I’m sorry I haven’t written yet. What a journey this has been already…and we only arrived last night.
I will write more about our travel day later…right now there is still so much to process about today.
My niece Danielle has joined me in Ug*nda this time and I am really enjoying watching her experience Africa for the first time. She’s been a great traveling companion and is always up for an adventure, which I love.
Our first day in Ug*nda has been more than I could have expected or hoped. I was concerned that we wouldn’t have time to do much of what I hoped, 7 days here is just barely enough time especially when we’re traveling in-country as well. But today went so well, I do think we are really going to get a lot done while I’m here.
I am having a difficult time knowing where to start. I guess I can start at the beginning of the day. We had spent the night in Entebbe with my friend Robin. It was lovely to see her again and get a chance to love on her babies…the ones I’ve met before and the new babies that have come. I was concerned we wouldn’t be tired enough to sleep because of jetlag, but we both were out before midnight and got up around eight am.
After breakfast and visiting with the children we packed up our things and headed over to our first orphanage of the day – a babies home in Entebbe. AAI’s new Ug*ndan facilitator (Linda) met us over there. I had been speaking to the orphanage director for a few weeks and we’re hoping to place on of their baby boys with an adoptive family here in the US. It was a great meeting and was so happy to see the place and meet everyone. We have another meeting with them at the end of the week.
We left Entebbe and made our way into Kampala and towards our guest house. We hired a private hire (private taxi) for this, as Robin reminded us it probably wasn’t the best idea to try and use public transportation/taxi with all of our suitcases.
We made our way to our guesthouse, which is lovely. We unloaded and the headed back into town to exchange money and pick up some things at Nakumatt, the grocery store.
While we had only planned to visit two orphanages today, it looked like we may have enough time to visit three so Linda made the arrangements for us to meet with two different homes this afternoon. We quickly decided how much money per orphanage we could allot to buy food and set out to get all of the donations. We had school supplies, underwear and can candy for these homes but also wanted to purchase some food as we knew that both were quite poor and caring for many children on a very limited budget. We were able to buy sugar, oil, soap, beans and maize for these two homes.
Our first orphanage of the afternoon was in a slum on the outskirts of Kampala. The children are beautiful. The conditions are horrendous. The staff seem to be trying very hard but they simply do not have the funds to care for all these children they way they should be cared for. They have about 150 children in their school and about 30 of the children are orphans who live there. The entire facility is run-down and falling apart. The “dorms” are so sad and the toilets (which I had to use) are like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The classrooms are very old and they have few supplies. Despite the poor conditions the children, like so many of the children you meet here, are joyful, sweet and so very excited to meet us. They sang for us and applauded enthusiastically when we gave them a small bag of school supplies and enough food for perhaps a days worth of decent meals. When I see a small child kneel on the ground in gratitude when you had them a small piece of candy and smile like you gave them the world…my heart can hardly take it…it is so humbling. It is so hard when I am not able to do more for these children who so need it. There are just so many of them…
I’m not sure how many of these children will be adoptable, but would love see some sort of sponsorship program with them so they can clean the place up and really take care of these children the way they need to be cared for.
When we left we took some boda-boda’s out of the slum and back up to the main road. There we were met by a woman named Rose that an adoptive parent had told me about. She runs a school/orphanage for children, most of who are orphans. They have hundreds of children in a large, still very poor but better run facility. We got a tour of the home, met some of the children and had a great meeting. They have many orphaned children in this home that would benefit greatly from being adopted. Many of these children are “double orphans” who have lost both their mother and father to death, many times to AIDS or TB.
The stories you hear when you visit these homes…it often doesn’t seem real. Discovered in a pit latrine, found on the beach naked right after birth, left for days to fend for themselves, starved by his step-mother, beaten by his father, abandoned by her parents…one heart breaking story after another.
We had a good conversation recently about in-country adoption here. I had heard that is was picking up and becoming more popular but from what I’m hearing that doesn’t seem to be the case in many parts. I had really hoped that many of the little healthy babies could be adopted here but based on things I’m being told, I’m not sure that is a realistic hope right now for many babies. It is something to keep working towards though.
After we left the last orphanage we decided to call it a day. We got a taxi back into the city to the taxi park. Let me just say…public transportation in this country is not for the faint of heart. We probably spent an hour just trying to get through two taxi parks today and find the right taxis. I wish I could capture the craziness of the taxi parks for you, but wasn’t sure how smart it was to have my camera out there. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
We had dinner at a small restaurant off of the taxi park – $11 fed three of us a good size dinner with food left over. Yum. After dinner we made our way back through the taxi parks and found the taxi going to the town where our guesthouse is. Linda got us loaded onto the taxi and said goodbye for the evening. We had to hang out for a bit waiting for the taxi to load the rest of the way up and then we were on our way. We had them drop us at the grocery in the little town where we are staying so we could get a box of bottled water and then took a boda the rest of the way.
We were so grateful to get back to our room and take a (cold) shower. It was a long, but productive day. Tomorrow we’re headed out of town for an overnight trip to visit several orphanages. I appreciate everyones continued prayers and support. I will continue to keep the blog as updated as possible.
As I was sitting here under my mosquito net, writing this post and listening to music on my phone, this song came on…so appropriate.
“To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight…
There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus”