Ready to hear about how my family got involved in Uganda? No? Well that’s too bad cuz if you don’t read this I’ll just have to come talk to you about it in person and then you’ll never escape. Your choice.
It all started in the ’80s. Yes, the decade of freakishly curly hair and mullets – looking at you, Mom and Dad. My dad, Terry McGill, was fresh out of college where he had “majored in soccer” when he was offered a chance to tour internationally with a group called Sports Outreach. A Christian organization, they used sports as a way to connect with children and young adults in underdeveloped countries. Sure, the team would play friendly matches with the local and national teams, but they would also participate in field days at schools, volunteer in orphanages, and work at clinics in the slums.
My dad agreed to go, thinking it would be a fun experience while continuing to pursue his love of soccer. Little did he know how profoundly the trip would change his life and the way he viewed the world.
The picture above represents the turning point for him. While at an orphanage, the team was distributing some of the goods they had brought along with them. There wasn’t enough for all the children, so only a few would get a new article of clothing to wear. Holding a pair of blue nylon shorts, my dad spotted a young boy wearing a ratty blue t-shirt and hole-ridden shorts. He handed the boy the shorts and turned around to get his camera, thinking about what a great photo this was going to make and how excited the boy must be. But when he had turned back around, the boy was still standing there, searching the crowd of other children. Then, he slowly walks over to a younger boy, sitting on the floor in nothing but a shirt, takes it off, and helps him into the new pair of shorts.
Those shorts were probably the only new article of clothing this young man had ever held. And yet, he chose to give them away to someone who needed them more. As my dad watched in awe, he thought to himself, on my best day, I would have kept those shorts for myself. If I’m the type of man I like to think I am, what should I be doing about this?
After returning home, my dad struggled with how to act upon his experiences. Close friends with my parents, Dan and Cindy Montzingo, were both school teachers and asked him to come to their classes and share stories of his trip with their students. After a short presentation about what life was like in Uganda, a boy raised his hand and asked if he could give my dad some too-small clothes to give to the kids. Quickly others chimed in, offering school supplies and sports equipment. Since he was already planning a second trip, this time with my mom, Melissa, he agreed. After all, how much stuff could sixty elementary-schoolers donate?
Turns out it was quite a lot. So much so that it completely filled his truck. After overloading their small house with donations, my parents packed whatever they could fit into their suitcases and once again traveled to Uganda. Upon their return, the Montzingos again asked them to share with their classes, this time to talk about and show the kids what they had done. Thus, Sister Schools was born.
Until Next Time!