There are over two million orphans in Uganda and over 50% of Uganda’s population is under the age of 15. Many countries, including Uganda, in Africa have been ravaged and torn apart by AIDS and war leaving millions of innocent children on the streets and without a family. Many of these children find their way to the inner city and join a gang inside a ghetto just to survive. The streets are littered with abandoned and/or orphaned children. Many die from malnutrition and starvation. Others die from diseases such as malaria and typhoid. Their numbers are too great and yet they are an unnumbered population. They have become to their society, disposable. However, there are those who refuse to accept these facts as the only answer. Kids Inspiring Kids plans on “Inspiring Nations One Life at a Time”.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Friday was an eventful day to say the LEAST!
Earlier this week we bought 300 kilos of rice for the New Year Day feeding in the ghetto. So, this morning we drove to the ghetto and dropped it off at the leader of the Jeremiah Women group's house. Lillian is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She is tall and willowy and basically my Tomi's right hand woman in the ghetto. I have never witnessed such valor.
After dropping off the rice we were driving down the road and we saw a huge crowd with tree branches and in traditional dress all gathered around this store front. They were performing a circumcision. If you are from this certain tribe, even if you did not grow up in the village, if are not circumcised they will find you in your teenage or adult life and circumcise you where ever you are. TIA (This Is Africa)
We arrived at the craft market, which is a field near the railroad tracks full of tents and mats covered with local artistry. Everything from carved wooden animals, to woven baskets and jewelry litter the ground so much so that the initial vision of it all is overwhelming. We walked through the aisles to negotiate the prices from what we call Mzungu (white person) prices to normal pricing. Needless to say, Tomi and I negotiating together as a team are unbeatable. The women from the Jeremiah Women group were there selling their paper beads and I was able to support them. They also gave me several as gifts because KIK is such a huge support in their lives.
From the craft market we went to the meat market! It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was behind these unassuming walls and down a driveway type road and all of a sudden it was like we were in a different world. I had to make sure I hitched up my skirt as I walked because the ground was covered in blood and bits of meat.
Inside one of the buildings there was a large scale and a couple of non-refrigerated cases containing various assortments of meats. Everyone that worked there was dressed in white robes and rain boots splattered with blood. Behind the counter was a giant tree stump that looked like something out of a horror film. It was covered with blood and the white tile wall behind it was splattered with the spray from the machete that they were using to hack the meat.
We ordered our meat and everyone was very excited to meet me since they are all friends of Tomi. We made our way to the center of the meat market. The stench of raw meat was nearly overwhelming. It was a definite "breathe through your mouth, not your nose" scenario.
Cliff, our administrator had gone off to find herding sticks for goats that he needed (I'll explain later) and it gave us time to take in the surroundings. The fact that all the butchers were wearing white robes covered in blood looked like something out of a scary movie. They were doing various activities like loading hunks of animal body parts into containers on the back of motorcycles and into trucks, the main butcher area had half cows and goats hanging from giant hooks and there were very large vulture type birds ominously circling the entire area and covering the roof tops.
When cliff returned we put the sticks and the meat we had just purchased (it was in a plastic grocery sack...not wrapped or anything in the back of the car and took off right as they were piling the skin of several freshly skinned cows onto a giant scale and displaying the intestines on a special table to buy.
We headed out to this restaurant in the middle of town called New York Kitchen. They serve their version of American food and since it was New Year's Eve we decided to celebrate with a large pepperoni pizza and a slice of chocolate cake. Since we knew we needed to be up at 6am for the feeding in the ghetto the next day we planned on calling it a fairly early night. The pizza did not taste exactly like American pizza, but it would have to do. We also stopped by grocery store next to the American Embassy and bought Dr. Pepper (it also didn't taste quite the same, but it was still good) and splurged on a can of Pringles for the three of us to split.
New Year's Eve passed here in Uganda with relative quietness.
Our last stop of the day was a very Ugandan event. We went to buy goats. We needed these goats for the bride price being negotiated for one of Cliff's cousins and a family friend of my mom's. We would go to the ceremony of the bride price negotiation on Sunday called an Introduction. We drove until we hit a traffic jam that was taking too long to pass so we pulled into gas station and Cliff jumped out to go find the goats. As we are sitting there waiting Lauren (volunteer from Texas) says, "Hey look here come two goats. I bet Cliff is right behind them."
