In March 2022, our family traveled to a remote region of Uganda to go mountain gorilla trekking. My mother picked a locally owned lodge in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. She reached out to the owner to find out what supplies the community needed. The owner responded with a link to Pack for a Purpose, which had a list of items needed, including hygiene items, a copy machine, and soccer kits. My mom chose to donate soccer uniforms. The community needed 30 soccer uniforms, including jerseys, shorts, and matching socks. I helped my mom pick out the jersey style and create a team logo for the shirts. We emailed the team coach the concepts, and the team approved the final design. The project took a few weeks because we had to order items from different stores due to supply chain issues. Once we received the jerseys, we had to get them to the screen printer in Vermont. But finally, we collected all 30 uniforms and organized them into “kits” to bring to the lodge.
It took 4 plane rides, but finally, we made it to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Our driver picked us up at the tiny airport and brought us to our lodge. From there, our family was taken to the soccer field to deliver the uniforms. We were greeted by over 100 people, including the entire soccer team, a dance troop, coaches, volunteers, and lots of kids.
I was overwhelmed by the reception set up for our family to deliver the soccer uniforms. As my mom handed out the uniforms, I saw the excitement of the players. You could see the pride and joy they were feeling as my mom handed them their first-ever soccer uniform.
After the team put on their new gear, they played a match, and I joined them.
Though, I do not understand Swahili, I felt a connection with the team simply by playing soccer with them. I realized how much I have in common with people from all over the world. We love sports, hanging out with friends, and eating good food. I am grateful for my travels, and how it has opened my eyes to a world beyond my own. The connection I made is important to me because I have learned that I can make a huge impact in people’s lives, simply by “packing with a purpose.”