Written by MC Artist Director, Missy Zahn, on her last day in Uganda on the recent Mocha Club trip…
I can’t believe how this trip has flown by. A week ago, we arrived to a territory of which – to be honest – I was part fearful. As we leave, I see Uganda in a new light. The faces are so beautiful and full of smiles, if only you smile first. Their smiles could light up the room. As we drive by, kids come out of their huts, wave, and yell “Hieeeee!” as loudly as they can. We’ve met so many new friends. I only wish everyone could experience what we’ve experienced here.
When the sun comes up, the streets of Gulu are packed with people walking to work, kids going to school, and others going to gather water. The streets are mainly dirty, and when it rains really hard, you just dodge the big puddles and try not to get stuck! The women walk with many things on their heads. The greatest I’ve seen so far is a hard drive from an old computer. I think you’d be impressed too!
We left Kampala on Thursday morning for the 5-hour drive up to Gulu. We took too long in Kampala, and someone told us at lunch we wouldn’t make it in time. Being that there are no street lights, we had to make it before dark. We really didn’t have a choice so we stepped on it. Halfway through the trip, Michael and Lisa Gungor’s [from MC Sponsor The Gungor Band] guitar started falling off the roof (all of our luggage was strapped to the top of the van). Michael noticed it and caught it as it was falling and pulled it through the window! We stopped the car to see if anything else was about to fall, and Michael stuck his head out the window to check as Stephen Proctor opened the door (not knowing Michael’s head was out the window). Needless to say, Michael had a bloody eyelid, turning into a slight black eye by the time we made it to Gulu. It was funny, but I know it had to hurt!
Our last few days here have been my favorite. We went to church in a hut where some people walked 50 miles to join us since they heard we were going to be there. It was amazing and like nothing I had ever seen.
We’ve had a blast at the school and Home of Love that Mocha Club supports through our partners here, Action International. We painted hands one day, and it was mass chaos for the first 10 minutes trying to get kids’ hands painted, then over to the board where they could make their hand print, then over to the water bucket where they could wash off. All along trying not to get paint on themselves or the other 50 kids that were in line! It ended up working out, and Rose, one of the teachers, said they had never had their hands painted before. She was so thankful. Once the paint dried, it was adorable to watch the kids hold their hands up to each of their friends to see how theirs compared.
Today is the last day. We taught art and music, and then Amy Courts [MC Sponsor], Genevieve Jewell [who works for MC Sponsor Lady Antebellum] and myself went to the Women of Hope meeting at the Action office and were greeted by at least 300 women. Most of these women, if not all, were HIV positive. I wish my words could do justice to describe what it was like being there! These ladies are so hopeful and are trying to educate the younger ones about HIV. Amy Courts sang, Genevieve shared with them, and we soaked it up and just enjoyed being with these women and listening to their stories.
As Mocha Club’s Artist Relationship Director, it’s been amazing to be on a team with musicians and friends who have supported Mocha Club for awhile. Their music has brought much joy to Gulu, and I think it’s been amazing for them to finally see firsthand the impact they are having on thousands of lives through projects like these. This is Amy Courts’ actual project, and she has had a blast with all of the kids she has supported for a couple of years. She is really good with them and makes them laugh.
Michael & Lisa Gungor from the Gungor Band are with us too. Michael has been our background music to the trip, and all the kids laugh when they hear any of the musicians play a guitar. Lisa has taught the kids several songs and even how to limbo! They love it when she chases them too. You can hear giggles bursting throughout the place and then all the kids come running, and we see Lisa not to far behind them chasing them. As for Logan Martin, if you ever go to one of his shows, you have to get him to break-dance for you. All of us and even Africans here have been trying to get him to bust out his skills but for some reason he’s decided to keep it to himself so if you see him at a show please ask him to dance for you! He’s done an amazing job at teaching the kids music and painting the murals for the school. He is really talented and this trip wouldn’t have been the same without him.
As for the others on the team… Melissa, Stephen, Nate, Genevieve. Each and every person has been a huge help – from Nate & Logan doing the murals to Genevieve & Melissa helping out with anything and everything needed. Let’s not forget Stephen getting amazing video footage and going to the internet cafe every day to give you guys updates. I’d have to say this is one of the best teams I’ve ever traveled with. I would travel with this team anywhere!
This is getting long and I know it’s probably choppy because I’m trying to write this in the sitting on the street corner in the middle of Gulu. All in all, I just want to thank everyone for coming on this trip. I know none of us will be the same. And for that I am grateful! If you’ve ever been thinking about going on a Mocha Club trip I know you wouldn’t regret it. To all the artists I work with, THANK YOU for giving of your time and resources before you even met these children. They feel your love and support half way around the globe even though they haven’t met you yet. I hope you’ll be able to come and see these shining faces one day.