Rebekah McKerley: Jinja, Uganda

I graduated college with a Bachelors of Social Work in May 2019 and I’m now working for HEAL Ministries as a social worker. HEAL’s goal is family preservation, a cause that is very important in DSC_0957Uganda because about 85% of the kids in Ugandan orphanages have identifiable and traceable family. These children end up in orphanages because the families don’t have the means to take care of the child. HEAL wants to change that, and so the organization walks alongside single mothers and equips them with employable skills while also providing childcare so that children from the community have a safe place to learn and play while the mothers work or go to school. There is even a preschool for 80 children aged 3-6 that educates and equips kids with the knowledge needed to succeed when they begin primary school. As one of the social workers on staff, I am helping make the social work program more efficient and create more resources for the families at HEAL.IMG_6896 I am working alongside 3 amazing Ugandan social workers who are teaching me so much about evidence based practices in Ugandan culture. A typical day at HEAL in the social work department involves a lot of problem solving and creating the best sustainable way to help our women and children grow and thrive.

I love the laid-back culture of Uganda and its welcoming and resilient people. This country is lush and beautiful, and often referred to as the “pearl of Africa.” The town where I live, Jinja, is nestled along the shore of Lake Victoria right at the source of the Nile River. Ugandans are the most hospitable people I have ever known, and they have welcomed me in with opening arms. I have spent about a year and a half of my life in this small Ugandan town, and I am thankful and excited to be back long-term, this time with the education and skills to help empower the people my heart adores.