They were being herded by a man carry the same stick as the kind Cliff had just bought. All of a sudden one of the goats takes off and the man hit the goat in such a way that the goat leaped in the air and did a spectacular back flip before the guy put its head on the ground with his foot. The all of a sudden, instead of Cliff rounding the corner, a massive heard of goats comes stampeding towards us... The petrol (gas) station attendant (no one pumps their own gas here is it is all assisted because no one trusts anyone) gets up and starts helping heard the goats. You know you are in Africa when the petrol station attendant knows how to herd goats. Once they pass Cliff arrives several minutes later with two goats in tow. They lead the goats by dragging them by their front foot tied with rope. We put the two goats...in the trunk of the van. Needless to say, the car smelled like a barn the whole way home. We affectionately named them Oreo (he was black and white) and Spike (all black). After today I really don't think PETA would approve of the animal conditions here in Africa. We decided that here PETA should stand for People Eating Tons of Animals.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Today we made rounds in the Banda Ghetto. When we first arrived the sight, sounds and smells were all too familiar and yet they seemed from a time long ago. Much as changed, but at the end of the day it was all still the same. As we walked to a meeting building I began to recognize faces of children I knew all those years ago.
Some were barely recognizable, others almost the exact same. We arrived at a small concrete building in the middle of the ghetto with blue window panes and metal shutters (no glass). We began to have rehearsals with the youth girls who will perform a dance on Saturday at the feeding as a way of entertainment. They youth boys will perform a skit. As they were practicing the smaller children were outside the window using old water bottles and jerry cans to slide down a hill of dirt (like sledding on snow). They love cheesing for the camera and get so excited when you show them the result on the screen. "Again, again, me too!" they shout. they are such beautiful children.
After rehearsals we made our rounds to people that had needs. The last time I was here I created a very strong connection with this one particular girl named Prossy. She would always sit on my lap when we would come do programs so we decided to go to her house and see her. When we got there, however we found out that she had been sent to the village for Christmas and wouldn't be back till it was time to go back to school, which isn't until the end of the month. I was crushed! I did get to meet her mom, Margret, sister, Mary, and little brother, Ben, who was wearing a green and white checkered dress (they wear what they can find, but it was still funny). They were such a sweet family, but I was sad to not see Prossy. We also got to go see a three day old baby whos sister is Fatuma, the young girl we paid to have surgery to remove a growth from the underside of her chin. It developed after she had an epileptic spell, fell into a fire and the burns created this abnormality. The new baby's name is Faith and she is TOO cute.
We then went to a home that a young girl was burning up with fever. Apparently, she had been tested and they knew it was typhoid, but they couldn't afford the medication. She had been burning with the fever for at least three days. For typhoid fever three days can mean the difference between life and death. We immediately went to the local pharmacy and bought a full round of antibiotics and 2 liters of water. In all it cost $5.00 USD and it saved her life.
We made some other stops to the women in the Jeremiah Women Group and small food items like bananas, and kabalagala (spongy banana bread) to help support the women who are so faithful in coming to the meetings. We even got to see a political demonstration/rally/parade through the middle of the ghetto for the upcoming elections. The embassy recommends that foreigners stay away from such demonstrations in case they turn violent, TIA (This Is Africa).
It was an eventful and productive day. It is amazing how so little can do so much here...like the feeding in the ghetto this Saturday. $5,000 USD will feed 5,000 people. That breaks down to $1 per person. It is an amazing way to start the new year. It gives the people hope that THIS year will be different, better. You can donate by going on www.kidsinspire.com and using the paypal links or sending a check to:
3601 Fowler Dr
Austin TX 78738
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
We wanted to go shopping so we went to a wholesale market near the Old Taxi (bus) Park in downtown Kampala. Shopping in Africa is NOTHING like shopping in America. We drove down the insanely busy streets of Kampala, where the pot holes are so deep they break people's axles and there is no such concept of yielding to pedestrians, to a parking lot...the thing about parking lots here is that unlike in the States where every parking place you can get in and out of as you please, this one was completely grid locked. I watched in amazement as they packed cars in as tightly as possible. When I asked, "what if the person with the car in the back wants to leave?" Cliff, our administrator, looked at me like I was crazy. Tomi just shrugged. That was the only answer I got. I don't think there is really an answer. We amazingly found a place to park.
Making our way through the incredibly crowded store fronts we went vendor to vendor looking for deals. We bought Filda a sun dress and sweater in purple, her favorite color. Everything is on display and there are rows and rows of shirts, skirts and pants. The thing that cracked me and Lauren up were the mannequins. They have the biggest booties. The definition of beauty here is very different than the States.
