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Projects for Justice and Sustainability Reports

In 2009 the Center awarded two Projects for Justice and Sustainability grants to Jewell students.

Alaina Barclay, a nonprofit leadership major from Kansas City, MO, received a grant to travel to Mozambique, Africa for three weeks to work at the Carolina Belshe Orphanage.

Abigail Pratt, a sophomore religion major from Liberty, MO received a grant to travel to central and eastern Uganda for three weeks with a group of undergraduate students sponsored by the "student.go" program of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Click here to find out how you can apply for a Project for Justice and Sustainability grant.

Alaina Barclay

My original proposal for this journey consisted of traveling with a group to an orphanage in Mozambique, Africa to help construct a building that would serve a duel purpose as a dining hall and classroom. Along the way we were also going to accomplish miniature projects, such as feeding homeless children. After two weeks the rest of the group was to return home while I stayed at the orphanage helping with activities for the children.

In reality my trip was a lot more involved than what I had pictured. It was easy for me to realize that the ten hour trip from Maputo to Cambine would be easier to handle on paper than once I sat squashed in between two people and supplies on an uncomfortable fold-out seat two sizes too small for my body. But I did not appreciate beforehand that this trip wouldn’t be as impersonal as I had built myself up to believe; people took an interest in me, and I in them, facilitating the growth of relationships between us. In fact, the hardest part of this trip was to leave those who I have come to care about so much.

The itinerary of service started with buying supplies and gifts that we believed would be needed when we reached the village of Cambine: tools, water, food, and tables and chairs to outfit the new building. When we arrived at the orphanage the next day the hall was not as far along as was necessary for our team to help. So while workers used unstable, make-shift scaffolding to position cement in the necessary crevices, our team worked with the orphans on activities. We continued this work, eventually succeeding in doing activities in a calm and organized manner. Before our journey ever started, we obtained shoes to give out at the orphanage, along with left over pairs going to those who needed them. At seeing the children walking around barefoot we started the distribution process which quickly became a bit chaotic, but ended with every child getting two pairs of shoes.

While at the orphanage we also assessed situations that we thought could be changed for the better. As a result of our team visit, the orphanage has once again started baking bread which is sold for a profit, a process that was abandoned only due to lack of communication between the baker and director. There has also been a new process adopted for buying food every two weeks, which will leave less room for uncertainty in the amount of inventory. The third imprint that was made at the orphanage due to this trip was that four tutors have been acquired for the next year, to help further the orphan’s education.

One day during our stay, we visited a local women’s shelter that houses those who have been ostracized by society after their husbands die. When we arrived we were greeted by elderly women, some of whom were blind or could hardly walk, but who still managed to find the strength to celebrate our coming with songs and dance. The women were presented first with gifts of food, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. Since the majority of these women had never brushed their teeth before, I asked a native of Mozambique to explain the process of brushing teeth. The toothless women inquisitively attempted what had just been described, each stroke adding vigor to the action. Next the women were fitted with shoes to protect their already scarred feet. Once each woman procured a pair of shoes, a team member would come around and decorate the shoes with ribbons. After tying the ribbons on, the women would hurriedly put the shoes on and admire their new possessions, pride shining through their weathered faces. Before leaving the women and allowing them to prepare a late lunch, the team bestowed them with five goats. As the goats bleated their concern, the women blessed the animals and celebrated by singing their joy.

As was aforementioned, there were plans to feed homeless children in Mozambique’s capital city of Maputo. Because I chose to stay in Cambine longer than the majority of my fellow team members, I was unable to join them in providing food to the destitute.

Language was a major obstacle for me. Knowing Portuguese not only would have helped me to understand and communicate in everyday situations, but it would have been helpful in enabling me to express my ideas. Something that I was interested in doing was teaching those at the orphanage to centralize where trash was placed, thus ensuring greater safety for the children. Because Mozambique does not have a system by which to dispose of trash, the people have learned that it is acceptable to throw trash anywhere and everywhere. As a result, orphans would take advantage of the litter by running around with old light bulbs and licking discarded food wrappers that they had found lying in the dirt. I tried to demonstrate to the orphans that they should pick up trash and put it in an already existing trash pile but I’m afraid that without verbal explanation, the practice will not be continued. With that being said, I did have an opportunity to speak with a local farmer about expanding his compost pile by including any plant waste produced at the orphanage.

Throughout my stay in Africa, I participated in many unplanned activities, the first of which was serving lunch to the small village of Bethlehem. After serving the villagers with sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and punch, it was their turn to serve us with the native food that they had made to honor our visit.

