Friday, June 26, 2015

Uganda Day 5 by Suzy

Today started off with many sad goodbyes as we had to leave the AHI staff. To say we were welcomed is an understatement. The hospitality didn't get any better than AHI! We stirred by the side of the road and picked up since balls made out of garbage sacks that we had pre ordered from and young boy. The journey to Gulu was promising at first, that is until we hit the construction. As I currently write, we have several hours to go and a journey that should be two to three hours looks like it may be 5-7 hours. It is dusty and hot. The volunteers are ask getting to experience roughing it fur the first time. In contrast, our roughing it in a comfortable bus doesn't compare to the hundreds of people we see walking with heavy loads and no shoes in the hot, dusty weather. We are on our way to St Jude to deliver Paul's wheelchair. He doesn't know we are coming so it should be really exciting for him! Update! What an experience we had!! We arrived at St Jude children's home in the late afternoon. The road to Gulu is usually 3 hours when the road is good. Unfortunately, the road was bad and there was a lot of construction so the normally short drive took about 8 hours. After arriving, Suzy and the group went to say hello to Paul. He didn't know we were coming or that Bruce was there. It had been 4 years since the last time Paul had seen Bruce. after distracting Paul for a minute, Bruce Road the electric wheelchair around the corner and pulled it up next to Paul. At this point, a large group of rowdy children gathered around and it became difficult to hear what Bruce was saying. He said to Paul that four years ago he made a promise to him when Paul said his dream was to have an electric wheelchair. He told Paul that he kept his promise and that the wheelchair he was driving was actually for him. What took place, was so intense and beautiful that words are not adequate to describe. Paul was transferred into the wheelchair and with his very weak hand began maneuvering the device and for the first time in many years have the ability to control his destiny. It didn't take long for him to figure out how to maneuver the wheelchair throughout the compound. After Paul received his wheelchair, the headteacher made a decision to distribute the second electric wheelchair to Paul's brother Vincent who also has muscular dystrophy. We had a special surprise when we found out that the boys have a biological mother and that she was at the compound. Her joy was very great as was Paul and his brother. I think words escaped them, but the tears that fell from Paul eyes were enough to let us know he was very happy. It was a very beautiful experience, and there were not many dry eyes.

One Good Thing:
Kara: Baboons on the side of the road, singing to Brigdet at the St Jude's.
Hannah: Lady on the side of the road with the goat head. 
Steve: Talking to Kuganda about all things Uganda.
Heather:  Paul getting his chair
Brin: catching the moment with Paul getting his chair on camera.
Alex: Tears of joy from Paul as he received his chair. Seeing Kara sing to the little girl. Being in the North for the first time.
Becky: Seeing Bruce and Ginny giving each other a hug after delivering Paul's chair. They had finally delivered a promise!
Bruce: To see Paul and his mom. To be able to give her some money from his grandson to help with her family.
Ginnie: Seeing Paul received his chair and knowing how long of a road it was. Thinking of the 'Go Fund Me' page her family had all helped out with. They stepped up to the plate and made it possible.
Suzie: Watching Hannah step in human pooh and then stepping in it herself later. CARMA! 
Proud of her parents for the task of getting Paul a new chair, Giving Paul $5 from Peanut to start his own bank account.
Amber: Paul receiving his chair, Alex playing the ukulele for the children, Ginnie spilling the salt on her food.
Maddy: Seeing the how the countryside change as we went from the south to the North.  Baboons on the road and the falls on the Nile River.
Stacie: Seeing Paul get his chair and realizing he had a younger brother with MD also and we just happen to have brought another chair! What a tender mercy.  Good job Bruce and Ginnie!

