Sunday, March 30, 2014

Books in Busoga!

Coleen, Mary's mom, sent these books to the kids at Busoga School. How happy are they!

Koi Koi Sponsorship Program

We continue to sponsor our wonderful children of Wairaka. Spread the word and browse our site. A child will surely pick you!    Click Here to find your child now. How can you resist this face?

Send this to your friends and help us get the last few children sponsored. This year we will be adding more to our site who are in desperate need for our help!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mini-Chess Update!

No turning back turning back! Thanks for this wonderful gift to this once forgotten community.
the chess project is making huge strides and progress.  Many thanks to Robert Katender!

From Moses regarding the small medical team trip and progress:
The wound patients are doing well and so happy. Thanks for your loving kindness Scovia is getting well.
Today she received her award for chess awareness certificate among other class mate!



Monday, March 24, 2014

Amazon SMILE Program - ACT NOW!

The Amazon Foundation now has a way for registered users to donate 0.5% of their purchases to the registered charity of their choice. The Giving Circle is now registered to participate in the program. All proceeds from the Amazon Smile program will be used toward the operating expenses of the Koi Koi House orphanage.
Participating is easy and only requires a one-time setup by going to Amazon Smile Set Up and logging into your regular Amazon account. You will need to choose The Giving Circle, Inc. in Saratoga Springs, NY as your charity of choice, but you will only need to do this step once.
Donations are only activated when you purchase at, so be sure to change the bookmarks & favorites on all your devices.  Click here for more information on the program 
The Amazon Smile Foundation will donate an extra $5 for every customer that shops on in support of your charity through 3/31/2014.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Little Dresses for Africa

Many thanks once again to Granny and Rachael O'Neill!  Thanks to Granny's determination and love for her “Ugandan grands”.

Kelly and Mark just arrived home from Lake Placid to find 10 cases of little dresses and boys shorts from the charity Little dresses for Africa. This is the 2nd year Granny contacted this charity asking for dresses and shorts for our children. 

WOW oh WOW did her work pay off this year. 
MUCH thanks to Granny and to the wonderful charity Little Dresses for Africa

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Our Medical Travel Team is HOME!

After a VERY long trip home (36 hours) they are finally home.   Now, they rest. Welcome Home!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Our Medical Teams' Last Day!

Hope, Caren, Maureen and Ellie are on their way home. This was what they did on their last day...enjoy!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

More from Hope's Journal...

With Maureen's donated suitcase now being used to pack medical
supplies, we headed to the office. From there it was off to a pharmacy
to buy more supplies: normal saline, hydrogen peroxide, gloves,
antibiotics, malaria treatment meds, tape for bandages, etc.

Then to the Saturday market, which is a well organized Ugandan version
of a mall.
Rows and rows of merchants booths lined or stacked with their wares:
large burlap bags of beans and flour and grains (we had seen the
process of sorting and cleaning the beans...young kids sitting in an
alley with sieve like trays...not separating the wheat from the chaff,
but separating the bean from what was to be discarded). Other
merchants sold beautiful fruits: limes, pineapples, papaya,
banana...neatly stacked and displayed. The sewing section had about a
dozen women at treadle machines sewing, their brightly colored aprons
and dresses and bolts of fabrics surrounding them in neat stacks or
hung on hangers.

There was a fish section, either fresh or dried, arranged neatly on a
long wooden table. In the meat section Caren came close to losing what
little breakfast she had eaten. Butchered carcasses were hanging.
When we passed by, the butcher was tossing what looked like the entire
intestinal track of a cow onto the table, all slimy and pink and
mucoid. The smell of raw meat, the sound of it slapping onto the
table, the heat of the day, the still warm air as we walked through
the crowded inner alleys of the in Africa. It nearly
took Caren, a life long vegetarian, down and out.

