Experience. Three local residents have returned home with a fresh perspective after encountering more than they bargained for during an uplifting trip to Uganda.
Dreambuilders Church members Trevor Spinks, Damien Heres and Arjan van Adrichem travelled to the remote village of Weswa earlier this month for an 11-day trip, exploring the area and assisting a Dreambuilders-funded school opened three years ago.
The school has expanded over that time to hold 218 students up to grade four, with a feeding program also introduced, providing a bowl of porridge to an individual in the morning and evening every day.
“For me, the biggest fact is how well the school has been established for not a whole lot of money,” Damien said.
“On one day, we visited 15 families of kids who attended the school. That was awesome; they were very appreciative of the opportunities.”
Trevor said the experience of getting to know families in the community was a highlight, while the group of three also witnessed several customary games including a foot race while balancing a glass bottle on their head.
Overall, the school employs six teachers and two additional staff, with Heres estimating a total investment to date of $60,000 with current running costs of $22,000 each year.
While Trevor noted the widespread poverty, the poor standard of housing, and lack of road signage, both he and Damien felt the area was “a safe place to be” and they never felt at risk.
However almost a week into their journey, the trio was lucky to escape without suffering serious injury after a fully loaded log truck ploughed into the back of their stationary four-wheel-drive at an intersection.
“We heard a bang, and the truck came into the back of us,” Damien said. “We were all a bit stunned. A crowd gathered around us – it was a bit overwhelming really.”
The offending driver was chased down by the group’s guide on a motorbike, and was later imprisoned for the night.
Aside from Damien suffering “quite a sore neck” from whiplash, the group was examined at the local hospital and cleared of any significant damage.
Trevor said they all felt “very blessed to be alive”, describing the trip overall as an “eye-opener” in more ways than one.
Damien said the incident wasn’t a deterrent for future visits to the country, adding the same thing “could have happened between here and Burnie”.
The local church’s ideal goal for the community school is to support them long enough until they can be self-sufficient, with sugar cane farms forming a large part of the local economy in Uganda.
Dreambuilders Church is looking to partner up with International Needs in the future to give locals the opportunity to sponsor a child.