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Uganda 2015 Mission Trip

Immersed in Gulu

Submitted by: Ron Smith - August 15th, 2015

Westmont Women’s Basketball is in the midst of a mission trip to Uganda. The team is currently in the city of Gulu in northern Uganda, an area which was ravaged by civil war until 2007. Gulu has a population of just over 150,000.

What follows is a travel log by senior Karlie Storkeson, outlining their activities on August 14 (day six) and August 15 (day seven).

Wow, wow, wow. I’m going to attempt to go over what has taken place the last two days. But as a disclaimer, my words are going to barely even scratch the surface of all that we were able to pack into the last two days.

Arriving in Uganda

Submitted by: Ron Smith - August 13th, 2015

Editors Note: The following report from Uganda was received several days after it was written.

By Karlie Storkson

Hey everyone! We are alive and in Uganda! It has been a crazy whirlwind of travel and beginning to experience Africa! We spent too many hours to count in airplanes and airports. We flew from LAX to New York. New York to Amsterdam. Amsterdam to Rwanda. And then finally to Uganda. We left at 5:00 a.m. from Santa Barbara on Thursday the 6th and arrived in Kampala, Uganda at our hotel at 11pm on the 7th. Needless to say, we were exhausted. But in Warrior Basketball fashion, we were up at 7:15 am the next morning for conditioning. We wanted to run off the jet lag and ensure we were in shape to play the Ugandan National Team..

After our conditioning on day one, we visited a slum called Bwaise where we were able to put on a basketball clinic. This was our first interaction with a large amount of Ugandans and it was memorable. We taught kids on a large dirt field how to dribble and pass, from the age of five up through high school. After, Morgan Haskin, Aimee Brakken and I shared our testimonies with different age groups of the kids we were with. Sixteen kids came to Christ in Aimee’s group. Praise God! After sharing smiles and photos and hugs we had to leave in order to get to our second slum visit of the day.

Our second stop was the Katwe slum in Kampala. Here we visited the Sport Outreach International’s (SOI) chess academy started by Robert Katende. It was inspiring to hear from the chess students about how chess had made an impact on them to be able to have the confidence in their day to day lives and challenges. We responded by sharing what basketball has done in our lives.

Reporting from Uganda – Part Two

Submitted by: Ron Smith - August 13th, 2015
Westmont Women's Basketball on the banks of the Nile

By Karlie Storkson

Day five was exciting because we were off to a new place! Our seven hour bus ride started off with the seniors grilling our Ugandan guide and all-around helper from Sports Outreach Institute (SOI), Sam (or ‘Swag-ticious Sam’ as his colleagues call him because he gets to hang out with the Americans on these types of trips). We learned some about the tribe system and that dating culture is different in Uganda. The ride progressed with some singing, bracelet making and deep conversations.

We also stopped and saw the Nile River on our long drive! It was breathtaking and we took millions of pictures.

When we were about 30 minutes away from our first stop in Gulu, our radiator broke down. We were stuck chilling on the side of the road. But we made the most of that time playing with some kids and sharing our reflections on the trip so far. Another bus came to the rescue and we then went to SOI’s farm.

Reporting from Uganda

Submitted by: Ron Smith - August 13th, 2015
Westmont Women's Basketball traveling in Uganda

By Karlie Storkson

Day three and four in Uganda have been as much of a whirlwind as the first two. We began day three doing morning devotions with all of the Sports Outreach Institute (SOI) staff before they headed off to their different projects. We really enjoyed the engaging time of fellowship and were able to hear about God from people with different cultural lenses.

After, we were able to head to Nateete to visit with children in the school there that is run by SOI. Lauren McCoy shared her testimony with the older kids and I (Karlie) shared the story of Jonah and the whale with some excellent actors helping me out. The kids then performed a traditional Ugandan dance for us. We then headed back to the hotel for lunch and to rest before our basketball game against the Ugandan National Team.

