A group from MAF Netherlands travelled by plane and boat to learn more about the needs of island residents and refugees.
Islands are some of the most forgotten places in Uganda. This is mostly due to their geographical location that makes it hard for them to access services that other areas across the country enjoy.
It is therefore true that you will not find good health facilities, schools, pharmacies, or even churches on islands much as you will on land.
Mission Aviation Fellowship has for a number of years been flying to Bukasa Island to help people who live there access services like medical camps, evangelists, food aid and so much more.
On Tuesday November 8, 2022, a team of partners from the Netherlands flew to Bukasa Island aboard a 5X–FRM caravan to meet Christian believers on Kalangala Island. Kalangala is the larger area covering a number of islands on Lake Victoria. Unfortunately, there’s only a single privately owned airstrip on the entire Kalangala area, making the islands difficult to access.
The leader of the churches in Kalangala arranged for the Dutch visitors to meet all the believers across the other smaller islands on Bukebe Island where all the churches gathered. This also meant that the team of visitors had to travel by boat in order to access the believers in Bukebe.
But the heavy downpour that morning made the travel very difficult, first by delaying the flight from Kajjansi airstrip, and then the travel by boat to Bukebe Island from Bukasa where the airstrip is located lasted nearly one and a half hours.
Even with all these challenges, the team of Dutch partners were thrilled by the enthusiasm expressed by the believers on the islands.
“I love the people of Uganda, they are so joyful regardless of their living conditions,” said Petra Van de Sande, who was visiting Uganda for the first time.
When they saw the visitors on the island, the men, women and children alike burst into song and dance. The visit that lasted about three hours was the shortest ever. Everyone wished for more time.
The next four days of their visit were dedicated to Nyumanzi refugee settlement in Adjumani district, Northwest of Uganda.
“This trip has been very impressive. Although I thought I knew a lot about MAF’s work, this week gave me a deeper insight about all the work they do. It was moving to know the way MAF connects people and was great to hear that so many people are encouraged by their work. I am happy to have met the people that the organisation serves,” Jan Verhoeven, a lawyer and board member MAF Netherlands noted.
This is a trip that many of the ten guests will live to remember.
“I am impressed by the love and energy from the workers at the refugee settlement. There is specifically a young Ugandan doctor who has chosen to work not anywhere else but with refugees. He could have chosen to work elsewhere with his expertise,” said Petra.
According to Pastor Dirisa Walakira, the coordinator of born-again churches on the islands, it is a challenge for them to connect from one island to another both to meet as believers but also to access services.
"I thank our guests for sparing the time to come and visit us," he said.
A number of NGOs hold medical camps, legal aid camps, banking services and much more on the islands.