Once the five fellow members of my church traveled back to Maputo, I unexpectedly met the instructor of the Estrela, who invited me to teach the students English numbers. Estrela is an after or before school facility, fashioned loosely on preschool, which children in the village may attend for two hours. Because the children’s learning abilities and education levels vary, it was difficult to have everyone learn 1-20 as well as I would have liked; but I continued to make a game out of it for the two hour periods and I was taught Portuguese numbers in return.

An activity that I was expected to do as a visitor from America was prepare and give a sermon at a church service that gathered seven surrounding churches to celebrate a confirmation type ceremony. With hundreds of people starring at me expectantly that morning I was a bundle of nerves. I delivered the sermon with the help of an English speaking woman, and although the translating process did not go smoothly, those in attendance understood the point of the speech, telling me how well I did after the service.

The final unexpected task that I was given for completion was that of writing a grant request, something that I am positive that I would not have been able to do without the help of William Jewell’s nonprofit classes. As I appealed to the organization for funds to clothe and feed the children at the Caroline Belshe Orphanage, I felt that I truly understood the amount of responsibility that I carried for the outcome which would affect these children that I had come to love.

It may seem from the tone of this report thus far, that the entire trip to Mozambique was wonderful for me—it wasn’t. As customs officials asked for bribes before we had even reached Mozambique, warning bells were ringing in my ears. After paying off the officials and being accosted by a boy selling fish, we were greeted into the country with the sight of trash scattered, hordes of people along the road, animals scrounging for food, and slums formed with foraged bits of scraped metal. A fellow team member who had previously experienced Mozambique tried to warn me of the severity of poverty in which the country’s civil war had left it. I thought that I had read and heard enough about the state of the country to be prepared, but nothing could have steadied me for the wave of discomfort that I felt in that moment. Slowly my discomfort melted as the people’s love for life and each other shone through their imperfect situation. As I have learned in being a part of the Pryor Leadership Program, a person must be stretched out of one’s comfort zone in order to grow, and I feel as though that is what happened to me in Africa.

I believe that this trip was a success in making a difference although I did not start by deeming it as successful. Throughout my time in Cambine I was frustrated to not be allowed to do manual labor. I had arrived with the ambition of helping to build something great for the children, something desperately needed, only to be told that it was just far enough along for the experienced African construction workers to work on. A week later I asked to help drill for and hang shower curtains, towel racks, and toilet paper rolls, and was told that I may. But instead I was asked to take Aninha to the small hospital in the village because she trusted me. I did carry her to the hospital, trailed by Samuel who hurried to keep up on his short, little three-year old legs, and comforted her through her feverish terrors as we waited to be seen. During the examination I was able to tell the visiting American doctors pertinent information about her. All of the orphans were scheduled to be seen that day and they started to arrive just as Aninha was finished. I was torn—I had to make sure that this medical team had information that no one else seemed to have, but I was at the orphanage originally to do construction work, which was happening without me. I chose to stay with the children.

There were four other instances in which I called attention to medical issues that plagued the children—Pedro’s allergic reaction to his malaria medicine, the sore on Ferhando’s foot, Olinda’s legs that were spotted with open wounds, and the sand impacted sore on Lucas’s heel that flies were swarming. Only once I returned from Cambine did I realize that in this and other situations I was instrumental in serving the children and shaping a brighter future for them, just in a different way than that which I had planned.

I would like to end my report by saying that although I could never describe fully what this trip meant to me, I can only hope that I have done the warm-hearted people of Mozambique justice in the way that I have depicted these events.

Abigail Pratt

Description of Project: June 1-15, 2009; Work as part of four person team in Uganda distributing mosquito nets and coordinating soccer camps for children; sponsoring organization – student.go/Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF); Ugandan CBF personnel Jade and Shelah Acker; Team Leader and project supervisor Carson Foushee

Introduction: My journey to Uganda started long before the take-off date of May 30th. In the spring when I applied for the Center of Justice and Sustainability grant I knew very little about what I would be doing in Uganda and with whom I would be working. My preparation included lots of time writing applications for programs and grants, reading about Uganda, communicating with people who had been to Africa, emailing messages with CBF personnel, purchasing equipment for the trip, and packing and re-packing. Throughout the preparation my knowledge grew.

I knew that the two major projects we would be doing were distributing mosquito nets and coordinating soccer camps for children. These two projects were based on and developed from the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) created by the United Nations. These two major projects and all the other things we actually did while we were in Uganda were totally different than what I imagined.

I was optimistic about traveling to Africa and experiencing a new culture. As we approached the airport in Entebbe, I was overcome by the literal darkness of the land. It was late at night when we landed and there were very few lights visible for miles. The first think I learned was that in Uganda, electricity is not a common commodity. Over the next 25 days I found myself in situations of darkness, experiencing a culture and lifestyle so unfamiliar to my own.

