Tecumseh Times Staff Reporter
Ivan Wawelo showed love for his country by singing the national anthem of Uganda during lunch Thursday at Lake Village. He’s come a long way from his home country.
Ivan is a counselor in Wea cabin this summer – his first time at Camp Tecumseh, though he’s had a long relationship with camp.
From 1995 until 2007, camp’s World Service program helped pay for Ivan’s education and items such as mosquito nets to keep him from getting malaria. This YMCA program helps children and families in the United States and around the world who may be victims of disasters or difficult political situations.
As he led a soccer clinic this week, Ivan said Camp Tecumseh has changed his life.
“It gave me a future,” said the 25-year-old. Without the financial support he received over 12 years, “I would be nothing. I don’t know where I would be.”
Ivan arrived in the spring to work with camp’s outdoor education department, which he will do this fall before leaving. His wife Tara is working for camp as an administrative assistant.
Ivan has enjoyed getting to know the “real” American culture, which is different from what you see on TV.
“Not everyone lives in a skyscraper,” Ivan said. “People here suffer, they cry, they have problems, too.”
He doesn’t expect to return as a staff member but would like to visit. He and his wife will be returning to California.
Campers had a chance this week to donate to World Service funds by buying tickets in the morning at breakfast or at Day Camp. Last year, campers donated about $5,000, said Tom Elliot, outdoor education department director.
Camp has been participating in world service since the late 1940s, said camp Executive Director Dave Wright.
Camp Tecumseh is currently sponsoring two kids: Douglas from Ghana and Irene from Kenya.