Last Friday, I was invited to be a guest at the Kibaale Vocational students graduation celebration. It was to start at 1 pm sharp…..

Friday was also a National holiday…. Eid al-Adha also called the Feast of the Sacrifice. It is a world wide Muslim holy day, a celebration to honour the willingness of the prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of submission to God. God intervened and a ram was provided as the sacrifice (Genesis chapter 22).

On Thursday afternoon, I had been asked to teach a leadership class for the Senior 5 and 6 girls at the Timothy Centre from 3:30 to 5:00. The purchase of medications for the clinic takes time and I did not think there would be enough time after class was over to run into town and shop….. So, I decided to leave first thing Friday morning and head down to Kibaale around 11:30

But this is Africa and things never go as you predict, hope or expect. Normally, I shop at one pharmacy; I check the prices, order the amounts, check the expiry dates and discuss price and manufactures of medications where there is more than one brand. From putting in the order to collecting the supplies packaged ready for travel can easily take up to 3 hours. On Friday it was raining, the downpour made me slow to start but I headed out…. The pharmacy did not have the everything I needed… one specific medication used in the treatment of Malaria called “Coartem”. I walked through the rain to a second pharmacy were I learned that they had increased the price almost 50%. Since I refused that price, I continued to wonder down the road stopping to purchase the other necessary items. I popped into another pharmacy and asked them their price for Coartem which resulted in discussion. The manager was willing to sell me as much as he had for a price I was willing to pay. Of course, this all took time…. What made everything take so much long was that even though many of the shops were closed those which were open were filled with smartly dressed Muslims…. young boys, and girls, men and women all out on the town to celebrate their special day……………………. and as a result I was going to be late. So, I called Kibaale to let them know I was on my way but was going to be late. coming….

The roads were wet and slippery especially the last 21 kilometers of dirt road into Kibaale but I finally made it…. it was 3:30. Before, I could stop the Land cruiser, one of the students was standing at my door ready to escort me into the celebration. I was given no time to change or fresh up…..

The students dinning hall which is a cement building with large open spaces for windows and doors was beautifully decorated. My escort directed me to a table at the front of the room. The MC announced my arrival and thanked me for coming.

The next 3 hours went quickly….. I arrived in time for the “food” which was typical Ugandan fair….. matoke, rice, beef, chicken with a lovely sauce accompanied by a soda. After the meal, there were many presentations including one which surprised me. The male students formed a line and in a slow rhythmic motion moved in time to the music around the floor ending up in front of specific teacher. As each student presented their gift, the male teacher would join the dance which brought cheers from the rest of the class…….

There were times in the celebration when the students were given the opportunity to get up and dance….. girls separately from the young men. As part of the activities, a piece of music was put on and those seated at the head table were expected to get up and dance…. YES, that included me. As I started to dance, there was a very loud cheer of appreciation for my willingness to be a participate in their celebration.

The last event of the ceremony was the presentation of awards to students who were outstanding in a certain area. when the Principal of the Vocation School announced the name…… if it was a male student who had won the award, he would slowly dance to the front of the hall to accept his gift whereas when a female student won an award, she would walk quickly to the front and race back to her seat.

There is so much pressure for students to complete the courses required to attend university…. and I think this is important. But there are those students who do not have the ability or desire to attend university. Kibaale Vocational school gives those students a trade… a future. There has been a sacrifice for each of these students to complete a two year vocational program….. Friday was their day to celebration…. Well done.