Mosquito Net Distribution: Goal six of the MDG is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Target three of this goal is by 2015 to have halted and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases. A proposed solution to meeting this target was the distribution of chemically treated mosquito nets. These nets are made to hang from a ceiling and completely cover a bed preventing individuals from being bitten by mosquitos while they are sleeping. With money that was raised in the United States we were able to purchase 2,500 nets. We traveled to three districts in Uganda. We distributed a little over 500 nets in Kapchorwa to small rural communities. 350 nets were given in the district of Kaberamiado. Half went to a small community called Keller Port and the rest went to an orphanage and individuals who helped our group. In the third district, Kampala, we gave 40 nets to a small orphanage, 80 were given in an organization called Cornerstone, and 200 nets to another organization called Sport Friends. The rest of the nets were left with the CBF field personnel. Since our return 900 of the 1,200 nets we left have been distributed to local nonprofit organizations and ministries. The rest of the nets will be given to the Goma Child Sponsorship Project and IDPs in the Congo.

My idea of distributing mosquito nets was to simply take bundles of nets to communities and drop them off. I quickly learned that this was not the case. A typical distribution took place under the community’s gathering tree. Depending on the size of the community and how fast the word spread that we were coming, we had anywhere from 30 to 300 people come. Once everyone was gathered the leader in the community would welcome everyone. The each member of our group introduced him/herself and brought greetings from his/her home. This was a lengthy process when we had 10-15 people in our group and 1-2 translators. The process was time consuming and exhausting. As an introvert, large groups of people are energy draining. Speaking in front of them is even more nerve racking and tiring. After introductions we had to explain the importance of mosquito nets, how to use them, and take care of them. Because the nets were treated with chemicals they had to be aired out before use and cleaned a certain way. The actual process of distributing the nets varied. In some places we handed the net out to individuals as the leaders read names off of a list. In other communities the leaders distributed the nets. This depended on how organized the group was and how many people were present. At our first distribution hundreds of people showed up. We were not expecting such a large crowd and did not have enough net for everyone. The leaders in the community had determined who would receive nets but a group within the community did not agree with the decision. We found ourselves in the middle of a community dispute and ended up having to remove ourselves from the situation and let the community leaders complete the distribution. People were always thankful to receive the nets. Even though we tried to explain as thoroughly as possible I was not sure if the people understood how to use the nets. In some of the communities one net could cover the entire interior of the people’s mud huts. In other places the nets were stretched over bunk beads or suspended from the ceiling for those who slept on the floor. The difficult part of distributing the nets is that they are not beneficial unless used properly. I hope that the nets are put to good use for the sake of the people. It is disheartening to give something that can do so much good and leave without knowing if it will serve its purpose.

Soccer Camps: Our second project was to coordinate soccer camps for children. Community leaders in Uganda have embraced the system of using sports as a means for keeping children out of trouble and encouraging them to go and stay in school. Before leaving for Uganda I collected soccer ball pumps, cones, Frisbees, and bubbles from friends and family. These materials were used for the “camps” we held. These camps consisted of going to communities or orphanages and simply playing with the kids. In Kapchorwa we played with children in the schoolyard for a day. The school had recently opened and was being run by volunteers. The oldest children had classes in a nice building, the middle aged children had to meet in a crumbling building with only half a roof, and the youngest children met underneath large trees. Throughout the day we put on skits, ran rely races, played with parachutes, and played soccer and netball. It was a wonderful experience to bring children and mothers to the schoolyard for fun and games. The community is working to become united after years of tribal disputes. This “camp” was a way to bring the people together and share laughs and smiles. We also spent three afternoons at Asayo’s Wish Orphanage playing lots of soccer and netball. We threw Frisbees, blew bubbles, and had a ton of fun. We would have the children participate in simple drills and relays but found it was more important to interact with the children instead of instructing them on how to play soccer. We also learned that girls are not always allowed to play soccer. At the orphanage most of the girls had never played before. The children were wonderful and were happy to try anything we asked them too. A couple of times our instructions on how to play a game failed due to miscommunication. The children were so trusting and would try their best. One time I tried to teach a group of 3 and 4 year olds how to play “Duck, Duck, Goose.” They did not understand the game at all, I felt very frustrated at first but had to laugh thinking how strange the game seemed to them. I was a little bit disappointed we did not get to play soccer more, but was so pleased to have the opportunity to play with the children. I am also glad that we were able to play games with girls and boys together.

