Meeting point: Frankfurt Airport. Destination: Uganda. I have months of preparation behind me. Now doubts arise: Am I in good enough shape for what lies ahead of me? Did I collect enough donations? I can answer at least this question with a yes. My colleagues at Covestro contributed a staggering amount of EUR 1,500 to the total of nearly EUR 13,000. That is a tremendous achievement. Things get going. 34 German participants board the airplane. The excitement and tension are enormous. That night we arrive in Entebbe, Uganda. We drive directly to the hotel after our passports are being checked and luggage picked up.
Already early in the morning, a total of 200 “Muskathletes” from the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Australia and Germany is split into small groups. We head straight to the capital Kampala, directly into its slums. There we visit a few of the 350 projects of “Compassion” overall, a Christian humanitarian aid child sponsorship organization that supervises 90,000 children throughout the country.
The journey continues. We drive in minivans several hundred kilometers through the country before reaching our hotel at Lake Bunyonyi, which will be our base for the rest of the week.
A moving encounter
The next day my group travels to another Compassion project in Rutare, where a major celebration awaits us. The director of the center for nearly 250 children shares that since the facility was built, the region has developed positively. He describes daily routines: school, meals, health check-ups, common activities such as painting and soccer, meetings and teaching sessions with parents, and much more besides. We are deeply touched and pleased that the donations are being used in such a meaningful way.
Then, I experience the highlight of my week: I get to know the very child I sponsor myself, Michael, whom I support since January 2016. He shows me the school he has been attending since the beginning of the year as an eight-year-old first-grader. He also shows me schoolyard and kitchen. Then he takes me to his home two kilometers away. It’s a simple but nice and clean hut. Together with three other “Muskathletes,” we are invited in by Michael’s mother. As a gift we brought food. We are welcomed with human warmth and gratefulness. Michael and his family live in conditions that are almost unimaginable for us. Two years ago, they still lived on the street, until a neighboring church built a hut for the family. For Michael, education offers the only way to escape into a better life.