Student Tim Sigsworth was part of a 20-strong UK volunteer team visiting Global Care’s work in Soroti, Uganda in August. Here Tim reflects on the visit: “Our trip coincided with Global Care’s 35th anniversary and whilst there, I saw countless reminders of why their mission is so important. Here are three lessons I learned in nine days in Uganda.”
When you live in the UK it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of materialistic desire. Once we achieve a goal or acquire a new gadget, appliance, car or even house, we quickly move on, we are rarely thankful and we push to reach the next rung of the consumer ladder.
This means that we are always looking longingly at what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. We never go hungry and we never go thirsty, we always have warmth and we always have a roof over our heads. We have a healthcare system which is free at the point of use and one of the most advanced social welfare safety nets in the world.
Wednesday 22 August was our first day at the Global Care site in Soroti. After a tour, we met some of the local children. Despite being hesitant of the ‘Mzungus’ at first, they were more than happy to jump on the swings or play some football.
Over the next few days many of them kept returning and it was during this time that I noticed that the majority of them only had one change of clothes. Some of them didn’t even have that. Regardless, they were always smiling, they were always happy and they always had a seemingly endless amount of energy for playing. The majority will have had very few possessions, yet all of them seemed to have few cares at all.
If they can be so content with what little they have, we should be so much more thankful for what we have.
- Get out of your Comfort Zone
We spent Saturday 25 August in Atira, 25 minutes or so from Soroti. We were welcomed to the Primary School for the first of our two activity days by singing and dancing. This can be seen at 1:20 of this wonderful video:
During the dancing, staff members from the Soroti Global Care team joined in to great excitement from the students. Then, members from the U.K. team joined in to even greater excitement. (check out the video at 9:20!)
Although it’s only a bit of dancing, it takes a fair amount of courage to stand up in front of strangers to dance a dance you don’t know with people you don’t know. Had we all been more serious, we’d have just sat and watched the students finish and we wouldn’t have experienced what was one of the best moments on the trip.
So, it’s worth noting that getting out of your comfort zone and doing things that you wouldn’t normally do can create fantastic moments and memories. It can be extraordinary to do something out of the ordinary.
- Be Generous
My most important point comes last. In the same way that it’s easy to focus on what you don’t have rather than what you do have, the issues of the world are often put to one side in favour of focusing on – amongst other things – career progression, personal issues or providing for a family.
Yet even the smallest contribution can help in a significant way. The people who live in extreme poverty in Uganda and the rest of the world have hopes, ambitions and faith, just like the rest of us.
They may be thousands of miles away, but they’re still suffering. There’s no reason why a species as technologically, intellectually and economically advanced as ours should have the vast wealth inequality we do today.
Making a small change to our personal expenditure can have a dramatic impact on someone else’s life. Sponsoring a child through Global Care costs £22 a month, the equivalent of a meal out for two. What I’ve learnt by seeing the work of Global Care first hand is the profound impact that such a sum can have. Whether it be providing a disabled child with specialist care or supporting a child’s education, it changes lives.
On the celebration day we heard from two men who succeeded with Global Care’s help. One is a month away from becoming a Doctor and the other is a computing entrepreneur. From a vulnerable child to a Doctor. It really is remarkable.
So, be generous, give unselfishly, do as Jesus would have done. You could help to change the world.