This week we had to say a hard goodbye to one of our amazing interns, and in just a few weeks we will be saying goodbye to another. We cannot say enough about these wonderful individuals. They have served Sole Hope so well – caring for each staff member and patient with the upmost respect and dignity – spreading JOY and HOPE in all that they did. We are sad to see them go, but we are so thankful for the time we had with them in Uganda. We asked them to share with you a little bit about what they learned and experienced over the course of their time interning with Sole Hope. You can read some of their thoughts below. We hope to see them back on these red dirt roads some day! – Lis Steckle, International Coordinator

These past four months interning with Sole Hope have flown by.  I never knew stepping off the plane just how much my life would be impacted by this beautiful country and the people that I would meet.

One of the greatest parts about working with Sole Hope has been getting to know the Ugandan staff. Every single one of them has such a beautiful and unique story to tell. I’ve truly loved learning from them and listening to them talk about their lives, where they’ve come from, and what they’ve come through. They have set an example for me of true sacrifice, love, and perseverance. I am so grateful to have become friends with such beautiful, loving people!

Along with the people I have met, there have been so many experiences here that I will never forget. From random dance parties with children at the Outreach House, to holding a screaming child as they get countless jiggers removed from their feet, there have been both beautiful and trying times. God has truly used this season in life to shape and stretch me in so many ways, and I’m so grateful for all that I have learned and experienced just in the four months that I have been here. – Kayla Cervenka

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Photo by @wanderingwithmary.

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Photo by Gary S Chapman.

Wow, who knew four months could fly by so quickly? I guess that’s what happens when you’re surrounded by incredible people working to make a positive impact on their community. The ideas and concepts that I spent four years studying in order to earn a degree in International Studies: Sustainable Development have come alive during my time working at Sole Hope in Uganda and for this I am so thankful.

One of biggest lessons I’ve learned through my internship is that international development and aid work is HARD. In beginning to tackle any type of problem related to international development, so many steps must be taken. You must consult with locals and others affected by the problem, as well as experts to identify the best out of the hundreds of possible strategies to take. You must develop a meaningful mission statement. You must find, train and motivate staff members. You must learn about all of the cultural practices and quirks that affect the way you do your work. You must discover how to instill dignity instead of judgment. You must navigate a legal system likely very different from your own. You might have to learn a new language. The list goes on and on. It can seem so overwhelming, tedious and convoluted at times. You can get lost in the details, logistics and even the glory of it all so easily. But you must catch yourself – every single bit of the headache, heartache and hard work that comes along with this work is worth it. I’ve learned that it should always be about the people. It means talking to those you’re serving. And truly listening. Listening in a way that shows that you care about them as humans and you want to hear what they have to say. It also means being willing to admit that maybe you don’t know it all, that you were wrong, and that God’s plans are better than your own. It means communicating often and effectively. It means humbling yourself and recognizing that those you’re serving can serve you in just as great of a way, but only if you let them.

I came into this internship hoping to walk away knowing what kind of career I want to have. I have definitely taken steps in that direction, but I’m also walking away truly believing for the first time that despite what American society might tell us, it really is okay to not know. I now understand that getting to study anything I want and apply for any type of job that I’m interested in is a privilege that some could never even imagine. I’m learning to listen and trust God with this struggle instead of battling with it on my own. And I’m learning that as long as I focus on serving others with the love and respect that I’ve developed throughout my time in Uganda, I’ll be doing my part. – Jordan Kelly

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Photo by Gary S Chapman.

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Photo by Dorothy Huynh.