Friday, January 28, 2011

Mercy Home

One of the reasons that Alex and I came to Uganda is to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.  I think we found our place to start making that difference today on a small dirt road about two or three miles off the main road.
 As we drove down the dirt road there were small houses made with homemade bricks standing here and there, some had thatch roofing other had tin for roofs. Outside of these houses you could see children standing staring at us coming down the road.  Some of the children would wave with all the excitement you can imagine.  Alex and I would roll our windows down and wave to each one as we passed by listening to them yelling “ Muzungu, Muzungu, hi Muzungu” (white person, white person hi white person).  This reaction makes us feel almost like we are celebrities passing by a crowd of fans. 
Then there are other sites along the way, a mother stooping over a fire cooking what little food she has while carrying a small baby on her back, a small girl carrying a five gallon bucket full of water that she has carried for miles from the nearest well struggling because the weight of the water outweighs her by several pounds.  An old women carrys a  basket on her head while an old man on crutches with one leg missing hobbles along behind her.
These sights are not uncommon on these dirt roads and I guess eventually an outsider might get used to seeing them, but Alex and I will never get used to it.  It is hard to see how people live here and what little they have.
As we made our way down the ever so bumpy road we eventually came upon “our place” which is called Mercy Home.  Mercy Home sits right off Lake Victoria behind a homemade fence.  As we stop the car and get out we see small children gathered around a water pump filling their cans full of water.  The children stop and stare following our every step.  I can only imagine what is going through their little minds as we approach the fence and open the gate. 
The children are almost afraid to move, they keep watching us as we get closer to them.  Alex and I both say hello and smile, they are speechless.  They just keep watching us.  I want so badly to go to them and hold them, love them, and tell them to come home with me.  My heart starts to ache and fill very heavy.  Alex’s looks like he has seen a ghost, he is so white.  I ask him if he is ok and he says yes, but I know his heart is aching just like mine.
We take a tour of the place and find out that it needs a lot of work.  My mind starts racing with everything that needs to be done.  My first thought is the safety and food for the children.  I start planting a garden in my mind so there is constant food, I start painting to make the place bearable for the children, I start thinking of all the things this place needs and then I stop for a moment and think of home.  Oh how lucky do we have it!
 When I came here to Uganda I was complaining to Steven about the kitchen stove only having one burner for me to cook on and how he only had three forks and three plastic plates, a skillet and two pots.  I feel so ashamed.  This orphanage does not have a real kitchen.  The bigger boys cook the meals over an open fire on the ground. They only have two pots, one for the beans they get from Unicef, and one for the corn flour they mix with water.  This is their food, every day of the week every meal of the day.
So we have a lot to accomplish in the short time we are here.
As time passes I will keep you updated on the progress Alex and I are making on this small piece of land on this old dirt road in this far off country.  But until then, the next time you have something to complain about…….. think of this story and then remember……… Count your blessings,  life could be a whole lot worse.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Entering Fort Portal I was very excited to see our six children that we are helping get an education and live life a little more comfortable than before.  Little did I know that there was one more child in the area that would touch my heart.   

Our car was in need of repair so while it was being fixed my family and I stayed in town at our friend Betty’s place of work.  As we sat in the lobby a small boy came in and approached the desk.  He had no shoes on his feet and it was obvious that he was poor.  As I sat and watched from a short distance I saw him writing on paper and handing it to the lady behind the desk.  She would then write and hand the paper back.  This went on for some time.  As I sat there I wanted to know what his story was so I moved closer and asked the women behind the desk to tell me his story.  She said he was almost deaf and he could not talk.  He was hungry.  I had her ask about his parents and he wrote that they both died and he is living with his sick grandmother.  His grandmother had sent him out to beg for food so he would not starve. 

