Woodbridge’s Erin Morrissey spends a special time in Uganda this summer

Posted August 16, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Charity ~ 2,874 views


By Hugh Rist | For the News & Messenger ~ At a time of economic uncertainty in America, it took a humanitarian trip to Uganda to show Woodbridge senior volleyball player Erin Morrissey how truly rich she is.

When a family friend, Dr. Buzz Auvil came for a visit and shared a photo album of pictures from previous medical missions his team of physicians and helpers had made to Uganda with the Morrisseys, Erin said she knew she wanted to go.

“I wanted to travel and when I saw the book, it was so colorful. When I saw the faces of those kids, I knew I had to go. They had one spot left and I was happy to go,” Morrissey said.

So Morrissey armed herself with a yellow fever shot, typhoid pills, and malaria pills, as well as volleyballs donated by Virginia Tech, and set out with the humanitarian group for Uganda. She boarded a Delta Airlines flight on June 30 and eventually returned July 15 with a lifetime of memories.

“When I first went down there, I had no idea how it would be,” Morrissey said. “I knew the people would be poor, but not like this. We are talking about [people that are] dirt poor, sick, and dirty. It was worse than anything I have ever imagined. Until you actually go to a place like this, you really don’t realize that we have so much here.”

Morrissey said she conducted volleyball clinics for kids mostly ranging in age from 5 to 10 years old (though a few were older), mainly to give the kids something to do while their parents stood in line for hours waiting to get medical supplies and treatment that was sorely needed.

“These kids might have something like the common cold, or be extremely sick and not know the difference,” Morrissey said. “It was very rewarding to give these kids a release from their problems for at least a week. It gave me a great feeling inside and I would definitely do it again.”

Since the kids had no idea how to play volleyball at first, Morrissey said she started by teaching passing.

“The kids did pretty well at passing when they were passing to me in a circle, but then when they passed to each other [when they were in game formation] they had some troubles. It was kind of surprising how well they picked up the game.

“You could very easily tell which kids had an athletic background because some did much better than others and probably could play on a middle school team here in America,” Morrissey said. “After passing, I taught setting and that gave them some trouble, too. But mostly they had fun playing the game.”

Morrissey said an amusing moment happened when she moved from teaching one group of kids to another.

“Every time I turned my back, they would put the ball on the ground and start kicking it like a soccer ball,” Morrissey said. “But that’s the sport they know how to play down there so it didn’t hurt my feelings. It was funny.”

Morrissey, who also helped teach classes in health and hygiene to students at elementary and secondary schools there, said she had two major takeaways from the experience that have impacted her in the days since she returned.

“I realized they don’t have a lot of the luxuries like we do. But they were so happy, very close knit. All they wanted to do was hug you and touch you. They never complained, probably because they didn’t know any better,” Morrissey said. “But I think more than anything the experience gave me a new respect for coaches. Coaching is not an easy thing.”

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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