Kindness of strangers gets local to Uganda
Marty Jones, owner of the Wildflower Farms and Garden Center in Edwards, recently spent three weeks in Uganda visiting the child he sponsors through a Denver-based organization called Christ Aid.
He sent several e-mails to his wife and four daughters, family members and other child sponsors at the Gracious Savior Lutheran Church in Edwards. Most of the children in Christ Aid’s programs have lost either one or both parents to AIDS. Jones, volunteers Belinda Hart and Rodell Moekley, and the organization’s Ugandan-born president, David Mporampora, arrived just after Christmas with presents including goats and bicycles.
A goat can be particularly valuable to a Ugandan family as one female animal can be used to start a herd. The male animals can be eaten and others sold. The bicycles are a key form of transportation in Uganda, Jones says.
“They use bicycles like we use light trucks -and they carry almost as much on them,” Jones said.
Christ Aid’s goal is to build schools so the children can get an education and move beyond the region’s subsistence economy, Jones said.
“The goal of the group is to be transparent,” Jones said. “They let you come over and take pictures of your child receiving a goat or bicycles.”
Those interested in Christ Aid can call Jones at 926-5504 or visit the group’s Web site: http://www.christ-aid.org.
The following are excerpts from Jones’ e-mails. Other excerpts will be published in the coming weeks.
– Matt Zalaznick
DAY 1 and 2
After literally several miracles we arrived in Kampala, Uganda.
The first miracle was at DIA. The airline was supposed to charge us $220 per extra bag. We met a wonderful woman there named Karen.
When I told David (Mporampora) that the excess baggage was $220 instead of $150 his face fell. He had 10 very large duffel bags and I had one extra. Karen told us they all had to be weighed and none could be over 70 pounds.
So we shuffled the weight around and had an extra bag to put some of the overage in. When all was weighed I still had my carry-on with all my camera equipment in it. It was overweight, also.
So Karen says to check it. I got a strange look on my face. She said, “Don’t worry I’m not going to charge you for it.” David and I looked at each other and large grins appeared on our faces. She didn’t charge us for anything. It was truly amazing.
Then it was on to London where the second miracle occurred. We got there and David decided to wait at the airport and take care of some business. Me and Rodell (Moekley) and Belinda (Hart) took the tube into London. It is an amazing city.
We decided to take a bus tour of the city. We got on a double-decker bus with half a roof on the top. We rode around London and saw an amazing city – and froze. It was 30 degrees and a light mist was falling, but we loved it, anyway.
We returned to the airport and looked for David at our arranged meeting place. He was nowhere to be found. We went out to the gate and waited till an hour before boarding time, still no David.
Then we heard a page for us. We decided that he may be having trouble getting through security with our carry-ons. We were correct, but we still couldn’t find David.
We finally spoke to him on the phone and he said he was on his way, but 30 minutes later still no David. After speaking to several security people we found another angel. We told him what was going on and he went to look for David. He returned having not found him. We implored him to keep looking.
He went back and found him, brought him to the front of a very long line and ran him through. If this gentleman hadn’t helped us, David might still be in London. He told us after word that he was in a security office and they went through all our bags, but wouldn’t let him through unless we claimed our bags first. We didn’t know where he was, however.
So we finally boarded the plane and were off to Kampala. When we arrived I began to pull our bags off the carousel and Rodell and David were taking them to customs. I walked over there in a sea of humanity and a customs agent said come with me.
I followed him right out the front door of the airport. We could have been there for hours with all our baggage. He came out to our vans to say good-bye.
He was a Christian and was able to help us right through customs with no lines no searches. There were five children at the airport and several volunteers to greet us. It was great to meet the Uganda team.
Tomorrow we are going about an hour northwest to the source of the Nile with 25 children from Kampala to have a party for them. It should be a great time. So far the country and the people have been wonderful. Will report more later. I have to sign off for now.