[the africa diaries] day twelve: teaching in uganda

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

March 30, 2010

You’ve probably never heard of Rwesande.

In fact, you won’t even find it on a Google Map. It’s in the area of Kasese up in the Rwenzori Mountains. Based on the roads that we took to get out there, I’m not surprised that I can’t find this place on a Google Map.

But after a very bumpy (and sometimes scary) drive far up into the mountains we discovered this amazing community of people. From a distance, you never would have believed that there was this much life running around out there, but as we got closer to our destination the people started buzzing around seemingly out of nowhere.

I had heard that people would walk several miles to come see us, and now I was seeing it. No cars. No bicycles. Nothing but their feet. I can’t imagine that it was an easy walk either.

Jim and I were the only ones from our team at this site. That meant that I would have the opportunity to teach for half of the day on both days. And with a little rain in the forecast, I was just happy to see that the church building we were in was fairly sound.

We arrived a little later than expected, and were surprised to find that none of our participants were there when we arrived. When we asked where everyone was we were told that it was the one day that week that the market was open. If the people wanted to buy food for the week they would have to go that morning.


This was yet another event that made me realize how different our lives are. I can go to the grocery store any time. Not only that… this is also where people would have gone to sell goods to others, making this one of few money making opportunities that many would have that week.

oh snap.

We were there to teach business skills,  so we waited patiently for them to arrive from the market before we started. The late start would certainly impact our timing and schedule, but it just seemed better to respect their way of life.

Then as we got started, they wanted to get it started with a little singing. You’ve got to understand something here… This building we were in was NOT one of those acoustically engineered buildings that was made for sound. It is a structure of mud walls with a tin roof on top of it. 

And the video that I’m sharing here doesn’t do the experience justice. But as they sang, their worship FILLED the place! I didn’t understand a SINGLE WORD, but I did know that we were WORSHIPPING…

[youtube yThoyMOUU4c nolink]

It was easy to see the sense of community that these people have. Forget all of the fancy bells and whistles… they didn’t need that. They could just come together and sing beautiful music to the Lord! AND… they didn’t need an overhead projector to show everyone the words!

As we worked through the day, our teaching had them breaking off into small groups for various projects. I was impressed by how well the people worked together through these projects. The people were innovative and developed amazing ideas that they could work out collaboratively.

Their sense of unity was special. There wasn’t anyone running around saying, “I’m going to take this idea myself and go get rich!” The people tended to think much more about how each of them could have a part in the overall plan. There seemed (to me) this sense that each person knew that the one sitting next to them needed the opportunity just as much as they did, and it would be unthinkable to leave them out of the chance at achieving a better life.

This is a sense of community that I think many of us miss sometimes here in the States. We’ve become so isolated from the rest of the world around us.

I mean, seriously… when was the last time that you looked at the person next to you and though, “man, I know that he/she is probably struggling just as much as I am… what can I do to work with them to improve both of our lives?”

That kind of community can be a pretty powerful (and beautiful) thing. 

Check out more from this series in the africa diaries.


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[the africa diaries] day twelve: teaching in uganda

by Dan King time to read: 4 min