Archive for ‘Uganda’

August 2, 2013

Uganda/Zambia Trip – Part 3

Our time in Uganda was a flurry of activity so instead of sharing day-by-day I’ll just share some stories, highlights and pictures.

One of the highlights, for me personally, was the chance to see a family that is very special to me.  I won’t go into details here how we are connected to this beautiful family, but we are.   We were in the neighborhood anyway (as close as you can get to being in the neighborhood!) so we decided to swing by and see how they were doing.  They were very excited to hear that we were coming.

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The red dirt of Uganda.

We were told it wasn’t far.  I’m not sure what standards these folks are going by, because it was far!  To get to their home we took a small, dirt road.  We bumped and bounced down that road past tiny little villages until we reached smaller dirt roads where we bounced and bumped some more.  Finally we got to the end of the road where we stopped and started walking on a path through some coffee beans into the middle of a field.  There was a clearing in front of us and then, the most darling little home.  This is where the mother of this family and her three children (and one nephew) live.

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The home.

The home is one room.  There is a  bed with a mosquito net over top.  The children sleep on mats on the floor.  All cooking/bathing/socializing is done outside.   There are few other small homes like this scattered around the clearing.  This is their community.  While we were talking the girls came back from fetching water at the well.  This is how they get all of their water.  There are no sinks or bathtubs, there is no electricity.  But their little home is beautiful and they clearly take pride in it.

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The children who live in this small community.

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Carrying water from the well.

It was such a blessing to see their family and home.

One of my favorite parts of these trips is checking on the kids who wait for families and trying to find ways to show all of YOU just how amazing they are.  I had the privilege of visiting with some absolutely adorable kids – of all ages and abilities – who are waiting for families.   One of them was this little guy.  He just couldn’t stop giggling!  He has the most infectious and beautiful smile.  Can you imagine how much a family would have with him?  He really needs to be adopted!

Collin from sister haiti on Vimeo.

Collin

July 30, 2013

Uganda/Zambia Trip – Part 2

Mornings in Zambia were chilly, the air felt like fall at home but smelled like Africa.  So interesting to me, I’ve never been to a truly cold part of Africa…I’m fascinated.  

Each morning I bundled up in my sweater and headed out to meet my new friend Beth from Special Hope Network.   Beth controlled our schedule and planned all of the meetings, I was just along for the ride!   

Our first meetings with the government were slightly disappointing in terms of information we were given.  But by our last day in Zambia we had enough information and positive reactions that we were all feeling hopeful.  A special needs adoption program is truly possible here (and desperately needed!) but it’s going to take adventurous and flexible families with pioneering spirits to get things started.  I’ll write more about our hope for this program soon. 

We visited orphanages.  No matter how many times I walk into an orphanage, I never get used to the sight of children being raised without families.  The orphanages we visited were all nice places.  Clean, organized, the children looked healthy and well cared for.   But still, they’re orphanages and no child should be growing up without a family.   

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We spent time at Special Hope Network and my heart was so happy to see what this small group of people are doing for children with intellectual disabilities in Zambia.   Equipping families to KEEP and PARENT their children, shouldn’t that be the #1 goal for all of us?  

I was blessed to be invited to participate in a Special Olympics program that was coordinated specifically for the families and children of Special Hope Network.   It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and the children had so much fun.  

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My time in Zambia came to an end too quickly.   Soon it was time to say goodbye and I was packing my bags back up to head to Uganda.   

It seems like getting from Zambia to Uganda shouldn’t be too hard, right?  They aren’t that far away from each other.   Well, it was an all day affair including a 6 hour layover in Johannesburg, South Africa.   I left Zambia at 7am and arrived in Uganda at 7pm.   I was met at the airport by our friend and driver Ken and friend Kendra and her beautiful family.   