Of course by now my heart was breaking.  I wanted to talk to him so I tapped him on the shoulder.  He looked at me with the biggest eyes I have ever seen, but these eyes were so full of hurt and pain.  These eyes I will never forget.   I can not imagine what this little boy had been through.  I told him I loved him by pointing to my heart.  I am sure he understood by the look on his face.  Yet this still did not change the fact that he was hungry.  I suddenly remembered  I had bought a snicker bar in Amsterdam on our way here that I had not eaten.  I took the snicker out of my purse and gave it to him.  Obviously he needed it worse than I did.  I also had almost a full bottle of soda that I had been sipping on that I gave him.  He seemed so happy.  He immediately opened the snicker bar and ate it very quickly.  It was a sight I will never forget.  I asked the women if she could find out his name so I could keep it forever in my memory.  His name is Turee.  I wish I would have taken Turee to the store to buy him and his grandmother groceries, but I was so overwhelmed by the moment that all I could do was cry.  However, I will be going back to Fort Portal and I hope that I will see Turee again.  I have asked our friend Betty to keep her eyes out for him. If Betty spots him I asked her  to let me know and I will send money for her to take him to the store.  Turee…. a name, a face, a boy I will never forget and I hope as you read this you too will not forget him. 

Remember, Turee is just one of many children who are hungry so I encourage all of you to do something to change the life of a child.  It doesn’t have to be anything big just a simple hug to let them know they are loved, but please do something…..

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is It a Towel or a??????

I could not help but think about my dear Mother in Law, Jeanne as we headed for the swimming pool at the Alcholi Inn hotel in Gulu, Uganda.  You see one of Jeanne’s favorite things to do is to sit by the pool in the summer soaking up the beautiful sunshine.  As we entered the courtyard it seemed pretty much like any other pool setting.  The pool was a nice size and the water was cool and refreshing.  It felt very nice on a hot day.  However, when I asked for a towel it became clear that I was not in the U.S.A.  This very lovely young lady offered to help me in finding a towel.  I thought nothing of the wait but then the “towel” arrived.  The young lady came over and handed me my “towel” along with about four others.  I guess I must have had a very confused look on my face because Steven was laughing at me.  You see these were not towels at all, it was a sheet that had been cut into towel size pieces which the locals call “wrappers”.  You know sheets do absorb most of the water and they are cooler when wrapped around your body.  In fact I was thinking the next time I go to our neighborhood pool I might take a bed sheet instead of a towel.  What do you think Jeanne?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Night of the Living Mosquito

There have been very few times in my life that I can say on a January night a mosquito would not let me sleep... Last night was one of those nights.  I secured the windows and doors before settling into bed for the night. ( I must admit I am a little nervous being here alone with Alex while Steven is on one of his week long journeys, but I must remain tough for the boy.)  Mom's have their way of sounding like they are under control without anyone suspecting a thing.... or at least I think so... You see normally Alex goes to his room and We go to ours, but last night given my little nervous issue I calmly mentioned to Alex if HE got scared HE could come into my room and be with me... all the while hoping he would jump at the chance just so I would not have to indure the night alone.  Yeh he we locked the door behind us and off to bed we went.  Sleep finally came after a while of talking and tossing and turning, but suddenly I was woken up by this buzzing.  At first I thought my ears were ringing so I shook my head and tried to go back to sleep... buzz buzz buzz... I knew then I had more company in my room than just alex... unwanted company at that... I got up turned the light on and tried to find the little pest unsuccessful I turned the light off hoping that he would leave us alone.  NOT SO... a little later buzz buzz buzz....that was it... I started waving my arms swating and hitting the air... (Alex woke up and said mom are you ok) I said yes go back to sleep... Maybe I got rid of the pest... sleep came but I am sure while I slept the mosquito was filling his belly with my delcious blood.  Again, awake.... buzz buzz buzz...that was it I started hitting and swatting again but this time with language not repeatable for the internet (sorry mom)... Alex again woke up..."mom are you going crazy?"  Yes honey mommy is going crazy now go back to sleep....I never did find that pesty mosquito but I guarantee you today I am out for the kill.

