The Diocese of Rupert’s Land and the Diocese of Central Buganda have had a “companion diocese” relationship for about 20 years – the most recent covenant covers the period 2017–2021. St. George’s, Crescentwood is partnered with the parish of All Martyrs, in Ndoddo, Uganda. Like all partner parishes, we pray for the people of All Martyrs regularly, and they remember us in their prayers.
A few years ago, I joined St. George’s Mission and Ministry Committee and started fairly regular email correspondence with the Rev. Andrew Kafeero. After his departure, Bruce Jasper Kalibbala (age 30) became our contact person. Over the past year and a half, our correspondence became very regular and we started to get to get acquainted with each other. As a result, I wanted to travel to Uganda to get to know the people and the parish for whom we have been praying these last 15 years.
So, on September 30, I left Winnipeg for Montreal and Brussels, landed in Entebbe, Uganda, and then took a taxi into Kampala, Uganda. It was a very long journey from Winnipeg (about 26 hours with an eight-hour time change). I stayed in Kampala for three days, where Bruce Jasper joined me.
During my visit, I headed to Kasaka, the location of the Bishop’s home and the Cathedral of St. John. Bishop Michael Lubowa and his wife were away in England, so they had kindly offered that I could stay in their house, which I did with their son, Rev. Grace Joram Kavuma, and Bruce Jasper.
I joined All Martyrs for morning Eucharist one Sunday. It was a joyous service led by the Rector, Rev. Noah Kabuye, and hearing everyone singing in harmony was great! They said they needed a piano – but their music was wonderful with only human voices and some drums. Their enthusiasm for and commitment to their faith is so evident. Their faith dominates all aspects of their lives, everything they do and say! I also had the honour of preaching the sermon that morning – not something I am used to doing! In the afternoon, Bruce Jasper’s newest son (he has 2 others) was baptized, and I was made one of the godfathers – an honour indeed. Afterwards, we celebrated the occasion with a big lunch, as well as a tree planting.
The next day, I visited some local schools, including the Kewerimidde Primary School, the St. Peter’s Nursery School in Kabulasoke, the Ndoddo Primary School, and others, where I distributed some donated school supplies. There are so many students in these schools – including some Muslim students. I was impressed to see that these church schools seem to be teaching about Christianity, Islam, and traditional religions (based on posters on the walls). There were also posters on the walls that explain everything from how a flush toilet works to the male and female reproductive systems! Students are all learning English.
St. George’s has supported the parish of All Martyrs in a few different ways over the years. Between 2003 and 2005, we funded a water project that brought potable water to Bulo (a nearby village where many All Martyrs parishioners live and/or work). Recently, St. George’s committed to providing funding for two years to enable a parishioner at All Martyrs, Irene Nangendo, to complete primary teacher training at Namasuba College in Kampala. She started her course in September 2019, and when, she is done she will return to the Ndoddo area and teach in one of the local schools.
St. George’s also is raising money to buy about 300 pairs of shoes so that students don’t have to walk to school barefoot. The first dozen pairs were purchased with funds I had with me. So far, we have raised funds for at least another 100 pairs, so we still have a way to go.
The diocese is planning some travel to Uganda 2020 and 2021 and looking for people who might be interested in joining the trip. My days in Ndoddo were quite unforgettable, and I am looking forward to visiting again in the future.
Rick Morgan is the Chair of the Mission and Ministry Committee, organist, and Director of Music at St. George’s, Crescentwood.
All photos by Rick Morgan.