Here we go with part two of my Africa report. I wanted to mention that I was able to meet Margaret, an eight year old girl whose mother and she are HIV positive. Galen and I sponsor her through Terry´s Kids, He Intends Victory’s orphan sponsorship progam. Magy as she is called, is bright, friendly and was a little shy when we first met. However, it wasn´t long before she was sitting in my lap and we enjoyed the program and the outreach together. She shadowed me throughout the day and I was so sad to part from her.
After spending time in Kenya, we packed up our twenty some suitcases, our group of volunteers, our drivers and headed out to cross the border into Uganda. A trip across the border involves driving up to the country line, getting out of the bus, waiting in line to get a visa to go into Uganda, walking across the border and taking off in the bus again. A border stop usually takes an hour or more, depending on the line. We meet with money changers who are eager to exchange our Kenyan shillings into Uganda shillings. We found a man who would give us a favorable rate and after getting our visas we all lined up to change our money.
We headed off to Jinja, Uganda where we stayed by the headwaters of the Nile River. To the left is a picture of our founder, Bruce, and his wife Joni at the Nile. We had a leisurely evening and several people went swimming while others caught some much needed rest. The next day we headed out to Nagamuli for our first Uganda outreach. The trip to Nagamuli is always an indescribable experience. We drive for about two hours into the country where we go for miles without seeing any homes. We are in the jungle with banana trees and all measure of tropical foliage. Occasionally we see a small hut with women and children outside enjoying the fresh air. The houses are made of adobe and they are very simple indeed. It is so cute to see the little toddlers playing outside as they run around without any pants on. The red dirt covers their clothes and everything else. When we arrive at the village of Nagamuli, where we see virtually no people, all of a sudden people come streaming out of the jungle and before you know it there are hundreds of people greeting us with dancing, singing and hugs. We had our customary greetings and set up the outreach. There were several stations again. In Nagamuli the chief moves out of his adobe house for the day and the doctor sees patients in the rooms of the house. One day nurse Lorrayne told us that a chicken kept going into the “exam room” and she wondered why. She looked in and found that the chicken had a nest in the room and wanted to sit on her eggs. So she proceeded to enter in unobstructed and went to her nest while the doctor was seeing patients. Only in Africa! We distributed items, gave away goats, provided eyeglasses and the children´s team had a program for them. There continued to be much gaiety and singing and dancing. This little guy on the left was tuckered out with the long day´s activities.
We went to Nalimawa the next day and had a smaller outreach. The folks enjoyed the drama that was presented by our talented acting team.
After Nalimawa we went to Kampala where our director, Moses Drake Luswata, his wife Jennifer and their children live and care for several orphans. They invited us to their church, Grace Place Community where we had a meeting under showery skies with no roof over most of the people. We huddled under our umbrella and I got to develop a fast friendship with three children who snuggled with me under the umbrella. We have three support groups in the wider Kampala area and the members of the group were present. The children sang for us and their songs are educational songs that combine information about HIV/AIDS with beautiful voices and rhythms. The next day we toured a brick making project that was funded by a donor from the USA. Eleven AIDS widows received this grant which allowed them to make bricks which they will be able to sell for a good livelihood for them and their families.
Then we had a march in Kampala to end AIDS. The theme was “It´s no laughing matter.” We processed to a large rally where the theme of AIDS was highlighted, again with songs and dance. As the sign to the right says, “AIDS Still Exists.”
Part 3: next week