Day two and the work has started in full force. After a filling breakfast and team devotions, we scattered to the four corners of the compound to take on our various duties for the day. Jonathon started off in the woodshop with several other members from the Sask. team and under the guidance of Ernie the Texan they started prepping and assembling some new pews for the church.
Charlene, Tanya, and Tilly got busy with painting the dining room and bathrooms in the trade school while Terry and myself discovered the joys of troubleshooting a malfunctioning projector. In the heat of the afternoon things slowed down a little bit, with less focus on the tasks at hand and more time being spent on trying to interact with the Haitians around us. Elizabeth with her fluent French is a great boon to the team and is able break through the language barrier, and is getting to know the kitchen staff and making many other great connections. Tilly and Abbey love the kids and play with them as much they can, learning games and giving piggyback rides and having lots of fun.
The evening brought supper and afterwards we got to go sit on the roof and hear from Mark about his life and testimony, as well as his and Lisa’s dream for Haiti and its people. It is easy see the passion and love Mark has for his people when he talks about the Children’s Village and the trade school, and all the future plans for growth in the community. Seeing it all for ourselves and hearing about the amazing progress makes it easy to believe that Haiti Arise is truly doing the work of God and is an accurate reflection of His love and compassion.
Bon Swa Canada,
Today was our first official day in Haiti. We started the morning at 6:30am with devotions with the whole team. Then we received a delicious breakfast. Afterwards we heard the children outside playing, out of our curiosity we decided to join them. We received much appreciation from the children through touching, handshakes and piggy backs, it was an inspiration to all of us how well we were received by the Haitians even though we didn’t know the Creole language. Afterwards we got an amazing tour of the compound and how the donations from people donated to Haiti Arise is working in Haiti, the trade school and the shop. I cannot express in words how much the donations have made a humongous difference in the lives of the Haitians and would like to give a sincere thank you to anyone who has donated because it has made a big improvement.
We also went to the children’s village and the new school to see where children go to learn. We also saw the goat project where grade 5 and 6 children have the chance to raise a goat for meat and as an incentive they can keep the goat for free if they care for it well. Then we had lunch.
Afterwards we went different routes to do many projects assigned to us. I had the privilege to work with the Saskatchewan team move the donated clothing and children’s items to another room, watch team members paint the computer room in the trade school, watch the Crossroads men try to fix a projector and build a stroller with a Saskatchewan team member. It was a great afternoon that I finished off with a cold shower. (No hot water available) I then had a little bit of free time where I journaled my experience of the day which I started the day before we went to Haiti and did my personal devotions.
Then it was supper and then we went to Tuesday church that started at 6pm. The church experience was a different unique perspective as there was a pastor and a translator. The congregation was very involved in the service which was great to see. It was a long full day that our team experienced but it was a moving day.
The team met at the airport around 7:00 am Sunday morning to begin our adventure. The first phase of the trip began and we were on our way, navigating airport security we stuck together and it went smoothly without any hiccups, from Calgary to New York, then Monday morning to Port Au Prince. Our hosts were waiting for us and another team of 11 that came from Saskatoon who will be joining us during our time here in Haiti. The drive from the airport to Haiti arise was long and very exciting, during which we got a chance to take in all the new sights, sounds and smells of Haiti.
We had all grown a little tired from our travels when we got to Haiti arise and were greeted with an amazing dinner from our hosts along with a brief orientation. The traveling phase of the trip was full and fun and we are all really happy to be here and we are looking forward to see what God will do during the rest of our time here.
Everyone got the airport and through security and customs with no issues – praying the rest of the travel today and tomorrow his as smooth!
