In July, a group of five students and two teachers from Stonyhurst College travelled to Uganda to spend ten days getting to know more about Xavier Project’s work and get involved in some of the projects the school supports. In this article one of the students shares her reflections on the groups time with us.
Through the metal gate just off the busyness of Hanlon Road we were welcomed into a place of joy and passion for education. Our visit to the office of Xavier Project in Kampala was an experience none of the members of our group from Stonyhurst College in the UK could have predicted. It is hard to put into words how much we enjoyed our many sessions with the diverse bunch of children and teenagers sponsored by Xavier Project, as each one provided us with new perspectives on certain elements of life. Intense as they were, our days spent with the students in Kampala had a significant impact on each of us and importantly, they made us even more motivated to take action and support our Xavier Project friends in their mission to provide learning opportunities for refugee communities in East Africa.
Before coming to Uganda we did not know what to expect. These are the sorts of questions that ran through our heads… What does Kampala look like? How will it be meeting the students? Our uncertainty, however, disappeared very quickly. On the first day of the visit to the office, we met with some of the primary school students and we were impressed by their openness and energy. We soon discovered all of our similarities and shared interests. Despite our different origins and paths in life, we shared the same hopes for the future. With Crystel, we talked about how stressful end-of-year exams are; with Baraka we discussed studying medicine abroad and with Pathias – how the US political decisions impact both of our countries. We danced together in a dance show, we created art and laughed many times while taking bundles of pictures.
Without a doubt, the eagerness of the students from Xavier Project has been more than impressive. During the debate that we organised, the children’s courage to express their ideas surpassed our own and their constant desire to read books in the library showed their huge drive towards learning more. All of them face a set of obstacles due to being refugees, yet the fact that they use all of the opportunities they are provided with through Xavier Project to the fullest is truly inspiring. Xavier Project is providing many of these opportunities and with the limited resources the staff have, they have been working extremely hard to empower the kids and open doors to a better education. Our time in Kampala enabled us to see the supportive community created there. The visits to local schools, the discussions we held with the students, the smiles, and the words of appreciation we heard towards Xavier Project will guide us as head back to the UKt. This trip to Uganda has been extremely valuable for us. Hopefully, we will be able to give back something in return.
By Dominika Lasota