A chance to make a difference | AspenTimes.com

A chance to make a difference

Dear Editor:

I just read the article by John Colson in The Aspen Times regarding the Aspen High School students trip to Uganda this summer.

I just returned from leading a team from Durango for the Ssejinja Children’s Foundation. This was my second trip to Uganda with the foundation. Because of my experiences during the first trip, I chose to lead a second trip, taking college students from Durango with me. One of these volunteers was my 18-year-old daughter. I have always been a protective mother and would not have taken her if I felt there was any harm, but I was very comfortable having her with me.

Prior to travel we registered with the U.S. Embassy, carried an international cell phone and were always escorted by one or more of the Ssejinja Foundation Uganda officers to serve as translators and guides. We were housed in a secure gated compound (the Ssejinja Children’s Foundation Health Clinic), and measures were taken to protect our health and well-being, and make us feel like we were family.

When traveling, we used a private vehicle and driver (another foundation volunteer) and, because of a well-planned agenda, the Ugandan and U.S. foundation officials always knew when we were coming and going at any given time. Although for the past several years this area has been very stable, because of the civil unrest in other parts of Africa, our African counterparts understood our concerns and made every effort to secure our presence while supporting our work.

I understand the concerns of the parents and school liability, but these children are in the position to make a difference in the lives of others and, more so, in their own. They will return safely from this amazing journey with a new appreciation of their lives, America and the world around them. They will never forget the faces, names and affect they have had on these children as they worked on building this library.

Kathy Darnell

president and director, Ssejinja Children’s Foundation, Durango chapter