Wednesday, 1/31/18 We are coming away from a HUGE clinic day yesterday and most of us are dragging just a bit. The respiratory monster that has taken hold of so many of us is finally fleeing the country! Every Z-pak and Cipro prescription has been used this go around. Our troubles all initiated by the pollution (burning plastic and debree) and red dust in the air. Our lungs were not quite ready for all this dryness. In spite of our dragging backsides, we plan our day each morning around the Dining table for breakfast.
We are winding down to depart Kayunga district on Friday, early a.m. Then we are off to Musindi. This process takes a lot of readiness, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I mention this because there are people, dozens and dozens, that we have shared life with. Hugs, smiles, morning and afternoon, evening greetings, sickness, riches and poverty all shared experiences of each and every day makes leaving on Friday very hard.
This is how our day was laid out: Tom and Charles take older boys to farm to complete the huge fencing project. Today the young doctors will take a trip to the farm with our men. Later in the day they report back to the rest of our team that they thoroughly enjoyed their experience. They are amazed at the hand-dug 70 ft well, the abundance of crops and all the fine fencing work completed. It was a scorcher today and the gang of Muzungues came back burnt and our Ugandan brothers were.
So, the Muzungoos came back burnt and our Ugandan brothers came back tired and HUNGRY! With the men off to the farm, that left us women with all the children. We had a Beauty day and the kids fixed me hair with 50 little pony tails. I looked like a cute little rag doll. Sue spent almost all day sewing on the old Singer manual sewing machine, everything from work sleeves for garden pineapple picking to alterations and repairs of SO MANY ARTICLES OF CLOTHING!!!
We have one young lady, hearing impaired, that helps sew. Her trade will take her far and nothing holds her back! Her name is Shameek. Sue took our young John under her wing all day, by the end of the day with our hyperactive son, she was willing to walk 1000 miles for a warm adult beverage to ease her frazzled nerves, LOL! Momma Gretchen and Momma Jean lead a parade of children and staff through our Library full of surplus shoes, clothes and extras. I don't know who was happier, the kids or our Mommas! Linda sat patiently telling stories, doing crafts and corralling as many attentive and interested children she could find.
They made bracelets, made drawings, read stories and learned many valuable lessons for their upcoming new semesters at school. Linda's husband, John, has been our resident mechanic, electrician, plumber and so much more. You guys can't imagine how important it is to have male mentors come on these trips. He and Tom have helped the children learn lessons that are priceless and completed projects that have been recurring each and every year we come back to Uganda.
There is no shortage of handyman work and these two men are great teachers and mentors in every department. It is so hard to explain in words what an average day in Africa consists of, as it is unlike anything you have experienced personally in the U.S. But know this, each and every day is received as a blessing and we certainly are not going to change a perfectly wonderful and optimistic philosophy! Goodnight from Uganda..... The Team
We had a special day today, we were fortunate to meet one of the most powerful women in the District of Kayunga. Her name is Momma Birungi (Woman who makes all beautiful). Her real name is Rose "What AIDSpirit is doing in Kayunga is REAL!" Momma Birungi says we are "most welcome" in her District and the bodyguards that protect her each moment also makes certain that our visit is safe in their District. I hope to write more about this visit, but tonight I must retire. Uganda is a complete sensory overload at times. Thanks for reading our blog. Stay tuned for more.
Oh life in Africa can be so challenging for This Muzungu! No wifi, temp. wifi, no electricity, computers freezing and kicking me off! This is not the way I planned to blog tonight. This is my second edition of today's entry and my 4th attempt at blogging a whole and complete thought without the system deleting my entry. Calgon take me away!!!! So, really and seriously, nothing can take away the joy of today. I will start by thanking all of the donors that contributed over the past year. Some how, some way we were fortunate enough to obtain the solar power for the offices and Dining room for TM.
