Many people have asked me how this trip to Uganda compared to my last visit. Was it better? How was the team? Is it what you expected it to be? The only response that I have is that it was different. During this trip, I got to work with an amazing team of artists to document the stories of the sweet children + staff at Christ School Bundibugyo. Bundibugyo is a small town near the Rwenzori Mountains + the Congo border. It is not a wealthy town, in fact, it is one of the poorest cities in Uganda. There weren't as many western luxuries, as I experienced in Jinja, last year. All of this being said, I could not have felt more at home. We (my 6 team members + I) stayed in the home of a missionary couple who was on leave. Our lovely host, Sarah, was a dream. She cooked us homemade, American meals every night (these consisted of BBQ chicken, tacos, chili, and delicious desserts). Our stay in Bundibugyo was one filled with joy, comfort, and warm welcomes.
Now, when I say 'team' I am referring to the amazing group of artists I got to do life with the entire time I was in Uganda. This team was hand picked by Whitney + Nick Runyon of The Archibald Project. The Archibald Project seeks to spread light on orphan care and how you can help, not matter what stage of life you are in. They started off documenting adoption stories around the world through photography and videography. The nonprofit has now grown so that they can bring teams of people to different areas of the world to tell the stories of orphans, their caregivers, and the organizations that help them. The team members can then take what they have seen and heard to their communities in order to reach even more people. Their slogan is 'story telling changes the world' and in being good friends with Whit + Nick, I have seen the power that their story telling can have and I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the bigger plan God has for them.
Last year, I spent a lot of time around the sweet babies of the Arise and Shine babies home in Jijna. I loved hearing their stories from aunties and other people who worked with them. On this trip, however, I got to hear the joys + struggles of the students lives from their own mouths. I heard their stories because they wanted to tell them to me. Several opened up about heartache or success because they wanted their stories to be heard. It brings so much joy to my heart that kids who have been through traumatizing, terrifying or 'embarrassing' circumstances, would open up to a stranger (stay tuned for a blog post on the story of sweet, new friend, Christine). In order to make them feel more comfortable, the team and I spent the first 2 days at the school just talking to the kids, asking them questions and letting them ask us questions, too. We did not bring our cameras, so it was a sweet time to get to know one another. The team and I definitely made fools of ourselves one day by singing all of the Disney classics we could remember off the top of our head. It was such a great time to unwind and let loose. Then, when it was time to bring the cameras out, the kids were more comfortable and, from what most of us observed, natural models. They loved posing and then seeing their pictures on the back of our cameras.
Early in the week, our team got to sit down with a few students to discuss how they felt about attending Christ School. It was evident that not only is the school affecting these student's lives, but, also, the lives of people in the community of Bundibugyo. These students are a light - spreading knowledge and truth about the Gospel to their family members, neighbors, and their community. It was inspiring to hear stories of faith and trust in what the Lord has done for them. They are unashamed to share their faith with others because they trust that the Lord is good. The want to share about the ways that the Lord has provided for them, even in their struggles. What a refreshing change. When we asked them if they were ever ashamed or embarrassed to share their faith, the laughed and said "no, of course not." In America, it can be easy for us to get caught up in material things and the hustle of everyday life, that we forget what is most important. These kids have seen more struggle than I probably ever will in my life time and yet, they are full of thankfulness.
"Christ School Bundibugyo has just begun it's 16th year of Christ-focused education in Bundibugyo, Uganda. We have 260 students, from Senior 1 to Senior 6 (ages 12-22 (ish!)). CSB's mission is to be an academically excellent senior secondary boardig school producing servant leaders for God's glory and the good of Bundibguyo.
Bundibugyo means "end of the road" in the local dialect, and for many years it has been just that. But over 15 years of CSB's work in gospel-centered education, partnered with 25 years of Serge's ministry in Bundibugyo, God is transforming this place! "
- Sarah Crane | Honorary TAP team member, Host + Christ School Employee
My time in Bundibugyo was entirely too short, but it was long enough for me to learn several things about myself, remember what is important in life, and how to serve others. Leaving the school on our last day was heart breaking because we knew we would be leaving pieces of our hearts that we could never get back, We were reminded of the reality that we may never get to see these students or this city, ever again. I am proud of each of my team members for giving their all, loving with everything they had, and serving like Christ did. It was inspiring to watch them all week and I am a better person for knowing each of them.
Want to get involved or find out more about Christ School or donating to this wonderful place? Please visit here to donate. Another way to help is to sponsor a child. There are 260 kids at the school and 60 of these are on sponsorship. They are taking in 10 kids a year on sponsorship, but would love to grow the program to 15 a year. If you have more questions about how to get involved, about media missions, or just about my trip in general, I would love to answer them! Feel free to send me an email in the contact section of my website! Stay tuned for more posts about my time in Bundibugyo.