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 →

Rainy Holidays

Rainy season in Uganda normally lasts about 3 months at a time, but this year it has been raining since April. Recently, in Western and Northern Uganda, a heavy rain caused mudslides and flooding. Roads were washed away, houses were destroyed, and people who survive off of their land found piles of rock and dirt covering every bit of land they owned. It is going to be very hard for them to recover. They lost all their belongings, their livelihood, and they have no bank account with savings to help them rebuild. The news, however, says that Uganda is not nearly as affected as several other East African countries. Please pray that the flooding and mudslides will stop. That the rain will slow down and that dry season will come, but that dry season will be a normal 3 months and not crazy long like this rainy season has been. Climate change is really affecting the weather here on the equator, and it has killed and affected the lives of so many.

On a more exciting note, I moved! My new home is actually right down the road from where I was living before, so thankfully I can still walk to work. I barely have any furniture at the moment, so I’m living out of suitcases and have bags lying in every corner. But I’m excited, over time, to make this place my home. I am living on the bottom level of basically a duplex. There is a pool in the yard, and I am really looking forward to swimming in it during dry season! I have a carpenter making me a table, couch, dresser, and a few other random pieces of furniture. He is making them all by himself, so it will be a long time before they are all done. My new place is slowly coming together. Moving here is stressful, and I miss having the luxury of a target to go get everything I need from, but there is also something uniquely beautiful about slowly curating a home where I get to design exactly what I want and find used items that can be repurposed. My goal over the next couple weeks is to search through central market to find a couple of gently used rugs.

I am now on Christmas break from work! Here in Uganda people typically go to the village for Christmas and New Years to visit with family. Which basically means Jinja town is a lot quieter and shops close up for several weeks. We had a really fun staff Christmas party at work before starting our Holiday break. We played games and gave out gifts and ate yummy food. I am excited to have a break from work though and get to meet up with people I usually don’t have time to see, fix up my new home, and read some fun books. Christmas here will look a lot different than in the States, but I like that this culture is not consumed by materialistic goods at Christmas time. I bought a handmade nativity set in town and a small Charlie Brown looking Christmas tree. Christmas day I’m going to go to church in the morning, and then go spend the day with John’s family in the village. We will cook a big meal and enjoy time with one another. I am absolutely going to miss my family, but I am excited to see what Christmas is like in a village in Uganda.

Last week was one of those reminders that Uganda does not operate the same as the United States. I was supposed to pay for my work permit Monday and pick it up in Kampala on Tuesday, but when I went to the bank to pay they said I must fill out an assessment form before paying, which they no longer carried. They sent me to the Ugandan Revenue Authority, but they also no longer had the form. Even the Immigration office didn’t have a solution to the problem. There were also problems at the bank when I tried to pay some stuff for work. Efficiency is a not a value in this culture, and with unreliable network connections and ever-changing government systems, you never know what problems you’ll run into when trying to do small tasks. Not going to lie, I got very annoyed and frustrated, but I had to remember that this is a different country and culture, and I can’t expect things to happen the same way here as they do in the States. Laws and procedures are different here. It’s not always easy to adapt, but I am learning patience and letting go of my American expectations. Please join me in praying that I will be able to pay for my work permit and pick it up soon so that I don’t run into problems when my visa expires next month.

The highlight of the past month was getting to go to the coast of Kenya for a few days! When my grandmother passed away this year, she left each grandchild some money, and I knew I wanted to use it to travel, especially around Africa because she always dreamed of moving and working here when she was a young adult. I went to Diani Beach which had the clearest water and white sand. It was absolutely beautiful, and such a great time to rest and also see a different East African country. Kenya is far more developed than Uganda, and much bigger too. I got back to Jinja yesterday, and I have the gift of having a dear friend here visiting for a week. We lived together 3 summers ago here in Uganda, and it is so good having her back for a short time! I’m looking forward to time with her and other friends over the next few weeks. It should be an uneventful, rainy, and quiet break, but I am so thankful to have that time so that I can process and reflect on the last few months of life here.

Diani Beach, Kenya

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