GREETINGS TO AND FROM RUKIGA
One of the best things about my recent visit to Rukiga was the opportunity it gave me to meet many of the people living there, and to pass greetings and good wishes back and forth between our two communities.
I particularly wanted to meet some of the children being sponsored by Ickenham folk through the scheme with our World Vision partners. In the course of my trip I met with five of them, and saw for myself the way they are living, and the real benefits that our sponsorship can add to their lives.
The first child I met was Moses, the eight year-old boy being sponsored by my wife Anne, grandson Aston and me. With Mim Shaw from World Vision and Annette, the local World Vision support worker, I travelled by car about 30kms out from Kabale. Then on a mud track just wide enough to walk through, we went down a steep slope, back up the other side, through a banana plantation and past a few other mud houses to get to where Moses lives. We were warmly welcomed by Moses, his parents Eric and Hope, his brothers Ezra and Boaz and his little sister Ruth.
Inside their house, the mud floor had been swept and chairs were set around a low table. With just one small window with shutters but no glass, it was dark inside. Mud walls were covered in places by newspapers, some in English, and many featuring football – one of Moses’ favourite topics! He was very proud of the Steven Gerrard football shirt that Aston had sent. These papers were one way that Moses learned to read.
With Annette interpreting for us, we sat and talked about family, school, health, football and more! Moses showed me pictures he had drawn in books we had previously sent. He works hard at school and would like to be a teacher when he grows up. His mother also works hard, tending their small plot of land, but it is still a struggle to grow enough food to eat and to earn enough to buy what else is needed.
I was shown around the rest of their home: one bedroom, and a small covered lobby leading to the kitchen, which is a charcoal fire outside to the rear of the house. Clean, safe water is collected from a tap 400 metres away. This may seem like quite a journey to us, but it is a real improvement, brought about by the early stages of the water project we have been funding. More about that project another time...
Then we went outside, where a group of young local people had gathered, on hearing of our visit, to perform a welcome dance in our honour. Their dancing was energetic and full of hope; Moses joined in, and I got the chance for some drum practice! I discovered that Sam, the group’s leader, also trains a group of local footballers. They play in the kit we took out on our last visit and are known, appropriately, as Young Watford. I’ve informed my friends at Vicarage Road about this new branch of the supporters’ club!
We visited four more Ickenham sponsored children before the day was through, meeting in turn Agatha, Blair, Fancy and Profit. At each visit we left a small present, photos and letters. These items were very much appreciated, as was the fact that people from so far away were interested in their lives and wanted to help. In each instance, I was given a small gift in return, and although food is never plentiful, each family shared what they had with us willingly, as they described how the sponsorship programme helps to ensure assistance with clothes and equipment for schooling, and healthcare in particular. If I had needed any persuasion that sponsorship can help, these visits did the trick.
At a cost of just 60p a day to someone in Ickenham, the benefit to a child in Rukiga is immense. Other children can be helped too. If you would like to know more about sponsoring a child in Rukiga, please contact me for more details on 01895 678169.
DROP-IN FOR THE BEREAVED. Third Monday of each month. St Giles’ Church Hall, 2pm to 3.30pm. A friendly, informal opportunity for a chat, over a cup of tea, with other bereaved people and pastoral visitors. The next meeting is on Monday 18th May (then Monday 15th June). Just come along, or ring the Rectory (622970) if you would like to talk to someone first.