Reflections by Jordyn Hart
It’s been a year since I had the privilege to travel to Uganda with RUFC. Although it may sound like a cliché, it truly transformed my life for the better. Now, as I reflect over this impactful time, I find myself sitting in quarantine, feeling smaller and more disconnected than ever. But, I remember last summer attending the Youth Vision Trip where my eyes were opened to a world bigger than myself, and I don’t feel as small. It gave me perspective, and it made me think about the people we met on our trip. Specifically, how other teenagers growing up in countries like Uganda are feeling about this pandemic. It gives me a sense of gratitude and a hunger to try and make a change in both my own community and those far away from me.
Living in the U.S., it can be so easy to forget our privileges, while remaining complicit in our comfortable lifestyles. Traveling to a place where we wouldn’t have those same opportunities gave me perspective on my life during an age when I needed it most. Throughout the trip, we didn’t just interact with the people living in Uganda, but with a culture and an environment so different from our own. We saw rhinos and elephants on safari and explored the beautiful nature that is in Uganda. I was stunned by the beauty this country could carry, and how kind and generous the people were that lived there. The people I met welcomed us into their lives and homes, and helped us understand the world they were living in. Specifically during the homestay visit, I loved playing with the children and talking to the mothers about their experiences. I tried food like chapati (a type of Ugandan flat-bread), picked a mango straight from the tree, and I even tried goat! We also walked to get water for the family we were staying with, and I saw how much I took for granted. Something as simple and necessary as tap water isn’t accessible to everyone. I knew that water availability and safety was a major social justice issue, but walking the long path this family walks to get water every day, I felt the gravity of this problem.
My favorite part of the trip was helping at the annual RUFC soccer camp. At camp, we played soccer, educated the campers on healthy living, and danced. The dancing was one of my favorite parts of the trip, always filled with an abundance of smiles and laughter. I helped at various stations, my favorites being the mental health and sanitation lessons. Both of these stations were incredibly informative and fun for the campers, and it was one of the most important aspects of camp. Education is such a crucial part of growing up, and RUFC makes sure their students have the opportunity to live a healthy life. Whether its instruction on proper handwashing, a healthy diet, or even how to sew and use reusable feminine hygiene products, RUFC equipes the kids with knowledge that isn’t always presented to them. Assisting at the camp made me feel so grateful for the education I was able to have, and it made me realize that there is so much more to be done. Everyone should have the chance to be educated, regardless of wealth or gender. Even in the U.S., it seems that with education, simple sanitation techniques used to help the pandemic still can’t be followed. This truly displays the privilege we have in America, and where we need to emphasize health of not just ourselves, but others around us.
RUFC provided education for the campers in Uganda, and they continue to spread awareness in the States through posting and fundraising. Their camps don’t just provide education that could help save lives down the road, but they also provide food, resources, and a place to simply have fun. I am so grateful for everything that RUFC has done for me, and if you have the opportunity to get involved, I strongly suggest that you do.
Whether it’s attending a trip, helping fundraise, or even sponsoring a child, you are able to make a difference. During this pandemic, it is even more important that we reach out to the people that truly need it. It’s not every day that you are able to connect with people across the globe and make a difference in their lives. This trip was humbling, but it also propelled me into a life of social justice and fighting for what is right. There is so much work that has to be done to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities, and it was clear that RUFC had that in mind.