Friday, 28 December 2012

Poverty Has a Face

On May 1, 2012, I arrived in hot and humid Kampala, Uganda. I had just finished my undergrad and was on my way to teach in a rural school in southern Uganda. I had no idea what I was getting into. My class of 22 grade 6 students and I loved getting to know each other. We laughed at our mistakes as we tried to communicate and they laughed at my descriptions of life back home. I experienced poverty firsthand and witnessed the stories of dozens of Ugandans who struggle each day with poverty. Over 80% of my students had lost either one or both parents. I was honoured to get to know each and every one of these wonderful children. Their joy and openness in life despite their circumstances humbles me.

Stepping back onto North American soil three months later, with my life completely upside down and the culture shock overwhelming me, I had to do something. With absolutely no similarities between my life here in Canada and my time in Uganda, I needed something to remind me of these people. So I signed up for Sea to Sea. Having cycled in 2008, I knew what I was getting myself into: the sore muscles, the blisters (in places you couldn't dream of), the sunburns... But not only that, the community, the purpose, and the sheer joy of riding all day long are now awaiting me next summer. Besides these great joys that come with doing Sea to Sea, I am now doing something tangible to help those in need.

You see, for me, poverty has faces. It's not just some obscure notion about people suffering “over there.” Perhaps some of the funds I raise will go to help Micheal, the orphaned 12 year old boy with a kidney problem, or to help Moses achieve more education, or to help Evalyne, the beautiful young girl who works after school with her mother.

When I'm struggling through the mountains next summer, I will think of these beautiful children and just keep pedaling because together as followers of Christ we can take to heart God's call to care for the orphans and widows in the entire world.