Relief for the vegetarians came soon. We came upon the home goods
area. Caren and Ellie bought some small candles made out of repurposed
tins. Wicks were threaded  through the cap, paraffin or kerosine would
be needed to light.  We saw an iron that was heated by coal. The
hinged top could hold perhaps a cup of hot coals that quickly heated
the iron. If it got too hot, it would be dipped in water. Hardware,
household cleaning tools, again, rows of merchants. A stationary
section was also available where we could have bought composition
notebooks for Elizabeth's medical record keeping, but Ben advised us
to purchase those at a wholesale store.  Leaving the market, it was
off to visit Rose and to meet Stella, Caren's sponsored daughter.

Gracious, beautiful Rose. A woman of strength, intelligence, and
humor. We toasted National Women's Day with fresh fruit juice Rose had
prepared (papaya, pineapple, and melon) and ate freshly cooked chapati
that was a welcomed mid day meal. Baby Mark showed off his newly
acquired skill of standing and taking 1 or 2 baby steps before leaping
into Rose's  arms with laughter, appreciating the applause of his
audience. We were able to hear of Stella's plans to attend medical
school. Photos were taken, goodbyes were said, hugs were given, then
off to Kagoma Gate.

Ellie and Maureen and Tabitha met with women in one classroom to
discuss the pad project, the women there offering feedback, having
used them. Ellie walked over to the next village to meet with a woman
who had been given a machine by Denise. I believe she has used the
machine but the selling of goods has not yet been realized. She told
Ellie that she had moved to this other village because she thought she
would be able to sell more there.

Meanwhile Caren, Elizabeth and I set up our medical clinic in the
classroom next door. Elizabeth and Caren saw women with general
medical needs (abdominal pain, rashes, abcessed breast, high blood
pressure, pregnancy questions), I set up a wound care station.
Prenatal exams could not be done because there wasn't place for the
women to lie down. An interesting cultural note: if Caren asked a
woman if she felt the baby moving, she would be baby yet.
Elizabeth explained that women carry a fetus until the birth, then it
is referred to as a baby. I wonder if this is one way to protect these
women from the emotional impact of fetal demise, which is so common
here. One can detach from the loss of a fetus, perhaps. One grieves
the loss of a baby.

I saw the young girl with the very deep infected wound on her leg. In
changing her dressing and irrigating the wound again, I did see slight
improvement, as the edges of the wound seemed to be granulating in
ever so slightly. She said that she was taking her antibiotics as
told. I am cautiously optimistic that this wound may heal with some
ongoing care. We'll see her again on Tuesday and the rest will be up
to Elizabeth.

The line, or more like a swarm, of children to be seen grew. Maureen
handled crowd control. There were almost equal numbers of spectators
and patients. I asked the kids if anyone there wanted to be a doctor
or a nurse.  One young girl raised her hand saying she wanted to be a
doctor. Maureen later told me that she watched everything I was doing
with great interest. When having wounds cleaned and bandaged the kids
were given lollipops and a sticker. No surprise word got out. I did
see a couple of kids who were there perhaps for prophylactic lollipop
therapy (barely a scratch to be seen). We saw as many as we could in
the time allowed, then packed up for the day. More supplies will be
needed for Tuesday's clinic and for Elizabeth to continue with

Friday, March 7, 2014

More Trip Pics....

Hope's Journal Entry....

March 6 --Kagoma Gate , chess and rainbows

Before we left for Uganda, Caren and I had one day of shopping
together to buy supplies for our trip. On our way back to my house
with bags of supplies, including puppets, antibiotic  ointment, pain
relieving meds, books for children and stickers (never too many
stickers!), we saw an AMAZING rainbow--vivid, with a full arch. We
thought for sure that was a sign of good things to come. Indeed it

Yesterday as we arrived at Kagoma Gate, the kids were in school and
one class  was outside. The teacher, Robert, was using a spray water
bottle demonstrating RAINBOWS to the kids. Before they went back into
the classroom, Ellie reached into her bag to hand him a random package
of stickers to give to the kids. They just happened to be shiny
rainbow stickers. Caren and I looked at each other and nearly cried
some of Denise's happy tears. It's a sign. A GOOD sign.

