Our official welcoming celebration yesterday was the best ever! The marching band performed, the choir sang, the sponsored students introduced themselves, and, yes, there were some speeches Ugandan style. The team members were thanked over and over again for their tireless efforts and the sacrifices they have made to be here over the Christmas holiday. We all felt wonderfully appreciated.
And then there was a huge throng of hugging, which turned into dancing, which turned into general merriment! All incredibly joyous. The kids are so happy we are here.
And we are happy, too. Can you tell?
Team members are keeping very busy. Leroy has made it his business to whip the BIg Boy's dormitory into better shape. He has made local contacts and purchased paint, lumber, tools, and other supplies and has gotten his "construction company" up and running. New windows and doors will be framed in, leaks in the roof and holes in the floor repaired - and a few coats of paint will finish it all off. The boys are working hard under Leroy's firm and loving guidance. It will be an amazing and exciting transformation to witness.
Dawn has done everything from play football (soccer) with the boys to taking a group of children on the very long, hot walk to the beach. She has quickly made herself at home here and always has children near her side. Suzanne had done some fun art projects with the children and is always doling out her huge amount of tenderness and love. Avis is working her miracles with therapy and helping the children make paper beads, Michelle has treated the young children to art classes, Bobbi has picked up where she left off last year with yoga classes and pen pal letters and Lynne is working hard to film it all!
We are really making an effort to include all the children in a field trip or something as simple as a long walk. It's a great way to let each child know we truly care about him/her; they are grateful for the time and attention.
I feel we are making such a difference in their lives.
Melissa has been a super star! She is organized, calm, efficient, gracious and thinks of EVERYTHING! The details and logistics of the trip are so well planned and executed with her at the helm.
This afternoon I took six young artists to the beach. They wanted to time it so that we would be there for sunset. It was a lovely setting, and the kids seemed so happy to have the opportunity to experience it. They sketched and painted, dug their toes in the sand and waded in the water. I rode on my first Ugandan bus. It was a great adventure for all of us!
Some lasting friendships have already been formed. This is a great team, and the children already understand that.