I’m posting from Uganda today, where the sun has just set. I’m surrounded by a calm that has filled my heart, despite the din of traffic and the bustle of school children.
The joy I saw today is unparalled. I had the great fortune of being a guest at the Railway Primary School in Kampala, Uganda. The school opens its doors to over 1300 kids from the neighboring slums. You might conjure up images of filth and strife and sadness.
What I experienced was anything but.
The children, ranging in age from about six to fourteen, were the most gracious, delightful, sweet children I have ever seen. Their manners were impeccable, their love for their head teacher palpable, and their exhilaration about being in school contagious. The children of all grade levels sang to us, performed skits, danced, played the drums, and gave speeches. Do you know what they wanted to tell us about?
Not soccer or grammar or math.
These smiling, bright faces with the most beautiful grins graced us with stories about why immunizations matter to them. This school has a health club (not a gym, a student club about health issues)and an AIDS awareness club. The children teach their parents about vaccines and sanitation. These are children who live on one meal a day but thrive on an abundance of love they get at school.
I wish for one second my sons could feel the utter joy, love, respect, happiness, generosity and grace that these students feel at their school. We have so much as Americans, yet we have so much to learn. The spirit of these children and teachers is indomitable. We are here for them. The Shot@Life initiative is literally saving lives here in Uganda. I’ll see the program at work when we visit villages tomorrow for family health days. There are people on this planet doing remarkable things. Being a spectator isn’t enough.
I’ll close with the words of a 14 year old girl who is a prefect at the school. “Thank you for standing up for our rights. Immunization is the key to our health.”