"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Monday, May 18, 2009

letter from melissa, halfway through her stay at the orphanage

“With the short amount of time that I have at the computer I will attempt to convey just a fraction of the pure happiness and contentment I am feeling with my family in Uganda. Perfection and bliss would be the closest adjectives that I can find to express how peaceful I feel and how at home I am feeling.

I have also started a group with the younger boys. I have been so partial to the girls and older boys, that I wanted to find a way to know them, too. Boys are boys no matter where they live...these boys live to play, have short attention spans, and love to tease each other. I have started teaching them American games (they love Red Light, Green LIght), teaching them to play songs with some Boomwhackers (plastic tubes that can serve as musical instruments...Ann, please tell Beth thank you for the music), hacky sacks. The boys like to run around the compound playing soldiers or police. They have given me many laughs.

There have been a couple of days that speakers have come to the school. It has been very interesting to hear their message (when it is in English). Joan arranged for community workers (police and organizers) and graduates/former teachers to SMK to return to speak to the children about their bright futures and encouraging them to be helpful members of tomorrow's Ugandan society. The children did a good job listening to the message, but children will be children.

Many of the children have continued to study during the holiday, particularly those in Primary 7, Senior 4, and Senior 6. Each group will be taking National Exams in either October or November, and these exams are VERY important to the children's futures. Their results will determine the type of school they can attend and their future course of study.

As much as I have loved my girls, I have reveled the moments with my big boys. On Friday, which was Billy's last night at the school, the boys and I ventured into Kampala for dinner. The places that I know are very few, so we ended up eating at the Speke Hotel (pizza, chicken, and chips were well-eaten that night). It was probably the best dinner I have had in quite a while. We were equally proud to be amongst each other's company. Nelson, one of the older boys, shared that he had walked by the Speke many times wondering about what it would be like to eat at such a place, and he was beaming to be on the inside. His pride equaled mine at their manners. Ugandan boys like American boys have stomachs that are bottomless pits. Afterwards we took photos in the lobby, and they were almost giddy with excitement.

This trip feels very comfortable. I have enjoyed the new experiences (negotiating transportation, traveling to new places), but the comfort of returning to SMK and my beloved Ugandan family has been better. I am not ready to think about Friday... although it is just a pipe dream, I would give all of the shillings in the world for time to slow down. I shall return with many photos, videos, pen pal letters, and love from the children at SMK.”

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