Africa, Journey of a Lifetime

Hannah and Sarah are sisters that just began their freshman year in college at UCSD. Before beginning this adventure they took a trip to Uganda and held a soccer clinic that empowered the girls of Bright Hope! They have graciously agreed to share their thoughts with all of us. During this week of pausing to give thanks, we are thankful for the many stories of health and growth for the children of Bright Hope and pray for continued blessings on their work in the community of Bulanga, Uganda.

Most people look at the world as this picture perfect place where everyone lives a life either the same or better than them. We think of those in poverty as those with a small house and an old car. Africa can change your whole perspective on life; you think the homeless man on the street is living a difficult life; the children in Uganda have it much harder. Everywhere you look you see starving children with distended bellies, who are living in the worst possible conditions. They don’t have a house that is going to protect them during a storm but rather they live in a shack made of cardboard or cow dung, with a dirt floor, that sinks in every time a storm hits.

Africa has opened my eyes; it showed me how the rest of the world lives and how one person can truly make a difference. In America we tend to be surrounded by the rich and as a result our perspective is altered. We simply compare ourselves to the rich rather than to the poor. Sometimes I find myself saying, “I’m starving” or “I need this,” when in reality I have a lot, in Africa children would literally die to have all that I have. You turn your back and you see kids who have not eaten in days, children are either super skinny or they have blotted stomachs, not from eating too much but because of a disease called, “Kwashiorkor,” which results in bloating of the stomach because of a protein deficiency. We say we are starving but do we really know what it feels like to starve.

The most rewarding part of the trip was that I got to show this community that girls can indeed play soccer. Prior to our visit they had never seen girls play soccer but rather saw it as a “guys” sport. While I was in a village in Uganda, Africa: we passed out over two hundred soccer balls and ran soccer camps. It was the most rewarding feeling ever.  I have never witnessed someone get so excited over something as small as a soccer ball. I guess I was wrong, to them the soccer ball was not small, it was something big that their families would never be able to afford. The majority of these children were orphans, due to their parents dying from A.I.D.S.- a horrible disease that has taken many lives in the country of Uganda. These people were appreciative of the small things that life had to offer them.

I loved this trip because it helped me to get my priorities straight. I realized that I needed to truly cherish the small things in life. Rather than complaining about how bad a meal was that my mom cooked, I need to be thankful that I had food on the table because people elsewhere are starving. It is pathetic but I continually catch myself doing these things. I am blessed to have been apart of this whole mind blowing experience, where I was able to show these girls that what ever you put your mind to, it can indeed be accomplished. I am empowered to change others lives as a result of my experiences in Uganda. This trip was not just a learning experience for them but was rather more life changing for me than they could ever expect. It is the best trip I have ever been on and it has taught me a lot about the important things in life and I am very, very grateful of what I have as a result.