I was the VERY reluctant traveler. I hesitantly went to Uganda with friends who started, and have been working with what is now www.ugandashoetrees.com for almost 20 years. Not a “spa getaway.” Instead, doing the unknown in an unknown place with unknown people. Unknown is not my strong suit.
My strong suit, and passion, is being the person in the background helping others thrive in their area of passion. I was happy to admire Uganda Shoe Trees work from afar, to pray for them, and to donate so they had the resources to help the projects actually happen. “From afar” being the operative word going into this adventure.
David and Chris are great at calming the “wild reluctant-traveler beast” with pre-trip prep, and making sure there are no travel unknowns. From their previous trips, I’d seen the pictures of adorable school children, and heard the stories of handing out shoes. I went in expecting to work with local partner schools to help neighborhood kids get shoes so they are allowed to attend, as well as helping them plant and learn to care for fruit trees on school property for shade and food through Environmental Care Seminars taught when we visit.
I was surprised when I got there, though, at the other work going on. As the Uganda Shoe Trees field office was built on land an hour and a half or so out of Kampala, it gave the opportunity to be part of a village community. The team has embraced that opportunity with sustainable practices, native planting, job creation, and jumped with both feet into mutually-supportive relationships with neighbors. Another focus has been providing “micro loans” to local entrepreneurs to get their ideas for self sustaining business up and running. I found myself spending time with local entrepreneurs who speak several languages and work night and day to run their businesses, support their families, and be in community with their neighbors from the U.S. …WAY better than a “spa getaway!” In the end, we even got a couple days lay over to see Belgium on the way home – also better than a spa getaway.
Nancy Jumper, Guest Blogger
Such a great story! How wonderful that you overcame your reluctance and flew off into the great unknown. I know you will be forever changed, and I imagine the work you do in the future to help plant more schools (and trees) and to support new entrepreneurs will grow dramatically in the coming years.