Dylan Browning, 24, Christalis Volunteer
Ever since his first trip to France, Dylan Browning has had the travel bug. As a senior in high school, Dylan went on a short term mission trip to Kenya, where he helped build an addition onto a local medical facility and run a VBS for a local school. It was during this trip when he fell in love with Africa. Here is Dylan's experience through his own words.
"I loved the people, the culture, and the experience I had with them. After this trip, I knew that I wanted to spend a longer amount of time in Africa doing some sort of service.
My first memory after getting off the plane was how incredibly hot I was. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, in Montana and Washington, so heat isn’t something I’m very used to. It gets hot during the summers and obviously traveling to Uganda I was mentally prepared for it to be hot, but when I stepped off that plane and felt the heat I thought, Uh oh, this is going to be fun.
The first time I went to Uganda was the academic year of 2015-16. I was in Uganda at the Christalis home for 7 months working as a caretaker for the children - especially the boys. During the day when the kids were gone, I helped with the Assistance Program. This program is for children in the community which includes children who are orphans along with children who have a family. It aids the children whose families cannot afford to send them to school. I would travel around with one of the local workers and collect information on these kids and write it up for their sponsors back in the U.S. Then at the end of the day, when the children returned home from school, I would help them with homework and play with them.
The second time I went, February 2019, my job was similar. I helped take care of the boys and during the day when they were at school I was helping in the office with several different tasks. I probably didn’t get as much done as I should have because I was often distracted by the beautiful babies that the home is caring for now. I spent hours crawling around on the floor playing with a flock of babies. Again, it was the best job I’ve ever had!
What is a day like for the kids at the home?
The kids get up at 5:30 in the morning. They bathe, having morning worship, eat breakfast and then are off to school. They spend a long time at school but have several long breaks during the day. The kids get home between 4-5 pm and then they have some chores they do. They wash their school uniforms, carry water from the water storage to the bathroom for their baths, and help wash their dishes from their lunches. After this they have some time to play. Then it’s dinner, worship, homework and bed.
Is there a child that you really connected with during your recent trip?
One of the older girls, Mary, and I are very good friends. We became good friends the first time I was there but during my visit this time it was even more so. She is very close in age to my youngest sister and we get along very well. She made me a special little bracelet out of beads and I wear it almost every day. I’m scared I’ll break it at work sometimes so I take it off.
Are you going back to Uganda in the future?
Absolutely! I don’t know when but when the time comes I will go back for sure. I was talking with some of the kids about when I might come back and again and they told me not to come back until I was married! It gave me a good laugh!
Leaving is the absolute worst! Life there is difficult and nothing like living at home in the U.S., but the time I get to spend and the relationships I get to develop with the kids make the hard parts seem like nothing.
If you could talk to a donor today, what would you tell them about how their donation is affecting the kids in Uganda?
It’s really hard for the kids to express how much the donors mean to them. The money that the donors give make everything in the home possible; the food, the gas for the cars, the clothes, etc. etc. The kids completely understand this and pray every day for the donors and sponsors. Every morning and every night at family worship, without fail, whoever is praying will give thanks for the sponsors. The kids don’t know who each and every donor is but they understand that you make their lives possible and they are so thankful for that."
- Dylan Browning, Christalis Volunteer