Then to the class the Friendship School built by TGCA. (!!)
We sat in the back of the room with 82 students, most in uniforms
with TGCA patches on them, sitting in neat rows of wooden desk tables.
Each desk and bench sits four kids on a bench. These were 3rd and 4th
graders. Robert finished up his rainbow lesson. He passed around the
sheets of Rainbow stickers. The stickers were looked at, the colors
now making sense to the kids, they were passed row to row quietly and
then returned to their teacher with not one sticker removed from the
sheet. Stickers, mind you...If we were outside the classroom, stickers
put the kids into fits of giggles, begging for more. But this is
school. Mr. Robert's class. 82 students. I imagined a group that size
and that age in a class in America. It wouldn't be early as well

Mr. Roberts then moved on to the Chess lesson. A large magnetized
chest board was in front of the class. We learned about ranks and
files, horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines, axis, how to identify
squares  ( my version: the white one in the top version f3
or c6 or b7). We learned the names of the pieces and the kids were
asked, " who can tell me how to tell the king and a queen apart?"   "
The knight looks like a ....??? ....ZEBRA! Yes!" ( not many horses in
Uganda). The queen's location here? Qf5.  How many horizontal lines?
How many vertical lines? How many diagonal lines? Where is the small
square? A young boy came up to the front of the class and struggled
with placing the post it notes on the small square. Hands up in the
air...PICK ME!! Robert looked at the class and said  "give him a
chance." He couldn't quite figure it out so another student came up
and got it. When someone does well, the kids clap. Clapclapclap
clapclapclap. Clap. Not a hint of teasing from the other students or
making fun of the child who didn't get the answer right. I was wowed
by the entire class.

Caren and I left the class before it was done knowing there were
several children with significant infected wounds to treat. One girl
had a wound on her lower leg that I feared may have gotten to the
bone. I wasn't sure where to find her. Moses said it wouldn't be long.
Little did I know she was one of the many well behaved kids in the
class. After the class, the girl joined Caren and I in another room
where we had her sit on a bench with her leg up on the bench. We had
some drapes and some sterile gloves, gauze, a wrap that is a cross
between tape and an ace bandage. We had saline and hydrogen peroxide
to irrigate (it actually looked more promising once cleaned out) and
had a tube of antibiotic ointment. We were also able to bring her oral
antibiotics as well and instructed an adult there how she needs to
take it.

As she was treated, more children lined up for us to look at their
wounds. We had enough supplies to treat  2 other children. This needs
assessment was easy. Caren and I will buy a large quantity of supplies
for us to have for a wound care clinic next week. We will also leave
supplies for Elizabeth to continue treatments. Elizabeth, our midwife,
has been working at Kagoma Gate 4 days a week. She has been aware of
these infected wounds but has had no way to address them. The kids get
cut chopping firewood or bringing animals out to graze in the more
wooded areas. I am very happy to be able to replace one day of working
at a jigger clinic with a day of wound care for the beautiful kids at

After leaving Kagoma we drove to Moses' church to see the sewing room
and to meet with Tabitha. Cecelia and Elizabeth were there. We met
Rose, the wife of the pastor. Ellie and Maureen attended to sewing
plans, Caren and I met with Elizabeth to discuss in details her needs
for the midwife project. One item we didn't anticipate: a bucket with
a lid to put placentas in. There will be a pit dug outside the clinic
to dispose of placentas. Of course! The placenta  bucket....consider
it done!
As we chatted inside the large open sanctuary of the church,  a skinny
looking chicken wandered around, happy to join us.

Next stop: to meet Andrew, Mark  and Mama Koi Koi's beloved adopted
son who will hopefully soon be coming to Saratoga to live with his
American family and to seek treatment for advance sickle cell disease.
I'm not sure there could be a more precious child. His smile lights up
his face but because of the effects of sickle cell, we were told, he
has lost his ability to speak. Moses told us the some words are being
spoken now. I heard him speak one word after giving him hug #2,
telling him THAT hug was from Mark and Mama Koi Koi and "they want you
to know that they love you VERY VERY much!" With a big smile he slowly
spoke one word: "Mark."
Mama Andrew is a beautiful woman with 5 boys. Andrew is the oldest.
His 2 month old brother was sleeping on the floor of their very small,
modest home, approximately 8x10 (?) feet in size. Andrew has 2 Mothers
who love him very much, the beautiful mother who raised him and Mama
Koi Koi. Mama Andrew loves her son enough to let him go to live with
other parents who will hopefully make him well.

