Uganda might seem like far away and exotic place to most Americans, but for David Ssejinja, it is his native home and life’s work.
Ssejinja is currently supporting about 950 Ugandan children and widows there, most of them disadvantaged by AIDS and war. He started the Ssejinja Children’s Foundation to “give back” to his country, and to give the children what he never had growing up there.
His mission has extended beyond a personal love for the children, and now his many efforts include and educating them on AIDS prevention and awareness so that they can remain healthy and spread the word throughout the country. The shelter he provides not only keeps them clean, fed, and warm, but offers something few Ugandan children can afford- an education.
Two years ago, the proudest moment for Ssejinja’s foundation was achieved: a clinic for the children, where they now have access to medical treatment, supplies, and personell. The bad economy here has hit Uganda even harder, however, and driven food and gas prices up higher than many Ugandans can hope to pay.
Funding the school is not easy. Many of the widows there run small businesses to help the foundation, but most of the proceeds come from fundraisers such as this latest event, “Mockingbird Fly.”
More than just an attempt to collect money, this event shed much light on the history of civil rights in America, the bonds of slavery and consequences of the concepts of “race.” Beautifully illustrated in several forms of art, including music, dance, and play, Mockingbird Fly was an event for anyone who enjoys life and hates to see the human spirit bound in any way.
The UVU Department of dance, its choreographers, and the UVU Contemporary Dance Ensemble, worked very hard with the theater department, the One Voice Children’s Choir, et al to create a sequence of acts which focused on rising above the constraints of an unfair society and freeing the spirits of the people. Poignant facts were delivered with each narrative- an informative and fascinating method to help the audience to grasp the enormity of the issues.
Joey, who accompanied David Ssejinja to Uganda on the last humanitarian trip, says that Americans can learn much from the Ugandan people, who don’t have much to take for granted. “We have so many little things that make life easier,” he said and pointed out that Americans can stand to show more modesty when it comes down to possessions.
“Mockingbird Fly” was sponsored by the UVU Multicultural Center, the Department of Dance, and the UVU School of Arts. The project was funded in part by an Orem City Care Grant. Proceeds are used to purchase school supplies for the children, as well as food, equipment to grow crops and drill wells, toiletries such as toothbrushes, and other necessities. For more information, including donations and volunteer services, visit www.ssejinja.com.