Rebekah McKerley
Rebekah McKerley
Uganda, 2019 - 2021
Hello! I am living in Jinja, Uganda, for 2 years working with HEAL Ministries as a social worker. HEAL is a non-profit whose goal is family preservation. In this role, I will be expanding the social work program so that we can provide more resources to single-parent families. Read More About Rebekah →

Community

My life in Uganda is in some ways just like my life in Nashville, and in other ways it is drastically different. Today I finished work at 5, went to town to buy some food for dinner, spent some time talking to a dear friend, and now I’m typing away as I eat peanut M&M’s and watch “The Holiday.” What makes it so different than life in the States is that the reason I got dinner in town is because my power had been out for over 36 hours (praise Jesus it is now back!), and this bag of peanut M&M’s is a treasured gift brought from the States that I am trying to make last as long as possible.

Sunset dinner overlooking the Nile River. I will always be in awe that this is my life right now!

January flew by. Work kept me super busy as we prepared for the new school year to start and accepted 20 new childcare kids into our childcare program. We hired several new staff members, and we have been working hard at organizing and improving policies and procedures. I even started my new role- social work coordinator and admin manager! It’s basically the same I was doing before with social work plus I got added to the management team to help oversee staff issues and I will now be doing payroll for the staff each month. It is all social work related– making sure that everything is running smoothly and providing resources and help to the staff.  I am really enjoying having more responsibility and I’m being challenged in really good ways.

I think one of the hardest parts about being here so far has been community. I miss getting to live with some of my best friends and having the rest of my college friends just down the road. It took time, but I made such a sweet community of friends at Belmont, and I definitely miss it a lot. Friendships and community can take a long time to build, and it’s especially hard to find time to invest in these relationships when I work from 8-5 Monday through Friday. I am slowly learning how to balance work, relationships, sleep, food, and exercising. It’s something I know I would be struggling with anywhere I lived post grad, and I know all my friends from college are in the same boat. Let’s be honest, adulthood can be scary and overwhelming and lots of responsibility that we don’t always feel ready for. But with time, I know that I will build a strong community here. I can already see it beginning.

One idea I came up with to help me in this endeavor, is that I try to have someone over for dinner every other week. Hospitality is such an important value in Ugandan culture, and I want to use my home here to welcome people in and give them a safe space to be themselves. We have been breaking bread together and talking long into the night, and each time I’ve had someone over it has been such an encouraging time that fills me up and leaves me a better person. Ugandan culture is teaching me more and more about the importance of relationships. Life can get really hard at times, but having people around us to encourage us and lift us up makes the world of a difference. Uganda has such a community focused culture, unlike the individualist culture of the United States. I think the U.S. has so much to learn from cultures like this one.

Sweet baby Juma! His mom is on staff with us and he is in our childcare program.

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