Uganda Day 4 by Suzy

Morning fellowship with
AHI. Sang and shared around the drum. Kit distribution  for 150 students. Lots of amazing questions! Very successful...... Then road bikes in the rain to secondary school and distributed 80 kits. It was raining so hard that it was hard to teach. Many girls snuck in and it was a bit chaotic. Several people stayed in the rain to watch a girls football match. Finished the day with lasagna and stories from Maggie about cobras and black mambas! Glad she saved the stories for the end of the trip!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Today was one of the best days I have ever had as far experiences are concerned. We started off the morning with a huge rainstorm that made everything muddy. After breakfast we picked out bicycles from a group of 1950 Indian bikes. It was like going back in time. As we started off unsteadily  for what would be 4 mile journey everyone was was smiling and laughing as we went through the large mud puddles and the local kids ran out as we passed them shouting Hi "Mzungu". Everyone in the group was grinning ear to ear and those who weren't kids felt like we were 10 again. We only had a few crashes, Becky taking the worst of the falls landing smack dab at the end of a twelve foot puddle in the mud. Bruce and Ginny who didn't ride bikes were ahead of us in the back of an off road  vehicle taking pictures of the great fall. We were all laughing so hard our belly's hurt. We then arrived at our destination, a dilapidated primary school. We were greeted by hundreds of school children dressed in Orange uniforms smiling and welcoming us. The structure for a kitchen was awaiting is final touch, walls. Our job was to work with the local community to mud the walls. A few strong young men along with Alex began digging the earth of a former termite hill. Meantime, our volunteers began fetching water from a muddy pond about 100 yards from the site. We find out their week was broken so these kids only water source is this muddy hole. The volunteers were amazing, many carriers water weighing 30 lbs on their heads the entire way. It gave them an opportunity to see how challenging it is to not have drinking water. After fetching the water it was mixed with the freshly dug dirt and the locals and volunteers jumped in feet first mixing the mud with their bare feet. There was much laughing, singing and many smiles and friendships blossoming as we worked along side the community. Many remarked that this belonging in a community is something we are really lacking in the states. After the mud became the right texture a large assembly line of Mzungus and locals formed a human chain lifting the mud into large pies and passing it until the massive pile was in the middle of the kitchen. Then the fun began! Globs of mud began to form walls and we were in business! This experience of working together with locals is one that we will never forget! Later in the afternoon we ventured out on our bikes  had our second project distributing DGG kits to a group of local village women. We sang Do a Dear as we traveled on a rush that looked and felt like a scene from the sounds of music. It was a successful day! Suzy

One Good Thing:
Brynn/ Hannah:  Letting the children play with their hair.
Suzie: Showing videos of her family to the children at the school. 
Becky: Sound of Music bike ride!
Ginny: Cooperation in mudding the school. Train of people from the mud pile to the school, wouldn't it be great if we could always come together like that.
Bruce: watching everyone falling in the puddles on their bikes as he rode it the back of the truck.
Steve: teaching the boys at school. They were anxious to hear what we had to say.
Alex: Stomping the mud. I was doing it alone and it was really hard but when the girls started helping it was a lot easier. It was easy to work at a team but harder alone.
Heather:  mudding the school kitchen, riding bikes and enjoying the beauties around us.
Amber:  handing out the tortillas to the children. They were so gratefull!
Kara:  mudding, working as a communtiy.
Stacie: co-operative of women in the community
Maddy:  kit distribution, the women were concerened about their daughters and wanted to pass the knowledge we had just taught onto their daughters.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Uganda Day 2

