Written by Jamie Nollette
Today is our last day in Uganda. It’s been a year since I’ve been here which feels like a lifetime for me because Uganda is my happy place. That may sound strange to many but the absence of this place and then the long, awaited return made me realize everything I’ve already come to know.
This trip was filled with countless highlights and each day became the favorite from the day before. We celebrated an orphaned son reunited with his mother and meeting his father for the first time, gave gifts to doctors and nurses easing their burden on healing countless fractured bones and innocent, newborn babies, dedicated a hospital workshop in honor of a wonderful man, learned that our efforts have reduced infant mortality by 50% in an area where babies and expectant mothers’ dying during childbirth is common, gave “light” to 1,000 households who previously lived in darkness, solved a water problem for a community that has never had access to clean drinking water since the beginning of time, and broke ground for a project that will transform a community for generations to come.
The data we will generate from these projects will be impressive, but it’s the intangible transformation that keeps me coming back for more. Watching the confidence and joy blossom from a once abandoned orphan, seeing the pride exude from a proud son, sharing the pain and healing with a traveling nurse who has experienced incredible loss this past year, embracing my dearest and longest Ugandan colleague after reaching our greatest goal, observing a close friend feeling purpose and being back “home”, sharing emotional daily highlights and moments of sadness, and hearing “I love you. Thank you for changing my life “ from one of the travelers. This is absolute joy and the true meaning of life!
This last year I wasn’t sure when I’d be back to Uganda because my husband, Jeff, was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. This was a difficult time of uncertainty and fear. During phases of his illness, I often thought about my friends in Uganda. Uncertainty is a way of life and death is a frequent, unwelcomed guest. Perhaps this is why they live each day as their last and appreciate all the small but practical gifts they receive. They give kindness and love freely and share everything they have knowing they will be the recipient of generosity and love as well.
Not a day goes by waking up next to Jeff and sharing these incredible moments that I’m not aware of how blessed I am. Thank you friends, family, Pipeline supporters, and most importantly, my Almighty God, for making my life so deeply rich and for using me to be a conduit and recipient of your love.