Monday, July 20, 2009

Back to Uganda??

Hi everyone!

If you are checking this it is probably because you've received my donation letter in the mail! In my letter I wrote that I will be leaving August 1st but as you can see that date is very soon and I still need funds. As of right now, I have post-poned the trip... If I raise enough money I will be able to go later in August otherwise I will most likely wait until next year.

In case you are checking this and wondering if you should send donations or not, I want you to know I still need them even though my letter came so late and so close to my departure date.

I really hope to go again and would appreciate any help!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Namyoya Village pictures

These are pictures from Namyoya Village. We went here my 2nd and 3rd day in Uganda and we also went back on the first Sunday for church in the church that now has a roof!!! I became very attached to these people because I was able to spend so much time here. When I think of my experience, I usually think of Namyoya first.

The whole group :)

This is how we were welcomed into the village. The women were waving leaves, singing, dancing, and hugging us. It was amzing.

The roof being built. It was completely finished by Sunday. It was awesome to see such progress made in a short amount of time.

My friends. Sylvia was my ultimate favorite. She is on the left. Sylvia has the sweetest, brightest smile. The the other girl who is as tall as me is so loving and I love how she says JACKIEE!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Home in the States

I am back home..... I got back last night.

I will be posting pictures soon since I know everyone wants to see them.

Like I said before, it was just too difficult with the internet there to try and load photos.

I will also be posting more later but I just wanted to let everyone know I back safe and sound. So no one has to worry anymore.

I miss Uganda already. 2 weeks went by so quickly.

Gulu, Northern Uganda, finally

This was written during my last full day in Uganda but the internet was down so I could not post it!

On Thursday we left for Gulu. I had a lot of anticipation coming into this trip. Since the work I have put in with Invisible Children has all been geared towards the conflict in Northern Uganda I have wanted to visit Gulu. I had an idea of what I thought it would look like but I did not know what an actual displacement camp would look like. It was a very long trip to Gulu. It was about over 6 hours then another hour to arrive at the displacement camp. The camp was located right off the road. There were many huts that were very close together. There was no fence, no guards, no protection. From my knowledge the situation was gradually getting better. I read that the people were moving out of the camps and going back “home.” I had not seen the camps in the past years but I was shocked by the camps. I of course wanted to see healthy, hopeful families but I saw desperation. I felt helpless. I came to see the camps but I did not come with a way to help. We had no project to do, which I think was a part of the trip being poorly planned. In this situation, I was a white person who brought hope to these people but I let them down. I listened when they talked and exchanged smiles but that does not change anything. Unfortunately, I do not have the power to change everything. The conflict and the situation is so complicated and needs so much help that it will take a lot of time and effort to fix. I just want to be able to fix it right away but that is not possible. I find this very frustrating but I know I must still fight for these people and help in all of the ways possible so that over time and through the combination of efforts change will happen. It is really difficult to stay positive after seeing the lives of these people. They are beyond terrible yet they can still smile and display happiness. I cannot explain how torn it makes me feel that I have this life where I have everything I need and more but these people have not even enough to survive but money or material things cannot fix their problems. I just wish there was an easy answer.

After visiting the displacement camps we visited child mothers. Child mothers’ are women who were forced to live with the rebel army to be sex slaves to the generals. These are the women who became pregnant by these generals. Most of these women are in their teens. Their innocence was completely taken away from them. It is unfair and sick yet their lives are ultimately changed by a decision they did not have control over. I felt like a spectator because all I did was look and listen. Again I did not contribute to a bigger cause. Actually not even that we did not better anyone’s life except we gave away clothing and hygiene items. At least when I was in Namyoya I was contributing to the pastor’s house being built but here it was just me seeing the situation. It is important to be knowledgeable and just simply aware of what is happening in Northern Uganda but we spent over 6 hours to just to observe? I will say it again; we needed to have a project or some way of contributing…

For me this trip was not about me but I wanted to help in any way possible to better others’ lives. I was so excited to go to Gulu and it definitely hit me hard but what is even harder is that I do not know what to do with all of my thoughts and feelings. It was hard to just leave Gulu knowing I was going to stay at nice hotel and go on a safari. I feel guilty but mostly unworthy. I am not worthy of everything I have and I know it but what can I do about it?

I did connect with children though. Like I have said, smiles transcend but in Gulu I went to tickle a child and he started to run away. I chased after him then I tried to tickle his friends and they ran away too. Without any language we were basically playing a game of tag. To me that is beautiful.

