I had the “special hire treatment” tonight for the drive back to Mbale from Mutufu.. I stayed just a bit too long with the children at the center and was caught at the trading center with the sun setting, and no taxi’s running or cars heading Mbale way. Only boda bodas seemed willing to take me the several kilometer drive to a connecting taxi on a very primitive road that is basically one extreme pothole after another, sand and rocks, clouds of dust.. but the children who had carried my things for me from Vincent’s to the trading center were very vocal with their discontent that I would even consider taking a boda on that road, at that time of day. Now, when 6 kids are telling me “no” I’m a very good listener, so I hired a taxi, hugged all my little darlings good night, and was driven back to Mbale for about $25. It was a beautiful drive, just me, the driver Tony, and his conductor, beautiful African music on the radio, hardly any traffic, lots of cooking with little orange sparkling charcoal fires all along the roadside, some night burning glowing, lots of people visiting and milling about in trading centers. We stopped for chapatis and sodas along the way and watched the beautiful full moon rise and help light the way home.
It was another full on day, I am grateful to have accomplished much.
Early morning, with one huge and another more standard sized carry bag in tow, both filled with fabric from Kampala for the pads project, a stack of mosquito nets for the children and their new beds, and over 30 LITA t-shirts for various people, I hit the path outside the gate at the house in Senior Quarters looking for a boda. After picking up the photo copied papers on my ride into town, I caught the taxi for Sironko trading center in good time for my two pre-arranged meetings.
I arrived at Sironko Poilce Department, for my second visit ever, just before 11am, to meet with the CID.. which means, sorry I can’t remember, but he’s a boss there, for sure. Smiles all around, many a hand shake.. I was most welcome, again! I wanted to discuss some details and drop off several pages of information about the outstanding case that keeps being delayed that Vincent is involved in. With this wrap up week of mine in motion, I had dedicated the first half of the day to doing what I could, once again, to clarify several things I have information about that I think can assist the case in being dropped, once and for all. After almost 2 hours with him, me and my bags hopped another boda and went for a visit with the “State Attorney” at the Sironko Courthouse for basically the same reason with the same information. All good.
Vincent’s sister has a little restaurant in Sironko trading center, so I decided on some beans and rice there before catching the taxi up to Mutufu and the children at the center. I knew the day was beginning to run short when I saw it was coming to 3 by the time I hitched a ride in a taxi heading that way. We stopped along the way and a Mom with 2 children got in. As she held on to her young son, taxi jammed, her little girl, wearing an old, torn, pretty chiffon pink dress, had no where to sit, so I pulled her up on to my lap where she fell asleep within minutes, not even a slight notice of the serious bouncing and zig zagging taking place.
Several of our children were at the stop where the taxi drops me in Mutufu, ready to help me with anything I needed carried.. perfect.. we orgainzed things and headed to the center where the rest of the children welcomed us with song. Having not seen the children since before my Kampala trip, we caught up on news and talked about the improvements happening for them in their dorms. We inspected the first of the “decker beds” that had been delivered earlier in the day and discussed flooring, and sheets, and bathing and going to bed very clean from now on, and taking good care of the new things and reporting if something needs attention.. they were super excited and kept clapping their joy after every few words! We measured the boys dorm and figured out that one roll of flooring at Bam will more than work for it, the office, the teacher’s area..! Yeah! We’ll buy two so we can complete the girl’s two room dorm as well! Imagine, a thick, solid, long lasting covering on top of the dirt, to walk on with clean feet after bathing, that can easily be swept and mopped, where jiggers can’t live and cold and dampness will be minimized.. heaven, really!
It was time for a “photo essay project” meeting.. my 8 children participating gathered with me and my laptop while the others all headed off to collect sand and cow dung for smearing the floors of the dorms and office tomorrow morning before the flooring that I will buy and have transported to Mutufu on the roof of Tony’s taxi first thing is layed later in the day, which will be prior to the first shipment of beds arriving.. being carried along the path by the carpenter and his helpers.. oh yes, logistics, so interesting in this context!
I turned on the computer, pulled up each child’s file one at a time, and reviewed their essay portions of the project with them. Thanks to the 2’nd battery my brother helped get over here for me, all of the kids have typed their material onto my laptop during these past few weeks, you can imagine it’s been a very fun learning assignment for the children. This time however, I sat at the keyboard and reading each child’s essay about their early life, helped correct and expand on a few things with them. While I was working with one child, two others went off together with one of the donated cameras in hand, and took 5 more pictures each for the “photo” component of the project.
Once all the essays had been reviewed and the children’s photos taken we gathered together for some more few minutes and I congratulated the children on their amazing work. I told them I know for some of them it has not been all easy, they have remembered times in their lives that were not happy or safe, they have been most brave and courageous. I thanked them for being open and for helping one another with writing.. some of the children needed a buddy to translate for them difficult words or stories from Lugisu into English. Finally, to huge smiles and deliciously sincere “Thank You’s” I passed out a LITA “Empower The Children” t-shirt to all the participants! They were thrilled! Grace was in the air, I held it in my arms, as we all took pictures to mark the moment.
Very, very fun, a wonderful time for us all.. we were all extremely happy and proud! At one point I called Vincent to me privately and asked him what are we doing in terms of telling all the children at the center that I am leaving for Canada next Monday. He shook his head slowly and spoke quietly with beautiful gentleness. He said we will tell them that I am going to Kampala.. he said he knows they will be much too sad, for much too long if we tell them otherwise. And, surprising to me, I quickly accepted and agreed with his plan.
Blessings in Love,