When our Director Rannah Evetts asked Hannah Ohmes if she would consider working with Saint Francis Ministries in Uganda, Hannah thought: “Ha. No.” She’d already used all of her paid time off at work and the thought of being in Africa without a steady income from the states as daunting, to say the least. She had a job working as a volunteer coordinator and gardener at the High Plains Food Bank, and it was going well. Then there was the whole Africa thing – or as she said: “I was a little freaked out because Africa was not on my list of places to go to, because Africa is scary and doesn’t have any of the things that I look for when traveling, namely museums, small diners, and resale shops.”
That was May 2016.
Fast forward to January 2018 and Hannah was putting her hands into Ugandan soil at the Saint Francis de Sales School for the Deaf in Nyapea, Uganda. So, what happened?
Hannah says it best: “I was going through a difficult time at work, where I just didn’t want to be there anymore, and I finally let myself admit that maybe I had grown past the job and it was time to let it go and move on. So…I asked myself and God what I else I could do if I quit my job. And the answer was almost immediate–I could go to Africa. It stunned me. I just sat back on my heels (I was at work, weeding) and stared at nothing while I felt a huge loosening and freeing feeling in my chest. It was hope and relief and direction all at once.
And of course I immediately tried to knock it all down by telling myself that it had been so long, how could she still want me to come, and what was I going to do there? What would I do when/if monkeys started eating the beans? What would my day’s schedule look like?
I told my doubts to my counselor and she asked the most sensible thing ever: ‘Have you asked Rannah what she would want you to do?’ I was like, “oh.”
So then I shot Rannah a text, and after she had finished dying of surprise, she sent me a list of duties back. I was sitting in the office at work, eating my lunch, and I read over the list and felt myself going dizzy, because every single thing on the list was something I was qualified to do, and I knew it was a sign, and my whole life was going to be different now.”
Hannah hit the ground running once she arrived at school. As the school’s new gardener she was in charge of directing the young adults in planting crops for the school. Soon potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and other greens were beginning to sprout. The younger kids were soon shucking beans and Hannah helped, smiling like never before as kids began asking for vegetables like they were candy.
Then she busted out tools and began repairing beds, building a bench, a chin-up bar for the kids, and soon graduating to building an entire chicken coop complete with laying boxes for the hens. Who knows what’s next?
As time has gone on Hannah’s responsibilities have evolved from being a gardener to interpreting Mass, being the volunteer coordinator, and acting as director for the school when Rannah is needed in Kampala or the U.S. for fundraising. And during Rannah’s last visit to the U.S. Hannah acted as director for seven weeks – making sure the school kept operating while also receiving and coordinating with five new volunteers that arrived during that time. All of this while juggling her responsibilities for the Ministry and online classes for a bachelor’s in Health and Wellness which she plans furthering into a masters in Counseling.
Day by day Hannah’s presence, hard work, and Kingdom-minded spirit make both Saint Francis Ministries and The Saint Francis de Sales School for the Deaf a better place for our students, young adults, volunteers, and our director. Hannah plans to stay until October 2018 and, if God wills it, return to us in time.
If you’re interested in learning more about Hannah and the work she’s been doing for Saint Francis Ministries at the Saint Francis de Sales School for the Deaf check out her blog where she recalls hilarious happenings, personal progress, and God’s presence in her life: https://hannahlouya.wordpress.com/ // https://www.instagram.com/onestrokeflower/
4 thoughts on “Volunteer Spotlight: Hannah Ohmes”
Hello, I’m curious if you use ASL at your school? I know English is one of the languages of Uganda.
We do not. We use USL, Ugandan Sign Language. Their curriculum is in written english – so they learn to read and write in English only and not their local Alur language. 🙂
Curious, Do you teach ASL? I know that English is one of the languages of Uganda
Hi Caroline. We teach Ugandan Sign Language. And separately we also teach them written words from the English Language as per their school curriculum. Thank you for asking!