By Joan Ersing
(2008) From the very start of our journey to Uganda, Africa, there was a sense of mission. I had heard all the stories from the “Uganda Visit 2005.” Father Ron and Richard had shared so much and so well that I felt like I had been there with them. But nothing they said, no picture they took would prepare me for the reality of journeying to this beautiful continent on the other side of the world.
Our journey began on Wednesday, January 24, 2008. We arrived in Entebbe, Uganda to the smiles and hugs of Father Emmanuel and Steven Sseruwu, principal of St. Charles Lwanga Institute. We journeyed to the monastery adjacent to St. Charles Lwanga BTI, where we would stay for a few days. The sisters were very welcoming and took wonderful care of us and fed us very well. I have to admit that all of our accommodations were more than adequate with flush toilets (a luxury in Uganda) and showers with intermittent hot water.
Both cars and buses got stuck. Our van repeatedly got stuck but our driver kept getting us out until we slid off the dirt and landed sideways in the ditch with water up over the wheels. A group of young men were assisting stranded vehicles for a price. By our standards $30 was a bargain! We then had to follow two busses that were backing up the last 6 miles down what was left of the one lane dirt road. All along the road people were continuing their ‘foot journey’ home. The Bishop also traveled the same path and saw us and waved and smiled and welcomed us to Uganda’s wonderful roads! The experience helped us to live the reality of what the people of this part of the world live all the time. For us it was a once in a lifetime experience, for them it is a daily reality. After checking into the Hotel Zebra, we cleaned up and then went for dinner at Stephen’s home. The Ugandan people are so welcoming and hospitable. We were prepared for giving them gifts but we were overwhelmed by the quantity of gifts that we received every where we visited.
On Monday the Bishop was joining us again for the dedication of the young women’s dormitory. “Evarist House” is beautiful. It is the reality and completion of the work we began with our dear Father Evarist. The blessing and Father Ron’s cutting of the ribbon on the dormitory was followed by Mass. The girls loved the blankets that the women from St. Mary’s in Olean made for the new dormitory. It was quite an experience of connecting New York with Butende.