A Ugandan Transformation
Hamilton District Christian High grade 12 student Caleb Radley reflects on his service trip to Uganda
Cheers and shouts from the sidelines of a homemade sports court filled the air. “Mzungu! Mzungu!” came from giggling children who thought it was hilarious seeing white people play a sport. Players were slipping because of the dust-covered ground, fouls were flying, and baskets were being made on the rusty, old nets.
Somehow, the five other boys from the trip and I found ourselves in a crazy basketball game with some locals at a school an hour from Kampala, Uganda. I took it all in and appreciated this crazy event in my life. Moments like these are the ones that you can’t help but smile about when you think back. This was the craziest and most unforgettable game of pickup basketball I had ever played.
Twelve HD students and two teacher chaperones arrived in Kampala on Sunday early in the morning after four flights and close to 30 hours of travel. Monday through Wednesday was spent at orphanages, painting, making cement, and showing love towards the kids. Thursday through Saturday were travel/safari days. The second Sunday included church and a cultural dance, and then we rounded out the week on Monday by going to the market to find souvenirs and eat pizza on the beach.
I went on this trip back in 2014 and I loved it, but I felt like I didn’t appreciate every moment I was given. I knew that this time I had to really soak in all the opportunities I was going to experience. There were so many times I stopped for a second, realized the magnitude of what I was doing, and thanked the Lord for the opportunity. These are memories I will never lose. Things like picking up kids so they can dunk a ball, laughing over funny pictures we took together, and playing the sports that we both enjoy and love. This was my happy place.
I still get chills when I think about being able to share sports and faith with the people in Uganda. How amazing is it that the sports I love to play here can be shared with them there? We live nearly 12,000 kilometers away and we both play and love the same hobbies. Moments like these help me see life in a whole different way. These people don’t have a lot. They have a strong community and they have a loving God. They are content. I strive to be the same.
Related: Uganda 2016
I encourage people to go on a trip like this. Hamilton District Christian High has given me the opportunity to go to this wonderful country twice, and I legitimately have two of the best weeks of my life under my belt. Even the bad parts make the trip better. For example, I had to go to the hospital one day (this hospital was really something you had to see to believe) as my contact broke in my eye after getting hit in the face by accident. Another day, the engine in one of the cars broke and we had to squeeze 17 people in a van. Looking back, these aren’t bad memories. These are the ones that make you laugh and appreciate how much more exciting the journey was.
Writing this article is a challenging task for me. I’m not great at talking about my emotions (sorry future girlfriend). In my head, I have a million things to say, but actually getting them out how I want is the tougher part. I have tried my best to capture everything on this page, but I know I haven’t been able to do it justice. I just don’t have the words for parts of it. This trip is just something you have to do to fully understand. I can, however, say confidently that it was life-changing for me for so many different reasons. I learned that it is foolish to feel any sympathy for these people as they have meaningful things that money can’t buy, like a strong community. We have so much to take away from this trip.
Colossians 4:5 is a verse I like to relate to the trip. It states, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.” This trip was transformative for my life. I spent 10 days in Uganda with some of my best friends experiencing extraordinary people and unbelievable adventures. God is good.
Grade 12 Student
Hamilton District Christian High