Celebrating our partnership
Tuesday was a special day for both I.N. Uganda and CrossRoads. It was a celebration of the CHAP program (Community HIV/AIDS Prevention), and a chance to look back at 8 years of partnership and celebrate the successes. The day was packed with speeches from those positively impacted by the program, and it even included cake, dinner, and a DJ.
A tent was setup in the garden outside the guesthouse, and guests began arriving around 1:00 pm. The CHAP staff (Collins, Kennedy, Joab, and Patrick) were busy coordinating the activities and also acted as the Master of Ceremonies (MC). Collins kept us entertained on the microphone and ensured the event stayed on time (to our surprise!). The meeting started with an opening prayer by Pastor Eli, and welcoming remarks from Collins.
We then began hearing stories from CHAP beneficiaries and stakeholders. Two school aged children, Olive and Victor, told their stories of being HIV positive children, and being able to live fuller lives because of the support of CHAP. They have been provided with opportunities to attend school, receive proper nutrition (which is very important in order to stay healthy with HIV), and they have greater confidence in themselves because of CHAP’s work to de-stigmatize the illness. Bill remembers first meeting Ivan eight years ago and recalls that Ivan had little hope for the future. But, now he is pursuing his dreams and is living ‘positively’.
Following these two students, there was a presentation from the Headmaster of Buikwe Church of Uganda Primary School, two members of a local Villages Savings and Loans Association, and an I.N. Board member. Each person thanked God for what had been accomplished over the past eight years, and also deeply, and repeatedly, thanked CrossRoads Church for supporting the CHAP program and caring for the people of Buikwe. Their thanks was also reiterated by the Mayor of Buikwe, and a representative from the Buikwe District Council.
We had an intermission from the speeches while children from Buikwe Church of Uganda Primary School came forward to entertain us with songs and poems. They were all dressed in matching uniforms and shared songs about HIV/AIDS prevention. These songs were an important part of CHAP as it helped educated people, and also reduce the stigma surrounding the illness. It’s always a joy to hear the sound of singing kids in Africa, and this was a highlight of the afternoon.
The remaining speeches were from Reverend Justus, Bill Shaw (on behalf of Pastor Dan Cochrane), and Adam Minke (on behalf of Pastor Tracy Minke). It was clear that both I.N. and CrossRoads has deeply valued the relationship forged over the past 8 years. We’ve all learned so much from each other, and we’ve been blessed to work together. As Pastor Tracy wrote: “Over the years, as we have sent teams over to learn from, encourage and engage with the CHAP team, our passion has grown, as has our relationship with you. As we have had opportunities to invite some of you into our church and community, a similar effect has been felt. Our church has been blessed by this partnership over the years and we feel honored to have been a part of it.” Bill Shaw wrapped up the speeches with heart-felt words about our love for the people of Uganda, and gratitude for what God is doing in this country.
The event finished with gifts and many thanks for the CHAP team and their hard work and service over the years. There were also commemorative plaques exchanged between International Needs and CrossRoads Church. Then finally the cake and a delicious dinner!
As I write this blog, we are only hours from leaving for the airport. Our team has found this experience to be unique and life changing, and we look forward to sharing our passion with friends and family. We are sad to be leaving, and somewhat apprehensive about returning to ‘normal’ life. Many of us are on ‘Africa time’ and will likely experience reverse cultural shock after stepping off the plane. Your prayers are again appreciated as we return home. We’ll see you soon!
-Adam and the Team