“My first trip to Uganda was in the summer of 2016, and I’ve been four times since then. I had always wanted to go somewhere like Uganda on a mission trip, and I had been begging my mom for years. It just kind of lined up for me to go to Uganda because I was still in high school at the time and the trip was planned for summer, so I knew there must be a reason that I would be going there specifically.
Almost every trip that I’ve taken to Uganda has been through my church, Desperation Church. We go to the same ministry there, called Sunrise. Sunrise has a children’s home, a babies’ home, and a girls’ home, as well as several churches in various villages.
My daily routine varies each trip. When I was there last summer I stayed for five weeks and it was just me. I would wake up, eat breakfast, go to town and run errands. I would meet people in the town, Jinja, which is one of the larger cities, although it’s still small-town life.
I would go to the baby home and help change diapers or whatever it was they needed. I went to the girls’ home a lot – they just opened up a school out there, so I would go and participate in bible time with the kids and try to get pictures of the kids that need sponsored because there are so many.
Most of the kids are at school with no shoes on. The school is currently low on funds, so the children don’t always get their meal every day at school. I would meet with different teams coming in and try to ease their concerns because a lot of them were first-timers and didn’t know what to expect.
The educated people there do speak English, although some of it is broken English, they do know general expressions. If you go into the city, there are a lot more people that do speak English. The languages there are Swahili and Luganda, and a lot of it is combined so it’s a mixture of both languages in one sentence. It’s not easy to pick up on.
I really experienced just how it is to live there. It was really awesome because I got to make so many connections, like, I know the girl that works at the coffee shop, and the guy that works at the café down the street, and the people that work at the supermarket. It’s just the experience of being in a place where, yes, there is a lot of brokenness, but this is a place where you can go and live and see the joy behind the brokenness on every corner.
The kids there don’t know any different than what they have. They’re just joyful for every little thing they are given. They just have a gladness about every aspect of life that you don’t see in places like the United States. These kids are beyond thankful to be able to go to school, and they’re fine going with no shoes on. That’s one thing I’ve learned – it’s easy to go there and pity them but you have to see that they’re just joyful because that’s their life, they don’t know any different than that life and they’re just happy about everything. You’ll never meet a Ugandan child without a smile on their face. It really changes my perspective on life every time I go.”
-Sarah Williams, Samford University Student and Jasper native
Photo + Interview by Blakeney Clouse