Most of the group slept a little last night. Our bodies are so out of sync! Since we are in the bush every sound in mother nature sounds amplified. There are birds singing songs all night and many people are struggling to sleep. Add to that the 100's of cows mooing that sound like they right next to our rooms. Many people have earplugs and that helps! Our morning started off with me and Brinlee who had been awake since 2 exploring a little on the village. We met a few girls who were pumping water to carry back to their dorms. We offered to help and walked back with them to school. One girl put a giant Jerry can that I could not even light on her head! Amazing that in order to bathed and wash clothes they are required to go to so much effort. These girls were lucky. The pump was only about 100 yards away. In many places in Uganda there are no pumps or you have to walk several miles. We saw one young man carrying 8 cans on a bike he jerryrigged with wood sticks to hold the water. The rest of the group was awake when we got back and we started out day with bacon and and egg scramble! It was delicious. Then we were off to church. It was supposed to stay at 9 but people didn't really start coming in until 10. At first it appeared it may not be very exciting, but as the morning wore on the worship for louder and bigger! Amber made friends with a little girl and had her first experience of being peed on. Brinlee and Hannah snuck up to the balcony where they enjoyed dancing with other teenagers. A highlight was Kara being asked to sing how great thou art. The people were stunned and went crazy when she sung the last note which was so high it sounded like the glass would shatter. Overall it was incredible. After church we had a lovely lunch of pizza and pineapple. We are ask going crazy over the pineapple that grows in abundance here. After lunch we gathered with the AHI staff for trainings on health, reproduction, and hygeine as well as to train the young ladies on how to use their new Days For Girls kits. We started with some ice breaker games that really allowed people to get comfortable. Ugandan girls are often shy around Mzungus. It was a perfect way to start because by the time we were done everyone was laughing. The training was a great chance for us to practice as a team what we will be teaching in schools. The girls had lots of questions and the APE team were experts! Amber did a great job teaching about the reproductive system and, Stacie who was really nervous did a great job teaching about the female cycle. I know for Becky who was instrumental in both sewing and gathering kits this was momentous. Steve and Alex taught a separate class to the young men and the feedback was excellent. We then had some time off on the afternoon. Five of the girls took bikes out to the village and came back in a rainstorm. Everything is so safe and the locals treat you like family. After the rain subsided we had a lovely dinner of kabobs and finished with a team meeting. Alex, a Ugandan that is a good friend of APF's composed a song about unity that was very moving. He shared it with the group and passed out prayer copies be had written for us to sing.

Uganda Day 1 by Suzy

After arriving with the rest of the group we finally got to Banana Village about 2 am. We were so exhausted. Asked and Stacie Parker (Miller) were already there. The beds we so small in my room that I bunked with Alex since he had extra beds. Got up early the next morning to be met with heavy, cool rain. Now the fun began! We had to load up all of the bags plus the two electric wheelchairs dad bought for Paul and St. Jude. It was tough to do on the rain. We were so lucky that the big, heavy wheelchair fit perfectly in the front seat of the bus.  After loading up we started our journey to the African Hospitality Institute about 3 hours north in central Uganda. We arrived without incident and were shocked to find this place of great comfort and beauty tucked in a the middle of a what looks like the Garden of Eden! AHI trains young people in the hospitality industry and transforms lives whole they are under the tutelage of Maggie Josiah, an eccentric American Women who lives a humble life in the bush of Africa. We were welcome with fresh pineapple juice and wet cloths to clean up from our journey. We were all totally exhausted and thankful for the beautiful mean that was waiting for us. Because AHI is training students to get jobs at big hotels, everything is made to perfection! After our meal, we took a tour of the ranch which is really where the "people" live. It was about a mile long tour where we saw the two schools we will be teaching at, and even had a little boy in the to of a tree shake some fresh mangos dinner for us. We then enjoyed another gourmet meal and wrapped up the night with and incredible devotional around the fire. Maggie shared her own story of heartbreak as a sex slave for almost 30 years and related it to the suffering of her brothers and sisters in Uganda. She asked the group to go back and act upon their intentions of helping others and to not forget our Ugandan

Monday, June 15, 2015

The 2015 expedition is going to begin June 18! Here is a quick overview of what we will be doing.

We will spend the first night in Kampala and then wake up bright and early hopefully rested to head up to the African Hospitality Institute for the next 4 nights. Where we will distribute hygiene kits, do mudding, and visit some homes. (
              Image result for days for girls
Then we will head up north to Gulu for 6 nights. Here we will dig a well and also distribute kits here. We will meet our beaders and sponsored students, and take disabled children swimming!  This is like going to Disneyland for them! What an awesome opportunity for us!
 Image result for african promise foundation Image result for children in africa swimming
After our hard work we will head to Bwana Tembo Safari Camp for 2 nights where we will hopefully meet Simba and Nala. It is in the Murchison Falls area of Uganda.
 Image result for bwana tembo safari camp murchison falls
For the last 2 nights we will be back in Kampala and the Emmaus Guest house.  There will be time for souvenir shopping and some site seeing.