It's been said "It takes a village to raise a child," but what does it take to raise a village? Over the course of my time at Restoration Gateway (RG) I've been learning about what is required to do just that. When you talk to the McCalls (the directors of RG) it is apparent that this place is founded on faith. Nearly ten years ago, Dr. Tim and Janice felt called to Uganda. They arrived in a country that they had never visited and knew they were precisely where they needed to be. Building the "village" of RG has not been easy; there have been moments of uncertainty but never a lack of faith in the purpose and mission of this place. Operating RG requires a myriad of different people working together. There are those like the McCalls and Godfrey, the headmaster, who are visionaries. They see the grand picture the future of this place. These people provide the overarching direction for the school, ministry and other facets of RG. Along with the visionaries, keeping RG moving forward requires problem solvers, delegators and those who live for the details. Each individual plays a vital role in ensuring that daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, getting children to school, shelling maize, maintaining facilities, accommodating visitors and coaching soccer are completed.
An evening spent watching soccer practice and finishing some homework.
Raising a village require mamas. These are women who dedicate themselves to caring for a houseful of children. These mamas are constants in the lives of the kids here. They handle it all: meals for children and visitors, keeping kids in line, making sure curfews are met, and ensuring homework gets finished. Raising a village takes a wide array of expertise. This campus is home to not only children and mamas. Educators from all over Uganda have chosen to serve here at Restoration Gateway. The industrial farm, managed by Emanuel, keeps a consistent supply of maize, g-nuts (peanuts), cassava and eggs in the homes. Jasper, the dentist, and Dr. Edmond in the medical clinic ensure that their clinical services are accessible to both the outside community and RG staff and children.
The RG community is a tightknit one.
This village is founded on faith and on love for one another. Restoration Gateway has become a family. When children are not in school, you need not look far to find the babies being carried by the older children. Like in every family there will inevitably be disputes, but at the end of the day everyone is looking out for one another. Children and adults alike are intentional with their time and energy. Their responsibility is to each other to challenge, grow with, and encourage one another. In the process of raising not just one child but nearly 150, the RG village has created a community that spans the globe. This community is made up of those visiting from around the world and working here in Uganda as administrators, nurses and doctors, teachers and interns, agriculturalists and dentists, builders and brick makers. These individuals are connected by a willingness to share their time and expertise for a common cause raising a village of bright, bold and compassionate young Ugandans.
I learned the "Ugandan way" to carry babies. This little guy was a good sport about it.
Gabriella Bragoli is a 2016 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Bragoli is from Chico, California, and has one semester left in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on food security and development.