“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

- Malala Yousafzai

Vision Trip June 2018

Thoughts by Madeline Elliot

The truck ride from Kihili airport was almost silent. The windows were rolled down and everyone’s eyes were focused outward. The anticipation, the excitement, the curiosity, the wonder and the awe were all tangible.

We drove through the gates of the Victory School for the first time, and the children and teachers were lined up ready to greet us with traditional songs and dance. Their little feet swayed in a synchronized rhythm, their voices loud, and their smiles evidence of the immense pride they felt in performing for us. The beat of the drums and the beat of my heart were almost synonymous. The afternoon was full of warm welcomes, introductions, and play. Giggles and squeals of glee provided a fitting soundtrack to games of tag. There was no shortage of hugs or high fives.

The Kamukama Foundation has recently started working with the Ebenezer School. Comprised of three small buildings – one brick, one wood, one recycled tin – it rests surrounded by the vast hills on all sides. The moment we stepped out of the trucks the children began singing. “visitors from the USA, you are highly welcome… all together, sing a song of joy…” The joy in that moment was almost overwhelming. As more traditional songs were performed, the students jumped and danced. I watched the teachers. They stood behind the children; some of them could not contain their own joy and began dancing while others looked on with a great sense of achievement. In that moment, I felt a connection to them knowing how much time they spend with the children and how hard they must work to provide for them. This is not a job that is done without love.

As an educator, a highlight of the trip was getting to be in the classrooms and work with both the teachers and the students alike. I was energized by their genuine curiosity and eagerness to learn. One of the main objectives while on our trip was to introduce and implement the Kio Kits – and education platform designed in Africa. In an area with little resources, the tablets offer content aligned with their curriculum, educational games, and the opportunity to expand their horizons.

During one of my many evening conversations at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, I was told about an African saying, “slowly by slowly makes a journey.” At the time, it was shared to help calm my fears about being able to trek up the side of a mountain to see the gorillas. (Don’t worry, I made it!) However, the more I reflected, the more I thought about all the other places it was applicable – most currently the Kamukama Foundation. Their journey started with one trip and a chance encounter with one boy. However, over time, it grew into a child sponsorship program, work with Victory and Ebenezer schools, and now the Kamukama Foundation home. I am filled with hope when I think about how it will continue to grow and change lives.

It is hard to describe the overwhelming sense of belonging in a place in which you have spent so little time. I know I left a part of my heart in Uganda, but I also believe it won’t be the last time I am there. Slowly by slowly I will make my journey back.