Thursday, August 16, 2012

July 25: My last day in Uganda for this year

What a Day!

Friends, I thought you might enjoy reading about my last day in Uganda. Later, I will share my adventures in Maasai land in Kenya. Thank you, as always, for following my journey!

My last day, I arrived early at a primary school to talk to the headmaster.

A huge crew of late kids was standing inside the gate waiting to be caned before they went to class. Since the teacher hadn’t arrived to the do the nasty deed, I decided they should become a ‘choir!’ So I smiled at them and we were off singing fun interactive songs like, ‘Making Melodies.’ Before long, we were having a fantastic time singing and laughing. All of a sudden all action stopped and I knew SHE was standing behind me. I turned and gave her a big smile, and threw my arm around her shoulders. I informed her it was my last day in Uganda after living here for months. “Please,” I said smiling at her, “As a favor to me will you let the kids have a reprieve? What if we have no canning in honor of my last day?” Then I turned to the kids and winked, smiled, and warned them that if they came late the next day, they would get caned. It worked – and off they went laughing to class!

I then watched a male teacher become really belligerent with two 6th grade students. One girl was crying. He sent both out the gate. The girl continued shedding tears as she started down the road. I headed out the gate to catch them. The girls told me they didn’t have the proper ‘mathematical set’, so he wouldn’t let them set for final math exams. We walked to a local store, and for seventy five cents each we purchased the sets, and I sent them back to school.

Next – a visit to a man who is crippled and cares for his nine children alone.

Emma's father, who has a shoe repair shop 
We have a sponsor who pays the school fees for one of his sons, Emma.

Fortunately, Emma’s sponsor had sent extra money to spend on the family’s needs. What a blessing to be the ‘middle’ person on my last day! I was able to purchase three new tires for the father’s wheel chair, 4 mattresses (3 kids on each twin mattress), and sheets.

Their mud hut is tiny and there wouldn’t have been room for more mattresses. Since everyone had been sleeping on mats on the floor, including the father, they were ecstatic!

Good news - we now have sponsors, from our summer team, to sponsor two additional children in this family for school fees.

On leaving this delivery, I decided to walk home with a first- grade girl, Gimbo.

Debbie, Gimbo, and Connie
This summer, two of our volunteers, Connie and Debbie, noticed this child being sent away from school for lack of school fees. They went to the office, paid the girl’s fees for the rest of the year, and then Gimbo was able to return to class.

I thought it would be fun to walk home with her and take a picture of the family to Connie. We started walking, walking ... down a dirt road, through a cornfield, more dirt paths – and then one skinny, long path with water on both sides. An hour and a half later, we arrived. I must say the child is a whiz at walking. She could move! I had a nice visit with the grandmother, who cares for four grandchildren - thanks to our librarian who interpreted. Soon, all the neighbor women came running to sit outside the grandmother’s hut and tell me their life stories.

On leaving, I flagged down a truck in which two men were riding to catch a ride back to town! May God bless those guys, as I was in a hurry … still needing to pack!

Later, I met the President of the Mbale Rotary Club, a headmaster, and a young man in 12th grade.

The young man is the President of the Interact Club (Rotary) at his high school. However, for two terms he had been chased from school, because he lives alone and couldn’t pay his fees. I had heard about the young man at a Rotary meeting the previous night. It was the last day the young man, Rashed, could sit for exams. Otherwise, he would be repeating the term, so I was happy to help. Life is so hard here. He had been going to the bus park after school – trying to carry people’s suitcases to earn food money.

Time to relax! I collected the Okumu young people and we went to town for a milkshake and chips! Cheers for junk food after a long day of rushing.

I am truly proud of Libraries of Love. Our libraries are affecting lives each day. That is a fact. I am also grateful and proud of our volunteers who have traveled to Uganda, witnessed the need, and generously donated. They have truly been God’s hands and feet to the people of Uganda. And - there are those who have never been, but have heard and have generously shared to support the libraries, and in other areas….amazing people! The libraries will inspire a generation of lifelong readers/ learners who will change Uganda for the better. The libraries are so important! What can I say other than - May our God richly bless you over and over for your kindness to these wonderful people in this country I now call home.

None of our work is possible without support – so, thank you!

- Trudy

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