"What do you do to your Country?"

Published: December 4, 2013

This question was presented to me while visiting with refugee youth at the Center of Hope in Kampala, Uganda this past July. Not quite sure of how to answer or what specifically my new friend was inquiring about, I asked him to clarify. He wanted to know what I was doing or planned to do in order to make my home a better place. What a daunting and humbling question from a young boy who has had to leave his home due to war. While I struggled to respond, he quickly replied by saying, “I want to end the abuse of women in my country.”

5440_539491368229_41804530_32475268_1371780_nAt this moment I felt a new and radical sense of solidarity. Not only do divinity school students, church groups, and non-profits have a vision for homes in which women and children no longer suffer and endure violence as a result of poverty, war, and corruption but teenage boys in Uganda do too. Can you imagine the insight, motivation, and passion of these young people? I asked my friend what he wanted to do as a means of living out his dream. He told me he was still developing a plan. Voices like his have been and still are being silenced due to starvation, disease, lack of education, and lack of nurturing communities.

I am thankful that the Center of Hope is a place of refuge for him and will cultivate his hope for the future. Change cannot come without his voice. We come from different countries, different religions, and different families but we share a common vision. So in the words of John Wesley, “If your heart is as my heart, give me your hand.” After much thought, I can now answer my friend’s question. What I want to do to my country, my world, my home is be part of partnerships in which all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, and age come together to create communities of love, peace, and justice. I not only want to listen to the voices of teenage refugees in Uganda but I want to invest in ways of empowering them to share their voices with the whole world.

IMG_2592Abby Pratt
Third Year MDiv

Earlier this month, the School of Divinity was named to the initial class of Seminaries That Change the World. The School is recognized for its leadership  and innovation in community engagement and social justice. Abby currently serves as a mobilizer for Faith to Action, a co-hort of non-profit organizations focused in educating churches and faith-based programs in the best care practices of vulnerable and orphaned children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her reflection here is one of several stories of our students who are working for human goodwill in communities around the globe.