I’ve offended my new neighbors already with my American ways. Apparently, not just anything goes into the trash pile behind the pit latrine. I’ve been complained about because I put Kira’s night diapers in that pile, and I’ve made the pile too big too fast. Good to know. There’s a truck that comes around “once in a while” and I’m supposed to give that kind of trash to the truck. When? No way to know. Will I even be here? Probably not.
Phiona went to our court proceeding yesterday morning with the case that started over a year ago but has maybe met four official times to make progress in the case. The defendant’s lawyer never shows up so the case is always moved to the next month. Cases here are only seen once a month. I decided not to go before I ever came to Uganda. I personally have moved onto a peaceful place, I am looking forward and not back in our ministry, and I really have no reason to be in that court room, not to mention I was still sick. This is a case that the state has brought against him, not me. I was just a witness. The former anger I once had has been distinguished and that was a bit of soul work on my end, so the last thing I need is to go there and stir it all up again. We want to be paid back for what was wrongfully used, and I’m willing to wait as long as it takes to get it. I do hope for justice, if that’s possible here. (a simple fungus gets on their scalp, we put a little cream on it and it heals)
The children have been working hard writing their letters for their sponsors. Kiah is in charge of that project. I try to explain to the children how they may only see me come to visit, but all they enjoy is possible because they have sponsors who not only help financially, but also pray for them, love them, and follow their progress. There are so many wonderful people in our sponsor program who sincerely hope for the very best for these children. We are still in need of a few sponsors if anyone is interested my email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. It costs a minimum of $25 per month donation.
After fish stew lunch was served and cleaned up we gathered the children onto the porch for their big surprises. They desperately needed new school bags so I asked Phiona to wait and let me bring them. I had their names embroidered on each bag and filled them with a new Kirabo Seeds tshirt, their new sandals, a new bandana, and a raincoat. There was astonishment at how wonderful these new bags were for them. They were so happy to have something so nice. They all chatted about how excited they are to take the bags to school for everyone to see how special they are. Sometimes it seems like giving poor children our leftovers makes good sense. I do it all the time. I pass Jack and Kevin’s clothes to these kids every time I visit. But some of the things they use every day need to be even stronger and more durable that what our kids in America use because there is so much use on one item here. Kira has several pair of shoes so they aren’t likely to get worn out. But these kids have two pair of shoes. One for good, and one for play. Oh my, do they play hard. Same for the backpacks, it is used for everything they do when they leave the home. Of course they are thankful for whatever condition the item we give them is in, they don’t care so much, but I don’t want to have to replace things so often! In the long run we are saving money by buying good quality on certain things.
I asked the children to put on their new tshirts, put their towels into their bags and get in the van, we were going swimming at Speke Hotel. The occasion was to celebrate their excellent work in school this term. Nearly everyone gave their best effort and made progress. Some are having emotional setbacks from things in their past, so we are being encouraging and compassionate with these issues. We can see the difference between hurt and defiant. Oh the excitement was not only high for the children, but all of the adults were happy as well to have time off for some fun. I personally love giving Auntie Julie time off from the kitchen, even though she loves her work.
Most of the adults got into the pool, for the first time in their lives in most cases. It was so refreshing for them. Robert learned to swim and did it well without a bit of fear. It gave me so much happiness to see everyone having fun. They said, why aren’t you getting in Mama Tonya? Because I am watching over sixteen children who have a lot of courage and no swimming abilities! And I didn’t want to miss one expression of joy on their faces. Oh my did everyone play hard. The bigger kids got into the big pool for the first time, and the amazement to have water cover their whole bodies showed in their faces with bright eyes and wide smiles. We are not a quiet bunch and that would be annoying except that the sounds of happiness can even turn an old grump into a good mood.
Hours of swimming later, one by one children began to get dressed and watch the others. Dickson was the last one swimming and didn’t even notice everyone had finished. I ordered sodas for them all and they played til the sun went down. We stopped by the deli at Uchimi Supermarket and got meats for them to eat in the car and called it a day. Part of me loved giving the fun to the adults on our team more than the children, because they work so hard all of the time. Robert said, “it isn’t too much because we are structured like a family so it doesn’t feel like a lot of pressure.” Yes we are structured like a family and it gives me gratitude to God to see it all coming together in one year’s time.
I believe what we are doing is so effective because we have a strong, compassionate, intelligent male role model for all of these children. Most of the organizations have mama’s caring for children, but I wouldn’t have done this work with out a man with excellent morals and a great love for the Lord. Children need a father figure in their lives. These twelve boys have to look at someone and know how they are meant to become. The girls need to know there’s a man who will tell her she’s beautiful and protect her. Robert blows my mind with how dedicated he is to this work. He sees it as full time ministry and a great pleasure. All of the adults on our team fully enjoy working with each other. We don’t have any friction, ever. All we can say is God is in this work in a mighty way and we are so thankful to be able to give sixteen children opportunity for a good life. We hope to break the cycles of poverty, crime and ignorance. The history of their families changes now with them, and the children who come after them will be passed on the good teaching they receive from us.