Rocío’s YES to come to Uganda: the beginning of a new journey
Story by Irene Muto
Kampala, 3rd February 2023
Rocío Andreo de La Vega is the new Educational Advisor at Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS) in Kampala. She came from Madrid, Spain where she was working as a teacher, to continue the work that our friend Seve (Matteo Severgnini) carried out in the last 10 years.
The staff of Meeting Point International had a talk with her. Here is what she told us about her personal experience, the reason why she decided to come to Uganda and what she has discovered so far.
“I have been thinking about going on a mission since I was 15 years old. When I finished my university, I started working as a teacher in Spain, and I realized I was already on a mission in my school. Teaching is always and everywhere a mission.
While I was in Spain I got the opportunity to meet Rose and know more about the reality here, about Meeting Point International, the schools (Luigi Giussani Preprimary and Primary School and Luigi Giussani High School), the women. But I had never planned to come and work here.
What happened was that in January 2022 Monica, a friend of mine who had worked for 3 years at Luigi Giussani Institute of Higher Education (LGIHE) in Kampala, took me out for dinner and told me that they were looking for someone to work at the Institute. They asked Monica if she had someone in mind, and she told me “Your name kept coming to my mind for a whole week, so I thought maybe this thought is not mine, it must be from Someone else”. So, she proposed it to me, and I SAID YES, because I realized that this thing had my name written on it, all around it, it was made for me!
Concurrently it happened that Seve was asked to go back to Italy and the School needed someone to take his place as Educational Advisor. Again it happened that someone thought that I would be suitable for that role. The people responsible thought it was a good idea for me to work at Luigi Giussani High School and I thought “Why do they think it’s a good idea? They don’t know me at all!”. But again, I said YES because the important thing is not if I am able to do this kind of job. Instead, it’s if I am answering and I’m saying YES to Someone, because I understand that this is a calling for me, here in this place.
So my journey in Uganda began and since I arrived I keep on asking myself: “What are you doing here?”. Because I need to rediscover this calling every day. Of course after two months here it’s not the same as it was the first day. I have two months of reason and two months of certainty that this place is for me, but I still need to understand it every day.
I’m still at the beginning of the journey, but up to now I am very happy to be here. It’s not easy, but every day I can say: “YOU really want me here today. I don’t know about tomorrow. But YOU really want me here today!”.
Working with children and teenagers is not comfortable, it’s a risk, because the human in front of you is growing very fast and he or she is taking decisions you cannot take on their behalf. But I know I am not here to solve the problems of the children and I know that real education speaks to their heart.”
What I have been experiencing so far is that the students and teachers in Uganda and in Spain are the same, not because they do the same things or have the same kind of life, but because they have the same heart! I was struck during the dialogues some students had with Seve in the office regarding their problems: the students here remind me of some particular students I met in Spain. How is it possible that they need the same things and have the same desires, if they live two completely different lives? However, the needs of the kids are exactly the same. For me it’s also a relief because I am the same person I was in Spain. Sometimes I was thinking: “What if I cannot be part of this because I am different? What if I never feel at home?”
But I felt at home from the very first day, because of the way people were welcoming me and treating me. And the reason is that somehow we are the same. Of course here a lot of things are different but I feel at home because, even if I miss everything and everyone, I can say that here I’ve found the same gaze that tells me that my heart is not wrong for desiring so much, that I am beautiful and precious to Him, that I am loved even before I open my eyes in the morning”.