Mubende is a city of one million people three hours northwest of Kampala. Our basketball/volleyball court project was completed at Sacred Heart Seminary, a Catholic school with 160 boys, but the school will be a great benefit to the surrounding community as well. Uganda struggles with abject poverty; according to the 2009 UN Human Development Report, 75% of the population lives on less than $2 per day, adjusted for purchasing power. For children in Africa, sports can become an essential tool to provide direction, motivation, life skills and opportunities.
This team of 24 was spearheaded by Kevin Ryan, the treasurer of Courts for Kids. His church in Vancouver, WA, has a strong connection to Sacred Heart and so many team members came from his church and have a long standing relationship with Father Achilles, the director of the school. It is exciting because the relationship will continue long after the trip.
The group had a very rich experience spending every day alongside the students from Uganda, working, eating, playing, and taking part in various cultural activities. Since English is the national language in Uganda, communication was easy and many great friendships were developed. The group also had a chance to see lions, elephants and other African wildlife at Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Meeting the people there was by far the most astonishing part of the trip. The students were all so welcoming and kind. They were eager to get to know us and accepted us with so much hospitality. It was interesting getting to know them and their way of life and a pleasure answering their questions about ours. I can’t think of a better way to experience the country than through service work and connecting with those who live there.
I would like to think that I am a more patient, kind, outgoing, humble, strong (emotionally), faithful and giving person than I was before. I definitely want to go on another trip soon!
Derek- your vision of Courts for Kids proved to be much more than simply building a play space- working together across cultures created friendships, understanding and mutual respect. On the Uganda trip I saw both the Ugandans and Americans see and respect the hard work of each other. It sounds simple or perhaps obvious, but as we worked, mutual learning and understanding were humbling and the true value of building a court.
It was cool to be able to connect with all the kids over there and to make friends. I wasn’t expecting to actually get to know the kids and become friends. That was really nice and my favorite part of the trip.
A special thank you to our court sponsors:
Kevin and Annemarie Ryan
Mike and Alisa Rakoz
Michael and Shannon Richardson