I did not pack nearly enough clothes so I bought two tank tops that cost me $5.00 USD.
At the end of the excursion we drove to Garden City a Mzungu (white person) mall where we went to a movie, Narnia. Filda loved it! Then we ate chocolate cake at New York Kitchen and had African tea before ending the night with pedicures. They don't do the best job of painting nails, but their massages are awesome. And interestingly enough most of the employees at nail salons are men.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Christmas has come and gone. It was amazing watching the girl's with excitement in their eyes and appreciation in their smiles, open their gifts. It rained on Christmas day even though it is supposed to be the dry season (Uganda only has two seasons: rainy and dry). We spent the afternoon watching the movies I had brought them from the states including How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon), A Year Without a Santa Clause, and Enchanted. There were volunteers here from both the states (including Texas and California) and Venezuela. Christmas dinner consisted of beef stew, rice, matokee (cooked bananas that create a plain heavy starch), potatoes, and chicken that I personally killed. That's right, I killed two chickens for our Christmas dinner.
The most disturbing part of the whole process is that the head once severed still blinks its eyes at you...taunting you, letting you know that it is very aware of what just happened and what you did. TIA (This Is Africa)
I was only going to kill one, but Kato immediately handed me another one...so, I killed him too. This one wasn't such a smooth process. I guess I didn't start cutting the neck in the right place and its head just wouldn't come off. I mentioned this to Kato as I'm cutting and he grabbed the head, pulled the neck tighter and said, "cut faster!" I did, but it was still a challenge and there was more bone grinding involved to get the head off. Whew!
It was an adventure to say the least. And then, we ate them, buttered and baked, merrily at dinner.
The rest of the day was filled with movies and jump roping with the kid's new jump ropes.
Merry Christmas to all!
Ps. Still no water...so another cold bucket shower.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Well, I finally made it to Uganda after a serious delay in Brussels due to snow. It was a three and a half hour plane ride from Florida to Washington Dulles and then a two hour lay over from which I boarded a United flight to Brussels. Once in Brussels I had to take a bus, for which I had to go outside! To the Transfer terminal. I was in flip flops and a light sweater and it was -3 degrees outside. Oh ya, exciting stuff. The Brussels Airlines flight was boarded, pulled away from the gate and then....stalled. I still do not know why we were delayed on the runway for over three hours, but I finally put the tray table down, laid my head on a pillow and went to sleep. When I woke up we were still sitting on the runway. Apparently, we had sat for so long that the plane nearly completely iced over and they had to de-ice the plane before we could take off even though we were cleared. Once in the air I slept fitfully and sporadically until landing in Kigali Rwanda for a brief stop over and passenger change before finally ending up in Entebbe Uganda at 1am on Christmas Eve. I bought a Visa at the airport counter and made my way through customs. My luggage made it, although a little roughened up, and my Mom was there waiting for me behind the security ropes. She jumped the security ropes to give me the biggest hug! It was so good to see her. With her was a volunteer who is visiting from Texas, Lauren, and one of her employees Cliff. The best part about my arrival was that on the car ride home we stopped off for ROLEXES!!!! For those who don't know these are my favorite snacks in Uganda. They consist of an Africa tortilla called a chapati, with a fried egg on top all rolled up together with raw cabbage and tomato sprinkled with coarse kosher salt. DELICIOUS!!!!! I was stoked. We arrived at the house, which currently has no running water, and I washed my face and brushed my teeth with a bottle of water. Then I crawled under a bunk bed and tightened my mosquito net around the mattress and tried to fall asleep to no avail. The sounds and smells of Africa created a rush of memories from the last time I was here and I realized with bitter happiness that it had been way too long since my last visit. Somewhere in the middle of the roosters cock-a-doodling, dogs howling, and pigs grunting, the smell of damp earth, and the rustle of trees I drifted to sleep.
My mom woke me up this morning to scrambled eggs and African tea. Maurice Kirya even stopped by for a visit. www.mauricekirya.com
My sisters and other kids in the house are still being shy, but have slowly started to warm up to me being here. They are so beautiful. I cannot wait to see them open gifts in the morning. I will take lots of photos and continue to post blogs.
Tomorrow is Christmas and there is a Charlie Brown Christmas tree decorated downstairs with presents wrapped in shiny paper. I am just excited to be here again...