Sunday started off with a great breakfast again. Irene always has an abundance of local fruit for breakfast – Pineapple, watermelon, bananas, passion fruit and jack fruit to name a few. I think it’s fair to say we are all going to miss this wonderful lady. We then split into 2 groups and headed out to different villages for church. One group included Bill, Emily, Liberty and Sarah. Sheryl was unable to attend being a little under the weather but is fine now. They attended a church in Kiyindi where Bill gave the sermon. Our group consisted of Chantelle, Adam, Sharilyn, Barb and Kyle. The church we attended was called “Bridges of Hope”, in a little village called Najja. We were warmly greeted by Pastor Eli. The sermon that Pastor Eli put forward was about having a pure heart. It spoke to us all very deeply. We were so blessed to hear Pastor Eli speak and for sure it was one of the highlights of our trip. As we arrived back home we were meet by Irene’s dear husband Martin and 3 beautiful children: Christal age 6 and twin boys Joshua and Caleb age 3 1/2.
After our tummies were all happy again thanks to Irene we all headed out in our van driven by Jamil, the most talented driver in Uganda in our eyes, to Kampala for an evening of dining and entertainment at the Ndere Cultural Centre. This show was second to none with music and dancing from all the different regions of Uganda. The word I think would describe it best, and we would all agree with was spectacular. At the end of show the whole audience was invited up to dance. It was quite amazing how God’s children from Uganda, Tanzania, Germany, Switzerland, China, Africa, US, and Canada, were all dancing under the stars of Uganda. The trip back home was a little quiet as some were digesting the day while others were napping ……. can’t wait for another day.
-Barb, Kyle, and the Team
Today was a day off for the team. So we travelled to a nearby city called Jinja to do some touristy things. One of the main things to do in Jinja is see the source of the Nile River. It originates from Lake Victoria and travels 6,400 kilometers to Egypt. We all took a boat tour on the Nile River and observed the birds, monkeys, and lizards along the bank of the river. It was so fun to see the wide variety of birds and the cute monkeys – it felt like we were on a river safari.
Another major attraction for our team of muzungu’s (white people) was the market! This was an opportunity to shop for unique crafts. We spent a couple hours wandering through small shops and bartering for paintings, clothes, jewelry, and handy crafts. Everyone clearly enjoyed themselves, and we’ll need extra suite cases to bring everything home!
We wrapped up the day with milkshakes at my favorite restaurant in East Africa… Java House. It was such a nice treat to have some comfort food that reminds us of home!
Even though it was a day off, we arrived home late and are exhausted (hence the short blog). But, tomorrow promises to be a great day with an exciting African church service, and a trip to Kampala to see a cultural dance show. There will be more to come soon…
-Adam and the Team
We started the day with a delicious french toast breakfast prepared by our dear Irene accompanied by loads of fruit. Kyle, Barb, Sherilynn, Bill and I walked into Buikwe this morning to get a more up close look at the town. Bill led us down to Buikwe as he is a trained veteran of this area (Bill’s been to Uganda 6 times). We got a few weird looks from the locals – probably thinking ‘what the heck are all these white people doing down here’? We’ve learned that if we give them a little smile and wave then their faces soften into a smile and they greet us back with a warm face and returning wave. Bill led us down an ally into a local market where there was a lot of local foods being sold, like lettuce, silver fish, tomatoes onions, peppers, avocados (which you have to hold in two hands by the way) and many other various fruits and vegetables. There was music playing in the market and we noticed the kids dancing, so of course we tried to join in. A woman came out from behind her stand and danced with us, really taking a liking to Barb. We laughed, clapped, and danced some more, cheered Barb on and then continued on our journey. We looked at the buildings, admiring their character, and spoke with a few people along the way. One man stopped us and was particularly welcoming to us. He told us we are more than welcome in their home and to enjoy our time.
