The past four weeks have flown by.
Now that we have said our tearful goodbyes to the staff and children at SMK, we are on our way back to our lives in the US. We have all been changed in some way. And so have the kids.
The work done by Team 2 was magnificent. I thank each member of this hard working crew from the bottom of my heart, and I thank the friends of CTT who provided us with enthusiastic support and encouragement every step of the way.
Team 2 (minus Carol and Fred plus little Otim)
During the past few weeks, we managed to accomplish the following: a garden was designed and planted on the grounds of the orphanage, and a team of kids learned how to cultivate it and tend it. Practically every child received a medical checkup and good advice on healthy African living. Many children spent time in therapy, visiting their painful pasts, but also learning to place an emphasis on where they are now in tandem with hope for the future. Children were given the opportunity just to be children – learning to play Go Fish, Sorry and Twister and competing in friendly games of basketball, volleyball and soccer. Their dorms were given a fresh coat of paint, and their beds were outfitted with comfy new mattresses and colorful, warm blankets. A marching band evolved before our very eyes as we equipped the children with trombones, bugles and drums. (Once the musicians/marchers are ready for prime time, the band will be able fetch up to $100 US per performance.) A couple of faulty, old computers were repaired, a lot of wonderful art was made, old friendships between CTT team members and the children were deepened, and new connections were made.
When we said goodbye yesterday, it was the boys even more so than the girls who broke down. They wept on our shoulders, knowing that it will be a long while before we meet again. They (especially the boys, who tend to stoic and strong on the outside) have so appreciated the attention and love we have given them; they really understand now that there is a group of people in the USA that cares for them, thinks about them and does everything it can to provide meaningful assistance and support.
We have a group of true friends now in Uganda. On our last night there, we went to a traditional African dancing and drumming performance that Douglas (the young man being sponsored in nursing school by CTT) starred in. I looked around the table and was so moved by the presence of those assembled: Henry and Billy (two older boys from the orphanage), Joan (assistant director at SMK) Peter (our extraordinary friend and escort), Moses and the members of Team 2. Quite a group… different histories, different races, different religions, different socio-economic levels, different ages (12 through 62!) and different prospects for the future. The amount of respect, admiration and compassion for one another was so obvious – and absolutely awe inspiring.
So now the team members will begin the process of sorting through all that we have gleaned from this amazing journey. We will post more as we make our way through that experience. In the meantime, Happy New Year to all!