This edition has allowed us to work through power outages and issues that would otherwise cripple us as a Team. Thank you, Morgan, who is in MT right now working to help us navigate some of our internet issues long distance and open up doors for software access!!!! Today was a special day, a day filled with hope and promise. AIDSpirit USA is a small NGO with great vision and endless possibilities. Who reading this today can imagine 300 people who have trekked across the Region on foot, on boda boda, in cabs filled with 20 people in a 6 person vehicle, being carried, on crutches....all to receive the gift of better health and wellness?
Today was a huge undertaking filled with Love and Hope. Sicklers, those that suffer from chronic and debilitating Sickle Cell disease made their way to TM. They receive a better life by being educated, informed and treated all in the same day. Doctors and volunteers plug through the masses attending patiently in the brutal sun, some under tents, others sitting in the dirt, some hanging out by the wall or gate, waiting to take their turn to see the Doctor. There is food for 400 prepared by a huge kitchen staff for the day, children from a school hours away drove to our clinic just to entertain and educate the crowd.
Through song and dance they sing of the Hope that Aidspirit has provided. The better life they pray for can be theirs, the audience, if they just trust in the Lord, treat the symptoms early and maintain their (often lack of) medication on a regular basis. Sicklers can live a near normal life if they maintain wellness through these clinics. Today I would like to thank the Sisters of the Catholic Church who donate funds to make this clinic happen.
A life of service, no matter the affiliation, is a Life Well Lived!!!! It takes every person making one small sacrifice to help so many in need. And with your help, you have made great things happen thru AIDSpirit. Those that come will be treated at the clinic. Sunset is no cut-off for care. Patience is a lesson learned today for some of us, but along with that was the lesson of love, joy and gratitude. We have been so fortunate to have met 3 of the most beautiful young, up and coming stars in our universe.
Three medical interns, representing Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands (??) are staying at our hotel. We were introduced and the rest is history! These very attentive, curious, intelligent young doctors-to-be are here interning at the Kayunga clinic and then they gave of themselves, sacrificially, by coming over to TM to meet and shadow the doctor and get to know us and the children. They saw and examined countless sicklers, a 7 month old baby with a defect of the heart (devastating), an abcess on a young boys face the size of a football, and a young girl with a probable.
So a child with a swollen spleen, all results of sickle cell. These young doctors fell in our lap like a gift, and so much was learned and appreciated by the patients and our AIDSpirit Team. Thanks go out to Timbo, Laura & Laura #2. Your enthusiasm and curiosity fuels our existence as volunteers! We wrapped up our day with great conversation about the day and smiles on our faces! The Team p.s. I promise to find a place to post pics on FB and Instagram so our social media friends can keep up too By the way, in March pick up the APRIL edition of Women's Day magazine and check out an article about the great things AIDSpirit experienced in Uganda last June. This will be such a great honor to be recognized in large nationwide mag. like Women's Day!!!!
Today was a long journey to a place called Galiray. It is pronounced Galilea, just like in the bible, where Jesus walked. Uganda is a country with strong beliefs and unbelievable faith. So many challenges faced in villages around the country, but each and every person gives thanks for each breath, each meal, each drop of water, each simple pleasure. How could we learn from each other when walking beside them? One way is to wake each day by enjoying the moment. Don't lose sight of what is really important.
Entering the world of Uganda, we have always been treated with the utmost respect and hospitality. Today's day was no disappointment. After hours on the road, we arrived at the most glamorous events. There is a special woman of the people, she is known as Miss Ida. The people love her power statements, passion for the people and respect for her follow-thru on promises. The people came from far and wide to see Miss Ida, but we feel so honored and privlidged to be her guest of honor. Thousands of people were there, beautiful tents giving shelter from the brutal sun to as many were able to secure their place. The AIDSpirit crew was front and center. Special musicians were there, local musicians and dancers, speakers and we were so excited to be part of this event. When we walked through the hoards of people, the children ran and hid behind their older siblings. The team tries to shake every hand of the children, but some little ones are afraid we may rub off on them. It's so cute to see their faces when they realize we are all the same, just different colors. A beautiful older woman shared her umbrella for shade with Linda and I. There is no amount of gratitude we can express to her for saving our fair skin, she was a lifesaver! Weebelah Nyo!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!
