A Glimpse of Uganda for St. Edward's University Student
The warm air hits my face and the darkness is overpowering. I am no longer home. I am in Uganda. We find our way through the airport and are met by Sister Goretti. She will be our driver, tour guide and so much more during the trip. After three days of challenging travel — 30 hours by plane, seven by car and two flat tires later, we arrived in Fort Portal, Uganda.
The timing could not have been more perfect. The weather was gorgeous, the people were welcoming and there was a celebration like no other. We were fortunate to be a part of the Daughters of St. Theresa of Lisieux’s celebration of final vows, and silver and gold jubilees. The enormousness of it was a testament to the living church in Uganda and was a great sight to witness.
As we settled in, we were sent to experience different parts of Fort Portal and the works the Sisters do in the community. We spent time at schools for children with special needs, a clinic, maternity ward and an AIDS clinic. We hiked in the jungle, climbed a mountain and so much more.
Memories from this trip will live in my heart forever. One moment that stands out, and brings me to tears every time I think about it, is when we went to Divine Mercy Primary School. We were greeted by the lively song and dance of children. Following the warm welcome, we split up and spent time playing games and getting to know the children better. This is where I met Daniel.
Daniel is a shy nine-year-old and the only boy in our group. We exchanged smiles several times, but every time I tried to talk to him, he would run away. This was pretty typical because many of the children were shy or nervous. At the end of the day, the group decided to walk back and I noticed Daniel walking as well. It was a struggle at first, but I finally got him to talk to me. We walked and talked for a few minutes, but as we parted ways he did something that I think of often. It was just a small gesture, but he and I both knew the greater meaning of his action.
Daniel had a small portion of food that was to be his dinner for the night, and thinking nothing of it, he handed his food to me. It was a sign of thanks, appreciation and the bond that we had formed in such a short time. Daniel’s generosity was emotionally overwhelming and touching. He is a small boy with a large heart, and I am grateful to have experienced his love.
My trip to Uganda was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has changed me for the better, and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to go. I want to thank St. Edward’s University Campus Ministry, Liza Manjarrez, my group, the Daughters of St. Theresa, the people of Fort Portal and Daniel. You have touched my life and changed it forever, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
-Charlene (Char) Wichman, ‘11
View images from Uganda.
About International Immersion Experiences
St. Edward’s University students and staff members participate in the International Immersion program in hopes of finding a home in a new culture.
The program offers a glimpse into the daily lives of people from another country while examining the critical issues of society and exploring our responsibility in the global community.
Applications for future trips will be accepted in Fall 2011. For more information, contact Liza Manjarrez or call 512-448-8534.
More information about the International Immersion Experiences.