Thursday, October 28, 2010
turning our attention to uganda, change the truth, team 4, the kids, you and me
Now it is time to turn the attention of this blog to Africa, narrowing our focus to east Africa to Uganda to Entebbe to Kajjansi and finally, to St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood.
Those of you who have followed along with us before as we have prepared for and made this fascinating journey will be familiar with what’s involved in the process. Since there are different players and different projects, though, this year’s trip will be different from last year’s, I promise you that. For those of you who are new to the blog, get ready for a profoundly emotional, enlightening and fun adventure as the Team 4 volunteers share their experiences and feelings with you each step of the way. We will share photos, journal entries, our impressions, our tears and our joys, our fears and our achievements. We’ll introduce you to the spirited, kind, talented, loving, appreciative children, all of whom are trying to make their way in the world having lost one or both parents to war or disease. (Even having one living parent does not guarantee a home in which to live or a school to attend. Many single parents in Uganda simply cannot afford to feed and clothe their children, much less buy school uniforms and books and pay school fees. The government subsidizes the lower grade levels, but once past Primary school, a student is left on his/her own to find sponsorships from other sources. If they fail in this quest, they often end up living on the streets. From there, there aren’t too many good places to go.)
There are about 180 orphans at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage. (There are 2.2 million orphans in all of Uganda.) Some are half orphans (having lost one parent) and some are full orphans (having lost both.) All are there because they need to eat, sleep securely, be clothed, have access to medical care and have the support and structure of a group of loving adults and other caring children…. their new family.
Change the Truth has become a big part of that family. Throughout the year, CTT donors become the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles who make generous donations towards food, bedding, mosquito nets, rain water collection tanks, medicine, books, hygiene supplies and most important – school fees. The children recognize CTT as part of their family. They ask me over and over again to thank CTT donors for the new decks of cards, the soccer balls, the warm blankets, the cough medicine, the textbooks, the laptop computers, the cuddly stuffed animals, the art supplies, the ball point pens, the yoga mats, the flip-flops and the chance to go to school. They want to meet all of you.
The volunteer members of Team 4 will carry the items you have provided (through your kind donations) to the children at SMK on December 19th. They will then spend ten days on the grounds of the orphanage teaching meditation and yoga; conducting sewing and art classes; holding sex, drug and alcohol awareness sessions; teaching karate, soccer, basketball and other sports; having therapy sessions; planting gardens; teaching computer skills; holding hands, wiping away tears, quietly listening to painful life stories and falling hopelessly in love with kids like Tony, Nicky, Irene, Jo Anne, Vincent, Kato, Petra, Skovia, Claire Faith, Isabella, Billy, Sam, Tina, Nelson, Apacko, Sheila, Rosette, Samalie, Henry, Boy-Boy, Julius, Annette, Ivan, Douglas, Caleb, Marvin, Godfrey, Francis, Nahia, Moses and Brian.
Over the course of the next few weeks I will write about what we are doing to get ready for the trip and what our goals and expectations are. I will spotlight some of the children at SMK, as well as each member of Team 4. I’ll also let you know about some of our donations of seeds, soccer balls, sewing supplies and other goodies. There are so many kind souls who make this trip happen. You will want learn about them all. I will also be sure to let you know about additional items we’d like to take with us, providing you with a “wish list” of things we’d like to collect.
We are all in this together, each playing a part. Whether you send a pen pal letter, a box of crayons, a bunch of baseball caps, money for someone’s tuition or even manage to buy a plane ticket so that you can actually go to the orphanage as a Team 4 member, I applaud your efforts. You are doing a very good thing. We are family to the children at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood, and we each do what we can to let them know we care.
That is what gives them hope. And that is what keeps them moving forward… in spite of all that could easily hold them back.