My experience with Agape started in early May 2016 when i was endorsed as a volunteer by Freedom and Roam Uganda to apply for the international summer camp 2016.I was the lucky one the scholarship was awarded to me.Then the visa application visits to the Italian embassy in Uganda made the rest history.
My long journey to Agape from Uganda on the 29th/08/2016 to Italy encompassed with loneliness,flight transits and delays, language barriers,fatigue and missed bus schedules ended at 1am on the 31st in the dark in the beautiful Prali village.Agape mesmerized me right from the beginning in the online photos I did know what to expect because all i thought was i would find a big church.
On the first morning i woke up at 9am to the fading sound of a bell in a distant, the beautiful sunrise over the interlocking mountains and a clear blue sky to start my three weeks camp at Agape Ecumenico Centro.I was greeted with an aroma of caffe and latte macchito in the huge mainhall(salone) having over eighty people.I sat quietly in the corner of the well round laid table of breakfast amidst eight strangers wondering of how i would cope for the rest of my stay.
My first week of the theological camp commenced with orientation that included moving around the vast Agape with the great architect buildings surrounded by the beautiful fir trees and the Italian alps and telling us the history about it by the Director Demetrio Canale.Then we introduced ourselves to each other,we were participants from over 39 countries(Germany,Georgia,Korea,Zimbabwe,USA,Phillipines,Srilanka,Palestine,Egypt,Cuba,DRC,Cameroon,Fin land,RUSSIA, to mention but a few excluding those from the hosting country Italy all over the world of different languages,religions,races,sexual Identities,beliefs and values.T his was a unique rare opportunity call it a gathering ,thank Agape we had a number of translators(Spanish,Italian,French) in our midst through out the sessions.Laying and clearing the tables for breakfast, dinner and lunch and a mountain hike on an allocated day in a week for the rest of the weeks become a routine for me.The spiritual and meditation moments during this week left precious memories in my heart that i have continued with in my daily life.The main theme of the camp our childhood in relationship to the bible.
My second week was the Campolavoro(work camp) where we get involved in different fields of work that includes maintenance,cleaning,cooking and project on a voluntary basis and this what Agape relies on for it operations ever since its inception, the good will of people from all walks of life who offer free services.This is done communally .The different activities we carried out with laughter,joy ,hard work ,patting each others back for the well done work and lots of bonding impacted me a lot.One major lesson i learn if you work as a team there so much that can be accomplished. The climax of that week was the barbeque accompanied with the traditional Italian wines. Our main emphasis on communal work,unity and happiness during this camp.
My third week was the political camp that focused on the root causes of my migration and the structural challenges on migrants(racism,violence,war,sexual identity,peace making and integration). The different activities we carried out in activism,media journalism and cooking in relationship to migration.The story telling,the faces and their stories stood out for me where i made a presentation on an overview of the Ugandan situation in terms of migration,the challenges faced by LGBTQ people in Uganda and the journey of sexual minorities in deciding to flee or not in Uganda and sharing the work of FREEDOM AND ROAM UGANDA and its support to LGBTQ people living in the country and how the international community supports FARUG and the LGBT struggle in Uganda especially that i had to tell them about the Uganda police raid on a Mr and Miss pride event that had happened the night prior to my presentation.
The writer(left) on a panel during a session on story telling,the faces and the stories during the political camp 2016.
The last bye byes were the hardest moments i was going to miss Agape so much.A place i called home for the last three weeks,the participants were non judgemental irrespective of our different races,sexual identity,sexual orientations,religions,beliefs and cultures.Agape is a true definition of love and that love never fails. The values that the camp instilled in me especially the freedom of expression,resilience,togetherness,confidence,happiness will forever be cherished.
The writer(middle) painting windows during the Campolavoro 2016.
The writer at the peak of Largo Verde Rifugio.
My heartfelt gratitude to the hosting committee,the staff of all the three camps, the participants of the Agape International camp 2016, AGAPE ECUMENICO CENTRO for the opportunity and FREEDOM AND ROAM UGANDA for all the support you rendered me from day one.
The writer is Kakande Christine aka Owengeye Tina is the Welfare Officer for Freedom and Roam Uganda