Below is the journey of Bruce Bodman (Director of Logistics & Supply Chain for Samaritan’s Feet), from his perspective, of his current journey around Africa to build relationships and plan shoe distributions and other mission projects.
I began my journey in Kamapala, Uganda. Pastor Solomon Mwesige, our driver, and I then planned on going to Gulu, Uganda to an orphanage to plan several mission projects.
St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring Center
It’s all too rare that you have the opportunity to spend time with special people—those world changing kind of people. On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit the Starkey Hearing Foundation in Gulu, Uganda at the site of St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring Center.
Since 2002, St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring Center has helped more than 2,000 girls who were previously abducted by Joseph Kony and the rebel soldiers of the LRA or just abandoned by their families. The devastation to its victims is on par with the worst mankind can invent. Though this was a hearing aid project, I was there to meet the administrator Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe.
Sister Rosemary knew my name before I could introduce myself. She had googled Samaritan’s Feet and was fully informed even in this remote place. We took an extended time away fromeverything else going on to plan our upcoming shoe distributions. She insisted that I also meet with the actor Forest Whitaker who was there (along with a couple of NFL players) to fit hearing aids with the Starkey project. Sister Rosemary suggested we plan a shoe distribution at Forest’s mission in Gulu as well. We continued to plan together and she gave me a complete tour of the compound. She was one of the warmest people to be with.
Refugee Settlements in Uganda
The Kiryandongo Settlement is in Bweyale, Uganda. Pastor Solomon and I visited this Sudanese refugee camp and planned mission projects and details for the delivery of food and shoes.
We then went to the Congolese refugee camp in the western part of Uganda at Rwamwanja. Samaritan’s Feet had already distributed shoes here seven months earlier. The shoes are still doing their job protecting these school children’s feet. These are the only pair of shoes they own and they wear them everyday.
In addition to checking up on the shoe distributions at the Rwamwanja settlement, we were also there to review the feeding programs for Feed the Hungry. It is growing from three schools to six. We also scouted a location to put in a critical clean water well donated by Covenant Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC. We discovered there is a critical need for a well at all six of the schools.
While there, our two containers holding a total of 52,632 pairs of shoes were released from customs plus five containers of food that each contained 250,000 meals. The need for storage space for 52,632 pairs of shoes and over one million meals became instantly critical. Some quick engineering planned that what was going to be the new church’s sanctuary slab floor became one of two basement storage spaces.
I then traveled to Nairobi, Kenya and caught up with many friends where many doors were opened with officials in Kenya and Rwanda.
It was a busy day in Nairobi that started and ended in the Kibera slum. Pastor Chris, Pastor Victor, and I took the bus to downtown Nairobi. We first ran across the business and government district in a series of important meetings.
Then we returned to Kibera and were dropped on one ridge to walk down into Kibera and up to Soweto Academy. Pastor Chris’ Soweto Academy has a school, orphanage, and a nation-leading sports teams in women’s volleyball. Their practice field is the only open space in the Kibera slum. The school and orphanage was built from blocks quarried from this practice field.
They also provide well water for the Academy, their medical clinic, and the community. As a small business, they employ local people in bottling the pure (alkaline) water for sale to help support the ministry. I wouldn’t be able to go into the Kibera slum without armed guard (except for being with pastors Chris and Victor as they are well known and truly loved by the Christian and mostly Muslim population). There is a new highway that has cut through the ridge of this slum valley (former dump).
The Journey Continues
Next I head to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and then take a six hour drive to Soddo to be with our partners at the Mossy Foot Project. We will be distributing shoes to prevent elephantiasis. More to come on this journey next week…
If you’re looking for a way to help get shoes to the people in these areas, please considering donating today. Your donation will get life-saving tools to people in need.
By: Bruce Bodman, Director of Logistics & Supply Chain, Samaritan’s Feet International