women's co-op Namuwongo Kampala

I’ve been debating how best to post about the trip, since I wasn’t able to do much of anything on the internet while we were gone. In the past I’ve done day-by-day, or one big post… I decided to group by project this time, and we’ll see how that goes!

Before I start, let me say that it was a GREAT (and fast!) trip! I think the 3 ladies who went with me really got to see the real Uganda, which was definitely part of my own mission on this trip. We did some hard things, some fun things, some funny things, and some beautiful things. We survived jet lag, sleeping in 6 different beds in 2 weeks, squatty potties, and vehicle breakdowns, all with a lot of smiles, good humor and grace on the part of my team mates. I’m glad to be home, but always leave a part of my heart in Uganda…

(NOTE: I didn’t take a whole lot of photos this trip, since 3 other people were taking tons of them. I mostly took video, and I haven’t even begun sorting through it all… So be patient with me!)

We spent a bit less than half the trip in Kampala, with Fathers House as our home base. I was just there in February, but I swear all the kids grew INCHES in that short time! As always, everyone made us feel welcome and at ease.

On the first day in country we went to Ray of Hope and then walked down in the community to visit the homes of some of the ROH P3 kids who are going to need sponsors after this (calendar) year, and also a couple of the five women to whom we awarded a micro-business grant.

School child Namuwongo Kampala slums Namuwongo slums KampalaIt’s not every day you visit a house with a chicken pen taking up about 1/4 of the entire space, but that’s how the family makes money, by selling meat chickens. (Video to come about this!) While we didn’t stay in the community too long (maybe 2 hours?), everyone was tired, both from jet lag and the emotional toll being in the slums exacts. It was really interesting for me, because I got to see the slums for the “first time” again, through their eyes. I won’t say that I am used to or unaffected by the slums, but after having spent a lot of time down there, I guess I’m never shocked about it anymore. The smells, the human waste, the tiny and stifling homes, the sheer number of people in such a small area… Watching the ladies see and smell and experience all that for the first time was a really good reminder of just how bad it really is.

The second day, we went down later (after lunch) because Hannah was going to do a self-defense class for the older ladies at about 4pm. We got to the school at 2:00, and found out that 4:00 class had been cancelled (why, we never exactly found out!). But TIA (this is Africa) and stuff just happens, so you roll with it! Also, Allie was supposed to go to a local clinic to volunteer her nursing skills for a few hours, but the doctor who had okay’d that was out that day, so she stayed at the school’s clinic. There was a rush of people at first, as they thought she’d be able to prescribe meds and they wouldn’t have to go to a clinic. When they found out she couldn’t, the line went down considerably! We discovered they were short on a lot of medicines, though…

Hannah did teach the self defense class to the girls of Primary 3, Erin read and played games with the children, and Allie found out what nursing without the medicines you need is like. I went fabric shopping, and spent most of the hour and a half sitting in traffic. In short, par for the course!

Primary girls self defense class Namuwongo KampalaThe last of our three days at Ray of Hope we had a ladies tea, because it turned out that it was Ugandan Independence Day! (53 years, if you’re wondering!) We brought cookies (biscuits), ROH provided tea and coffee, and we had a great time! Some of the ladies sang, some danced, they all laughed and had a wonderful time. We haven’t gotten just the ladies together in awhile, and it was really fun! They know how to party!

We didn’t return to Ray of Hope until the following Saturday, when Hannah taught a Rape Prevention class to some of the secondary school girls, and we had the big party for both the ladies of Nawezakana and our sponsored kids. We had another record breaking day, serving 141 plates of yummy food, made by our friends at NESCO (Nsambya Ex Street Children’s Organization). There was MUCH singing and dancing at this party, too, as well as friendship bracelets made by our Project Friendship volunteers and lots of sweeties. We were also able to gift a long-sponsored young man, Justin, with a refurbished laptop, which was GREAT!

feeding kids Namungo slums Kampala party Ray of Hope Namuwongo Kampala party ray of hope namuwongo Kampala dancing Namuwongo Kampala ray of hope namuwongo kampala giving a computer namuwongo kampala

It’s always hard to leave… But easier since I know I’ll be back soon (probably March).

Stay tuned tomorrow for the update on our Mawanga trip to visit ROWAN and our ladies cooperative!