Uganda: Something Ends, Something New Begins

Ewa Maziarz, a Polish Comboni Lay Missionary, spoke to us at the end of two years’ mission experience at St. Jude Children’s Home in Uganda.

Our children have just finished their holiday season, which was unusually long this time – 3 months. The holiday season lasted so long because of the election of the new president of Uganda, which took place on 18 February 2016. In less than three weeks, I will be back in Poland again. Well, something ends, something new begins. During the holiday season, I spent most of the time with those youngest children who experience some problems at school, delivering classes in which they could make up the work they missed. After the renovation works at the home, the classes were held in what used to be the dining room but has now been turned into the classroom.

We spend a lot of time there – learning but also having fun. We paint, creat things from plasticine, colour, and cut out shapes. In Poland, this is common practice; but for my kids in Uganda, these sorts of activities are always something special and new.

I carry out general administrative activities here, but I also fulfil a role somewhere between a babysitter and a social worker. After the two years I have spent here in this role, I have discovered that it is the best place for me. This discovery amazes and surprises me, because this role is not something I had intended to do. Working in a mission means building up commitment to places that desperately need it.

Sometimes our thoughts are not aligned with the real world; our point of view diverges from the true needs of the world. We think we only need time for prayer and, above all, to maintain openness to the Holy Spirit. But precisely these needs lead us to discover what God really wants from us – and led me to discover what he wanted from me in this particular place. I can’t say I always know what he wants, but I search for it all the time. I am starting to understand why I have been sent here. Now, as I am finishing my two years of mission experience, I know that I will return here; to my children; to St. Jude.

For me, St. Jude is not just about the children, but also about the people who work here. Babysitters, people who look after the children – I spent lots of time with them over the past two years. At the beginning of my mission experience, I was managing all the employees, – which was really hard, as I became their supervisor despite being the youngest person here. I was supposed to check on them and assess them. It was not a very comfortable experience, because I came here to help, not to control. But as I mentioned before, working in a mission teaches humility and adjusts our view of knowledge, our own behaviour, and ourselves. I have to admit that sometimes even the easiest tasks ended with some misunderstanding. Different ways of acting, talking, and gesturing were misinterpreted. Fortunately, we learnt from one another eventually.

The mission is also a community; a very extraordinary one in my case. We were sent from the initial location in Matany to a totally new place, creating a new community in Gulu. There were four of us, all young and inexperienced girls: three from Poland and one from Spain. All the time we spent in prayer, talking, resting – but also arguing and misunderstanding each other – was beautiful and quite intense. What always united us was the mission, the people, and most of all, prayer. Each one of us is a different picture of God, but with the same faith and the same big open heart.