Rachel Hamilton

Author | Writer | Traveler | Child of God | Kiwi Girl


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I’ve Been Changed. I’ve Seen Hope.

Two weeks since I arrived home and it’s finally hit me, a painful reality that I’m no longer in Uganda. I’ve pushed the feelings away, with everything being a whirlwind of activity it’s been easy,  jetlag, three days in Australia then jumping on a plane and coming to New Zealand, scraping wallpaper, painting, falling into bed each evening so tired and achy from the physical work. I don’t want to face theses feelings or look back, but process I must. 

Uganda my third home, how I adore and love you, its strange to think the first month I would have given anything to jump on a plane and fly home. 

It was Christmas time and I missed my family greatly. I felt like a huge failure as a volunteer and questioned my purpose for being at Baby Watoto. 

But as the days turned to weeks and a month past I began to adjust, adapt and see how Watoto and Uganda was deeply impacting me. With each country I visit it contuines to amaze me that I arrive with the goal to change lives yet everytime I am the one left changed. 

Each situation was an opportunity for growth, insight, healing and restoration in not just the lives around me but my life too. 

My other mission trips I have been on, I have come back feeling broken by the injustice, sin, sorrow and sadness of the world. Broken by the things I have seen. 

Memories of the woman who looked at me with deep pain in her eyes in the red light district trapped in a life of slavery and pain in Thailand, the little boy who asked me to be his mother in the ophange in Sri Lanka.

But this time something beautiful has happened, I have come back, healed, filled with joy by the things God is doing and the joy that there IS something I can do to make a difference.

I’ve seen hope, in the laughing eyes of a happy healthy baby at Baby Watoto, in the new school where 100s of Children can now safely study year round. 

Uganda and Watoto has shown me I want to devote my life to something bigger than myself, I want to use what I have to make the world a better place and it’s possible. We can do it. 

Hurt is everywhere, need is everywhere but we can be the change. I don’t just  have to be in Uganda to make a difference, I just have to have open eyes and hands ready and willing to help those around me. 

So dear Watoto staff, nannies, volunteers, babies, Ugandan friends. Thank you all so much for what you have taught and shown me, thank you for the love, kindness, healing, hope and joy you have brought into my life. For the way you show me anything is possible if we devote our lives to Christ and be his hands and feet to those around us. 

All I want to do is get back on a plane and come back  but for now I will take the knowledge and lessons I’ve learnt and aim to make a difference where I stand right now. 

But I will be back dear Uganda. I will be back. 


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New Normal.

It’s 4:30am and in just half an hour I’m heading to the airport for the second time this week.

In this moment I’m thankful for jetlag which makes it easy to wake up early, it’s also a reminder I will have been in three different countries in the last 10 days.  

It’s a strange feeling not knowing where I call home anymore. It’s almost like I am a child of three families, I have a birth country New Zealand, Australia, my place of residence and work, and Uganda a place where I feel deeply alive, when every day is an opportunity to make a difference. 

Something about countries and cultures, that makes my heart sing. If money was no object, I would become a gypsy, sending my whole life falling in love with cultures​ and countries. 

So it’s hard coming back to reality. 

I’m struggling with the lack of freedom we have here to make a difference.

With all the red tape, legal, and political correctness that binds us from being able to practically get in and create change. 

It frustrates me that you have to have a degree, do a short course, or wade through piles of paper work to be able to do anything worthwhile​. 

Don’t get me wrong I know there is, brokeness, needs and opportunities to make a difference here. 

This is not a hate on the the western culture. 

It’s just as someone who doesn’t have any great wonderful talents or useful skills but passionately wants to make a difference in the world I struggle in this culture of degrees and systems.

There is a reason I’m back home, a purpose for these frustrations, feelings and thoughts. 

Each day that goes by I’m learning to live this new normal. 

I’m thankful to be a New Zealander/Australian and the opportunities these beautiful countries provide me.

But now I’m thankful for these feelings because it means Africa changed me, grew me, challenged me and opened my eyes.