By Dramadri Federick, Contbiuting Editor, Naseeba Bagalaaliwo
West Nile Region.
Refugees surprised the community of Koboko district with the generous donation of a church. The South Sudanese refugee Dinga community presented the church worth an estimated 500,000,000 Ugandan shillings to the Madi and West Nile diocese in a bid to promote peace through evangelism. This unprecedented donation is the first ever by the refugee community to the host community since settling in West Nile fifty years ago.
Construction of the church which is located in the center of Koboko municipality began in November of 2018 and was completed in December 2020. Measuring 32 x 12 meters the church will accommodate about 1200 worshipers.
Archdeacon, Right Reverend Daniel Reeck Akuak who heads the Dinga congregation is the brain behind the substantial gift. He expressed gratitude for the hospitality exhibited by the host communities in Uganda towards the refugee community and offered the new church as a token of appreciation.
“Since we dropped on the land of Uganda particularly West Nile, we have experienced total peace either from the settlements or even those self settled in the urban places. We saw the suffering in the church where we pray especially St. Mark Church and this donation will help decongest the church”.
Proceeds that went towards the church came mainly from the elderly congregation with contributions ranging from 20,000/= Ugandan shillings to (100,000/= Ugandan shillings. Rev. Daniel continued by thanking local leaders who helped secure bank loans by acting as guarantors and signing on their behalf. He added that through the generous contributions from the refugee community the loans had also been fully repaid.
The Dinga community also handed over the title of the church and have charged the leadership of Madi and West Nile diocese to regulate the activities in the church and ensure safety of the equipment donated which included a speaker system, chairs and more. and the church land costed 70,000,000/=
Vicar General of St. Mark Nyarilo town parish Rev. James Ombanya appreciated and thanked the Dinga community for the offer.
“I wish to confirm that on behalf of the Bishop of Madi and West Nile diocese the receiving of the documents including the land title in the names of St. Mark Nyarilo Town Parish. The house details and equipment like speakers, plastic chairs and others. This is a plus and we pray that the refugee community will be able to go back to their motherland. We will live to remember them and may the blessings of the Almighty dwell on you and give you more”
The youth leader for the Dinga congregation, Thon Micheal Nhial from St. Jerusalem Church of Uganda, Koboko explained how the new church would allow the refugee community to be able to attend prayers at more convenient times. He explained that, “There was no enough time for Sunday prayers as the St. Mark Nyarilo Town Parish had up to five prayers every Sunday and the refugees came last at 3PM or even 4PM. This was not favoring us in our faith as only a few can wait for such hours for the Sunday services but with this building we only have two masses in a day one from 7AM and the other from noon which gives us enough time”.
Rev. David Ayikobua ended his remarks with an appeal to the host community to continue supporting the Dinga community in their development and innovations as these will equally benefit them.
“These people have shown us that they can if given the chance, I call upon the Christians and other people to help by donating enough land so that more structures come up. The refugees will not go with these structures they benefit everyone in the community”.
The church is only the first of more improvements planned by the Dinga community. Further developments include the construction a studio for youth fully equipped with musical instruments for youth members to learn various instruments played in the churches, equipping the church with better seating and improved sanitation facilities for the church and the church leaders.