After a quick hello and then goodbye to Kendra’s mom and daughter (who were flying out that night) we headed in to Kampala where I got settled into my cottage at Red Chilli Hideaway.   People ask me what I like about Red Chilli’s.  Despite the fact that it can be loud (it really depends on the room you get) – I like being surrounded by people.   Some people might prefer the peace and quiet of being in a small guest house with only one or two other guests, I’m not crazy about it.  I prefer having people around.  The cottages are quiet (for the most part, one night there was a party next door to the compound and it was loud), it is cheap, the food is good and well priced, there is free wifi, a small pool, interesting people to talk to (always interesting people!), a generator (but power rarely goes out), hot water and nice staff.  Downside, it isn’t fancy – the place gets dirty really fast.  There are bugs and lizards and monkeys and the bar area gets loud on the weekends.  But I feel at home there so it’s been my go-to place for several years.  

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The next morning I got up, met with Linda & Ken and we immediately headed out to start visiting and meeting.  It was scheduled to be a busy week!   

Part 3 coming soon. 

June 1, 2013

Three Years Ago {Mayer’s Homecoming}

Three years ago, after months in Uganda, I posted this picture and announced to the world that I was finally bringing our beautiful son home.   (How cute is my baby?!) 

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I will never forget picking up that visa and realizing that I was really, truly going to be able to take him home, to OUR home, to see his daddy for the first time in 3 months and meet the rest of his family for the first time ever!

 He fit in perfectly, like his spot in our family had always just been there, waiting for him to fill it. Image

Mayer has brought such joy to our family.  He is the funniest, most creative little boy.
He loves his family fiercely and we love him more than we can begin to explain.

We are so, so thankful and blessed to have him in our family.  We love you Mayer!

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Read about Mayer’s homecoming:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

September 28, 2012

It’s Official!

It’s official!

Jovia & Benja’s adoptions were finalized in the US yesterday morning!!  

It was almost exactly a year ago we were in Ugandan courts asking for guardianship of these babies.

Now they are ours forever!

Happy, happy, happy day!

Picture from yesterday at court with the judge.

A year ago in Uganda.   My goodness how they have changed! 

 

 

 

 

August 20, 2012

Home

I am home from Uganda.  10 days was a very long time away from my little ones!

This trip was full of extremes.  Ten days felt so long yet it also went by so quickly.   There were happy, fun times with friends and then heartbreaking, cry-my-eyes-out times with the orphans we are helping.  I’m exhausted.

I have so many stories and pictures to share but I feel like I still need some time to process it all myself first.

In the meantime, something adorable is posted below.  The smile is contagious!   This sweet little man asked me seriously before I left his orphanage if I could find he and his brother a family.  I promised him I’d try.  I can’t wait to hear their file is ready and we can start looking for their forever family!

IMG 3627 from sister haiti on Vimeo.

January 28, 2012

Some days…

The latest:

We raised more than enough money for these girls to be SAFE and taken care of.  We are already working on a long term plan for them to be within a loving family in Uganda.  THANK YOU to everyone that donated and shared.  

UPDATE from Facebook: 

We are quickly coming to a solution for the seven little girls who are living alone in central Uganda.  The short story is that the two malnourished babies (age 2 and 7 months) will be temporarily going to a malnutrition rehabilitation home and the five older girls will be going to boarding school. A bandaid on a very complicated situation but the girls need care and safety NOW. We need sponsors to step up and cover the cost of the girls boarding school. Urgently, we need $200 USD per child for the first term and the necessary books, uniforms, etc. Donations came be made on the AAI website (www.adoptionadvocates.org) and please note it is for the “7 Sisters in Uganda”. AAI is a 501(c)3. Please send me a note and let me know if you’ve donated so I can keep track of what has come in. I really hope to have all five girls in school by the end of the week. Please share with anyone who might be able to help.

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Some days I feel like my heart just can’t handle anymore…the pleas for help, the stories of children in need.

Yesterday, Linda (my friend and the one who runs our work in Uganda) went on a community visit in an area of Uganda we’ve been asked to help. She told me briefly about a situation she came across. I want to share their story with you.