Part one - Wednesday Today we have some great stuff planned. The staff of TM has mobilized the People of Mugala Village where we sponsor our adult literacy program. Teaching a person to read and write will most definitely change their economic structure, personal sense of worth and ripple into the other villages to Change the WORLD! As we enter the deep and winding road which is 3ft wide with our 8ft bus, we knew something big was going to take place. Excitement whirled up inside of us and some of us could not be contained. It is a jaw dropping experience, as we witness hut after hut offset from the road with people smiling, waving and giggling. They all know something special is waiting for AIDSpirit at the end of this road. And our spirits inside confirmed it as we inched towards our destination ...... To be continued.
Good morning everyone! I have to admit that I have been so sick with cold I have not had time to update you all. The team continues to work hard with each child, finding out what things they enjoy and getting wonderful info to report back to sponsors. Some kids love to draw, others love writing and the kids all do something around the home. Helping in the kitchen involves sun up to sun down commitment.
Working on laundry takes all day, by hand and then dried over a bush.. Folding laundry is an option, and not a very popular one. Yesterday we ventured on the bus to take our younger kids to the farm in Buggali village. It is a truly beautiful experience to see the shear volume of food we produce! Enough to feed a family of 100 and to sell in the market. The bus ride over was fun and we saw our big young men, Tom and John, all setting posts and hanging wire to protect others from "helping themselves" to Tender Mercies' bounty.
No one in this area goes without something to eat, the blessings of food are shared with everyone. There is not one item of food, clothing or resources that goes wasted in this area! We have reached 1:00 pm and we are all digging deep for energy. The adults rush home for lunch, change into proper village clothes and board the bus for a celebration. Let me tell you, words cannot describe our upcoming events. We are greeted by costumed. Dancers celebrating their upcoming tradition of circumsicion.
This is a tradition followed by certain tribes in the villages. Our children do not follow tribal traditions or make decisions like this until they are older. The dancing ushered us into a procession of people giving thanks to AidSpirit for giving them life, CLEAN WATER! There are hundreds of people dancing, singing and bringing gifts of fruit and sugarcane to our feet. It truly is a jubilation.
Weebelee, Weebelee! Thank you, Thank you they chant for hours, as they give speeches, bring food and bow down in joy! Tonight I will try and catch up with all of you and describe the progress AIDSpirit and Tender Mercies is making in Adult Literacy and voc training. All of us thank you for giving us this opportunity to represent YOU, THE SPONSORS AND DONERS!
Saturday, January 20th I am sorry for the delay in posting this date. Let me explain how our internet works in Uganda. Think of it as a snail, he is almost to the finish line and *SPLAT*, a Boda Boda zips by on the wrong side of the road and IT IS OVER! By the way, a Boda Boda is ia motorcycle taxi which can often hold three People, a chicken , and a sofa at any given time.
Today we took the children are on a special field trip. For most if not all, it was the first boat ride, swimming in a resort pool and eating in a nice resort setting with a very, very large family! The day started with lots of pictures and and playing in the garden and on the playground equipment.
Then we boarded a double Dekker boat ride for a trip up to the source of the Nile river. Did you know that it takes three months for the water that generates at the source to reach iEgypt? It was truly beautiful come and the kids seem to really enjoy the ride. Of course, I must state that this boat what is equipped with the biggest loudest dance music DJ who play music that every single person dance to you until almost fell over.
We even had the children having to take a rest. Nonstop dancing music. The fun part I remember is when we played a song by Kenny Rogers, the Gambler. They almost love country music as much as they love Church music here. Most all of us adults kept up very well, and when the Internet is running smoothly I will upload dancing videos to our social media and website.
Most all of us adults kept up very well, and when the Internet is running smoothly I will upload dancing videos to our social media and website. OK now I'm to swimming. If you have only swim in the lake and before is not likely that it matters what you are aware, but when you are swimming in a resort pool who has graciously opened their doors to 50 people all at once, 40 of which are children, there is a slight problem with the dress code. WE DID NOT MEET IT! So off we go to rent evening suits, used, Now we are 40 children three adults in a boutique that is 8 x 8 in size. One hour later, Hooray! To be continued...........