We got home from town and enjoyed yet another delicious meal from Irene. We sat around for a bit and relaxed, then we were off to another Village Savings and Loans Association meeting in another local village. It was similar to the one we went to earlier in the week but this one really stuck out to me. There are 30 members in this group, the majority being women (25 to be exact). The little woman power activist in me loved the fact this was a majority women group. They’ve really got quite an amazing business plan going and they didn’t use computers or accountants to come up with it. They have started making crafts with beads, such as purses, necklaces and bracelets to support their group. They also make charcoal that people can burn for cooking. It is made with waste from garbage cans and is long lasting, so it makes it a better deal and is cleaner than what they buy elsewhere. Three women got up and shared their stories about how the VSLA group has changed their life. Similar to the other VSLA group, they’ve been able to buy property, housing, and send their children to school. Things they never thought were possible before they joined this group. They plan to use their money from their personal social funds to buy a cow and sell the milk for money, as well as start a cow-calf operation where they sell the calves. They also currently rent out their plastic chairs for meetings and different functions, with a plan to buy a tent and dishes to rent out for local events. I expressed my admiration to these ladies for what they were doing. I told them I loved their strength in numbers and that this is something they can pass on to their younger generations of women and men. I told them in Canada we really focus on the empowerment of women and what they are doing is really the start of what could be a revolution for the women of Uganda. We women must stand together and encourage each other, especially if we have the opportunity to meet our sisters across the seas.
We left with joy filled hearts and a cloud of inspiration over our team. We drove home and God blessed us with one of his beautiful African sunsets, something many past teams have been unable to see as by this time we are usually back in our compound where we do not get quite enough of a view of the setting sun. Our driver, Jamil, kindly pulled over and a few of us pulled out our cameras and got some great pictures of the beautiful land our God created.
As I sit here and write this blog the rest of the team is playing one of our nightly games of UNO and in this moment I realized this is exactly where we are all supposed to be. Just what our glorious God planned.
Today Bill and I (Adam) visited the International Needs Buikwe Secondary School (High School) to see the science lab that CrossRoads has supported. Originally, CrossRoads funded the construction of the lab, and recently provided a boost in their funding to employ a laboratory technician and stock to the required chemicals. This lab supports the teaching of Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, and it is a state-of-the-art facility in the district. It has improved the reputation of the school and students are coming from far away because other secondary schools can’t provide this practical education in the sciences.
Bill and I also had the pleasure to visit our sponsor kids today! Bill and Pat have sponsored two kids named Raechel and Gabak; while Tracy and I sponsor a girl name Marion. It is such a highlight to visit their homes and see them again! We got time to visit with their Mom’s and hear stories from their family. We were also able to share a few gifts from Canada (balls, clothes, school supplies, and coloring books). The I.N. sponsorship program was well received by the team and many team members are making the choice to sponsor kids too! It’s such a joy to meet the child here, and continue the relationship once we return to Canada.
– Adam and the Team
Today was an amazing day! We all didn’t quite know what to expect, but God had a plan… We got the pleasure of helping with a free health clinic provided by CHAP that tested patients for HIV/AIDS, as well as providing some dentistry work, deworming, as well as just being pure entertainment for all the children! We had an hour long drive from our compound to Ssenyi Landing where the clinic was located, and it was an adventure all on its own! We got to see the beautiful African sugar cane fields with the stunningly vibrant green mountains in the background. All eleven of us in the van got pretty excited and nervous when we did some intense off roading before arriving at the clinic!
We all split off into small groups to do different jobs at the clinic. Kyle and Cheryl gave out deworming pills – at least one hundred of them! Emily assisted in testing for HIV/AIDS. Liberty, Chantelle, and Barb had the task of helping out with the hectic dentistry work. Me (Sarah) and Sherilynn had the amazing pleasure of playing with all the children.
We brought a lot of games to the table that we were sure they had never heard of before. The kids followed along very well to duck-duck goose, the chicken dance, the classic Cadillac Ranch line dance, as well as many other games that surely wore us out, but surprisingly not them! The girls helping in the dentistry portion were very intrigued with how sanitized everything was, as well as the dentist’s ability to pin point which tooth needed pulled without the use of any X-rays. And Kyle and Cheryl did a great job ‘enforcing the law’ to make sure every child took the deworming pill (even though some tried to refuse).
At the end of the day we were all tried but joyful to have had a great day. And our team grew by one person as Bill Shaw arrived in Buikwe today. He and Adam spent the day in Kampala meeting with the I.N. team before joining us for dinner. We are now 10 people on the team, and looking forward to another great day in Buikwe!
-From Sarah and the Team