OC police officer recounts 'life-changing' trip to help orphans at school in Uganda

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- For nearly the last five years, Rudy Valdez has worked in the gang units for the Orange County and Anaheim police departments.

"As a gang investigator, I believe we see the worst of the worst, and we deal with really bad crooks out there," Valdez shared.

Hoping to make a positive change beyond Anaheim, Valdez traveled to Uganda for a missions trip.

The Anaheim officer and a group of volunteers spent two weeks providing assistance to orphan children at a school in the war-torn country.

"We bought them new mattresses, bought them new sheets. We painted their classrooms. We also bought them a new playground," Valdez said.

They had spent time with the children who found joy amidst their difficult conditions by singing, dancing and playing.

"Really emotional trip and it was life changing. It was really rewarding just seeing the kids so happy," Valdez said.

Back in uniform and patrolling Anaheim streets, Valdez shared how the trip changed his perspective in life and impacted the way he interacts with people on the job.

"Spent a couple of my contacts with people just talking to them about my experience and just letting (them) know it could get worse and they should look at the positive things in life," he said.

Valdez said he plans to take another trip to Uganda.
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.