Wednesday and Thursday, July 18 and 19
I am typing this addition to the blog as we drive from Kabale back to Kampala – an eight-hour journey. We have just passed Mbarara for those of you who have been here. Mbarara is about 1/3 third of the way. We are on some paved highway now so I can type.
I was simply too exhausted to write the blog last evening – please forgive me. We had a wonderful last day in the village spending time with the staff. We packed up all the baskets that we got from the women – many, many baskets. Alexander’s office now looks empty. We filled six suitcases so far. We labeled each basket with duct tape and wrote the name of the woman who made it on the bottom. I also spent time with Alexander learning more information about each of our women in MEP and their families. We will be putting this on the website and on tags for those who purchase the baskets. The women are so very happy about MEP and proud to be associated with the program. Their weaving skills have greatly improved.
I had the opportunity to just sit and talk with Josiah and Alexander about the programs. I usually don’t have the time to do this on a trip. It was wonderful! We talked about Muko HOPE. We have found sponsors for the last three kids on this trip! Now all 70 orphans are officially sponsored. The Roeders are taking one, Sydney’s aunt is taking another and Karen Viele’s relative is taking the third. We are so happy to finally have a relationship to celebrate for these kids. As some of you know, the three are older than the other orphans – 17 – 20 years old and still in high school. They have been enrolled in the program since 2008 but never got selected and grew up waiting. They are all so appreciative and working very diligently at school to improve their lives. I asked the staff how many more orphans they could manage than the 70 before we added staff to help. They said 200! That is, if we can get all the Muko HOPE kids in two schools instead of nine different schools. We are working on that trying to identify the right schools to partner with. By the beginning of the next school year (January or early February 2013), we hope to bring another group of 10 or 20 orphans into the program. Please be praying as to whether you would like to become a sponsor. It is a very important role and I know from experience and from other sponsors, we feel very blessed while taking care of these vulnerable and unfortunate children. They always know their sponsors’ names when we come and say that love them and pray for them. This is about relationship not a one-way hand-out. Through Muko HOPE, we are truly transforming the lives of Muko Sub County.
While we worked at the office, Dale accompanied Tito to some garden sites to do soil testing. At one place, they climbed a hugh hill and when arriving at the top, Tito said, “the garden is just over the next mountain and then down into the valley.” Dale laughted and said, “no way!” These young men as our staff are so spry.
We said our sad farewell to Muko and the villagers and drove back to Kabale town. I got the chance to go over to Hornby School with Karen and Dave and we both said good-bye to our orphans: Grace and Miracle. It was a wonderful moment. I had gotten the opportunity to see Dishan, Miracle’s brother and John’s and my other orphan, a couple of times at his school. We arrived back at the hotel to meet Wilson Mbabazi, the attorney on the ACT Muko board. He is such an asset to us in our NGO. He had suggested that we all go to the Overland Resort on the shore of Lake Bunyonyi for dinner and a boat ride on the lake! I had never done anything like this on a team before. I invited the staff, Josiah, Alexander and Tito and Generous, Charles and Lydia as well. We ordered our dinner and then rode in two very long and narrow boats over to an island called Bushara. The Ugandans from the village typically don't know how to swim so they all wore life jackets and we assured them we were all really strong swimmers and would save them if we went over!
On the way, we could see Muko from the distance on the lake. Also, we learned of a tiny island called, Punishment Island. It was about 5 acres of very flat land not far out of the water with one tree standing in the middle. This was a place where girls who got pregnant out of wedlock, whether by choice or by rape, where taken and left to die. Fortunately for these young women, the Batwa Tribe, a pygmy tribe, would come to save many of them. This practice was stopped in the 1800’s. It was sobering for us.
Bushara Island is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Kigezi and is a retreat and meeting center. It was lovely. The staff all got the chance to ride on a swingset for the first time ever. It was great fun watching Sydney and Katie showing them how to pump their legs to make the swings go higher and higher. We climbed back down the island and rode the boats back for dinner. After dinner was a huge highlight of our trip here. We all shared what we most thanked God for on this journey and our work together. I will be typing this list up and adding it to the website but for short, there were lots of tears and joy expressed for our friendships and work we do “bega hibega” (shoulder-to-shoulder). It was very, very special. We talked of transforming each others’ lives. Karen suggested after an hour of sharing that we all dance! We all stood and danced and it was a perfect ending to a perfect day.
We said good-byes to Josiah, Alexander and Tito who had to go back to the village and sent them on their way with a Katie’s donated digital camera and the new modem for Internet access in a few weeks when the tower is completed in Muko. This will greatly change their work lives – that they don’t have to drive all the way to Kabale to connect with Generous or us. Praise God!
Wilson came this morning with his daughter, Grace to send us off. We left Kabale at about 10am after getting more fuel in both vehicles and exchanging more US dollars for Shillings. So far, the trip is uneventful which is a very good thing in Uganda on the roads.
We arrived safely in Kampala and just had dinner. There is real brewed coffee, wireless, etc. Back to civilization! But we all miss the village. Tomorrow we shop at the Kampala market starting at 6:45am for baskets and jewelry and other handcrafts. From there we will go to downtown Kampala to an un-navigable street to buy the fabrics to bring home. Good night for now and God bless!