Our day ended with a chance to buy some things in town (Denise--I got
your bracelets at Faith's store!) then a birthday
celebration--Maureen's . We went to an Indian restaurant in Jinga,
with Yaseem joining us. Good food, fun evening.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pics of the travel team at the Koi Koi House!

Hope's Journal Entry....

March 3: Another beautiful day. In the morning there are sounds of
birds and music and cows and roosters and quiet voices... We were
picked up at 9 and driven to Koi Koi House where we were greeted by a
houseful of beautiful children and dear Ben and Pauline who care for
this group of children who have had unimaginable experiences in their
young lives. It didn't take me long for me to see why Mark and Kelly
love these kids as if they were born from them. We had introductions
and some play, and a brief time there until we walked to church, hand
in hand, with some kids being delighted to carry our backpacks. We
were greeted warmly and welcomed by the people at the church, a church
full of families. The Koi Koi children went upstairs to join other
kids.  We sat up front and experienced a worship service that lasted a
solid 3 hours. I wondered if the sound of the singing and praising God
could be heard in New York...or at least felt there. The service was
given in Ugandan with an English translation. Before one song, the
pastor explained the power of the lyrics: "You never know when a song
will push you forward."  That quote is for Annie!! Some words of the
song that followed:

"You are raising me again
Over mountain streams, over sunset skies,
Over all my dreams in my darkest hour."

A mournful, repeated cry was heard from the back of the church. "The
journey is HEAVY, Lord...Please HELP us!" Others were speaking in low
tones while they asked for God's help.
Pastor: "We surrender to You, Lord. Please take us."

The reading was from Mark VIII, verse 38 (??)
The sermon spoke of forgiveness and love, of climbing a difficult mountain.
Forgiving can be that mountain. It is up to us to love.
The mountain of love, the mountain of forgiveness, both difficult
mountains to climb.

A young mother in front of us had a baby who was sleeping. She wanted
to stand and praise The Lord but couldn't do that easily with her
sleeping child. She gladly accepted Caren's offer to hold the baby.
Caren had a sleeping baby in her lap for most of the 3 hour service.
At certain points in the service the congregation claps. The baby, in
her sleep, put her hands up to clap. ADORABLE!!

Another young (and stunningly beautiful) child, age 3?, wandered over
to me and held my hand or sat on my lap for a good part of the
service. Across the isle was a boy around 8 years old holding his
toddler brother for the entire service. The young kids were well
behaved and paying attention.

Pastor: "I don't know what kind of mountain you are climbing, but The
Lord Jesus will help you. He says 'I was on that journey'"

The Lord's message was delivered in roof raising song and dance and
word. People praised God, fell to their knees, wept and felt His
spirit. For a group that would probably best be described as Unitarian
or cultural Christians, this was quite an experience.

As visitors, we were introduced to the congregation and asked to come
up to tell our names and where we were from. Ben helped with
explaining the bigger picture.

After church we walked back to Koi Koi House (hand in hand...of
COURSE!) to an incredible day of play and more song and dance and a
FEAST of a meal that could be compared to thanksgiving, prepared by
Pauline (mostly) and Ben. What a welcome!! Pauline cooks on an outdoor
fire in using a pot and bags of some sort (?) I would love to ask her
more about how she prepares the meals. They fed ~ 20(?) people...and
were at church all morning!! The kids ate portions that would
challenge a grown man and clearly LOVED every morsel. There was a
roasted banana dish, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, rice, chicken in
a sauce, beef in a sauce, a nut sauce that was lavender in color, a
flat bread called chapati, fresh pinapple and watermelon. Utensils
were used by the Americans. The kids eat with the chapati or their
fingers, with much efficiency!

