OUR STORIES

Dear Rushooka

Rushooka is a tropical dream, a small enchanted village in the hills of southern Uganda. We set foot here for the first time in 2012, it was a dark and cool African night in February. The road that led us from Kampala to Rushooka was completely dark, only the headlights of the car created a color stain on the asphalt, its holes and the red earth. This was the embrace of our village for our couple, completely dark and mysterious: even the trees could be seen on that night of equatorial Africa without the moon!

The next morning, however, gave us a wonderful landscape: green everywhere,delicate and soft hills all around us, covered and decorated with banana emerald plants, a deep green that reflected the sun, crystal clear fresh air. We fell in love! Then finally its inhabitants, many, lost here and there among the hills in simple mud huts and wood, covered with roofs made with banana leaves. No bathroom, no water, no electricity, no food, without everything but with very great smiles and hugs! Children barefoot and poorly dressed, especially mopped, toothless but no less smiling and welcoming, as are many young people who kidnapped our heart, eager to be loved, considered and put to the test looking for an opportunity for their future. It is amazing how the mission is about to make extraordinary meetings with the village, but the villagers instead would run away as soon as possible, without knowing that the city is waiting for them with a thousand pitfalls.

Our dream was, in the full Franciscan charism, to seek, receive and accompany the poorest of the poor. We found out that the last ones were the mentally disabled, especially children, totally discriminated, hidden, considered a plague, a stigma for the family, the women and society. Hence the idea of a house, a center for the reception and education of children with severe mental retardations. It was born what today is the educational center "Karidaari Seed" of Rushooka, that would later become the largest center for the education of disabled people in Uganda. The center occupies most of our days, but we have not stopped to spend many hours with young people and the people of the village, listening to their simple but traumatic troubles to try to deal with them together!

 

Giorgio and Marta

A mixture of wonder and fear, as with any muzungu, a white man, on his first visit. It was August 2006, and I remember my first time to Rushooka with this feeling. All day I had been traveling from Kampala: 400 km on a little road. I was already tired when we left the main road. It was dark, it was raining heavily, there was mud ... I could not see anything. I asked a nun: "Where are you taking me?". Actually I thought to be the end of the world and in my head was spinning a question: "What am I doing here? This is not the place for me. " I would have stayed for the next six years.

At Rushooka I especially loved the silence. Until 2010 there was no electricity, then at sunset, I sat outside the church and listened to the sounds of the village who went to sleep: crying children, goats, hens, whispered conversations. Slowly everything became more silent and the night passed over the village. Then came the silence.

Every morning instead is an explosion of joy. I love children and the 200 kids who every weekend come to us to play football, volleyball, basketball and their games, filling the air with laughter and vitality.

To a missionary, every place brings with it new problems, but at the end of the day, looking back, you realize that life is worth living to the fullest, to know the joys and sorrows of others, learning that others have feelings and dreams to realize. They are different from ours, but perhaps are they worth less?

 

Father Teofilo