I found beauty in the small, amazing things.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sunday church in Namyoya

(I wrote this on Sunday night but the Internet stopped working so I could not post it!)

The church we have been working on for 2 days invited us to their church which now has a roof because of our help! It was amazing to see the progress that was made in just 2 days!! Now if it rains church can carry on.

I should first mention that Saturday was a free day meaning we were able to just explore Kampala. Usually, a free day is something to look forward to and usually fun but it didn’t feel right having a free day. I felt out of place in the city because I was not in the village helping others. I didn’t come here to be a tourist but to use my presence and skills to benefit others. I did get to go to the market, which was interesting to see what the Ugandans of Kampala make for a living. We also went to the mall which is where I really didn’t enjoy myself. I just couldn’t help thinking about the people in Namyoya and the people I met with the first day in Kira. I would rather be holding a child's hand and making a mother smile!

Back on subject.... We arrived at the church on time. We were guided into the front of the church and were able to sit in chairs while the others sat on benches. We really were the guests of honor. As I walked into the church children I have seen the past two days and children I hadn’t seen before came up to me to hold my hands. Then, the women of the church took me out to dress me up in their traditional attire. I will add a picture of this later! It was really beautiful and I felt honored that they wanted to share it with me.

The church service usually lasts over 3 hours but we had to visit Dan's family so at 2 and half hours we had to leave. The people of Namyoya village were so grateful that they sacrificed a goat in our honor. I did not watch but I understand that it is a part of their culture. A few people in my group have videos and pictures of the sacrifice.

I never had a free hand, I actually somehow had 4 people holding my hands. One little girl actually was jealous and tried to push the other children away from me. It was the first time I ever experienced the children not being whole-heartedly nice to each other. It was ultimately wonderful to feel wanted but also overwhelming. I realized this was the last time I was going to see these children while I am here on this trip so I took out my camera.

I haven’t mentioned this before but a lot of the children have never seen themselves before. The children just smile and laugh when I take a picture of them and then show it to them on the LCD screen. Harrison also videotaped them and showed it to them. They just think it is so amazing. Today people just came up to me wanting their picture taken. I actually am thinking about printing them out and giving it to them. It is so rare and I think they would really appreciate have the pictures. I feel bad because I do not have pictures of everyone and would feel bad if I made anyone sad by him or her not receiving a picture.
We left even though we could have spent the whole with them. The children like always walk us out by holding our hands. The roads are so bad that the bus cannot make it all of the way to the church so we walk to bus with children following us. I just love children.

I met one special girl named Syliva. I was just automatically connected with her. She is absolutely gorgeous and has the most beautiful smile. She is shy but every time I looked at her she would smile shyly. I didn’t find out until today but her mother is the woman I stood next as we passed bricks! She was so talkative and smiley. I would love to sponsor them.

I will add a picture of Sylvia. The internet here has a hard time uploading pictures, otherwise my blog would be completely full of them but I dont want to wait 2 hours for my pictures to upload.

We then went to the village where Dan's family lives (the family he sponsors). It was a very very poor village. Unfortunately, we got there late and the road was very bad because it rained the night before. The children sang to us in English saying they were so glad to receive us! A woman came up to me telling me about a 4 year old girl who doesn’t walk or talk and wanted to know if I could help her. I then looked at the girl and really wished I could offer something. I then mentioned it to a GFR staff member but it is so difficult especially when GFR does not supply medical help. I hope somehow she can be helped. I will be thinking about her.
After we left from there we had a 2 hours drive back to Kampala. We went back to the mall which again was weird. I cant make sense of the meshing of cultures. I just dont know what to think about it. I go to this village and see them eating porridge as I got to a restaurant and order pizza. I am so fortunate. I dont know what life will be like once I get back home. I dont know how I will adjust or if I will just feel terrible. I know I have a social responsibility now that I have had a first hand experience of how these people live. I have to tell others and teach them what I learned. I hope I can fullfill my responsibility. I dont want to go back and forget. I know I wont but I want to make sure I am telling others and helping the people here in Uganda or Africa.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Working on the Church

