JACARA Gives Back in Africa!
Give Back WITH JACARA!
I sit before this keyboard full of stories paired with emotion that runs deeper than I could have imagined or dreamed of. Yet, my hands lay motionless, paralyzed by time. Time that I no longer have, and the fleeting time in which I was able to experience this foreign land. A country teaming with kindness and a brutality I have yet to get used to. Uganda, cursed with a dark history, a free present, and a hopeful future. A land of bananas and languages (each over fifty grown and spoken!), brilliant smiles when engaged, and scenery beautiful enough to blow your mind. Terrain that changes from Savannah, teaming with great giants, to lush rolling hills growing tea, cascading waterfalls, and mountains, even baring snow. Uganda has it all and I have not ever been so happy to be in a place with so much wonder yet to be found.
Please bare with me as I try to use written word to share week five, my final blog here in Africa.
A little background info for you…while roaming the Palo Alto flee market I wondered to a table piled high with colorful beads, baskets, bags and bookmarks. It was the photo’s however that captured my attention, along with the smile of the friendliest woman. When I inquired about the photos she explained they were of the children that had made the crafts in Uganda, Africa…I was sold! That woman, Leah and I exchanged e-mail address and months later were finally able to meet up. Unsure if we would even recognize one another it had been that long. We did, and have become fast friends. Leah is a woman whom I greatly adore and equally respect, constantly giving selfless time and energy for the better of others. She studied here in Kabale, Uganda for ten months and it is with her connections and support that I ended up here and now…THANK YOU LEAH! She and Allan are dear friends, as she works very closely with ASUNEF.
Moments after I wrote last week’s blog I was whisked away by Allan (in Roger’s car of course), on our way to Mahwa, a small village in the district of Rukuingiri. It is there that Allan, Justice, and Nicholas founded The Association of United Efforts – Uganda in hopes to give children and youth not only education, but a family environment stalked with love, support and guidance for all of life’s skills. ASUNEF has promoted self-sustainability for all the children and youth. It is with guidance that they pay their school fees through the crafts they make (which are sold in the USA) with their own two hands! An amazing project teaching that with hard work, results are made. I was lucky enough to be invited to spend two days in Mahwa among the children and the amazing Fred, whose home has become not only the place where all the crafts are made, but a safe place providing food, a bed and so much love. I was greeted by 17 of ASUNEF’s kids, surrounding the car and embracing me with shy hugs the moment my feet touched ground. They all walked me up the hill quietly with smiles of excitement and curiosity. It is then that a HUGE hug from Fred was my ultimate welcome. Food was set out and so it was then that I experienced two of the most special days in my life. Hours were filled with backgrounds of the children their struggles and questions from the kids themselves. Laughter and discovery of one another felt as if I were a
child again, ripe with innocence. My eyes filled with tears when they sang to me, and when it was time to say goodbye I could only breathe deeply and say Webare Munonga (thank you very much), as it was then that the goodbye songs got the best of me and a spontaneous local dance broke out by the guardians of the youth. I was in Africa, listening to the sweet voices of these children, watching traditional dancing, being showered with gifts of thanks and hugs of love and tough goodbyes. It was truly unforgettable and I am forever changed.
I urge you to visit ASUNEF’s website (www.asunefuganda.weebly.com) and read about the incredible changes that are taking place in Mahwa. It is because of the sheer selfless acts of those listed above that this small organization has changed the lives of 26 children, and will continue to do so in the years to come. They have my lifelong support!
Each day has been unbelievable and I feel as if I couldn’t be happier, and yet I am proven wrong. I don’t know if I have ever been so welcomed and so loved by (just about) everyone I come into contact with. It is now that I will spend my last days enjoying the sweet little ones at Keirungi Children’s
Village…soaking up every last moment. I cannot begin to write about how difficult it will be for me to say goodbye to these children and staff. They have become my family, my children. As I push aside the thought I send each of you reading my most gracious appreciation. Your support has been unparalleled and I am forever grateful.
It is here where I will sign off, my next blog being written in the U.S.!
Webare Munonga, Munonga, Munonga,