Have I ever told you about the huge storks that fly overhead here in Kampala? Their wingspans are humbling to those of us walking around below. Usually, they are perched in the treetops, but periodically they launch themselves into the sky. I just woke up, and between the streaked colors of the sunrise and a performance by these powerful but graceful birds, the sky outside my window could not look lovelier.
Yesterday at the orphanage was kind of a very big deal. I am still processing it all as I watch from my hotel window this new Kampala morning spring to life.
The mattresses and bed covers were delivered!
Thanks to a generous donation by a CTT friend, one who specified that she wanted the dorm rooms “made over” with color and comfort, quite the scene unfolded on the ground of SMK yesterday afternoon.
First let me show you what the old mattresses and covers looked like.
Vans arrived - stuffed to the gills with 180 thick foam mattresses, encased in plaid, striped, colorful slipcovers. Then there were the blankets – soft ones dominated by bold colors and patterns. Before we volunteers could really get a sense of what was needed to be done to get these items into the (freshly painted) dorm rooms, an organized system quickly fell into place. The staff began writing “St. Mary Kevin” in black sharpie on each mattress and blanket. The children (every age) lined up to get a stack of mattresses to carry to the dorm. With giddiness in their step and on their faces, they marched with their beautiful new mattresses, in their bare feet across the dusty grounds, placed them where they needed to go, then turned back for another load.
Once the mattresses were in place and the plastic covers removed, the children lined up for the blanket parade. (I was thinking about those plastic covers – how as a parent I would have taken them immediately from my children, popped holes in them and then thrown them away far out of sight. The “Mama Gloria” in me thought about doing that, but by the time I started to address it, many of these children had already fashioned the pieces of plastic into dresses, headwear, belts and shoes and were proudly showing off their new “clothes.”)
The kids then made their beds. The sound of laughter and excitement rising up out of the freshly painted blue, orange, purple and pink rooms was pure music to our ears. I walked into each room and clapped. The kids joined in, and we all stood there for a few moments applauding and simply admiring the extreme makeover that has happened to their home over the past few days. We all just looked at each other and grinned.
The older kids (plus new ones coming up) whose secondary school fees are being paid by CTT were then given a mattress/blanket set for their own to take with them to school. Rosemary asked them to line up after they had received their gifts. There they all were – the young adults who aspire to succeed, who want to become teachers, accountants, lawyers, musicians, nurses, engineers and doctors. They stood in a long row and looked so small as we all had to step back to make sure they would fit in the pictures we were snapping. They raised their hands up as a sign of victory and of appreciation, and as I looked at them through my viewfinder, I realized that this is what it is all about: preparing bright, eager and hopeful children - who came here with nothing and no one to call their own - for a future of which they can be proud.
Team 2 changes shape now. Carol and Fred have left. Six new members will arrive over the course of the next three days. We did manage to get this group shot just before Fred (he is actually known here as “Captain Freddy”) left for the airport.
And then, before we got in the van to leave after such an exhilarating day, I asked Mel to take a photo of me with the children who were walking me there. We were all in a very happy place (and you can see one of the plastic “runway” designs.) I just love these kids.
Thank you to the donor who made this day possible. You have a done a very good thing.