For my 2nd and 3rd day in Uganda we worked in a remote village on building a roof for a church that had been roofless for over 10 years. We also worked on building a house for the pastor near by because he has bikes 20 miles to get here. 2o miles here is much different from at home. The road here are absolutely terrible. We have to get off the bus and walk because if we road on the bus we probably we we get stuck. Right away when we got to the village there was a Welcom sign! I thought that was welcoming enough but as we walked down the street we passes a school and all of the children ran out of the school to waves and grab all of our hands. It was so hard to walk away from these children, I just wanted to hold their hands all day. The second I held hands with another child his or her face instantly smiled. I have to say that it is so easy to make someone happy here. I love that smiles trandscend through all cultures. All I have to do is smile and  I usually receive a smile in return.  It is so ironic, that here I can make someone smile just by smiling at him or her but they have to so little and have a lot of sad, negative things going on in their lives. Yet, in the United States smiles are not as easily but most of the population has a million times more than the people I have met in Uganda. Are we just so used to having everythhing that we expect things? Is is that the Ugandans live in the moment and live day to day? 
As I continued to walk past the children at the school more Ugandans came to greets us. Ugandan women were holding leaves and singning and dancing. As they sang and dance with smiles on their face they gave everyone of us hugs. It was very overwhelming because I didnt not expect this or really didnt know what it meant. There were so many of us and so many Ugandan that we were so close together yet we just met these people. The one thing I absolutely love is how loving and giving the people are here in Uganda. I seriously have never felt so loved in my life. It is so odd that people I dont even know can express such strong love to me. 

It was an event that we came to their village. As we finally saw the church and the house we were going to be building, I saw there was a lot of work to be done. The roof needed to be worked on but it was something I could not do, so at first I just took some pictures. Eventually , I started to work on the pastor's house by transporting bricks and laying them in the cement. Everytime I layed  a brick down a Ugandan came and fixed it so I eventually just let him do it. After that I just put cement in the cracks betweeen the bricks. I really felt frustrated after the st day working in this village because I felt like we werent being productive. But spending time with the people and enjoying their culture is very important. It is often said that Africa is about relationships. I want to establish relationships with the people but I also want to give these people something they can benefit from after I leave.  

The 2nd day I was more familiar with the village and expected the children to greet us outside of their school. It was much hotter this day. It was amazing to see how much work had been done on the roof, they almost finished it. Also, a ton of work had been done the house. We really motivated the people to do work. I didnt look at it that way the way before, I just thought they needed us, that they could not accomplish it completely on their own.

The ultimate example of teamwork was displayed as we transported bricks closer to the house. My group along with the Ugandans formed a line and we passed bricks along to get them where they needed to be for the constructing the house. We probably did it for at least 2 hours. It was definitely hard work especially in the hot sun. 

As I am writing this I remembering more because this was the yesterday and the day before. The children here are absolutely amazing and love dancing. There was a boy the first day who was playing drums and we started to dance with the children. They think that it is so funny when we try to dance. But they really enjoy when we try to. 

My favorite part is learning the langauge. I love to be able to communicate in their language. I have learned how to say "How are you" "Very good"  "Fine" "Thank you, so much" As i was passing the bricks I was standing next to a Ugandan and some bricks were wet so they were heavier than the others. I said heavy adn eventually I was taught how to say heavy and light. It is so interesting because they laugh but in happiness. Also, they have to repeat it a lot of times because the pronunciations are so diffrent than english. I havent felt such passion for culture and langauage in a long time. I knew I felt it once with Spanish but I definitely know it is something I really enjoy. 

I love all of the time I can spend here with people. The people that appreciate and love me without an judgement. It is truly amazing to see how these people live. I and so many others have so much to learn from these people.  I am sure I will remember more later. 
Over & Out


1st Day in Uganda

The first day I arrived in Uganda at 7:30 in the morning we went back to the house and then went to help a build a house for a widow with 17 orphans. It was unbelievable how welcoming and loving everyone was to me. I immediately went over to the children and wanted to spend time with them. Most of them do not speak english but if so just a little amount. I truly felt in place and completely comfortable. One child just started crying when he saw me because I dont think he has ever seen a white person before. I have heard of this happening but I didnt think it would really happen. He was fine until I put out my hand then he started to cry. I have heard sometimes people who have not seen white people are afraid because they think white people are ghosts. Anyways, a young woman named Paris came over with her son Edward and was able to speak some english and teach me some Lugandan. It was really fun and most of the Ugandans just laugh or smile at me. I spent most of my times with them. I also went with the group to go get water. It was very eye opening to actually see the water they drink. It is very incredibly dirty. Also, i was with a 12 year old girl who was carrying a large jug of water. I carried it on my head for a little while but she could have done it for a long time but luckily the truck came to help take the water back. The people I have met are truly amazing. They are so happy and strong. Their bodies are so thin yet they are so full of energy. I really wish people in the United States could realize how much they have and not focus on material things. I love how everyone here is so family and community focused. It is really amazing the compassion they have for people. It is something we need to learn in the United States.