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

Sunday, December 22, 2013

day one: jane

"Our trip was remarkably smooth, yet difficult at the same time. Long long flights, which were cramped (even the flight attendants remarked that they can't walk down the aisle without hitting folks with their side pockets). It was also very cold on the flights especially from Amsterdam to Entebbe.

We were somewhat late getting in, but once we landed we retrieved all 11 duffel bags and suitcases rather quickly. Remarkably, not one was lost, and our team leaders Jennifer and Jeff were there with two vans to cart all our luggage and the seven of us to our hotel, The Lodge. We hadn't eaten (having slept through any semblance of a meal) but we made due with crackers and granola bars. It was very difficult getting up at 9 a.m. today but we powered through. Breakfast and dinner every day at The Lodge has been decent, very low key. Lunches are at SMK.Today Melissa made us rice, beans, pumpkin, spinach and beets, a type of Indian flatbread called Chapati and pineapple.

The walk to SMK takes about 20-25 minutes and is rather arduous - hilly with lots of ruts and kids and people out everywhere. I must say I find the countryside beautiful. The local kids are all very friendly. They all know how to say Hi and Bye, see you later, but not much else. The adults don't seem as friendly although one man pulled Josh over in a handshake and said ‘Stay in Africa! Africa is amazing.’

Before stepping foot in the orphanage, a few of the students came out to greet us: Tina, Ritah, and a few others. Almost everyone introduces themselves to each of the five of us with a hug, but sometimes just a handshake. One little boy shook our hand while curtsying to each one of us. These kids are all adorable. Some more shy and reserved, speaking very quietly. Others more outgoing.

Joan gave us a tour. She, Ritah and Queen were among the kids with whom Josh and Leah were closest last year. SMK is a lot like what I imagined from the pictures, although it is much smaller than the photos seemed to show. We saw the kitchen (a small room with a wood burning stove and two large cauldrons), the dormitories with many mattresses outside airing or drying in the sun, a few classrooms, a music room and a library. 

For the most part the indoors was hot (evidently today was an unusually hot day!) and it was more comfortable to stay in the courtyard, which is where the five of us landed in clusters - with kids sitting beside and on laps as we each read books to the kids or as a children read aloud to each of us. We spent about three hours doing this before walking to Melissa's for lunch. Afterwards Josh, Max and Leah spent another few hours with kids, while Sam and I rested back at the hotel. Max played soccer with Nicky, an 18-year-old and became drenched to the point that after dinner now he has crashed probably for the rest of the night. He and Josh and Leah also listened to the kids rehearse some musical numbers they plan to perform for us later.

That's really all for now. Much more to follow.”

- Jane

Rosette and Leah

Team leader Jennifer with Oliva

Sam, Alfonse, Max and Kato

Kiefa, Josh, Joan and Irene


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