Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away!!

Well it poured last night and it rained this morning and then it drizzled this afternoon. Remember us mentioning the roads before!? They are all muddy and filled with pot holes...? Well despite the rain everything went according to schedule. We ate breakfast at the regularly scheduled time and then the Taxi showed up also. Some of the workers had called for a ride up in our Taxi because their bota bota's wouldn't make it up to the school. Well the mini van taxi would right!?

Well imagine going 4-wheeling or digging in the mountains of Cache Valley in a rear wheel drive mini van after a big rainstorm. Ha ha ha. Needless to say those in the van were in for a big adventure. The ride was described as completely scare the whole way and the team members were thrown to and fro and side to side the whole time. Then the van spun out of control and slid to a 90 degree angle and blocked the whole road. The more the driver tried to get out the more the van gut stuck. LOL. I don't think the Africans are used to this type of driving. No Good. The men and the workers got out and pushed the van and finally got it back onto the road and the day continued and the work progressed. But the ride was not soon forgotten. It was a highlight of the day.

The doctor's office has come far in the last couple days. The work has begun and a door has been knocked out and framed. Right now the kids that are sick are seen by the doctor and then sent back to their dormitories or classrooms that they sleep in. But an infirmery room has begun so that the sick kids will have a place to stay without contaminating the other kids. Shelves are going to be put in and then hopefully we will get some beds for the infirmery also. I think the minor mishaps are the many times Christa happens to hit her hand instead of the nails that she is trying to nail into the Eucalyptus wood. She has given herself a blood blister from hitting herself so hard but has anyone else tried nailing Eucalyptus wood? Whew!

A sweater was finished and it fits little Kesekende. We are so excited about it since it is the first sweater that we have done and a trial sweater but it actually looks good! Hurray! We started teaching the nuns and they are on their way to make their very first one also.

All the other projects are going well. The kids love their new playground toys, the staff loves the internet, and the dormitory is looking great. The library is still waiting for its shelves but as always, we love spending time with the kids. Evan is enjoying tricking them by pointing at nothing and having them all look over and over, the kids continue to ask Jen to study with her, Kesekende still goes nowhere without the hand of Bethany (or BK as he calls her), and today a group of kids took Jen & Lorna to the fish pond where they sang and danced and boy I was amazed by the talent and skill that these kids have! They are amazing!!! All of this is so worth it because these kids deserve so much!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Yay For Uganda!!!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Things have been going well at the school. The kids seem to never run out of energy and never tire of the games or songs we introduce to them. Every day we meet new faces and learn new names that we cannot pronounce and have to learn how to match them to their particular faces. We are trying to pick up on the language of Lougandan, just a little bit. The children and adults speak that as well as English.

We have had a few minor injuries but nothing to stop the work or hold us back. Everything is still running on schedule and moving forward. Bethany commented that a little boy she had a picture of from a year ago looked like he was wearing the same clothes as when she saw him now. Christa, our team leader said that many of the kids that she saw a year ago when she came are in the same clothes they were wearing then. The clothes are hardly held together by a string in some places and have gaping holes that leave their sides or fronts completely open. One little boy that Jennifer has grown close to, like many, has no shoes. When inquired about them, the ones he was given were lost. Now he runs around the weeds, branches, dirt, and rocks with none. Oh my goodness it is so sad to think he cannot get another pair of flip flops.

We love the kids more and more every day and it is hard to explain the circumstances and situations here. I am so excited for them to have this new dormitory and all of the new things that the various projects are bringing to them. It is hard for me to imagine actually living in circumstances as they do. Today Evan, Dan, and Jen were discussing a household appliance that we would like them to have. Evan said a fridge, Dan said a microwave, and Jen said a washing machine. There are so many conveniences that they do without and of course don’t think twice about it. However, still, a week after being at the school – the kids are wearing the same clothes we first met them in and to my knowledge they haven’t been cleaned yet. They just keep getting dirtier and dirtier.

Project Update:

Jennifer & Lorna stamped the books to say they belong to the school, but were unable to put them away because there was no room. So a man came to measure for new shelves and some will be built in 3 – 4 days. The project is going well and should be completed after the new shelves arrive. The kids love reading the new books but especially love being read to. Some are continually bringing book after book and another, Kezimbira is constantly asking Jen, “Can we go study now?” Irene always follows Lorna into the library and reads to her while she stamps. These new and colorful books and so intriguing to the children and I feel that they are really instilling a love of learning and especially reading. The nuns, Sister Luke Laura reads the books while we stamp and we absolutely love her doing that. She finishes one and comments how the children will love it because it is so good and such a good story. But I think more than the children will love it as she reaches for another…. Ha ha ha.

Construction for the dormitory is well on its way. Leveling of the site took a lot less time than expected, putting us about one day ahead of schedule. We decided that the whole dormitory will be completed in three rooms/phases, the first of which we are planning on completing during this trip. Once finished, the first phase will be able to provide adequate sleeping area for approximately 54 students. As of now we have completed two walls of the footing. Funny thing—we came here to do the work, but the Africans pretty much won’t let us. They are always taking away the tools we are using and telling us to go rest. We do our best to take back the tools, but to no avail!

