Several years ago, before I even considered coming to Uganda, I stumbled across the blog of this girl named Katie, who moved to Uganda after high school to teach kindergarten. She blogged incredible stories of trusting God, working hard & praying harder, fostering Ugandan girls, providing meals and medical care, and helping out in the slums. It is one of the few blogs that I went back and read in its entirety and was amazed at the story God was writing in Katie’s life and through Katie’s life. She started a ministry just outside of Jinja called Amazima (which means truth in Luganda). She more recently wrote a book called Kisses from Katie that helped raise money for Amazima.
When I decided to come to Uganda the first time, I met with Drew, a guy from my church who made our church website, because the website for the organization I’d be heading over with was, well, lacking a bit. Drew was super helpful in teaching me about the internet (or more specifically how to make a website without knowing any coding) and he was excited that I was heading to Uganda because his buddy Brad was working over there… with an organization called Amazima.
This summer when I got off the plane and Kailey met me at the airport, she kept saying, “ok, I was going to wait to tell you this, but I think you’re going to be really excited” and then would tell me more plans for my time in Uganda. One of these plans was to head to the nearby city of Jinja for a day. We would be visiting the Nile in the morning, and in the afternoon were heading over to Amazima.
Drew’s friend Brad met up with us and a large group of high schoolers when we arrived at Amazima. (Actually, we also saw him at the restaurant we ate lunch at, but didn’t want to seem like stalkers, so we didn’t say hello until we were supposed to meet with him in the afternoon at Amazima’s property). Brad told us all about what Amazima does and how they run their ministry.
I have visited quite a few organizations in Uganda and volunteered at several of them. I always love seeing how God is at work in Uganda… but I must say that Amazima is one of the few organizations that I am 100% on board with both their vision and they manner in which they carry out their vision.
Amazima is all about keeping families together and teaching, training, and providing other sustainable practices to the Ugandans. For example, when Brad first came over it was was to build a playground one summer. Katie didn’t want a team to just come in and build a playground for the kids. (Multiple groups had offered to do this). Rather, she wanted it to be done in a way that was beneficial to the community. Brad had both construction (I think) and teaching background and when he came. He worked with a group of Ugandan guys from the community to teach them to build a playground and they constructed it together.
They currently have a program called Farming God’s Way in which they have a couple of fields to show the outcome of traditional Ugandan farming methods and this different method. They teach people in the community a new way to farm that better cares for the land and also provides a better crop yield.
On Saturdays, kids in their program come for Bible lessons and a good meal and general fun. Each kid who is in their sponsorship program is assigned a Ugandan social worker who works with their families and helps them with any current needs. When children are orphaned, abandoned, or have other trauma or hardship in their lives, Amazima works to find a person or family in the community to take them in and care for them.
They also have a program with the Masese people in a slum, which they acknowledge is more of a handout program, but the needs there go so deep that they have to start somewhere. One really awesome thing they do in this community is provide free pre-school to the kids there, with the hope that it will not only give these kiddos a safe place to be during they day instead of sitting outside the school gate while older siblings attend class, but also will give them a stronger foundation with which to being primary school AND hopefully give parents a better understanding of the importance of education in their children’s lives.
We were able to take a look around Amazima’s property. It is beautiful. One building we went in is where they will be storing grain so that they can buy it from local farmers and give them a fair price, unlike some businesses that will buy it at a cheap price (because everyone’s crop is harvested at the same time, so there is more supply than demand) store it, and then sell it back at high prices when there is more demand than supply.
They recently have built a clinic and are dreaming about what God might have them do next. Brad shared a little bit of their potential future plans, and I was really excited to hear about them, as they line up so well with my heart and my dreams for Uganda.
Here are some links you should check out:
Kisses from Katie
The Journey: Katie’s Blog
Here are some pictures of this awesome place. Including one of me and Brad that I super awkwardly made him take, so that I could show Drew and Kelly that I did indeed meet their friend. I do my best to create awkward moments wherever I go…