After junior Katy Slininger finished her semester studying abroad in Uganda, she made the decision to stay and work there throughout the summer.
Slininger worked with Emmanuel International after her pastor suggested that she get involved with it. This organization offers counseling to widows, former child soldiers returning from the war and elderly individuals.
In the beginning of the summer, Slininger worked agriculturally by distributing seeds to families so that they could learn to farm for themselves.
However, northern Uganda soon went into a drought and famine, bringing her efforts to an end, and Emmanuel International started food distribution.
Slininger took part in raising money to purchase food and to distribute it to the internally displaced person camps around the area. She also worked with the United Nation World Food Programme and had meetings with the UN and Uganda government officials to discuss how to reach the most people.
While working with Emmanuel International Slininger lived in a two-story hut located in Pader, Uganda. She was the only white person in the town and the very first American to stay there.
“Pader had nothing,” Slininger said. “It was completely underdeveloped.
“Pader is in a unique situation from other parts of the country, even from neighboring districts,” she said.
There was no comfort or security, no electricity and water had to be drawn from wells. According to Slininger, “It was so bad it was almost stereotypical.”
She explained that although she never suffered while living in Pader, it was emotionally difficult for her.
“When you’re with people and everything is a fight, the length of each day is filled with importance,” Slininger said. “It can make days at home seem boring and unimportant.”
Before Slininger became involved with Emmanuel International, she took part in the Uganda Study Program. Through this program, students can study abroad at Uganda Christian University, run by American Mark Bartels.
“The study abroad program is wonderful,” Slininger said.
Slininger was one of the 40 to 50 American students attending the University last semester. For the majority of the time she lived on campus, however she also lived with two different families.
Though she did attend normal classes such as theology and read books written by author Shane Claiborne, Slininger took trips away from the school to study genocide with the other students.
Unlike other students, when the semester ended Slininger did not return home. She knew there was war going on with the Lord’s Resistance Army in North Uganda and she refused to leave the country without visiting that area. She was not admitted to travel there while enrolled in the study program, which is what influenced her to stay longer and become involved with Emmanuel International.
“I’ve become way more independent because of this experience, and because there were not people or things there to comfort me I learned to completely rely on God for comfort and security,” Slininger said. “I want everyone to know that the Ugandans are doing so much for their country. They’re strong people going through a lot and they really need our prayers!”