Living in a city that’s said to be built on seven hills, it’s understandable that Salmon Arm’s Jill Flockhart might have some ups and downs.
Her mixed experience, however, is not due to changes in altitude.
Flockhart is in Kampala, Uganda, where she is on a year-long internship with Soccer Without Borders, a non-governmental organization that works with impoverished youth.
Her mom, Heather Flockhart, says Jill is experiencing highs and lows.
“Like I knew would happen, she’s getting very attached to these little kids,” she explains, noting that the downside of getting close to them is seeing their situations as refugees. Because of numbers, Jill and her fellow interns sometimes have had to turn away children because their teaching room is too small.
Uganda is listed as having the highest number of refugees in Africa. They have come from eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Heather said a couple of 12- or 13-year-old boys from the Sudan told Jill they had been child soldiers.
She said Jill has been enjoying the teaching, both the traditional subjects as well as soccer.
To help out Jill, the Shuswap Youth Soccer Association presented Heather with a $500 cheque.
Reg Walters, president of the association, said the board is happy to support Flockhart.
“Jill’s always been a great ambassador for soccer and she raises the profile of our association within the soccer community when she can play soccer at the collegiate level. Basically we’re giving something back to her.”
He said another reason is that so often Canadian soccer benefits from people from other countries coming to teach.
“The executive felt it’s important we support our people when we can make a contribution the other way.”
On her blog, Jill summarizes her first weeks in Uganda:
“Thank you all for following up with what I am doing here in Uganda. There have been many up and downs but overall it has been amazing. Every day I learn something new and am becoming more familiar with my new home. The time is going by very quickly and I am trying my best to embrace every day and make the most of it. I went to church again today and the message that was preached was a great one. Make sure that the possessions and ‘things’ in our lives do not take importance over that of God. I really felt like this was directed towards myself. Being here in Africa has made me think more about all that I have and how little importance it really serves. Just something to think about. Love from Africa, Jill.”