Today is Sunday, January 21st I'm writing this note to let you all know that there has been a extreme cold/flu that is affecting some in our group, me being one of them. I suffered all day in bed begging for a moment when I would stop coughing. This being said, I would like to talk about the great team caring and hospitality I have received.
From Jean and Gretchen bringing up bottled water, a soothing cold Pepsi and Sue and Marcene showing me with cough drops, essential oils and enhalers. We tried pretty much everything and I was still completely bedridden in an under-developed country. Today. I was strong enough to go out with the Team and am grateful for being capable of doing that.
Through the team grapevine I ascertained that Charles' uncle had passed away the evening before and there was a huge funeral. This event could have drew 1000 people. Well a Muslim funeral would be interesting to witness, but Mr Tom was the only one attending with him.
The other balance of team members, the one not too sick or attending funerals, went to TM to play with our kids. Everyone was low energy from the activities at the hotel swimming room and boat ride, to participating in song. Everyone just needed a nap, kids and volunteers included. When I return to blogging tomorrow, remind me to tell you about the gun shots at the funeral.
Sincerely and sulabaloong! Denise @ AidSpirit USA
Today is January 19, Thursday evening. It was a special day at Tender Mercies today. A lot of what was collected over the past 10 months was on display and ready to be scooped up by our beautiful, grateful children. We started by emptying 29 larder totes full of things, separated clothes by boy/girl, size, shoe sizes, hygiene area and kicked off by selecting a favorite backpack. This was the first time in the history of coming to TM that each child hand-selected their favorites in each category.
You heard right, each one walked through with a US Team member and made their selections. There few "trade in" items, but on a whole, it went smoothly and each child had a sense of pride in their selections. From age 3 to 73, everyone had a smile! Picture a hand full of children wearing their packs and treasure into the village with pride and a sense of comfort knowing that they are loved by those that provide for them. This person is YOU the sponsors and donors.
This year's visit is providing a litany of "Best Practices" and we are all eager to put them into action! There is a common thread amoung our team members, some are listed below: We love our children! We are committed to bettering their lives! We are determined to see each one graduate! We are committed to maintaining and improving this beautiful family environment!
And, last but not least We have not forgotten what all of the children give to us, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND YOUTHFUL ENERGY! May we continue to bless and be blessed beyond measure by showing the love of God to each other!
Today was a wonderful day, filled with joy. Imagine if you start your day as an AidSpirit team member, enjoying the sounds of tropical birds out your window, eating breakfast as a family and sharing words and thoughts from a very beautiful bunch of people. We spend a brief period meditating on our own personal journeys and goals to accomplish for the day, all the while knowing we are on African time.
That truly means, don’t worry, Be Happy. No changes to a schedule could bring down the individual love and excitement we have when we see our kids at TM. How many of you can say that when raising our own children that they ran to see us and throw their arms around us and greet us with a smile. Being here reminds us of how loved and appreciated we are as their sponsors.
Imagine 35 children hugging, smiling and welcoming you, and 1000's of others that we see on our short bus ride to TM home every day. They shout to us, Mazungu! Mazungu! There way of greeting a very different type of people, White person. Some volunteers danced and sang with the children, songs of our youth. Itsy Bitsy spider, peanut butter and jelly and No More Monkeys give new meaning when they are belted out with a cute Ugandan accident!
The older boys played with their younger siblings, while they played on our iPads and phones. What a joy to have the young girls eager to show us their dorms and pictures of their sponsors, mom and dad, in America. Some pictures were tattered and years old, but they were most proud of them. We sang, laughed, ate amazing food like chapati, matokee and chips! Everyone pitches in to cook, clean and make us welcome. We close our day with a 30 min goodnight (sulabaloong) and away we went back to the hotel for a nightcap and great conversation.