A HUGE hit of the day at Koi Koi Home was Maureen's camera AND
printer. She took beautiful pictures of each child (and of Pauline,
Ben, and their precious Denise...) and put each one in plexiglass
frames for each child to keep. Magic!! Treasures. We brought books to
read that the kids flocked to, and Maureen also brought hacky sack.

Couldn't thank Pauline and Ben enough. We fell in love with this
family of orphaned children who have been through so much pain and now
live in so much love.

Then it was off to Wairaka. The kids didn't know we were coming (which
was decided ahead of time) but when we arrived, we were surrounded
with smiles and many hugs. The women of the village were having their
weekly business meeting where they brought their crafts and discussed
their marketing plan of selling these beautiful items to earn  income.
They kindly let us interrupt their meeting. I don't have the details
down of how they sell, or how they manage their incomes (which I
believe is pooled) but we (the visitors) all thought that those items
somehow need to be brought back with us to sell in the US. We have
empty duffles now and could pack at least a couple...but there are
questions of customs, etc...may be too soon. Need to ask Mark and
Kelly and Denise. This may already be planned.

Moses gave us an in depth history of TGCA and a tour of that part of
Wairaka. The story really should be documented (book written?). We met
Mama Joyce and saw the grave of her beloved husband.  Clearly the
healing is still a challenge to this sweet woman. I saw such sadness
in her eyes. We met her granddaughter, whose name I need to get the
spelling of, but have not yet met Adam, her grandson, battling
HIV/AIDS, beloved by Mark and Kelly.

Our tour of the village: We saw the greenhouse, a pilot project with a
goal of feeding those there, being a business selling what they grow,
and instructing other communities to do the same. We saw the land
where the school will be built. The kids go to public school now.
Caren wondered why a school here if there is public school available?
We were told that the public school classroom size is 200!!!! With
learning next to impossible in that environment, dropout is not at all
a surprising choice, and so a school is disparately needed!  The very
large gardens are cared for by Peter who also attends to the pilot
poultry project. (Happy, healthy chickens in 2 coops.) As we walked
around and listened to Moses share the history of Wairaka and TGCA, I
know we were all awed by the many moving parts that are working to
improve the lives of so many. The team of Mark and Moses and Emma have
an incredible history.

And then it was play with kid time. We brought stickers. STICKERS. And
all of a sudden we were the Beatles in 1964. Books too. We were
swarmed by kids who were treated with stickers and a few books....and
love. Of course more photos and hugs and smiles as we said our
goodbye's for now. We left with craft items we bought for ourselves
(that were available for purchase during the business meeting) as well
as 2 huge avocados that were given to us by the kids. (Many avocado
trees there) They should be ripe in a few days. We were also treated
to a sample of sugar cane, which is, just for the record, SWEET.

Back to the hotel sweaty and dusty and happy, then a meeting with
Moses to go over tomorrow's plans, then dinner. On to a full day at
Kagoma Gate tomorrow, where we will be working in a classroom.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

First Day....

A memo from Moses:

So far so good,the morning begun well and the project activists were accomplished on time. That is we begun with the bank as we were unable yesterday as every body was exhausted and it was already late. we later went to the office brief meeting and some introductions Emma,Paul, Ben, Elizabeth,Tabitha, Moses kiira high. 

Checking and staffing the project supplies in the doffs. Discussions with Elizabeth,Cecilia,Tabitha and Moses Kiira high over the jigger issues.

That as it may we had fun, going along the Nile from Rippon falls and later to the Source of the Nile and enjoyed a boat ride to have feel of the waters. And related history of this long amazing river.
so tomorrow the koikoi kids will be going with the guests to church there after We shall host them At the home. Our afternoon shall be in Wairaka, you are all welcome in camera!!!!!
Nice day,

Pics of our travel team arriving!

Along with a SPECIAL surprise for Hope: her very sweet Martha was there to meet her!