Steven, originally from Colombia, has spent the last 6 months living and working in Hoima, Uganda. With the skills and experience he had gained from working with youth in his church in Colombia, he has been working with the Anglican Diocese in Hoima to prepare and run a three week Living with Shalom training for youth from all over Uganda. He also is involved in planning various youth events for the Diocese. On Jan 25th, the training came to an end with a cultural gala where all the participants shared dances from their home cultures.
His host family in Hoima has been warm and welcoming, embracing Steven as one of their own. Steven is very easy going and has adapted well to life in Uganda. He was a great asset to the Living with Shalom training and really connected well with the youth during the training – he even learned some new dance moves! We have really enjoyed getting to know him and having him as part of the MCC Uganda team, and we have also enjoyed learning some things about life in Colombia. Several of our staff have also picked up a few words and greetings in Spanish!
MCC has three different exchange programs that we run – IVEP, where we send young people from MCC program countries to volunteer for a year in North America (we currently have 3 Ugandans in Canada), SALT, where we send young people from North America to MCC Program countries all over the world to volunteer for a year, and YAMEN, where we send young people from MCC program countries to other program countries outside of North America (last year we had a Ugandan woman working in Indonesia for a year).
This year, MCC Uganda is hosting three exchange volunteers – Stephen, from Colombia, working with Living with Shalom in Hoima, Thany, from Cambodia, working at Stella Matutina in Bweyale, and Bethany, from Canada, working at St Jude Secondary School in Masaka. It has been a great experience to have so many cultures represented on our Uganda team, and we have really enjoyed working with and learning from all three of them. I’ll plan to write more details about Thany and Bethany in upcoming posts (if they give me permission 🙂 – we are planning a visit to Thany next week and a visit to Bethany in March.
SALT is still accepting and processing applications, so if you are young and single and looking for a great cross cultural experience, you can see the open positions here: http://salt.mcc.org/
This past weekend we also celebrated Nathan’s 2nd birthday! On Saturday, we had a fun day swimming in Jinja, until the 1 1/2 hour drive back to Kampala ended up taking 6 hours! In short, the battery died two different times – the first time we bought a new battery only to realize that the problem was the alternator when the battery died the second time along the way. We are very grateful to our colleague Daniel who arranged to pick up the other MCC car which was also not working from the garage that was closed to come and rescue us. Then we had to sit in bumper to bumper traffic at 10:30pm – only in Kampala is there bumper to bumper traffic on a Saturday night! To make things more interesting, the wiring in the car was also faulty so the drivers side window couldn’t close while the other windows couldn’t open, which also resulted in a very hot, dusty, and briefly very wet (it rained for about 15 mins) ride to and from Jinja! We had to leave the car parked at a bank overnight where there were security guards then Muigai had to get up at 6am the next morning to pick it up since we weren’t able to close the window.
On Sunday, which was Nathan’s actual birthday, we had a great time celebrating with good friends who live in the far north of Uganda who we haven’t seen in several months. Ronald, from Kenya, and his wife, Anke, from the Netherlands, have four children who my children love to play with. We ate cake, roasted meat, and the kids had a great time playing together. Ronald and Anke have started a great business venture in Kotido called Karamoja Arts as a way of promoting the local culture and empowering the local people.