Looks as if my laptop is gone. I spent the morning and early afternoon in my room having a major pity party. I cried, called Eddie just so I could hear his comforting voice and thought a lot about what I want to do now. I was planning to go to Jinja tomorrow to meet up with someone from another NGO, but I have decided to go back to the orphanage and basically start over with the photos there. I called Michael, and he will pick me up in the morning.
Meantime, Corbin spent the better part of her afternoon downloading software called Rescue Pro and attempting to retrieve my pictures. Fortunately, my CF cards (where the images are stored) were in my camera bag, so I have those. She should be able to rescue about 10 - 15% of the stuff I've shot so far. It's not much, but it is something. Thatcher has offered to let me borrow the extra laptop he has, so I should be able to at least work with the new things I'll shoot. Dennis, our local assistant and friend, is going with me to the police department in the morning to file a report for theft and then we are going to the newspaper office to put an ad in the paper, as I am offering a reward for the return of the laptop - no questions asked. The amazing and sad thing is, Dennis suggested that the amount of the reward be 150,000 - 2000,000 shillings, which is about $75 - $100. That must be the street value for the computer... not too much, is it? I have also spread the word at the hotel, so that the porters and other staff know there is a reward.
I wanted so much to post the journal entries I made while in the village. That part of the trip was so profound. I may attempt to recapture some of those impressions in a future post, but for now I am too exhausted to try. I will tell you that when I got on the bus after saying goodbye to Margaret and her children and grandchildren and all the other kids who hang out at her hut (she seems to have the Koolaid house in the neighborhood... the fun place to hang out) and watched as if in slow motion as they waved and called out their farewells, I was hit with a flood of emotion for which I was not prepared. I cried for quite a while as we drove out of Buyingi. I have told Margaret that once I return to the U.S. I will be making arrangements to wire the necessary funds to send her oldest son, Ronald, to secondary school. It's all of $22 per quarter. She was so grateful - it was obvious she expected nothing from me. Instead, SHE was the one all three days doing the giving. Not only did she open up her home to me, some crazy American with a camera, and teach me so much, but she gave me tangible gifts as well. The first day it was a bunch of avocados, the second a lovely mat she had woven, and on the third day she bestowed upon me a beautiful basket she had woven from banana leaves.
I will also tell you that the people in this village had perhaps only had fleeting glances of a Mazoongoo, never had they spent any time with a white person. So, it was really something to have little kids and adults alike just sitting there staring at me. One really young one took one look at me, got a terrified look on her face and started bawling!
Margaret and I will continue to communicate through John and Fred, the two young men who have the local NGO that provides football (soccer) opportunities for boys age 8 - 17. I have a feeling that the Feinsteins have basically adopted Margaret's family, because she and I made such a strong connection. She has a daughter, Joan, who is 13 and will want to attend secondary school like her brother will do, and then there are the young ones! If Joan does not further her education, she will most likely marry very young and begin to have lots of babies. She would rather have the chance to try to break out of that cycle. It will take so little to help her try to achieve this dream.
By the way, we spent yesterday at a game park, so we did have a chance to get a small glimpse of the wildlife that makes East Africa a great place to tour. It was a welcome relief from the emotional intensity of the previous week. It was hysterical being with 15 photographers - with each zebra or warthog siting, it sounded like artillery fire coming from our bus as so many cameras were fired at once. We had a lot of laughs (Bobbie and Anna, we saw Dik-Diks!) and it was a great way to end the trip.