Love to Home

I sit here alone in the apartment, Alex and Steven are out for a walk before Steven heads out for another week long seminar.  I am lonely, feeling cut off from the world.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of being here with just Alex for an entire week. However, I guess I better get used to it. 
I learned something new today.  In Uganda a person buys band width time to use the internet.  Steven bought me bandwidth time four days after we arrived and I have used 80% of it up already.   I guess this means I have to slow down on skyping home… which really sucks because I need my family and friends. 
Speaking of family, I have the most wonderful family on the face of the earth.  I have a wonderful husband, Steven and a fabulous son, Alex, but I have so many more people in my life.  People who mean the world to me, my parents who are absolutely devastated that I am so far away and want me to come home before I even left… I love them dearly… they are my rock and what keeps me going.  I have an amazing mother in law and father in law.  Whoever said that in laws are a pain did not have mine.   My mother in law is absolutely one of my best friends and I miss her terribly.  I also have a terrific sister whom I love dearly, a wonderful sister in law, three outstanding brother in laws, and three precious nephews.  My family members do not stop there even though that is a lot.  You see my husband, son and I are host family to several international students from all over the world…If I took the time to name all of them I would run out of space so I will say this they are my daughters, sons and I have one lovely granddaughter.  Gosh how I miss them.  All my children are so loving and caring and I am proud of all them for who they are and who they are becoming. Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of your life.
As for my friends you all know who you are… and you all know I love you dearly.  Without friendship a person can lead a very lonely and sad life… I am so glad that I have my friends to pick me up when I am down and give me strength to keep going. 
Why am I writing all of this you ask?  I am not sure to be honest with you…. I guess I just wanted to feel close to home and thinking about all of these people makes me feel like I am home.  There is a saying” home is where the heart is”In my case home is where my family and friends are. I left a lot of love back home and I miss it terribly, but I will survive this.  I have already given and gotten so much love in the nine days I have been here. 

My purpose for being here is very simple.  It is about giving of oneself to make the world a better place.  I hope I am doing that… my theme song… “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”  this is my goal..... PEACE ON EARTH....... a very big goal indeed, but I am determined to accomplish it with all your help.  I will end this by saying three very simple words……. I love you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Where Do I Begin???

Friday January 6, 2011

Where do I begin?  We have been in Uganda now for about seven days and have already had many experiences so it is hard for me to decide which experience to write about first.  I guess I will start with the obvious, our apartment and surroundings.
The apartment is huge and very nice by Kampala standards.  In fact I feel somewhat guilty as we enter the guarded gates.  Lucious green palm trees surround the lovely salmon colored building. Why the guilt you might ask, because within walking distance there are people living in shacks made of mud and straw, discarded pieces of wood and tin and in some cases home is probably just a tree to lay under.  The housing situation here is extremely poor to say the least. However our apartment is very nice and very large even by American standards. 
There is not much in the way of decorative items just the essentials that are needed.  The only complaint I have is in the kitchen area.  I cooked my first meal in my new kitchen and to be honest I am exhausted and throughout the entire four hour ordeal I was so frustrated.  First of all the stove only has one large burner that is electric and one small burner that is electric… the problem with this is that you can’t put two things on together because the pots won’t fit. So I really only have one burner.  The other thing is the oven does not work so I guess no baking for me.
I won’t even mention the fact that I have very little in the way of dishes.  I have one serving bowl and I use lids for platters to serve the food on the table.  Heaven forbid that we might have company for dinner; we would have to eat in shifts because I don’t have but three plates/bowls and three forks.   
I could go on and on about the items I don’t have to make my life easier, but then I would once again feel guilty for complaining because just around the corner there is a women cooking her family dinner over a fire outside and using only one pot.  I can see my mother and mother in law shaking their fingers at me saying “Shame on you for saying this much” “You should count your blessings”.  Hopefully they are still proud of me and will understand my frustration.
            Needless to say life is not easy here for those who live here permanently and as for me well I will certainly appreciate the things I have and stop complaining and make the most of it.
PS. I am sure some of you might want to know what I made for dinner.  Dinner consisted of Dolmas made from cabbage (the stuffing was a mixture of onion, carrots, tomatoes, rice and a little beef), pasta, and a salad with tomatoes, carrots, green peppers in a little salt and olive oil.  For dessert we are having fresh pineapple (which Steven will be cutting up)  Yes that took me at least four hours!!!!!!!