For a while now I have felt a rather strong desire to travel to a place that is poor. I know a lot of poverty and injustice exists in the world, but I feel detached from it – in many ways blessed to the point of apathy. And that scares me. I want to see it, touch it, let it get a hold of me and then start in some way to be part of change. This desire has set me on a journey.
Lately, I have been challenged to start asking some hard questions. Some of them go like this: Why do we have so much when so many have too little? Why does poverty exist at all? Why are acts of injustice allowed to happen to the vulnerable? Why are girls sold into the sex trade or boys forced to live on the streets alone? I find these questions hard because there are no simple answers. And it seems that behind each question that is asked follow many more, all interconnected and daunting. These issues are so very complex. But in the midst of the complexity I do know that God’s heart is for the poor and the oppressed. And I know that as his child, and one that has been blessed with resources, I have a responsibility to be his hands and feet.
And there is it was again. Another question: So what does that look like? I am not exactly sure long term, but short term it means I am going to Uganda for 3 months!
Kampala is the capital of Uganda with over 1.7 million people living in it. In this city is a small organization called, A Perfect Injustice. Its founders named it this when they saw all the street boys who roamed the streets without a home or often a family. To them, the life these boys led was an example of a perfect injustice and they wanted to do something about it. They are a Christian non-profit organization what partners with local churches and other non-profit organizations to demonstrate the love of Christ to people who live on the streets. They do it with a holistic modal that takes care of people’s basic physical, educational, spiritual, emotional needs. They run a weekly street program in a building in the heart of the slums. They have also built two boys homes outside the city that are now home to many of the boys.
My friend Amy is over in Uganda right now working with A Perfect Injustice as a nurse. She is the one who first introduced me to them. I had completed my TESL training (for teaching English) in the spring of last year and was praying about where I might go. About this time Amy mentioned to me API’s need of English teacher for a number of the kids in their program who are now back in school, but in order to be successful they need to improve their English. It turns out there are over 40 different tribal languages that are spoken but English is the official language of Uganda. At a certain grade level all the schoolwork is done in English. Many of the boys in the homes are really struggling with their reading and writing. They have been on the streets for so long (and not in school) that in order to excel they need help. I contacted API to learn more.
So this is the next adventure. Until the end of April I will be helping API with their street program. In that program I will be holding English classes for a group of the boys and also one for adults as well. They have few resources but everyone is eager to learn! And so with excitement and a little nervousness I am making my plans to leave.
Three months is not that long of a time, I know. I do hope to be able to teach something while I am there, but more than that, I hope to learn. I want to learn about Uganda, the culture, and the beauty but also the issues and the brokenness. And then maybe get a little bit more of a sense of what my place is in it all.
I was hoping that if you thought of me while I was away you could pray for me and the ministry of API. I am going to need flexibility, wisdom, and a lot of love. Also, a practical thing that I would like to take over is educational material that I could leave with them. If any of you have items that you think would be helpful in teaching beginner English and you would like to donate to a good cause please talk to me! It would be nice to bless them with some materials and resources. Some ideas are: dictionaries, easy –to-read books, reading games, flash cards, and coloured pencils. I would also like to take a few deflated soccer balls. And then, in case some of you are wondering, it costs about $700/month to live in Uganda. This includes meals, bus fare, and housing. If you feel led to help in this way I wouldn’t turn you down! All donations can be done directly through the church.
I’ve started a blog for my trip so if you like computers you can follow along! http://rachelryckman.blogspot.ca/
Also if you would like more information about ‘A Perfect Injustice’ you can check out their website > http://www.aperfectinjustice.com/
I am thankful for this opportunity to share my journey with you. My hope is that you can also engage a little through my experiences. I would love for you to partner with me and maybe we can begin to ask the hard questions together.
~ Rachel Ryckman