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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

yes, i'm still alive!

It's been several days without electricity and internet access, but all is well. The gorilla trekking portion of this trip to Uganda was amazing. I'll be posting pics and info about that soon. I've also got so much to share about the children at SMK, as well as the people residing in neighboring villages.

Tonight Bobbie and I are heading back to the USA. There will be lots to share in the coming days. For now, I hope you enjoy this photo one of the grandmothers living in a village near the orphanage.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

bobbie's post

"My friend Steve has recently been going through his sons’ (now 19 and 17) childhood toys, books and art supplies.  Before I left for Uganda, he delivered a stack of felt squares and suggested, since they didn’t weight much, perhaps I could take them with me.  I left them on the kitchen table, where I walked by them several times a day for a few days, not quite sure what their purpose would be. Eventually, I saw the brown and beige colors as skin tones and decided on an art project making 'felt friends'.

Hurriedly, I gathered things I had around the house and my studio for decorating little felt people:  feathers I inherited from my friend Meagan, fabric remnants from my friend Sally, and sequins, buttons and beads from my daughter Anna’s old art supplies.  I also threw into my bag, one of Anna’s favorite childhood stories called the Paper Princess about a girl who makes a paper doll which is then carried away from her by the wind.

Upon arriving at St. Mary Kevin’s yesterday morning, Gloria and I unloaded this seemingly casted off  'stuff' from home and opened the art room.  Slowly the room began to fill, and I quickly discovered that our old 'stuff' were small treasures for these kids.  We cut out the figures from a cardboard template, and then the kids went to town cutting, pasting, and decorating.  They gave their 'friends' hair and clothes and capes, and names like Angel and Princess.   Dozens of kids filled the little art room, until every last bead, each piece of felt and all the glue were completely used up.  Later they carried them back to their dorms where they found special places for keeping their 'friends' safe." - Bobbie 

Saturday, September 22, 2012


The kids have fallen in love with my sister.

And man, did she hit the ground running. Jet lagged, but pumped up on adrenaline, Bobbie immediately dug in and gave all of herself to these wonderful children today.

On her first day at the orphanage, she packed in:

riding a boda-boda
going to the clinic to visit Wasswa
teaching an art class
reading to the children
leading a yoga class
pumping water from the bore hole well
walking long distances in the heat
doling out a ton of hugs

I knew it was going to mean a lot to be able to look over and see my sis interacting with these children. But I didn't expect the feeling to be this big. I am so pleased Bobbie made the trip, and I am so thankful to her for the genuine, full-out love she has already spread around SMK.

Friday, September 21, 2012

day five

I've had very little time to blog today. It's been another full one: meeting with the area Jajas (grandmothers), a visit to Wasswa at the medical clinic, a great lunch at Melissa's with some new friends from America, telling stories to a group of wide-eyed 7th grade girls, arm wrestling and tickling and dancing and playing and taking lots and lots of photographs. I've been making some formal portraits of many of the children.

Now I'm off to the Entebbe airport with seven youngsters to pick up my sister Bobbie!

Here are a few of the portraits I've made thus far.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

day four

This day has been full, to say the least. I once again rose before the sun did and was at the orphanage very early. The children are up at 5 or 6 and are already well into doing their chores when the sun slips above the horizon. Being there early gives me a good chunk of time to be with and photograph them. They are in school all day long. (They get two one hour breaks; otherwise, they are in their seats in the classroom until 5:00. That's when they wash their clothes and get ready for dinner.) It's a very long day.

Just before lunch, a group of young boys carried one of their friends over to Melissa's, came inside and asked me to help. Their friend, Wasswa, was very ill. He was too weak to walk, could barely talk, was burning hot and was having trouble breathing. His lungs rattled with each painful intake of air. The boys had doused Wasswa in water to cool him off. They were clearly very worried.

We called upon Nurse Douglas, who arrived an hour or so later. One listen to Wasswa's chest, and Douglas quickly diagnosed the problem as pneumonia. Wasswa had a healthy fever, and his blood pressure was low. Douglas felt he should go to a clinic for a chest X-Ray. Turns out the diagnosis was correct (with an additional mild case of malaria) so Wasswa (who is all of nine or ten years old) is now in the hospital. His big sister (who is maybe 12) is the one who is keeping vigil at the hospital and helping provide care. She, her best friend and the boys who brought Wasswa to me for help have all acted like caring adults throughout the episode. These kids - who don't have parents to watch over them - just automatically care for one another. It takes my breath away to see young kids assume the responsibility and heartache that is supposed to belong to adults, and they do this without hesitation.

After a lengthy meeting with SMK administration, I stole a little more time with the children when school let out. After washing their clothes, they actually got time to play!

Just as it began to get dark, they lined up for dinner. I can't wait to see them again tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

post-secondary school students

Change the Truth is currently sponsoring 30 students. This includes nine kids who have moved into the post-secondary school phase of their education.

In Uganda, it's not easy to get to this point. It takes hard work and dogged determination. If you don't have parents and a complete family unit to provide a safety net for you when you fall down along the way, it makes it even tougher.

I'm so proud of each and every one of these young adults. I value their efforts, and I value their friendship.

Today Change the Truth treated them to lunch at a restaurant in Kampala. When they walked in, I was so impressed that they'd gotten dressed up. They were on time (well, on Uganda time) and they were obviously happy to be invited. There was a lot of laughter and good conversation. They have known each other well for many years and are like one big group of siblings. And they were hungry. These kids can eat!!

It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. I can honestly say I think they enjoyed it and much as Melissa and I did! (Thanks, Melissa, for suggesting and organizing such a fun event.)

So, here are the big kids - the inspired, dedicated, beautiful, interesting, personable, smart, fun-loving and grateful big kids.

Samarie: 19 years old. Attends Ndejje University. Majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Current favorite subject: HIV/AIDS Development.

Habib: 18 years old. Attends Islamic University of Uganda. Majoring in Law.
Current favorite subject: Foundation of Law.

Saka: 20 years old. Attends Buganda Royal Institute. Majoring in Accounting.
Current favorite subject: Auditing.

Henry: 21 years old. Attends Nakawa Vocational Institute. Majoring in Electricity.
Current favorite subject: Electrical Regulations.

Nelson: 22 years old. Attends Makerere University. Majoring in Computer Science.
Current favorite subjects: Software Engineering and Artificial Intelligence.

Rosette: 18 years old. Attends YMCA Kampala Branch Institute. Majoring in Travel and Tourism.
Current favorite subject: Air Fares and Ticketing.

Daniel: 22 years old. Attends Makerere University Business School. Majoring in Marketing.
Current favorite subject: E-marketing and Web Design.

Billy: 20 years old. Attends Makerere University. Majoring in  Business Administration.
Current favorite subject: Economics.

Unfortunately, one student, Zaberra, could not join us. We missed her.


Kajjansi at sunrise

Woman sweeping and preparing her shop for the day

Morning downpour  (This is the rainy season)

The road leading up to SMK

All the rain means David and the others have to clean the mud from their school shoes

Do you recall the story of Rosemary and Vincent? On the right is Rosemary with her "bestest" friend

Boys getting water from the bore-hole well

Another morning downpour.

Gloria's Garden! It has really grown since December when it was first planted

As has the little avocado tree planted in my honor

Melissa cleans porridge from the face of one of her little friends

Lovely Joanne helps pass our pen pal letters

Which were immediately read and truly treasured

Margaret gets a special delivery letter from her good friend Lynne

Kato and me!