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Impressions of a first-time visitor from Kids of Africa…

The first time you find yourself in Uganda, or as was the case with me believe it or not, anywhere in Africa, you are totally overcome by everything around you.

The first and no doubt strongest impression is of the incredible contrasts! You have landscapes that are so beautiful that it is impossible to find the words to describe them, and then the chaos of the city; wealth that is displayed without any hint of modesty, side by side with extreme poverty; poles of ultra-modern infrastructure on the one hand, undeveloped villages on the other.

The second impression is the fact that the world that we all live in and cultivate together is actually made up of many parallel worlds, and there are few who can navigate between or conciliate the two. Here I am not referring to the hordes of tourists every year who travel from one end of the earth to another and then straight back again, carrying their own world with them in their suitcases and observing the differences through the lenses of their cameras. There are very few people who traverse frontiers and then stay, and one of those is Kids of Africa founder Burkhard Varnholt along with his wife Salome Grisard and the team which support them as they carry out their work.

They were the ones who threw all their enthusiasm into constructing a village in a beautiful little corner of Uganda, making sure they involved the country’s authorities and the local labour force right from the beginning, building up a model small business which one day will hopefully be run and be able to prosper under Ugandan management. As well as providing some 100 children with food, lodging and schooling, they are also helping local workers to progress. They always observe the country’s customs and traditions and get the work locally wherever possible.

New projects…

Here on the northern banks of Lake Victoria, the past is of little importance. People are more concerned with the problems that that every new day brings, as well as with how to ensure that the kids’ village can be given a long-term future.

Once the first children got to be of school age, primary education immediately became an issue.

The hope that a long-term partnership could be found with a good, already-established school has not yet come to fruition, and so a school is set to be built on a piece of land that belongs to the Ugandan association and entered into the state education programme. Having your own school guarantees the best possible development of the children taken under your wing, and with it the hope that once they have moved into adulthood, they will be able to take on responsibilities of their own.

Seventh anniversary…

The undoubted high-point of our visit was the seventh anniversary party held on 19 October. It was organised entirely by the on-site staff and was a source of much joy and encouragement all day for all involved. It was kicked off by an impressively rhythmic brass band which went around the houses of the children’s village and then out into the neighbouring streets. Sport was next on the agenda with a tug of war then an egg-and-spoon and a relay race, all of which were fiercely competitive. After a hearty lunch on brightly decorated tables, the speeches began with a prayer from a Ugandan woman who runs a school in Kampala. “Dr Burkhard” was amongst the other speakers, which also included the Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity, whose impressive speech on the problem of AIDS was balanced and self-aware. He then came together with the heads of the children’s village, Tage Budolfsen and Burkhard Varnholt, to cut the birthday cake. Once the official part of the proceedings was over, the party then started up again for young and old alike with the festivities going on deep into the night. The weird attempts to dance made by the “Muzungu”, as white people are known, were a particular source of amusement for the locals.

This example from Kids of Africa shows quite clearly what kind of indispensable things can be created when people of means – not merely in material terms but in particular as regards professional expertise, talents, emotional and social competence etc. – decide to share their gifts with others who have not had the same opportunities. I hope and pray that many more people will join forces with the Kids of Africa pioneers to ensure that the benefits that the work is already providing can be continued on a long-term basis.

With all best wishes,

Heiner Schubert
Pastor and theologian
Community Don Camillo


2016-11-23T15:23:33+01:007. November 2012|
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