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Post by Abbey Hayes

Before I describe the lessons I continue to learn from this experience, I urge you to pray for Uganda. Every day, my co-workers lift up prayer requests about their family and friends that have died from COVID. Additionally, wifi and reception is a challenge in Uganda, it has slowed work, paused cases, and made meetings challenging. I sense growing frustration and fear among
my co-workers. Additionally, due to the restrictions and other factors, many employees have left. They are searching for replacements to fill the holes, but COVID has made this challenging.

Pray for IJM-Uganda, pray for new hope, endurance, and trust.

In Uganda, I was working remotely the majority of the time. I was by myself frequently. This led me to have solo uber rides, walks to get food, etc. Although nothing ever extremely frightening happened, I had never experienced being the only American, 22-year-old female in a crowd. Honestly, nothing could prepare me for those feelings of fear when I didn’t understand why people were speaking to me in that way or what was going on. I now have newfound compassion for those that are the minority in our country, for those that don’t speak our language and those that are at risk for discrimination, many of whom organization the Center for Global Justice assists through our partnerships.

That particular vulnerability was something I had never known before. I know I have only experienced a sliver of what the majority of people experience, but it was enough to change the way I acted around those that might not feel “at-home” walking around the streets of Hampton Roads.

Ultimately, this time forced me to trust God without the distractions and security of my American life. It also forced me to reevaluate what I want for my career, how I view the world, and what it might look like to live in a third-world country.

Here are exciting developments that have occurred since my return home:

● I have been able to have daily prayer meetings with IJM-America staff. Through these meetings, I have been able to learn more about what IJM is doing and make connections.
● I have submitted five memos regarding violence against women and children.
● I have created weekly fitness videos for IJM-Uganda staff. I wanted to bring some joy and get them moving during a lockdown!
● I have proposed a project for the Center to continue our partnership with IJM-Uganda. This project will provide IJM-Uganda with a case database, similar to the Shepardizing/Case Briefing system on Lexis, which will allow the attorneys to easily access cases centered on violence against women and children.

As challenging as portions of this experience were, I know this was necessary for my future career and life as a Christian. Taking on evil should be hard. I aim to fight against sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and abuse for the rest of my life, and I have no doubt that greater challenges will come. What a blessing of preparation I have had.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.