Bluetooth taking blood pressure during our medical outreach day
Bluetooth and other members of our incredible team!
Thought I would share a text the #RUFCCamp17 WhatsApp group got this morning from Kennedy 'Bluetooth' Yesigome. Kennedy has volunteered for RUFC camps 2 years in a row and worked as a local representative for USC and RUFC this past year in Kampala. He served at the Head of the Makerere team of students for #RUFCCamp17. He recently graduated with his masters from the Makerere School of Public Health. His thoughts are powerful and shared by so many of us...
"Hi guys I've just been reflecting about some of the camp moments this year and how unique it was.
I'm just thinking of the excitement USC and Makerere students showed whenever Heather was giving remarks at the end of each camp day . Students were saying their school slogans with a lot of enthusiasm. It is something I hadn't seen before.
Thinking about it, am amazed by the levels of engagement of everyone in the early morning dances before kids always lined up to get their supplies. Everyone literally had a dancing group of kids around them enjoying.
The teaching sessions always began when everyone is fresh and super charged from the dancing. People had a positive vibe throughout. And for the trips on the bus in the morning and evenings, it was something else.
What a time to be alive! What an opportunity to work with Ray United FC! What an opportunity to work with USC! What a chance to meet USC students!
What a golden opportunity to interact with Simone, Ryan, Lou, Kim, Lily, Nazz, Desu, Emma, Ashley, Diana, Godfrey, Ruth, Dee, Lou, Papa Ray, Cary and the youngsters Ethan and Chris.
How would life be if I hadn't spent the special moments with you Desu, Diana, Simone, Godfrey, Emma and Ryan! I must say that you guys are something else.
I must say that God has a way of bringing great people together. Take a moment and think about what earth would be like without people like Prof Heather Wipfli, Abdul, Ray Wipfli, like seriously though, what kind of words can you use to describe Ray. Many of the kids in his age group are doing nothing. Ray is doing things of people 4 times his age.
And for Evan and the GHN team you led, man you made work move so smoothly. You're such an interesting and simple person to work with.
With the opportunity I got to work with you guys, I think I can say that I have made it in life.
Moving on after camp I must say is a challenge for me at the moment. Especially now that I don't have anything like classes to keep me occupied. (Am now looking for work until next RUFC camp season.) The relationships and moments I had in the past month are so hard to forget...forever in my heart."
THANK YOU BLUETOOTH!! We all love you and can't wait to see you next year!
Louella participating in the RUFC Medical Outreach Day that reached over 300 people.
Louella and other USC students with members of their home stay host family.
Winston Churchill’s Pearl of Africa is lush and breath-taking. The people are beautiful, gracious, and very warm. And in spite of bearing the scars of the atrocities from brutal dictatorships of recent past, the people’s resilience and vitality shine through. You can see it in the young children walking for miles, often barefoot, to school; in the little girls, possibly no older than six or seven, carrying their younger siblings in their tiny arms; in the twinkle of the eyes of the hundreds of young Ugandans gyrating, twerking, crip walking, and pop locking to the latest afrobeat blasting through the bass heavy sound system at the start of each day of Ray United FC’s (RUFC) Soccer and Public Health Camp.
RUFC Soccer and Public Health Camp is a unique blend of football and health education, reaching hundreds of Ugandan grade school and high school students each day for five days. Neither mid-day heat nor torrential thunder storms could stop the resolve of the camp organizers and facilitators. I was part of 12 Trojans who worked synergistically with our Ugandan counterparts as we facilitated health education sessions on various talking points such as infectious disease, nutrition, and gender roles. Each day we met a different set of bright and determined young Ugandans whose lives were different from ours, but whose dreams of a better future we shared. And even though I was the facilitator, I was the one learning – gleaning life lessons from the smiles, the songs, and the stories of these vibrant young East Africans. In a community where resources are scarce and opportunities elusive, RUFC brought opportunity not only to the students who participated, but to the entire community as well. Hundreds benefited from RUFC’s health outreach – providing medical services such as blood glucose testing, Hep B and HIV screening to 300 residents. It also brought opportunity for us Trojans – opportunity to learn, to grow, to forge lifelong relationships, and to experience Uganda and the warmth of its people in ways I never could have imagined. Apwoyo matek!
Africa is a big place. It contains 54 countries and spans 11.73 million square miles. Describing “Africa” is impossible because each country is so incredibly unique. Even within countries, diverse culture, traditions, languages, landscapes, and people make it difficult to put such a space under any umbrella.
This summer I was able to visit my second African country, Mozambique, and was stunned. From the moment we landed in Maputo the experience felt different and refreshing. Paved roads wound through markets selling exotic fruit. Unfinished buildings left from before independence sat by the numerous art deco structures and sandy beaches. It was more different from Uganda than I could have imagined.
The poverty was different as well. The neighborhoods on the outskirts of Maputo, where I went to meet our new RUFC partners Reencontro and Favela United (more on them in a future post), were comprised of small brick buildings with narrow, sandy paths forming a maze. In Oyam, Uganda, where I had been only hours before, huts are spread out across large swaths of open land. The children at the schools we visited were, no doubt, impoverished, but it was a different kind of poverty. They live in urban poverty and face different challenges than those living hours from Uganda’s nearest city. Over half the population on earth now lives in cities and urban settings breed unique public health issues. That same statement applies to doing camp there. Transport might be easier because of the greater population density, but prices for housing and food would rise in the city. We will face totally different challenges working in Mozambique than in Uganda.
The whole trip was astonishing for me - the beautiful beaches, the amazing food, and the friendly people. Everyone talks about having the African experience. But I realized that doesn't exist. Depending on where you go and what you do while there, my African experience could be entirely different from yours. Yet, in the end I find we will likely come away with the same lessons. We learn to appreciate the beauty of different cultures and countries and grow to love them, and when the opportunity arises to visit a new location, we get to fall in love all over again.