Interview with teacher Janka Čižová on her mission in Uganda
On July 24, 2013, Janka Čížová, the former English teacher at the Lutheran Elementary School in Martin, sat on the plane, wondering how her service in Uganda, in the eastern part of Africa, would take place.
Before Janka finally landed in a place that is known for the ethnic diversity of its population, but also its high morbidity, she understood the need for thorough preparation. In addition to a medical examination, Janka had to study the culture and customs of the country to which she was soon to go on this missionary journey.
Janka’s service is at the Centre for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which has been operating in Uganda since April 2011. The main task of the Centre is to provide assistance to vulnerable orphans and motherless child with HIV. The children are divided into three groups – the first group is for children from five to seven years of age, the second for children aged eight to twelve, and third for teens from 13-16 years of age. Every day, the children are provided with medical care, food, and leisure activities. During the holidays, the children return to their families and relatives so that they do not lose touch with their home environment.
1. What are the activities of your ministry at the Centre?
My primary ministry is to prepare leisure activities for the girls. In addition, I tutor English and help in the registration and monitoring of children who are or will be included in the project of Slovak Catholic Charity Child sponsorship. This is a project that creates ongoing, long-term support for local children by people in Slovakia. Thanks to these long-distance adoptions, so far 60 children have been given a chance to study and grow in their difficult life situations.
2. Most people will not have the opportunity to visit Uganda and serve as you do. Tell us about your service. What does a typical day in Africa looks like?
In the morning I get up about half past seven. In the morning we pray with the girls in the chapel. The older girls go to school, which is in Unna, three kilometers distant from our Centre. The youngest children go to school at 8:00. I stay a little while with them in the cafeteria until they finish their porridge and then we go to school together, which is just behind the center’s gate. After breakfast we visit schools in which children are supported by the Centre. We also visit the children in their own homes, where we monitor their situation and we register them for the Slovak Catholic Child Charity Sponsorship. Then I fill out papers, mark photos and after that, I prepare the afternoon activities for girls. The girls return from school around 4:30. We play card memory games with the English alphabet, we take pictures and record music videos because the girls love to sing, and play other games. For each activity, the one trying to get something must speak English, because I still cannot speak Madi (the dominant language in this part of Uganda, Ed.) very well. About 6 pm, the girls receive any medication they need, and bathe. Then there is evening prayer in the chapel and shared dinner. After dinner we spend another two hours together, looking at photos, videos, play memory games and the girls prepare for school the next day.
3. Winston Churchill once called Uganda the ‘Pearl of Africa’, because it was one of the richest countries on the continent. Today it’s a little different. However I am interested in what brings you the greatest joy in this place?
Many things! ☺ Sunsets and sunrises, food, learning a new word or phrase in the Madi language. I am glad that when I use a new word, people understand me!
I love it when the girls will say something in English, watching and listening as they sing and play. I enjoy going into town to shop, and meeting the children on the streets. It is amazing that we have a rainy season and overall the weather is very pleasant. I am delighted that I have electricity, and that people can “like” or comment on FB statuses!
Still, I did not answer your question. The greatest joy of all is seeing how God puts desires into the hearts of people, and then He fulfills them–although sometimes we must wait for the dream to come true. I am so happy that God remembered me and allowed me to have my desire to go to Africa and work with children.
Thanks for the interview Hedwi Tkáčová <> <