Our game was supposed to start at 4:00 p.m., but we got in a traffic jam (typical for Uganda) and we didn’t arrive at Lugogo Arena until 10 minutes after tip-off was supposed to be. But since this is Africa and we are on Africa time (which means everything is chill and or late) it was fine and we played the match. We ended up losing but it was a hard fought match. We went out to pizza dinner with the national team after and enjoyed hanging out and talking with them. We went to bed as soon as we got back to the hotel to rest up because we were going to play the same team again the next day.

A Win and a Word in Kampala

Submitted by: Ron Smith - August 11th, 2015
Basketball Clinic at the Kawempe slum project in Kampala.

Westmont Women’s Basketball found the going a bit easier today, both on the roads and on the court. After spending their morning putting on a basketball clinic in the Kawempe slum project, Westmont met the Ugandan National Team for another game. This time, the Warriors defeated the Gazelles 63-48.

“This morning our team set up stations for the kids to so learn basketball skills,” reported Moore via a text message. “After the clinic, they had a chance to share with the kids in small groups.”

Once the clinics were over, the team headed back to Lugogo Indoor Stadium for a rematch with the Gazelles.

“The team did a great job applying what we learned from yesterday’s loss so that we could achieve a different result tonight,” said Moore. “Krissy Karr was amazing. The crowd was oohing and awing every time she made another three or an amazing shot.

A Sunday in Kampala for Women’s Basketball

Submitted by: Ron Smith - August 9th, 2015
Westmont Women's Basketball at Sport Outreach International's Kampala Ministry Center standing on a basketball court that is under construction.

Sunday morning in Kampala brought Westmont Women’s Basketball team more opportunities to connect with the people of Uganda, and a chance to prepare for tomorrow’s game against the Ugandan National Team.

“This morning, we stood on the new basketball court being built by Sports Outreach International’s (SOI) Kampala Ministry Center and heard Robert Katende speak about their vision to house, educate and disciple kids from the slums out at this new site,” reported Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore.

Katende is known for starting a chess club for youth in Kampala; offering a bowl of porridge to any child who would show up and learn. One of those who did was Phiona Mutesi, a teenager from the Katwe slum. Under Katende’s guidance, Mutesi eventually became the Ugandan national chess champion and has represented Uganda at international tournaments. Her story has been told in “The Queen of Katwe” by Tim Crothers, and is the subject of a Disney film by the same name to be released next year.

While Mutesi story has garnered international attention, she represents just one of thousands of youth from the slums of Kampala and elsewhere that have been touched through the SOI ministries.

Warriors Introduce Dribbling to Kampala Youth

Submitted by: Ron Smith - August 8th, 2015

“Most of these kids have never touched a basketball before,” said Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore in a text message from Uganda, “but they have seen it on TV so they were excited to try it.”

Moore and the Westmont Women’s Basketball team are in Uganda for a 12-day mission trip, which includes outreach in Kampala and Gulu as well as playing against the Ugandan Women’s Basketball national team.

“We all arrived safely and already are working hard to share our joy of basketball and God,” said Moore. “This morning we did a basketball clinic with some of the children in the Bwaise project. They loved the dribbling games even on uneven dirt.”

Beyond the Court: Warriors Headed to Africa

Submitted by: Kaci Mexico - August 5th, 2015

By Kaci Mexico

On Thursday, August 7 at 5:00 a.m. the Westmont Women’s Basketball team will be heading down to the Los Angeles International Airport to embark upon a highly anticipated mission trip to Uganda. For the next 12 days the women’s team will be working alongside the Sports Outreach Institute in Kampala and Gulu to minister to, serve, love, and play basketball with the people there.

The realization of this trip is the product of months of meticulous planning, relentless fundraising, countless meetings and persistent prayer.

“I am mostly just proud of our players for making this happen,” explains Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore. “It was their initiative from the beginning. It was their idea. When they came to me with the idea I said that’s awesome and I fully support it, but you guys have to make it happen… and they have.”

Two senior leaders on the team, Karlie Storkson and Lauren Sende, recalled the moment they realized that this trip was something that they wanted their team to experience. Sende explained, “We just kind of looked at each other and said, why don’t we just go? The soccer women had gone and we thought why can’t basketball women go?” (The women’s soccer team has gone on a mission trip through the Sports Outreach Institute every three years since 2006.)

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