Killian it in Kawete

Bridget Killian, artist

It was 7:30 a.m. and I was running on three and a half hours of sleep. I arrived in Uganda at 4 a.m. after a 30 hour voyage from St. Louis to East Africa. Today was the day I would see my best friends for the first time in a year. This spring break was the third time I had the experience of going to Africa. I had been dreaming about going on a mission trip to Uganda since I was in second grade when my dad, Dr. Kent Killian, first traveled to the community of Kawete, Uganda with an organization called With God’s Little Ones (WIGLO). He participated in mission trips with WIGLO every year until 2014 when he and my mom Katie Killian, a music teacher at Christ Community Lutheran School, took over the effort in Uganda now called Christ Community International (CCI).

Spring break of my eighth grade year I was extremely blessed with being able to be a part of the cause. I was blown away by the amazing people of Kawete and knew that I would be returning every year after. Being a part of a mission like CCI is an incredible experience that allows me to see life at a different angle. Immersing myself in Ugandan culture has made me slow down and enjoy life in the moment. The local people aren’t as distracted by the world as we are in the U.S. because they don’t have all of the technology. I’ve realized how little something like social media matters now that I’ve witnessed people with bigger problems. I’ve grown more appreciative of everything that I have. Something that we take for granted, school, is an opportunity that many of the people in rural Uganda don’t even have as an option. Many times, I don’t even realize how lucky I am to be able to go to a school like KHS or to have a house or even food. Ugandans may not have as many resources as we do here but they are just as happy. A simple thing like showing them a picture of themselves will make their day. There is no better sound than the sound of laughter from a child seeing their own face for the first time. More often than not, people assume that because I’m doing charity work in Africa I’m building houses and buying things for the people there. In the past, we may have built schools, dormitories and clinics, but now I’m building something more special: relationships. I only see these kids one week out of each year, but they’re still some of my greatest friends.

There is nothing in this world that makes me feel the joy I feel when I reach the village on the first day. Seeing the beautiful faces of these people brings tears to my eyes. The Ugandans I’ve met in the three times I’ve voyaged to the country are the nicest people. No matter who you are, where you’re from or how old you are, they love you and want to get to know you. The relationships I have with the students of Christ Community Lutheran School – Uganda (CCLSU) I visit with CCI is so important. It’s amazing to see how different we are, but it’s even more amazing to see how much we are alike. They have plans for their lives and are so smart. These kids want to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, and pilots. Education has given them dreams and hope for a better future for themselves. With CCI, I get to see beautiful and bright children receive an education that they might otherwise not have. They remind me that education is more powerful than one might think.