Other work: In addition to the net distribution and soccer camps with children we were able to meet with many developing organizations and groups. Through these meetings we were able to learn about a few of the many different efforts that are being made to improve life for Ugandans. We were able to not only interact with children, but also with teenagers and adults. In Kampala we spent a day visiting a widows group who lives in a slum. The women make beaded jewelry as a means of supporting themselves and their children. A couple, Simon and Aggie Paech, in Kampala who are supported by organizations in the United States buy the beads and provide the women with a monthly stipend. We were able to meet the ladies and take a tour of the slum, visiting each of their houses, and buy beads from them. This was one of my favorite experiences. I loved talking with the ladies, learning about their lives, and seeing their homes. We visited a sewing group in Kapchorwa and learned about how another group of ladies are supporting themselves. In Kaberamiado we spent a morning sitting and talking with the Arrow Boys. They are a group of men and women who are widows and war veterans. In forming a group they are able to get money from the government to care for each other and help child soldiers. Many of the Arrow Boys who came shared their unique and tragic life story. We concluded our stay in Kaberamiado by helping with a Youth Leadership Conference. We acted as small group facilitators. Five local schools were asked to pick 20 students to attend the conference. The students participated in lectures and discussion challenging them to develop their leadership skills. I enjoyed talking with the students and learning about what life is like for a teenager in Uganda. The last week of our trip was spent in Kampala working with an organization called Sports Friends. This program trains young adults to go into some of the poorest communities and start sports teams. They not only teach the children how to play a sport but they hold bible studies and organize community service projects. In working with Sports Friends we held a bible study and fellowship time with the coaches, worked with a coach and his team of street boy, and visited many communities in which Sports Friends works. At the end of the week we helped with Sports Friends annual Kids Games. More than 800 children gathered on a huge field and took part in various games and competitions. We split up and worked with the coaches to run games. It was a wonderful, long, hectic, and hot day.

Conclusion: At times I felt like I was not prepared for the many extra experiences we had. It was easy to feel overwhelmed because of all we were doing in such a short time. Though it was not possible, it would have been helpful to know in advance all the things we were going to do. We quickly learned that Ugandans are much more laid back when it comes to scheduling and timely engagements. At the time we arrived in Uganda we had a very detailed itinerary. Despite all the work that had gone into making reservations and contacting groups nothing was for sure until it happened. We learned to wake up each morning and be prepared for our plans to change at any time. I am so pleased that we were able to go and do all that we did.

When meeting with Richard, the director of Sports Friends, he encouraged us to share our faith with as many Ugandans as possible. Personally, I am not outgoing in the evangelical sense and was apprehensive of this idea. Richard then explained that many Ugandans do not believe Americans are Christian. They believe that because we have so much stuff that we do not need God or have room for God. They perceive Americans as all being rich and needless. In spending a month in Uganda I hope I was able to build relationship with people and share love and joy. I hope that the mosquito nets we distributed will help Ugandans to stay healthy and the spread of malaria to decrease. I left Uganda humbled. As a fortunate American I know that I need to do more to reach out to the world around me. I have held tiny, dirty hands, tickled bloated bellies, shared in the tears and stories of struggling adults, and developed life-long relationships. As we flew out of Entebbe Airport I was no longer uncomfortable with the darkness. I learned that light is not always necessary. It is in experiencing the times of darkness that we are challenged to reach out for help and in doing so build relationship with one another.

Here is how I see this experience impacting my two remaining year’s at Jewell and my life in the next five years. In the next few months I hope to share my experience with as many people as possible. I would like to share my experience on campus to different groups such as worship jam, my sorority, and Pryor Fellows. I am also talking with groups from my church as well as other churches to give presentations on my trip. In telling others about my experience I hope to encourage them to get involved. Upon returning from Uganda I brought back beads to sell for an organization we worked with in Kampala, Journey Uganda. I hope to sell the beads on campus and to friends and family to raise money for the people I met and worked with. I will also be traveling to Alabama in September to attend a fundraiser for the CBF personnel we worked with in Uganda. In taking part in this event I hope to learn more about how I can help others get involved with their non-profit organization, Refuge and Hope. In the next year I want to become more knowledgeable about children who are currently living or have lived in war conflicted areas and the organizations that are working for them. I would like to work towards returning to Uganda by my senior year at Jewell. I would be interested in taking a group from Jewell with me. My interests in this trip would be organizing sports camps for children and teenagers. I would like to combine elements of leadership and teamwork with specific sports such as soccer, ultimate Frisbee, or basketball. As I look towards the next five years, I hope to one day live in Uganda for an extended time. I have interest in continuing sports work with children but am also interested in working specifically with children who have Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Almost all of the children who were child soldiers have PTSD and very few are receiving counseling. I have thought about continuing my education after Jewell and obtaining a doctorate in counseling specializing in PTSD. I have many ideas and hope to gain more information in the next few years to find how I can join hands with Ugandans to help rebuild the lives that have been torn apart by war and disease.

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