The word “connection” is popular right now. During the current pandemic, we hear about people not feeling connected. Churches focus on new members getting connected. And the founders of Connect to Uganda feel strongly about the benefits of you feeling connected to people in Uganda. We believe it can be life changing! But why? What is it about making a connection with someone that makes us feel good? Why do we strive to feel connected?
Mental Health America says, “Humans are social animals: We crave feeling supported, valued and connected.” And that is universal; it’s not midwestern, it’s not American. It’s people. We want to be listened to and supported. We want to be with people who “get us” and to know that we are connected to others.
While universal, it may be more obvious in some countries than others. Ugandans are some of the most relational people I will ever have the pleasure of knowing. They value their relationship with others more than almost anything. Relationships with family, friends, teachers, pastors, American visitors – everyone. Maintaining and fostering that relationship seeps into everything they do. It shows in a conversation while digging in a garden and while walking miles to get water. You see it permeate meetings, worship services, and classes. The feeling of being connected to one another is crucial to their emotional wellbeing.
In America, we see the same drive to feel connected, even though the setting may be different. We love a girls’ night out to spend time with our friends who understand us and make us feel listened to. Growing churches are relying on small groups to connect people who may feel lost in a large worship setting. God designed us to be connected. In Galatian 6:2, Paul says “Carry each other’s burdens, and this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
While we are all sheltering in place, we may be realizing for the first time how much we value connection! In an office, we have built-in connections; people we see every day during the week. Friends we see on the weekend, parents we see every day when we drop kids at daycare or sit next to during sporting events. We miss those connections. On the other hand, we may have connected more effectively with family members during this time of staying home.
Connect to Uganda sees the value of connections of all kinds but we want the people we serve in Uganda to feel connected to the source of the assistance they sometimes receive. We want them to know you and feel valued. That’s what makes our organization unique: we will certainly connect resources but we also want to connect relationships. We strive to create opportunities for you to feel connected to people in Uganda too.
Our Far Away Friends program is one great opportunity for women in the US to connect with women in Uganda. A monthly recurring donation of $12 will allow us to create some small business opportunities for 40 women in the village of Bubago. Initially, the business will be a group effort; eventually, we will be able to offer individual small business grants as well. Twice a year, we will also purchase self-care items locally for the women, as a gift from you – another way to let her know she is valued.
You will be able to communicate to your Far Away Friend twice a year with a letter and photos. You will receive video communication twice a year and a quarterly newsletter with updates on the women and the village of Bubago. Your connection will be a powerful way to support women in Uganda!
Our Pastor Support program is another way to make a connection while helping the Lutheran Church of Uganda directly. Pastors in Uganda are currently supported only by their local congregations. Sometimes this may be only some eggs, sugar cane or avocados placed in the offering basket on Sunday by congregants. The Pastor Support program will provide funding for a pastor who has submitted a plan for a business that he and his family can run to generate income. The pastor will have more time to do ministry in his community and not worry that his family is not being fed. A one-time grant of $1000 will be given to the Pastor, through the LCU. He will submit reports and photos of the business and communicate with the providers of the funding. Contributors to this program may be individuals, groups or churches. A great connection that supports the church in Uganda!
These are just two of the ways C2U has created for you to feel connected to Uganda – and for someone in Uganda to make a connection with you! Joining us on a trip is another great way to make a connection (or two or three) in person. We hope that becomes an option again soon! We promise to work to find other ways to establish and foster these relationships in the future. For now, we hope you become connected to someone in Uganda through one of these programs. Time for a new connection!