Part 3: 2016 Uganda Trip Series

P1020254One of the greatest aspects of our trip is delivering care packages from our U.S. sponsors to the One Heart Uganda scholars.  Thoughtful letters, photos and small gifts bring to life an abstract idea half way across the world.  To see the students’ faces light up with recognition reading a note or seeing a family photo is magic. My niece, Sophie, likened it to being Santa Clause for hours on end.

“Handing out care packages was one of my favorite parts of the trip,” Ellie Arndt said. “When the kids open up their packages they have a huge smile on their face and they’re so happy for a pack of gum, a new toothbrush or a book.  These are things I take for granted every day.  It’s the best to see the kids proudly wearing their new shirts or hats – it feels good when they have so little to give to them something that brings them joy.”

IMG_2123During our trip, we visited with most of our 90+ scholarship recipients.  In addition to gift giving and progress reports, we captured it all on film.  This is where the challenging part came in.

To begin, we looked strange and very different from the people the kids regularly come in contact with – but now we’re pointing cameras in their faces and asking them to smile.  We turned on the video, and asked them to speak up –  above the whisper that more naturally comes out.

When I said, “Okay” to signal the start of our talk, one little boy jumped up to get away so ready to get out of the hot seat and end the torture – we laughed and somehow we wooed him back reluctantly.

IMG_1630Giving messages directly to the camera was difficult for the kids – but most of them got the hang of it.  However, where you really started to see their personalities emerge was in responses to questions.  We started with the easy ones – age, school, siblings.  Then moved to the more telling – favorite school subjects, sports and future dreams.  Future professions of doctors and nurses, teachers, priests and nuns, and engineers were frequently cited.

One of my favorite questions asked this trip was, “What is your favorite food?” I thought this would be interesting to families or students back home as it’s something we can all relate to.

IMG_1815The most popular answers were rice and potatoes. But the answer that struck me most was “portia.”  This is the cornmeal porridge the kids are fed at school and is by far the most basic and common food for students.  Food simply being food made it their favorite. Once again, we were reminded how very different our worlds are and all that we take for granted.