She met a family of seven little girls.  The oldest is 13 and the youngest is 7 months.  The baby is very malnourished.  Their dad lives and works hours away in the capital city.  Their mom died.  For weeks at a time these seven little girls are alone.

ALONE.

A 13 year old girl is the head of their house.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, I was told: “the kids get attacked at night by strangers”.

And my heart broke.

She didn’t elaborate on details but I can only guess what can be happening to these seven little girls who are alone.

Can you just imagine for a moment being 13 years old and being responsible for the lives of your six little sisters? 

These precious children, how vulnerable they are.

The thing is, I don’t know how to help these little girls.  They need to be somewhere safe now.

We’re researching our options for getting them out of this situation and into a safe place.

For now all I know to do is pray for them and ask you to pray as well.

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” – Psalm 82: 3-4

November 4, 2011

Protected: Waiting.

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August 29, 2011

Protected: It’s almost time….

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August 10, 2011

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July 7, 2011

Always an adventure….

Oh yes, much drama can happen in a Ugandan parking lot.

Let me set the scene. It’s about 10pm. We had just finished dinner at a super yummy but hopping place called Bamboo Nest. Music was boom booming from the restaurant. The street around the place is alive with cars, bodas, pedestrians, merchants, etc. Parking around the restaurant is scarce and there is a lot of competition for the parking spots right in front of the restaurant. Normal parking rules we follow here in the US aren’t followed there. For example, cars may park 2 or 3 deep in one parking spot. So if you’re the car on the inside, you’re stuck. There is no such thing as allowing space between cars. So you might have a car parked so close to you on both sides you can’t even get your arms in to open your door. Yeah, its interesting to say the least.

We got back to the car and saw that there was a Land Cruiser parked in front of us. There was a small space where you could get to the the drivers side door. Unfortunately, the drivers side door handle was missing. So we couldn’t open the door. The new Mercedes on the passenger side of the car was parked so close you couldn’t open the door. We stood around for a minute trying to think of a way to get into the car. We opened the trunk and tried to fold the seats down to see if we could climb in that way. Nope. We tried to work what was left of the car handle to see if we could pop the door open. Nope. After about 20 minutes of humming and hawing someone went to get the manager of the restaurant. He came and took a look at the situation. He went and made an announcement over the intercom that people needed to move cars. The owner of the Land Cruiser came out right away. He moved his car to the street and sat there waiting for us to move so he could have our spot. But the owner of the Mercedes didnt show.

If we could get in the car, we could get out. But we couldn’t get in the car.  A crowd started to gather as we’ve now been trying to get in the car for about 45 minutes.  Over and over various people are trying to get the doors open.  People start talking about cracking open a window.  They keep trying to get in through the trunk. The situation is so ridiculous it was funny at first, but its getting later and later. The owner goes and announces again that we need the owner of the Mercedes. Still nothing. Then one of the bouncer/security guard guys announce that they think the Mercedes has been there since morning and that the owner wasn’t in the building. That seemed to put our driver/friend over the edge and he decided to try to PICK UP the car.

When the other men standing around saw that he wanted to pick up the car they came to help lift. Everyone gathers in front of the car and tries to lift. Nothing.  They try again.   Nothing.   The man in the Land Cruiser stuck his head out the window and yelled “lift it from the back!”. So everyone moved to the rear of the car.

1, 2, 3, LIFT! Movement! A half an inch further away from the Mercedes. Over and over again, 1, 2, 3, LIFT!  Tiny bit by tiny bit the car started moving to the side!

FINALLY someone was able to SQUEEZE between the Mercedes and our car to get the door open. Cheers erupt from all of us and the spectators. Success!

We start to climb in the car when a man walks up and protectively puts his hand on the Mercedes. The cars owner. Inside having a drink this whole time. He looks it over carefully to make sure we didn’t leave any scratches, we wave to all of our helpers and are on our way.

Yes, it’s always an adventure in Uganda. Even in a parking lot.