Uganda — When American Faith Blanchard moved to Uganda to do charity work, she wasn’t expecting to find love. But during her time volunteering at Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, that’s exactly what happened. It was there she met Seme Ludanga, a South Sudanese refugee and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Storyteller who changed her world.
The two first met at as facilitators at a youth conference in the refugee settlement.
“The first time I saw him,” Faith said, “my heart jumped out of my chest.”
Seme had a similar reaction. “When I saw her, I felt my heart move in my whole body,” he said. “Even before maybe sharing anything with her, I felt like I knew her a long time ago.”
Seme became Faith’s translator for the conference, but their relationship didn’t end there. Two years later – this past July – Faith and Seme were married. In a time when culture divides, they united in love.
But the path to get there wasn’t all sunshine and roses, especially for Seme, who fled violence in his home country of Sudan. He left alone at age 15 – without family or friends to support his journey. He arrived safely at Bidibidi, where the U.N. World Food Programme provided him with food assistance and supplies.
Upon first arriving at Bidibidi, Seme felt a bit hopeless. But after a while, he decided that he was there to make a difference. He started volunteering with youth and became a U.N. World Food Programme Storyteller, sharing his experience as a refugee with the outside world. And that’s what led him to be in the same place at the same time as Faith, a woman also looking to serve others and make a difference.
“Faith is just very beautiful in my eyes, inside and out,” Seme said. “She always makes me smile. She always makes me laugh so hard, and she makes me rejoice whenever I look at her smile.”
“In the beginning, I had so many doubts,” Faith said. “We are from completely different places, the idea of moving to another country and continent, leaving my family. I was not sure if I was strong enough to endure the sadness and difficulties of an international marriage. But after praying and thinking about it, my heart settled. When he proposed, I cried tears of joy for three days.”
The wedding was held in Uganda on July 25. Faith’s parents were unable to make the ceremony because of the pandemic, so a Ugandan pastor and South Sudanese friend walked her down the aisle while her parents watched via Facebook livestream. Faith and Seme want to stay in Bidibidi and are currently looking to build a house there.
When asked if she might miss the luxuries of American life, Faith said, “In the U.S., we’re surrounded by such material wealth that it masks the other kinds of poverty we have. In Uganda, we will not have many possessions, but the richness of our life will include a strong sense of community, family and belonging.
“I am so happy to be married to Seme,” Faith continued. “He is a sweet gift to me. He is my best friend, and I love the woman I am with him. I can’t ask for a better life than that.”
While Seme and Faith found their happy ending, millions of people who fled violence, persecution and war still struggle daily to survive. Learn more about displacement and hunger and how you can help.
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