Julie Bender ’13, Asayo’s Wish Foundation, Uganda

Close to the end of her stay in Kaberamaido, Uganda, Julie Bender was asked to be a bridesmaid at a wedding in Kampala. Seeing this as an opportunity to expose some local children to the big city, she recruited 12 of them to sing in a chorus at the wedding.

Just driving into the city awed the children. “It was amazing to see the looks of astonishment on the kids’ faces,” Bender recounted. “They were happy and amazed. I think it opened their minds to the possibilities of the city. Most who grow up in Kaberamaido stay put.”

Bender worked this summer for Asayo’s Wish Foundation, which takes care of orphaned children or children whose parents can’t take care of them. It runs a medical clinic and a farm, and Bender helped care for the cows, chickens and sheep, as well as assisted the clinic by creating an electronic health record of patients by entering their data into a computer. She also tutored children in math and English.

“These kids are some of the happiest, carefree and joyful I’ve ever experienced,” she said. “It was amazing to sit with them for hours doing nothing … just being able to enjoy the moment.”

She said time runs slower in Kaberamaido. “It lets you get close to people,” she said.

Bender says she wants to offer presentations about her trip to local elementary schools, including perhaps her employer, the Bowdoin College Children’s Center.