Tuesday, August 25, 2015
a new chapter
Little did I know when I started this blog nine years ago, that I'd still be churning out posts and still be traveling to Uganda in the year 2015.
But here I am, once again shoving colored pencils and stuffed animals into the corners of oversized duffels and making sure I have enough sunscreen and Malarone in my toiletry bag.
On Sunday, Eddie will take me to the airport, and while I'll be excited about my arrival in Uganda, I'll be dreading the seemingly endless 28-hour journey. I'll be sad to leave home, but eager to see my Ugandan kids. I'll be nervous about the work ahead, but antsy to dive into it. It's always a jumble of emotions when I leave for east Africa.
Two dear friends (of mine and of Change the Truth) will accompany me on this trip: Natalie Boten and Carol Joseph. It will be a joy to spend my days at St. Mary Kevin with them.
I will spend the first half of my trip there. I'll be busy catching up on administrative work with Melissa Mosher (CTT's on-the-ground liaison), hanging out with the children, taking part in some of the planned activities (did I hear you say dance party??) and, of course, making photographs. The days will fly by.
The second half of the trip will be spent doing something entirely different. Natalie and I will travel to Mbale to work at the Kavule School for the Deaf. We're being funded by a private family foundation to gather information about the school and its operations and to find ways to enable its administration to work toward a more stable financial future. Actually, Natalie will be doing most of that - I will be making photographs of the school, the teachers and students for use on websites, promotional materials, funding requests, etc. While this has nothing to do with Change the Truth and is completely separate from that project, this type of work is actually related to what sent me to Uganda in the first place. On that first trip in 2006 I was a participant in a workshop (for photographers and filmmakers) that explored the ins and outs of working with international NGO's. My plan at that time was to spend my empty-nest years as a world traveler, photographing for NGOs around the globe. I had no intention of starting my own NGO and returning to Uganda so many times, but that is what happened (and I'm glad it did!). But I'm excited about the prospect of shooting for someone else (and getting a stipend to do so) and learning about a completely different organization.
Located near Mbale is the Abayudaya community, a settlement of 2,000 Ugandan Jews. I have always wanted to visit, and now I will be able to.
I've been overwhelmed by the daily arrival of letters and small gifts for the kids at SMK! It thrills me to know that so many wonderful personal connections have been established over the years. It's a great feeling to load the duffels with, among other things, shoes, batteries, pencils, games, soccer balls and clothes - all donated to our SMK kids with so much love. After reading the recent articles about baseball in Uganda, I decided to pack a few whiffle balls and bats and introduce our young athletes to one of my favorite sports. Stay tuned for photos! I'm sure there's an Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain or Johnny Cueto just waiting to happen on the playing fields of Kajjansi!
Much more to come. Please follow along as we begin Chapter 10 of the Uganda part of this blog.