Thursday, October 7, 2010

Off-Tu Mission

One of the main reasons I am here in Uganda is to do my junior social work field experience (internship).  I am doing my internship at Off-Tu Mission, which is headed up by Johann and Katherine, a German missionary couple, and employs a team of Ugandan nationals who work along side the German missionaries. I am involved at Off-Tu in three main areas: Off-Tu Academy, Off-Tu Children's Center, and Off-Tu's Urban Children's Ministry Program

I spend time in the mornings at Off-Tu Academy, a school with approx. 170 students in baby- P5 (what Americans would consider pre-school - 5th grade). My time at the school consists of teaching PE each Tuesday morning, teaching Bible stories and verses and having enrichment activities that go along with the Bible story,  teaching American stories and songs, and just getting to know the students during break times. I've also had the opportunity to serve lunch, help conduct a disciplinary meeting, and go on home visits to parents of the school (starting this week I'll actually be doing a lot more of these and over the semester I will get to help create a new intervention program for families of students, which I'm super-excited about!). There's a children's library here on UCU's campus, so I've started taking books to read to the classes I'm given. The Uganda children have oftentimes never seen a storybook, so they LOVE having story time with me.

In the afternoons I usually walk home from school with the 11 children who live at Off-Tu's Children's Center (while they are part of the same mission, the two locations are about a half-mile walk through the banana trees). I spend the afternoons with the kids at the Children's Center, serving them tea, playing games, reading to them, helping them prepare supper, etc. I really enjoy my time there getting to know these children and build relationships with them. The children taken in by Off-Tu mainly come off the streets; some are orphans, some have families that are not able to take care of them.  Julius (my field instructor) and I have decided to augment my schedule so that I will be able to spend more time with the children at the Center. While I enjoy the school, there is no way I could get to know 170 kids between now and December, so I'd really like to invest my time in the 11 who live at the Center. I've already been able to spend one-on-one time with most of the kids, but Julius and I are going to be making my mentoring and counseling with the kids more intentional. I'll also be reading their files to get to know their stories.

The final area I'm involved with is the Urban Children's Ministry Program. Each Tuesday afternoon, a group of Off-Tu workers, volunteers, interns, and some USP students go into Kampala to minister to children living on the streets. Kids end up on the streets for a number of reasons: poverty, abuse, abandonment, child sponsorship scams, but the bottom line is, they all need to be shown Christ's love! We alternate weeks between Retrack, a day home for boys living on the streets, and Naguru Remand Home, a juvenile detention center. When we visit, we put on a program consisting of songs, testimonies, a skit that correlates with the theme of the day, and a Bible lesson. Afterwards se serve snacks and talk with the children. It's been amazing for me to see the thankfulness demonstrated by these children. Each week when they give testimonies, they tell us how thankful they are for what they have-- how convicting for me when I have so much more, and am not anywhere near as thankful! It's also awesome to see the boys who are Christians and the way they are shining lights in these dark places, and the awesome testimonies they have for the other kids to see!

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