We are up and going! The orphanage now has internet connection. We are working on getting a static IP address and connecting the rest of our sensor equipment online. As soon as it was set up, the Africans sat in front of the laptop and surfed the Internet. They didn’t move for 5 HOURS!! I think they like it!J They asked us a lot of questions about the presidential campaigns, the war in Iraq, and a nine-year-old that is going to college in the United States.

Digging, digging, digging. We have done lots of digging for the playground. Well… maybe I haven’t so much – I tried at first but all the kids kept taking away my tools. Shoot. But others have and they have done great. The ground was leveled and concrete rings were moved to create a little tunnel way for the children. Today a hole was began for a teatherball pole. Dan played teatherball with the kids the other day and they absolutely loved it! The playground is moving by ear and we are just getting as much done as we can. Working hard every day. Bethany is a great team leader. She goes out in the morning and we rarely see her throughout the day. She is a hard worker and good at getting things done. Go Bethany!

Lorna & Jennifer have begun knitting an actual sweater for children. They measured a little boy named Andrew and began showing the nuns the next steps. The nuns love using the pattern cards and perhaps the most difficult part of teaching was showing them how to knit with two colors on one of the hardest pattern designs. Ha ha. That’s the last time I let them choose which one they want to do first. I will decide next time and start simple. They catch on quickly though and I think that the machine will come in very handy to give the children at least one more shirt and hopefully something to keep them warm on the cold nights. We are always ready to take a break much faster than they are. After 5 hours we are like, “Um… how bout a little break?” But I think that they could go and learn ALL DAY LONG!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June 2008 Project Begins

After nearly 24 hours of flying and a pit stop in Dubai plus hours driving on pot hole filled and dirt roads we reached our destination. Today, June 3 was our first day visiting the school that we will be working at for the next 2 ½ weeks. Oh! What a feeling and sight! Our van pulled up to children on each side of the road yelling “yay, yay” and then following our van up the road. As we got out all we could see were hundreds (literally around 300 plus) of little black, smiling, faces. “You are Welcome. You are welcome.” It was hard to go straight to work instead of just getting to know each child and giving them hugs. But alas, there was no time to waste before beginning the projects. We unloaded the suitcases full of donations in a little room we got to put our stuff in and we sorted it for the children. Books, playground equipment, toys, and stuffed animals, towels, and blankets, all filled the many suitcases that will be staying at the orphanage. The nursery aged children (around 150 – and there were more older) were given the small toys and the stuffed animals, then the older kids were given playground toys such as frisbee’s and soccer balls. Lorna began the toy giveaway with a book reading of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Tomas learned that when you take a picture of the children after they see the flash, in unison they all say, “yay!” Ha ha. It was the greatest thing in the world to witness. Every time they see a camera they want to be in a picture and then they want to see the picture. You end up taking picture after picture. MEMO TO SELF: Next trip, bring one of those digital small photo printers.

After unloading and a short presentation to the children, the work began.


The Dormitory: Today the ground for the dormitory was staked out, the dimensions set as to where the building would go and measured as to how far it would be from the surrounding buildings. Tomas said, “We leveled and took the altitude at different points to figure out how much dirt to remove. Tomorrow the grater will start digging and leveling the ground to the specifications that were measure today and after that…. Building time!” I have to say that it was fun to watch the children get involved and help. They were out helping level by carrying bricks off the land. Carrying bricks on your head doesn’t sound fun to me but they made it look pretty easy.

The Playground: The start of a playground. What do you do first? Pick and hoe. We couldn’t keep the children away. The whole group worked on this project at the end of the day and I am pretty sure some of the kids worked harder than the group members. They want to be involved in everything that we do. Even putting the tools away. And if they couldn’t help because there weren’t enough tools, they were fine sitting close enough to watch and laugh.

Knitting: Jen & Lorna began to teach the nuns that volunteer at the school how to work the knitting machines. They walked into our room and saw them on the tables and just got these happy expressions on their faces. They were so excited to learn how to use them so I think every nun at the school came for lessons. We set up the machines, knitted a little, let them knit, and then put it away. We then asked them to set it up, knit, and put it away. They did very good and I think that it won’t take long before they are knitting sweaters all by themselves.

Educational Materials: I think that the books that we brought more than tripled the small library that the school had. Lorna & Jen sorted one suitcase full of schoolbooks but had no room to do anymore so have to wait until tomorrow to do more. Tomorrow books will be stamped, more brought out, and unloaded and organized. We are so excited for the kids to get their hands on these books! When we ran out of room we asked the nun who was helping, “Is it too many?” Her response, a quick, “oh no!”

One of my favorite parts of the day was watching the group interact with those they were serving. I believe that through service both parts are always benefited. On their “breaks” members of the group would play frisbee, and soccer and sing and dance with the kids. It was tiring as they all always wanted to get involved. At one point I was playing frisbee with a small group and all the sudden instead of just one there were multiple Frisbees coming at me. They all wanted to play with the white person. (Or buzumu’s as they call us – interpreted to mean while people.) Group members who came to do hard labor not liking children found something special in these ones and couldn’t stay away.

We feel very welcomed at the school and are so happy to get our projects underway. A lot was accomplished today and tomorrow we will be just as worn out (if not more) we are already certain. We want to do all that we can to help and to learn on the way.

Oh and if you want to experience what we are going through: Take a cold shower and use crepe paper instead of toilet paper. (For real the toilet paper is thin and stretchy. Haha.)