Published: July 13th 2012July 13th 2012
Wow...where to begin?
The team told us when we got to Africa that the end of the first week was always the hardest and they were absolutely right. Yesterday was by far the most difficult day that we have had since we arrived. Before heading to the school we decided to stop and pick up school supplies at Mr. Patel's. While we were there his wife made us his famous and absolutely delicious chai tea! When we arrived at school the children were in the midst of chapel. We listened for a while to their beautiful singing before getting out of the matata to join them. One of the teachers that I am working alongside came to speak to me during the chapel time and told me that her son was in the hospital, beside the school, and was being treated for malaria. It is so hard to understand how so many children and adults fall ill and often end up passing away as the result of a disease that we have medication for (by the end of the day he was beginning to feel a bit better but was going to stay in the hospital/medical clinic over night). After chapel I went and taught card games to Top Class (Kindergarten). Their faces absolutely light up when you teach them something new and their smiles and laughter are contagious. The students all asked if they could keep the cards to play with and were excited to find out that each class will be getting a math package to keep! Tomorrow, Aubrey and I will be leading math PD for all of the teachers. After lunch we found out that the school had completely run out of food and not only were the teachers not fed, but about 30 students had not been given lunch and all of the boarders at the school would not be receiving dinner either. This absolutely broke my heart. While trying to process and understand how this could happen, we went back to teach our afternoon class. By the time classes were finished for the day, the teachers had been out to the fields to cut casava roots in order to feed the students and have something small to eat themsevles before leaving for the day. It is remarkable how resourceful the people here are. We quickly realized that we had some bread, peanut butter and banana left in our coolers, so we made them a snack and taught a couple of math games at a small after school PD session before their dinner was ready. I truely wish that everyone could experience what it is like to spend time with the teachers here. They are the most amazing people I have EVER met! Although they all face hardships that we will never be able to understand they smile and laugh all of the time and always put the children first. Last night we sat together as a team and had a few tears, some long discussions and some realizations about just how different life is here. We are already thinking about how hard it will be to leave!
After a long, cockroach free night of sleep we got up this morning and headed on our way for a day of rest to try and reenergize ourselves. This morning we went to the Congo market. This market is known for its beautiful fabric and is basically in a no man's land between Uganda and the Congo. The number of people in the market was absolutely crazy!!! Everywhere we went we drew crowds and often heard people yelling "Muzunga". Although this happens frequently, I still find it rather unusual. Luckily, we had our driver Obina with us. Everyone in the area seems to know him and respect him. I started calling him our bodyguard for the day. While at the market I picked up a beautiful piece of teal and brown fabric that I am hoping to use to make pillow covers or a duvet cover. This afternoon we went to a place called Mweya in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. We sat by the pool for a little while, had lunch and then went on a water safari. Our boat was called the "luxury boat" which was a small boat with only 7 people and our tour guide. While on the safari we saw herds of elephants, crocodiles, warthogs, water buffalo, hippos and a ton of different birds. I sat in absolutely awe of all of the animals that we spotted!!! At the end of the safari we passed a small fishing village and at that point it hit me...what a juxtaposition between what we have been seeing at the school and in Kasese and what we are experiencing here. It is so hard to process it all. What a crazy few days it has been but I would absolutely not trade this experience for anything!!!
Hope everyone is well! I will write again as soon as I can!
What a juxtaposition between yesterday and today.