A New Week In Uganda Brings BIG Surprises!

As we reach week four in Uganda our time is now running low. The pressure is heavy with the looming goodbye that will come all too quickly, but for now we’ll focus on each moment. Our days have been packed to the brim with everything that encompasses Ugandan life. Power & network have been scarce and even now I keep my fingers crossed that I will be able to deliver this blog before both go out…a race with the unknown!

Oh, the surprises…Shawn & Primrose (founders of Keirungi) have been in dire need of a vehicle to transport all 18 children & staff. During their last trip to the states, a Colorado organization gave them the awesome news that they will be funding such a need. Mom and I were lucky enough to be here when the van was delivered. It rolled up shiny & new, excitement began flowing. Dancing, laughter & screams filled the air & I was able to sit back and take it all in. Now outings are more than a possibility, they’re a reality. Children & staff were beside themselves, as everyone took turns sitting in their very own motor car!

Mushenmesa, Mildred & Medius...new vehicle surprise!

A new van was just the beginning, as Mom and I continued to organize & slowly distribute the items that were so generously donated we decided it was time to take the bulk of the clothes to the children. It was a surprise for everyone & such a site to see. House mom Rose scooped up heaps of clothing and brought in to the girls, explaining to them that ALL of this was THEIR’S. The girls looked on with wide eyes as Rose piled the clothes in the middle of them and said “see what you have been given, pick out something to wear!” Hesitation quickly turned into a digging frenzy and soon we had a room full of beaming girls. Kakuru couldn’t decide and ended up with a romper, leggings, a t-shirt AND a new sweater. When in doubt, go with it all J. Night snatched up Minnie & Mickie overalls, pairing them carefully with a striped top that was embellished by a sequence pineapple. She’s the fashionista of the group, regularly finding items to make jewelry & hair accessories out of. Kato (twin sister to Kakuru) predictably picked out three items that all had the color purple in them & proudly asked me to take a photo of her. As my Ugandan friends would say, “Ah, everyone looks SO smart!” There was no difference when it came to boys, except that they waited patiently for their new knickers, trousers & t-shirts. They quickly changed & in a bold, proud manner held their heads high and showed of their “new looks”. Who would think a few items for each child would bring such excitement? For them, it seemed that life couldn’t be better. It was perhaps Blessing’s reaction that touched me the most. She is an incredibly intelligent nine year old with a HUGE heart of love. Life hasn’t been so easy for her, but you would never know it, except when she is given something. She arrived from school late to find all the children in new attire, but not once did she ask “what about me?” or “I want something too”. She just smiled and greeted each adult present. We finally took her aside & handed her a pile of clothes. Silence, comprehension they were hers, a smile & finally nothing but “thank you, thank you, thank you” came from her. I helped her dress as Mom indulged in the children’s happiness and it was then that I experienced one of the most special moments yet. Dressed in her new outfit & hat she threw her arms around me & said “thank you jas-mine, thank you so much!” When I looked in her eyes they told the story of the joy I felt in my heart & I replied with “Ninkukunda Blessing” (I love you, Blessing). She responded with an even tighter squeeze & a NINKUKUNDA MUNOOOOOONGA! (I love you Verrrryyy mucccchhhh!).

Evelyn, taking it all in.

Simple gestures can make a BIG difference. This is something we all have to remember. It is the simple gesture of giving new & used clothes, toys, school supplies, first aid supplies & cash donations that have done such incredible things. It was your generosity that created those memories, Thank YOU!

Alex, Deo & Determine get a first glance at their new clothes.

Oh, but that doesn’t conclude our week of surprises.  Mom wanted to distribute the many baby blankets we received to mothers in need at the hospital, but was conflicted on how to choose, as there was many more women than blankets (she successfully did this). Rogers & I both explained to her how you can tell a woman is in need. So, as we were paying one of our last visits to Gift & baby Anderson in the hospital (both home now, healthy & happy!), I pointed out a woman that had a tiny infant on her back wrapped in a small piece of material. Rogers called her over, and to our surprise she was the same woman we watched give birth on the grass just days before! Call it chance or fate, it doesn’t matter, but to me, it was magic. We had the opportunity to tell her what an incredibly strong woman she was and even see, up close the child we laid eyes on only seconds after being born. We had the privilege of witnessing a woman give life. As Mom would say “everything is as it should be”.

The strong Mukiga woman that gave birth so effortlessly.

Mom and Blessing

Then, just as we thought the week was slowing to a steady pace, we were wrong! Yesterday, we showed up to Keirungi and to our shocking surprise there was a new child that had arrived only hours before. I know the stories of all the children, but I have not yet been able to experience the moment when the child is first welcomed as a part of the Keirungi family. I was enamored and moved by this little guys resilience & independence. How we understand it… he was abandoned a week ago at the Uganda/Rwanda border, taken in by a kind woman & eventually a probation officer contacted Shawn & Primrose. They know nothing about him, not even his name. It was house mom, Medius that said “Friday, lets name him Friday after the day he arrived”. It stuck, though he has yet to understand that’s his new name. From what I know the children are very withdrawn & afraid when they arrive, but not Friday, he was full of laughter & for such a little guy, so much energy! It was if the world was completely new to him & he was the first to ever lay eyes on such things, everyday things. Never have I ever met such a curious child, it was another one of those times that I felt honored to witness something so profound. Everyone, meet Friday, Keirungi’s newest child!

Friday!

I’ll close now, I too, curious as to what the next week will bring. Life is uncertain, but in Africa, it’s a whole different ballgame!

Webare Munonga!

*To make a greater difference; JACARA will donate 10% of ALL profits earned in the next five weeks to *Keirungi Children’s Village!
*JACARA has no religious affiliation to Keirungi’s Children’s Village.