By KEVIN DeVALK

At Sole Hope’s outreach center in Uganda, new friends are made with patients and the caring people who bring them in.

The organization shares the story of a well-dressed man named John, who came to the center one day with some children in his neighborhood who needed treatment — and an idea that, no doubt, made many children happy.

The center, which treats children and adults against a dangerous parasite called jiggers, is in a village called Jinja, in southeastern Uganda, on the northern shore of Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake, and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. (Lake Superior, here in the U.S., is the largest).

“You know, these children have heard of Lake Victoria, and they have heard of the Nile, but only in textbooks,” he told a staff member named Ian, who shared this on Sole Hope’s Web page last month. “Even me, I have never seen a body of water like this.”

John knew Ian could not say no.

So, 24 children and adults climbed into two vehicles and traveled to the lake. The kids laughed and shouted at each pothole they saw in the road, and their excitement increased when they saw the lake peeking past the trees and buildings.

According to the story, when they arrived, John helped many of the children get out of the vehicles. Then he went up to the water, knelt down, and sought its cool, refreshing relief for his face. Over and over he replenished, smiling.

The group walked along the water, and then the river. Their childrens’ curiosity was infectious.

This story doesn’t tell what villages these kids came from. It doesn’t mention if they were from John’s community, or what stage they are in, in their treatment.  The group walked along the banks, in between trees, to the Nile, which Lake Victoria drains into. The writer describes watching fishermen in wood canoes, and a brief appearance of an otter in the water.

It beautifully illustrates a handful of simple pleasures, of seeing one of the great wonders they apparently had never been able to do before.

The stories and videos I’ve perused show an organization soaked in kindness, of caring staff members and volunteers, of hope and smiles in the midst of a disease that affects 2.4 million Ugandans, and can kill.

The Young Living Foundation supports Sole Hope in several ways, among them care kit parties, where Young Living supporters assemble kits with medical supplies used to treat jiggers. (The denim-cutting shoe parties many Young Living teams have sponsored have been temporarily retired).

Laughter and joy are part of the treatment.

To read the full story about John and the lake, visit http://solehope.org/exploring-together/.

Service trip announcement

Would you like to escape winter and do some good in the world?

Sole Hope is seeking volunteers to serve with them in Uganda from Feb. 10 to 20, 2018.

Participants will volunteer at their new clinic, and their outreach house, working alongside staff. They’ll also have the opportunity to explore the town of Ninja and see the Nile River.

The cost is $3,780. Yes, that’s expensive, but it includes airfare, lodging, meals and activities, Sole Hope promises you’ll be “challenged and changed.” The registration deadline is July 15. To apply, visit Sole Hope’s Web site.

Other trips are expected to be announced. I will keep you posted!

 

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