I’m nearly four weeks into my time in Uganda and life has finally begun to find a steady rhythm. While transitioning into life in another culture has been more difficult than I remembered, I continue to be amazed by the people God has placed in my life here and by the fleeting moments of clarity when I feel God’s call on my heart stronger than ever.
It feels like yesterday I was stepping out of the plane on my first trip to Uganda 4 years ago. I vividly remember smelling red dirt and polluted air while sensing an unexplainable feeling of familiarity. Within just 48 hours of being in this country, I knew this place was special and that it would one day be home. Over those first two summers, Uganda completely captivated my heart. I fell in love with the dirt roads and green hills, the vivacious people, their unbreakable spirit, and the tangible hope that ascended out of poverty and pain. I spent those few months experiencing life in a way that was more broken yet more beautiful than I can explain. Yes, I saw unimaginable poverty and heard life stories that devastated my heart. But, I also experienced the unexplainable joy, hope, and faith that permeates this place. It is that spirit, the purest form of faith in Jesus that I have ever seen, that captivated me and has called me back again.
Over the past three years God has continually whispered a calling to Uganda into my heart and I am in awe that I get to come back with International Justice Mission. IJM is an incredible organization that works to pursue justice for the poor globally. IJM fights injustice by empowering local justice systems to protect their own citizens from many forms of everyday violence that perpetuate the devastating cycle of poverty in third world countries today. IJM’s work combats issues like modern day slavery, child sexual assault, and sex trafficking but particularly in Uganda IJM works to fight against property grabbing. Property grabbing is the devastating practice of forcefully, and often violently, taking the home and land of a widow, leaving her and her children homeless, without a consistent source of food or income, and extremely vulnerable to other types of abuse. The practice of property grabbing must be stopped to protect vulnerable women in Uganda.
In addition to rescuing and restoring victims of property grabbing, IJM uses an empowerment approach by partnering with local law enforcement and local courts to reform the local justice system. Many of these everyday violent injustices are taking place because there is complete impunity when local police, courts, and justice systems don’t work as they were made to. My role with IJM as System Reform Intern will be to serve the team that is finding ways to fix a broken justice system and encourage community change that discredits the long-standing cultural practice of property grabbing. I am humbled to get to work with incredible world-changers this year and I'm excited to learn from my wise and hard-working Ugandan colleagues.
If you want to learn more about IJM and their work here in Uganda I encourage you to read this article that National Geographic published earlier this year about IJM Kampala:
This video attached to the article really showcases the heart, vision, and purpose of the work IJM is doing here in Uganda!
Lastly, I just want to say thank you again to everyone who has supported me to come to Uganda. My experience here would not be possible without the love, prayer, and financial support of SO MANY of you. I cannot put into words how unbelievably grateful I am to each of you for making this year possible. I am overwhelmed by the support I have received and in awe that I am 75% funded!! If you still feel led to give you can do so at www.youcaring.com/tateinuganda I will do my best to update this page regularly so that y’all can see the ways in which God is moving and justice is flowing here in Uganda.
With so much love,