Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Dear Friends and Family: This is Karen writing the blog tonight as it is late and everyone has turned in. Normally, we write this together and everyone who wants to, contributes either verbally or types in additions. So I will try to tell a few bits of the news from all I heard over dinner. We have had computer problems so there was no blog sent yesterday so today you are receiving two. The computer we use at the office that can access the network was damaged somehow and would no longer take a charge. The laptops we brought can not access the local network either, Dave will attempt to fix this on Wednesday. John took the office computer to a local vendor who said he could fix it.
Dave, Karen, Kelsey, and Elizabeth left for the village about 8:15 a.m. this morning. After picking up Josiah, Martin (our builder) and Medard (one of the volunteers) we went up the mountain to the Ikamiro Clinic. We located the site for the new placenta pit paid for by Holt Presbyterian Church. Construction will begin immediately. We were joined by Rev. Julius from the Ikamiro Church and Saddith who is a local teacher, a volunteer with ACT and also one of our new violinists! Saddith had the idea, after some brainstorming, to ask the local school if we could temporarily take over a school building that is not currently being used. One side of this building would be big enough for a room for about six women to stay in before and after giving birth and the other side would be big enough for lodging for two nurses. It has brick walls and a roof. Martin is giving us an estimate for how much it would cost to make it a nice livable space. We had tea at Rev. Julius’ home and then proceeded up the mountain to visit Turyasingura Jonan’s family- our new orphan. Jonan has a health problem easily surgically corrected. His family thought he had a contagious illness so we explained that he could have surgery to repair the problem. When Dave met with the Health Officer we learned the procedure for this surgery and we told the family all about the cause, how it is corrected, and what we expect to do about it. They gave us a lovely, huge pumpkin as a gift.
We returned to the Muko Empowerment Centre where the MEP women had gathered. Lovina, our Quality Control Manager, was there and we were very happy to see her and all the colorful women. While Alexander met with them, the team prepared an American lunch. This was very fun! We bought two large loaves of bread, Nutella, peanut butter and jelly and honey, Pringles, and Cokes and we made them sandwiches! Everyone seemed to like it. We fed about fifteen people, I am guessing!
After lunch Elizabeth, Kelsey, and I met with the MEP women and had a chat. We thanked them for their beautiful work. We inspected the baskets and chose the ones we wanted to buy. We recommended that they make more colorful baskets along with the natural ones they are currently doing. We told them all the ways Americans use their baskets. Elizabeth found it difficult to describe the ways she uses the baskets so they would understand (for remotes?for make up? for car keys?). The reading glasses we took were a HUGE hit. At first, Alexander told them they would have to leave the glasses at the Centre to use there but one of the women asked if they could take them home because they do some basket making there as well. When we agreed that they could take them home all the women got up and began to dance and sing a traditional African song! I wish you could have heard the sound ringing through our building! Having glasses was a miracle for them- just think of our own reliance on eye care and correction. They asked for us to bring more on the next trip. Our meeting went very well and I felt that we bonded even more.
John and Michelle had a marvelous day with Stephen and Justus, two Ugandans they have spent a lot of time with and enjoy more and more each day. Justus drove his car and picked them up at the hotel in the morning and they went to many sites including a mushroom farm that both John and Michelle thought was a fabulous idea for some of our people. They also brought back very exciting news of a vocational school run by a man who would be a fabulous role model for our kids where they could learn hotel management, carpentry, and other vocations if they should decide not to go on to university. My impression is that we have a group of pretty smart kids. When I asked them earlier in our visit who wanted to go to university almost all the hands went up. I am not sure I fully informed you of all we talked about when we spent time with the kids so I will catch you up during our debriefing meetings in June.
I taught two classes of violin- one with the advanced students and one with students who are a few lessons behind. Both classes are doing wonderfully. Every day more students come in, however, today was the first day I had to turn someone away just due to a lack of time and an unwillingness to slow the others down. I am hoping to possibly find time for another beginning class tomorrow.
I am happy to say there are many of our orphans that I have grown to know better and love a lot. When I come home I will be able to tell a few of you more about your children. From Muko High School we have Mackline and Isobel who have joined Boaz, Haward, Demas, and Francis. We have begun to make plans for how they will continue when we leave. We have not yet been able to Skype. The power is very weak in the village. Dave thinks he has the answer and plans to pursue it tomorrow. More on that if we can address it. We could not send the blog today because our office computer was broken down. We were able to take it in for repair and hope to send both yesterday and today’s blogs even if we have to go downtown to an internet café or store.
Our days are long- we usually plan to leave for our various locations between 7-8:30 a.m. returning to the hotel around 7 p.m. It takes about two hours for dinner to be prepared so we order as soon as possible when we return, eat between 9-10 p.m., do devotions, and collapse. Tonight we ventured out to the White Horse hotel for dinner and everyone enjoyed a different menu. The best part was walking back to the hotel in the dark. Michelle had a flashlight headlamp that made us all laugh- Michelle insisted we were just jealous. Dave and Kelsey went ahead and tried to hide, however, Dave forgot to turn off his flashlight which made their hiding spot pretty evident. I told the others he has been playing hide and seek with our three year old granddaughter a little too often. We were all laughing, a welcome break from some of the issues of the day.
Two high school students have come to me asking for help paying school fees. They are not in the ACT program but both will have to stay home from school next term because their parents cannot find the money to send them. One young man’s mother is dying of cancer. It breaks my heart.
We are beginning to think of our return but plan to make the most of the next few days. We are sending our love and hope everyone will be well until we see you again. From Kabale: The ACT Team