The bus ride to the orphanage is an hour long, and this is why I hired a bus to transport us knowing we would like to have a meeting about the day and a devotion to center us on the purposes of God. Hershel gave us the devotion in the morning about being encouraging with the children and eachother. Elitia taught us some common Lugandan phrases to use with the children. It wasn’t long before we arrived. The children were held back from running down the long driveway but when they saw me with my open arms the floodgate burst and they greeted all of us with full body slams and hugs tight as bottlenecks. Every member on the team was squeezed and crowded by children who had been waiting a long time for us to arrive.
First thing we did after introductions was to give tours of where the children sleep and play. We walked around the corner to visit cows, goats, chickens and the baby calf. There’s barbed wire everywhere and though the children at the orphanage are used to it our kids were ushered and watched carefully. We then walked to the well to see their water source. It’s about a fifteen minute walk, down a steep hill where a natural spring has been built into a spout where the children can fill their yellow cans full of water. We haven’t had it tested yet, that’s on the list. I couldn’t believe how far up a hill they have to climb with heavy water, three times a day. What inspires me the most is that the children find this chore an adventure and it’s considered their favorite job to do. I’m thinking if I walked up that hill with water on my head three times a day that would fill my cardiovascular exercise requirements for the day.
Once home with our jugs of water we settled into the church where the children had prepared a celebration for us. They sang, spoke beautiful English thanking us for making their lives better and danced. Everyone needed to make speeches. Everywhere we turn someone with a microphone wants to talk on and on! It’s a curious phenomenon. The girls came in and modeled for us the jewelery they had learned to make and they clasped a necklace and earrings on my ears, and did the same for Emily. It was wonderful. When they asked me to give my speech, all I could say was what a transformation I had witnessed in these children, not only physically are they healthier, but also spiritually they are so full of joy. I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the place, I know I was bubbling up strong emotion.
They had practiced for over a month every day to prepare for their performance, and they were such amazing performers, broad smiles, energy, and exuberance to spare. I believe they are ready for a tour! We hired caterers to cook for us lunch and dinner for the week. After the performance it was time for lunch. It was probably our fourth meal in a row of typical Ugandan food. I’m a little weary already of Matooke, but I was hungry so I ate. My stomach started to feel a little sour after lunch so I skipped dinner. But people came out of the bush from everywhere to welcome the leftover food. Not a morsel will be left behind to waste in this place. I’m still suffering a sick stomach so I would so appreciate some prayer that I am well today.
After lunch we set up the clinic under a tent in the courtyard. Emily and Andres organized the children for some games. Then they put on a play for the children of the birth of Jesus. That was the highlight for the kids, everyone talked about how fun it was to play characters, as well as to watch the skit. We spent four hours examining the children. I sat right behind Cindy and collected all the cases that need follow up with medicine from our stash, a trip to the surgery, or a trip to the hospital. She is so good, and I learned so much about how she asks questions to make a diagnosis. For the most part these children are really healthy. There is one who is quite sick and we’re going to keep a good eye on her. Fred is the one who stole my heart. He is sixteen years old and uses crutches to walk as his legs are lame. He walks a mile on crutches to go to school, and he just started first grade. He’s determined to learn, and his English is quite good. His eyes cannot follow the light so well, they jump back and forth. It makes it difficult to talk to him and look him in the eye. But he’s not slow at all, we think his mind is very good, as he is learning, sharing, and repeating what he hears as though he understands. When he first arrived a couple months ago the children called him lame, as his name. Elitia had a fit and forbid it, so now they call him Fred. It is difficult in this culture to have a handicap because usually they would be ignored and shunned. Fred is strong, and he has a firm will to succeed. When he was born his mother died and his father later died of leprosy. He was with his grandmother but she was too old and feeble to care for him. He is very happy now with the other children, and feels like he has a family for the first time.
We talked about getting him physical therapy, and eventually finding a way to get him a surgery to release his heel cord. We believe he can walk without crutches some day. I so want to help make that happen. There are some physical therapy students here in Kampala and we might be able to get them out there to have a look.
We finished examining all the children in four hours. That’s quite an accomplishment. The adults had lined up all day and sat around, moving their chairs closer and closer hoping we would have time to tend to their ailments. It was just time for dinner when we finished the last child, so we gave the adults a ticket and told them they can be seen by the doctor tomorrow. But for all the hundred or so people who would like to crowd our doctors we didn’t want to encourage a full stampede, so they have to have the ticket.
After dinner we lined up the children and taught them about taking vitamins and passed one out to each child. We gathered enough from our friends at church to keep them supplied with vitamins for probably a year. I hope it makes a difference. One of the girls is terribly anemic, and others have skin issues from nutritional deficiencies. I hope they can develop strong immunities and prevent many illnesses with good health.
Just before I was to instruct them about the vitamins a bat came into the church. It swooped all around and a part of myself was revealed from the stage that perhaps I would rather not have everyone know. I’m scared to death of bats. The swooping in my peripheral vision makes me shriek , duck and hide with an irrational hysteria. Every time the thing swooped, I shrieked. Soon, I was the high entertainment for the evening. Our team was laughing hysterically AT ME. All I can say is as a little girl the bats in the summertime came through the attic into my bedroom and I remember lying in bed paralyzed because there was a bat swooping in my room. There were three bats in a month, and then we moved. I was traumatized, and so today I still have the same unreasonable reaction to bat encounters. It was such a relief when the thing flew out into the night. But I’m sure I’ll be teased about that forever.
The traffic home on the bus was eternally long because of traffic jams. We pushed open the door at nine o’clock, showered and flopped into bed. It was a most invigorating and exciting day. We accomplished the exams, and the youth team did a fantastic job interacting with and entertaining the children. Everyone had a sense of accomplishment, and many new friends were made. We are all looking forward to discovering what day two will offer us by way of blessings and surprises. (sorry the photos have to wait, they take so long to upload)