Mar 7, 2012 9:20 AM
First day back in Jinja. We were driven 2 1/2 hours from the airport to our guest house last night. I wished we could have seen our scenery as we drove rather than just seeing the night so I could soak up the sights of our part of Africa. However we were so tired with all the travel and having our days and nights mixed up that even today we are not hitting on all cylinders. Our car and room are turning out to be more expensive than before. We hope to get that sorted out before we leave. The rains have begun so it was damp out. I loved that as the dryness of the airplane was not comfortable for me. Due to a recent rain the dust level is down. I am really grateful as my asthma can kick in when the dust aggravates it. Going to sleep and then awakening to the sounds of African life make me smile. I do love it here.
We slipped into the village unannounced for a surprise visit. It was hard to keep the day of our arrival a secret but we wanted to see what life at the HELP project was on a normal day. When we arrive things are not normal! Happily we found the sounds of learning coming from the school! It was the first time we have been here when the school was in session since the building was complete. It was very nice to have classrooms! The teachers were all busy and classrooms are FULL. It wasn’t so nice to see so many kids either crowded on a bench or more often sitting on the dirt floor. We have some furniture ordered. We only had funding for half what we need but it will sure help. There are very few tables and not nearly enough chairs or benches. Always lots if need here. I have to remind myself of what it was like before we started so I don’t get discouraged with what still needs to be done.
After greeting the school and all the little ones that appear to hold our hands and touch us, we prayer walked the school grounds. Almost 4 years ago we prayer walked the building that is now our classrooms. It was surrounded with weeds, desolate, empty and a crumbling structure reminiscent of former days when it was a part of the hope in the village. Back in the early 90’s the Danish came in and started a business with the village women. At one time it was a showcase endeavor. The failing of it left the people discouraged and hopeless. Many turned to the local distillery to drown their dashed dreams. The area where the commerce had engaged the women became a place where drug dealers and witchcraft flourished. This area is now our school grounds and the hub of the village empowerment program HELP is assisting in. Prayer walking seems more than appropriate! Looking at the changes encourage us. We not only see a 6 room class building full of formerly unschooled kids but we see; a school garden, the school cow, her new calf and their new two stall shelter, new latrines where none existed, a playground with swings, a kitchen with cooks busy cooking lunch for 300 students, and the well stocked library open for kids from all the schools around. God is good to let us see His love for the people here.
After our walk we meet with leaders of the two co-ops making the jewelry we proudly market. All are surprised and happy to see us. One leader, Irene, touches me as she not only greets me with a hug but says a heartfelt prayer blessing us and thanking God for His favor through us. I am learning much about gratefulness from these people. I think that may have been my most special moment of the day.
The women were excited to see the marketing materials we use with their pictures in them and to see how lovely their beads look when displayed professionally. They were all business as we explained the important buyer and large order that may very well be their ticket out of the extreme poverty they currently suffer in. Tomorrow we travel with them back to the country’s capital city of Kampala to find just the right supplies to help their success. It should be a fun day shopping with them. Women are women the world over and this is exciting for us all!
One more important part of this tired day was our meeting with the mayor of Jinja town. A pastor named Frederick has been helping facilitate the acquisition of the land where the school and project hub is located for HELP. Because of HELP’s commitment and improvements the mayor is doing all he can to turn that land over to us. He assures us it will be complete before we leave. We are full of hope but reserved in our expectations as everything seems to move exceedingly slow here.
The moon is full as I write on our balcony here at the Nile Guest House The day was pretty warm but the night is lovely. I indulged in a two hour nap. I hope we can get a good night’s sleep!