The power went out twenty-four hours ago. The Ugandans are amazed by how much this inconveniences us Americans. They are so used to it that they roll right into the ways it used to be without power. They can cook on a charcoal stove, haul water if necessary in a plastic yellow jerrican, and do laundry in a plastic tub with cold water. It’s horrible when the power goes out before you get your hot shower. I stand firm against taking a cold shower. I can heat water on the stove and pour it in the tub and mix it with some cold so at least I can get somewhat clean and feel fresh. I try not to complain or give this problem emphasis, but it is a nuisance. If we ever lose power again at home I’m going to be so well trained in what to do. My laundry won’t pile up, and I’ll know how to cook. I understand now why Ugandans don’t put much in their refrigerators, if they have one. I look at all the food in there and wonder if it will spoil. It makes great sense that the chickens for dinner are running around in the yard scratching and laying eggs in the compost. We served dinner to fifteen people last night in the dark with candle light. It has happened before when we had big dinners to serve. I’m enjoying the pretty light of the candles, but I am missing my coffee. We have used up all the gas in the stove now and so we are pretty much at a cooking stand still. My blackberry is dead and there is no internet. It’s going to be an interesting day.
Kira has changed so much in the past six weeks we have known her. I look back at those first photos and I realize I was able to see her at the very last moments of her as a little baby and follow her straight into an active child. At the baby home they characterized her as a calm and quiet baby. They said she never fussed or gave them any problems. They believed she was behind in her development because she liked to suck her finger. If someone said that was Kira today I’d wonder who they were talking about. She is a most active baby. She refuses to be kept in one place for too long. She likes to move around. She has strong opinions and has little tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants. We are working on that already and she is receiving my boundaries with a good response. She didn’t know how to go from lying down to sitting when we first brought her home, but now she can not only do that quickly, but she is beginning to crawl. Each day she takes a few more strides than the day before and we wonder when it will be that we can’t catch her. We usually don’t have much trouble from her if we keep her moving and give her plenty of new people and things and places to look at. What she really loves to do is babble all day long.
Yesterday Jack and I walked to the market and on the way home she insisted on having the green apple in her hands. But she kept throwing it. She would scream for it, so we gave it to her. After three rounds of this terrible game we took away the apple. She screamed all the way home. It didn’t bother me because I was teaching her that game doesn’t work. But it bothered every single Ugandan we passed. They do not like to let their babies cry for one second. They will give a fussy baby anything it wants to soothe it. Also remember the community parents every child here, including mine. So they give her everything even when I’ve personally decided not to indulge her tantrum. It makes it a little difficult to make progress here. Last night, for example, we had Robert and Rose’s family over for dinner. I had a difficult time convincing Kira she had to go to bed even though she could hear the party down stairs. Finally though she drifted off, but not for long, because later when the kids were rowdy she began to cry and before I knew it one of the girls had Kira in her arms in the living room. Robert asked, who got her up? She said, well she was crying. Everyone understood and we got a good laugh. Kira sat and entertained us as she ate a yogurt before I put her to bed a second time. She wants to suck one finger and hold my finger in her other hand until she drifts off to sleep. I think it will be easier to establish an understanding between us about her behavior when she only has one mother around. For now, I am just amazed to learn the depths of this culture.
Everyone assumes I wanted to adopt a girl because I didn’t have one. While that is true there was another reason I wanted to take a girl and I realized this on the first mission trip I took to Uganda. We visited a safe house there for young girls between the ages of 7 and 15 who have been rescued from prostitution. For girls who have no help and no education this profession can be an inevitable condition to find themselves. I thought if we adopt a girl there would be one less victim. I visited that safe house again yesterday to bring them some money that was raised by my friends and family.(they thank you very much!) There are ten girls living there now and they are on school break so I got to meet them. After talking with Annette Kirabira, their director, about their work she called them into the room. They all approached me and told me their names one by one and gave me a big hug. They sat down on the sofas and we had a chat. They passed around Kira bouncing her on their knees and were eager to hear Kira’s story. They cheered when I told them she was going to be an American and an Ugandan. They sang two songs for me, one about being a family and one about home. They really could go on stage, it sounded so beautiful. We went outside for a group photo and they returned to their bible devotion with their leader. Their faces were so bright and happy I simply couldn’t reconcile in my heart where they had come from. I was both excruciatingly sad, and elated.
The work Annette does is so hard. They have a social worker who goes to the field where the girls work and he tries to convince them to come to the home and leave what they know. Some come, but runaway after a while and go back to the work. I couldn’t understand why this would happen. She said they have to be ready on the inside to accept responsibility and structure and until they are, there is no way to make them stay. Annette gives them a home, counseling, friends, and she raises their education fees. The most wonderful aspect about her work is she is Ugandan, and everyone involved is Ugandan. They are so proud that they are taking care of their own people. She said it is hard, but it gives her satisfaction knowing they don’t always need the west to swoop in and solve every problem. I agreed it was extraordinary and inspiring.
Sorry, no photos today because the internet is spotty and won’t move them for me. When I get to America, I will flood my blog with many photos. Thanks for your patience.