Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Life Changing Trip to Nyaka

Cameron and her family meeting a Grandmother Croup
Hi Friends! My name is Cameron and I’m excited to tell you about my recent trip to Uganda. I have so much to share! 

My family was fortunate enough to be able to take a trip to Nyaka this summer. I have been dreaming of going there since I was little. When I was seven, I heard from Jackson the story of orphans in Uganda who had lost their parents to AIDS and who wanted an education. I saw their pictures, fell in love with the children, and was determined to help them. Since then, I have done a fundraiser every year for Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project.

I really could go on and on about how amazing the trip was, instead I decided to write about my top four takeaways from the trip.

Number One:  The children are incredibly grateful! 
When we arrived on the first day and walked through the gate to enter the school, hundreds of children came running up to hug us. I couldn’t keep my tears in. They were SO happy to see us. They know that YOU are supporting them with their education and they just want to show you their love. While visiting the school, there wasn’t a moment that my hand wasn’t being held and that arms weren’t being wrapped around me. Children asked me if I knew their sponsor and could tell them hello and thank you. The children were constantly showing their gratitude for the support that you give them. I wanted to make sure that you knew how exceptionally grateful they are for your support. SO – THANK YOU ALL! 

Number Two: Education is critically important
After receiving all that love, I KNEW that the NYAKA children valued their education. During the visit, I had a chance to teach each grade’s class with my family. The children are excited to learn and are very smart! I was really impressed with the not only the classrooms but also the quality teachers that Nyaka has.  

However, as we traveled from one school to the next, or around town, I saw poverty – extreme poverty. I saw kids who should have been in school during those school hours naked, plowing fields, digging through trash or following us around. I realized these were kids whose families (if they even had a family) couldn’t afford to send them to school. And the sad part was I realized that they really didn’t have a future. They would probably die at a young age of malnutrition or sickness.  It reminded me how fortunate our NYAKA orphans are to have the community of US supporting them. It made me realize that without an education there is no future for these children. 

I got to meet two recent Nyaka graduates who were working in the Blue Lupin Library coffee shop while I was there. Their names were Shillah and Ronald. They are now in their freshman year of college. They wanted to make sure that we knew how much they valued their education. They knew that without their education, they wouldn’t be here. I now have a new sister and brother in Uganda. 

Number Three: Nyaka is impacting the entire community 
While I was there, I got a chance to visit every part of the area including all of the Nyaka facilities. I visited the Nyaka Primary school, the Secondary School, Kutumba, the Desire Farm, the Blue Lupin Library, the Mummy Drayton Health Clinic and also visited the Nyaka Grannies called “Mukaakas”. Each of these pieces of the Nyaka puzzle are transforming the community that they are in. The schools are providing education and food to the most needy orphans in the community. These children are growing up to be highly educated college graduates who are going to come back and start businesses and work in the local community - therefore transforming it.

The library is providing internet and books to the community for free. The Mummy Drayton Health Clinic is not only providing healthcare to your orphans but is providing healthcare to the entire community. The Grannies, “Mukaakas”, are not only providing shelter and love to your orphans but are providing this to thousands of orphans all around the western part of Uganda. Through the micro-loans that Nyaka is giving the grannies, they are business-women selling goods and making a living on their own in a culture that is still male-dominated. I didn’t realize this until I had the chance to visit - the impact that Nyaka has on everyone in the community is so clearly evident. An intentionally, holistic approach to education, healthcare, and personal betterment, have a tangible positive effect on the entire community. They are doing everything right!

Number 4: Your support is critical.
Cameron with her sponsored student Rabecca
After seeing that a meal can cost $.30 and how inexpensive things are, I was amazed at how far our money can go there. When we visited the Nyaka Administrative offices in Kampala, I met the three Nyaka Accountants who told me thank you for my support through the years, and told me that EVERY PENNY that we give them is accounted for.  

As a result of my trip to Nyaka, my perspective has changed in regards to WANTS versus NEEDS. For a $1 to $2 a day a life can be changed…forever. The average American spends $3 each day or $1,100 a year on Starbucks! I would challenge all of us to consider sacrificing one of our small “wants” for one of their large “needs”. Can we think beyond ourselves to change the future of orphans in Uganda?   
As I mentioned earlier, every year since I was seven I’ve raised money for Nyaka. I can tell you it’s not that hard to ask people to support something that you’re passionate about! Would you consider possibly sponsoring a child, maybe you could have your whole family pitch in to sponsor one as a family? Maybe you decide to give a portion of your bonus to change the life of a child?

Having seen it first hand I can tell you there is almost nothing that I wouldn’t give up or sacrifice to help these children. 

The term “life-changing” gets overused sometimes. People often talk about food, fashion or a technology device as being life changing. However, I believe the term-life changing should be reserved for an event or cause that moves someone to a deeper commitment to help others. This trip to Nyaka did exactly that for my family and me. We are constantly looking for new and bigger ways to support the organization that has touched our hearts in such an enormous way. 

I hope you join me supporting this life-changing. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to hear about my trip and more about Nyaka!   I’m going to close with a quote that I like from John Wesley which says, 

Thank you and God Bless.

You can make a donation to Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project by visiting their website HERE