I have lived in central Uganda for over 20 years now. I am a retired Registered Nurse with both hospital and public health backgrounds before moving to Uganda. Over the years the primary thing I have learned is that we must get to the roots of the “obvious” problems we encounter – and most often they are not the same thing as the “obvious” need. Uganda is deeply engrained in both dependency and corruption due to histories of wars, witchcraft and colonialism.

Two main things I noted in the podcast Episodes 2 – 4 were the fact it seems in Renee’s story that nothing was being done to eradicate the malnutrition problem of children. Just feeding them may save lives, but how do we get to the source of the malnutrition and change it? Thirty per cent of Uganda’s children suffer under-nutrition and that is largely due to the type of staple foods eaten. So agricultural and nutritional education are needed.

Also several times it’s mentioned that Renee raised huge amounts of money in support from her sad stories. Uganda consistently ranks second or third most corrupt nation in Africa (behind Nigeria and sometimes Burundi). So to me it is no surprise that Ugandans would notice that, desire to have a piece of her pie, and even likely be buying testimonies against her! Colonialism, racism, and all that come into play for sure, but the road runs both ways! As a white woman in Uganda I have 20+ years of being taken advantage of in so many ways for all the money that Ugandans think I have!

Too many NGOs come here and throw money at problems, especially the poverty problems, then go home and nothing has changed. Maybe things are even worse in the aftermath. NGOs may continue for years and build in more dependency (which often leads to more corruption!). We have to take time to dig to the roots of the poverty, disease, corruption, etc., and see what we can do to eradicate the causes. Sure, we can pay school fees for poor children. But what happens if instead we help their parents learn ways to make enough money to support their own families?

The Ugandan medical system is not only sadly lacking, it is even fraudulent in many ways. In teaching and training we must work within systems and help people to see how they will personally benefit from not only knowing Jesus, but also learning character from Him and the Bible.


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I am doing some self reflection after both listening to this podcast and thinking about the 2 years I lived in South Minneapolis, in the very neighborhood where George Floyd was killed by a police officer 3 nights ago. I moved to that neighborhood as part of a program called Urban Homeworks that brought young people in to live in section 8 housing alongside people that could only afford to live there. We were supposed to be a Christian presence in those neighborhoods and sharing God's love. It was easy to think of ourselves as rescuers and 'good influences' in these neighborhoods. Definitely sharing a common thread with these stories. But what I learned most was how hard it was to live your whole life in these neighborhoods, how scared our families were to visit us, and how easy it was to compare and feel that I was the "only rich young person doing the right thing." Not excusing what I or Renee or anyone did at all, but rather recognizing once again myself in her story too. Enough for now.

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