Hello, this is Mike P and this is my first trip to Uganda. I taught, with Sam's help the DNA > RNA > Protein class at Kiira High School a few days ago. The beginning was pretty tough, but by the end, there were some students that really got the subject matter. Both Sam and I stayed after class and we each had a small group of students around us that had fantastic questions. They really understood what we were teaching. Two of the kids I was talking to want to be doctors and a third wants to be an engineer. They are hungry for science knowledge. After we got done with the science talk they had questions about where I live. Do you have agriculture? Do the cars stop when you have snow? I explained about snow plows. The seasons changing was a fascinating thing to them. Much laughing about snow too high to drive in.
I also did some music at the school. They really didn't get Hank Williams, but they definitely got Twist and Shout - especially when Andrea joined in and starting twisting. The kids erupted in laughter.
I also taught a business skills class for adult women who make crafts and sell either to directly tourists or to shops. They need basic help with banks accounts, etc.
And finally... the kids... Frankly, i've been dreading writing about this. The poverty here is simply overwhelming. The villagers of Kagoma Gate, where The Giving Circle built a school and a kitchen, are basically slaves to the sugar cane industry. They live in mud huts with thatched roofs. Wiiaraka is not much better. It's really hard to see children living in these conditions. Most of the children are filthy or their clothes are filthy and many smell of just about anything you can imagine and most have a smile that will knock you over. They are so happy we came and just want to be picked up and hugged. And they laugh and giggle when you show them some attention, and when you ask how they are, they say: I am fine. And then there are the one that don't have a smile. It's difficult to think about why they aren't smiling. Sometimes you can get them to smile, they might just be a little more shy. They really want to laugh, they they just need a little help.
I did two drawing session with the kids. One with the sponsored children and one with non-sponsored kids. If you're ever searching for a definition of chaos, try to picture getting 100 kids, 15 at a time to draw a picture. Again, some were shy, but all really wanted to do it.
I really don't have the words to describe what goes on with the kids. They are so loving and so grateful we're here. I can't help but think that what we're doing is too little. What effect can these things have? What effect can my being here for 12 days have? Mark says don't worry, we are throwing a tiny pebble in the water, creating ripples that go on and on. I have to believe that's true.
Denise brought the fixin's for bracelet making and one morning at Wiiaraka she made bracelets with a small group of girls. One of the girls was Violet, who I met earlier in the day. Later in the day, Violet gave me her bracelet.
How can i thank her for that? It was such an act of friendship and kindness and love. Violet was wearing ripped and dirty clothes that didn't fit her. On a second day we went to Wiiaraka, Violet wanted to show me her home. She took me down to her home where I met her sister Hope. Hope was older and she told me Violet was the youngest of four children. When I left, Violet and Hope ran into the corn stalks growing next to their home and pulled off 6 or 7 ears of corn and gave them to me. Later that day I was playing with Violet and a younger girl named Sadia. At one point Violet referred to Sadia as her sister. I thought she was kidding me and trying to put one over on me. I told her that Hope said she was the youngest in the family. Both of the them got quiet and Violet said that Sadia's parents were dead and that her parents were taking care of Sadia. I think I know where Violet got her loving nature.
Although many of the kids we work with speak English, most, especially the young ones, are just learning it. They're learning it because in Uganda, learning English is a step towards making a better life - and that's what the parents want - they want their kids to have a better life than the one they've had. It's the same thing that parents all over the world want for their children. And then there are the kids who don't have have parents anymore.