Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dear Friends and Family: Well, we are continuing to have computer problems! Dave's plan was to install the local internet network MTN onto Karen's computer and a computer that was donated in an effort to test Skype capabilities.  Unfortunately while at the MTN store, both computers were knocked off the counter top accidentally. Karen's screen was shattered and rendered useless for the rest of the trip.  The other computer appears to be working but may be too slow for Skype.  We have not picked up the ACT Uganda computer yet, but Dave continues to hope for the best for Skyping.  To send blogs for now we have to walk downtown to the local internet cafe. 
            On to our day- we left the Jopfan nearly on schedule at 8am and picked up one of Karen and Dave's orphans, Grace,  and Medard, arriving in the village about 9am. Stephen and Justus accompanied us to the village to continue their work with the agriculture team. When we arrived in the village, Stephen, Justus, John and Michelle remained working with the Ag team on developing a plan of action for the future.  In exchange, we picked up Josiah, Alexander, Haward, Demus and Francis and headed back out.
            Our first stop was Muko High School, where we have twelve orphans.  The team met with the headmaster Medard to discuss the new music program and outlining how Haward, Demus, Mackline and other senior children would become the leaders once the team leaves for the United States.  Karen also discussed leaving four violins that would be locked in the head master's office during the next school term for Haward, Demus, Mackline and others to continue their practicing. We also discussed the potential of Karen Skyping to provide lessons.  Our group then went to Mulore Prep School where we will have twenty-one children on May 27th  when the new semester begins.  With the beautiful hills of Uganda as a background, we were greeted with singing and dancing by the students, putting smiles on all our faces!  Karen and Kelsey played some songs on the violin for the students and teachers. There has been steady progress at this school with new dorms being constructed out of lava rock.  This school achieved the highest test scores in the district which is why it has been chosen for many of our students.  We then went to Haward's home for lunch and met his parents and extended family. We were served a traditional Ugandan dinner of white sweet potatoes, mutoke, rice, beans, soup broth, g-nut sauce, a cabbage dish, greens (like spinach), beef, pineapple, and watermelon.  Prior to the meal Karen was offered a glass of a fermented sorghum drink, that the Ugandans consider sweet but which was quite bitter to us, rather like vinegar.  At 3 pm we left Haward's house for some shopping.  The team (minus Kelsey and Dave) returned to the village so Karen could conduct a violin lesson, and Elizabeth could begin packing baskets for the return trip. 
            John and Michelle spent the day meeting with the Ag team at the Muko office planning for the future of the HANDS Program. The team including John, Michelle, Justus, Tito, Stephen, Siriaco, Moses, and Herbert Muhereza. The team conducted an evaluation of the technologies observed within the site visits and an evaluation of each land parcel was discussed to brainstorm what might be their best use. In addition the Ag HANDS team structure and communication flow was agreed upon by the working committee as well as the characteristics of the future HANDS Program Director/Manager and the Local Trainers that would be in charge of each demonstration gardens. In the end, a list of Action Items for HANDS America and HANDS Uganda was completed. At the conclusion, the team stood around the flip chart listing these action items and clapped in unison while Karen snapped a group photo. A great ending after a rocky start where a local man suffering from mental illness attempted to join the meeting as an ad hoc member. When he was quiet, all was well but the disruption occurred when he decided to give his input. This resulted in moving the meeting from the veranda to inside the ACT Empowerment Center. After enduring some shouting, Herbert, the ACT Security was effective in removing the man from the premises and a peaceful meeting led to good progress.  Despite the difficulties, the team left the meeting with a great sense of accomplishment and excitement for the program ahead. We believe that program has the potential to lift families out of poverty, improve individual families gardens, promote the use of sustainable agriculture technologies and help protect the beautiful natural environment of Lake Bunyonyi.
            We had dinner at the White Horse Inn and tried to calm Dave down after the computer mishaps. We have a picture that we will show our US friends in the debriefs. 
            So despite the fact that things generally didn't go according to our plans, that certainly went according to God's plan, and for that we're grateful.

Pictures from our first day in Muko! In the top picture, Haward, a talented musician, teaches Kelsey about a classic Ugandan instrument; afterwards, Kelsey returns the favor with Karen by teaching some students the violin.

These pictures depict how the women cook a meal to serve about 140 people. The women cook over an open fire right outside the office. It was exciting to be able to feed people meat twice in two days, especially when meat is typically only eaten on special holidays like Christmas.

In order to get the village meals, Alexander, John, Dave, Karen, and Michelle went to the market in Kabale. The team was a little shocked by how the meat is cut in order to be sold.

Blogging, Ugandan style.

We were welcomed into the village by our orphans with beautiful songs.
(The girl in the orange dress is named “Precious”, and the name certainly fits

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