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
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Today was a day I have been looking forward to since we arrived in Uganda. Today we broke off into two groups and went into the primary and secondary schools for the morning. I was privileged to be able to observe in the primary school in the primary 2 classes. Because there are 83 students in total they put the students into two groups of 43. 43 students with one teacher. And we thought our classrooms were already overfull with students. One might think at first glance that the classes are loud and out-of-control but one of the first things we all noticed was how the students had so much self-discipline. So much more than what our kids have. Whenever the class would begin to get out-of-hand, and the kids all had a lot of energy, the teacher only gave a look and maybe said a word or two and the kids reigned it in. No yelling, but always calm and in control. I know I have much to learn from their teaching methods. The kids were all so excited to be at school and ready to learn.
After the lessons were over the teacher, Elisabeth, invited our team to come up and teach a few words to the kids. Chantelle went to the blackboard and the kids would know what she was writing before she even finished the word. Slowly the words became harder but she eventually stumped them with photosynthesis! Did I mention that these kids were only 7-8 years old? They were so excited by this English lesson from the Canadians that when the bell rang for lunch they didn’t want to go. We wrapped up quickly as this is the only meal they receive until the following morning. They have a snack of porridge maze around 10:00, then a filling meal of rice and beans at 1:00. Every meal counts!
We left for lunch back at our guesthouse which was another feast. We eat so abundantly while down the road there is so little! We had a few hours to rest before our next journey so a few of us played badminton on the grass (nearly lost the bird many times in the neighboring bush), while others read or journaled.
Later we drove out to Bulere, a 20 minute drive from Buikwe (where the compound is). In Bulere we learned about the Village Savings and Loans Program that the local people have started together. This program is a collaboration of each person putting money into the “bank”, which is a lock box that is locked up by three different locks. Each key for each lock is kept by a different member and the lock box is kept by the treasurer. As a need or goal arises they borrow money out to pay for it. They are then charged interest until they can pay it back. The group meets once a week on Tuesday, every Tuesday, to put money in and hold each other accountable as to where the money is going. The local pastor shared that he used the money for his son’s university education, and in turn his own son is paying for his son’s education. From generation to generation they are creating a legacy. The people were all so proud of all they had accomplished together with their money.
Uganda is beautiful and we are all in agreement as to how blessed we are to have this opportunity. Every day is filled with new wonders and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow has in store!
Since we didn’t have power or internet for a while, we have two blog posts for you! After our first day in Uganda, the team shared a few words to capture what they were feeling, seeing, and thinking.
Awe; joy; overwhelmed with emotion; spectacular; colorful; sweaty; smoky; random roosters; stolen hub cab?!?; delicious pancakes; amazing view; surreal; so lush and green; comfort sounds (grasshoppers); hard to believe we’re here; laughing kids; singing kids (highlight of day!); big smiles.
-Adam and the Team