and several other large pots containing delicious smelling produce simmered over an open fire in the back of the adjacent unfinished church. After the meal was consumed, we were entertained by a net ball game on a quickly made court that was completed by the neighborhood men. Before we knew it, our time in Kamwenge was over, and we had to depart—but not without a promise that we would continue working towards improving their small community.
To further my fundraising efforts, my friend Cindy, who is a Rotarian, helped me put together a power point presentation that highlighted our March trip to Kamwenge, as well as several proposed projects that have been put together by Milton, Dianne and me that would help sustain Glory Primary School and the neighboring community. Since summer I have been speaking to a number of Rotary Clubs in our area. Ottawa Noon Rotary president Pamela Beckett has been very enthusiastic about supporting our efforts and it appears that very soon we will have the financial backing of Ottawa Noon Rotary, as well as several other clubs to ensure that the communities in the Kamwenge District will have improved lives for their future. Kabarole Rotary Club in Uganda will assist Milton in overseeing the implementation of these life-improving projects: a water collection system at the school, a bore-hole well, a maize-milling machine, a school library, a playground with equipment, and additional teacher provisions. In addition, we also had great news from Presbytery at First Presbyterian Church that the grant written for textbooks was approved for $3,000, so the teachers and children will especially be blessed with that donation. And to think all of this began with one totally inadequate woman responding in a positive way to God’s quiet nudging!!!
The great people at Pangea Educational Development have agreed to assist Dianne and me in organizing these jobs in a three-year plan. While we work here in the U.S., it is reassuring to know that there are very competent people like Milton in Uganda with whom we are partnering to accomplish the work that God has put in our hands. We know that the people in Kamwenge are counting on us. It is with immense gratitude to all involved that I tell this story.
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