Internet access is very slow and limited here, so I am afraid I don't have any picture to post and this will be rather limited. It will be also hard to explain all that we've seen and experienced in the past 48 hours without pictures. We made it into our hotel in Kampala at 2:30 am. (Lori - thank you for arranging for Lawrence to drive us!). Lawrence then picked us up at 11 am to drive us to Bugiri. A three hour drive became a four hour drive. We met our group in Bugiri, rested for 20 minutes and then drove another four hours to Soroti. Our girls are doing so well though. They definitely deserve some treat for being the world's best travelers.
The rest of the group had already experienced so much. I began to think we wouldn't really see as much as we had hoped, but I was wrong. We started our day visiting a children's hospice. It was actually so encouraging - the place is run by a woman named Else who works for YWAM. She started this hospice because she believed children have the right to die with dignity. The amazing thing is how many children who came to die were nursed back to health. We just held the infants in our arms for as long as we could before having to leave. Lian and Anna played outside with the older children. Yesterday, Lian was so eager to play with kids that when we pulled over to get directions, she jumped out of the car and said, "Mommy, can I go play with those kids and say hi?" To her - they are not orphans, or sickly, children - they are children, friends. It has been refreshing to see this trip through her eyes.
We then drove to Otuboi which is a school for older orphans that was run by the government ten years ago, but they asked CHildren of the Nile to take over this. Children of the Nile primarily works with widows, so they have asked CHildren's Hope Chest to take over this school. We had such a great timew ith these older orphans, but the needs are so great. Over 90 children attend teh school, 60 of whom are orphans. When you are an orphan you lose government sponsorship, so they have no money to buy their books. They hope to find work "digging" in people's gardens in order pay for their school books. THeir school is a cement building with two classrooms. The other two classrooms are dormitories - 30 beds in each room. 10 of the boys didn't even have a bed; they sleep on the floor. THere are only five mosquito nets. THey only eat meat once a month. So our group committed, on the spot, to purchase beds for those boys and mosquito nets for all and then we went to the market to buy fish for everyone for one meal. The passion to learn and to move beyond what they have is overwhelming. And convicting.
After lunch, we drove to an IDP camp (Internally Displaced People) and this was very difficult. THere are only 5000 people int he camp right now. THere used to be 25000 when the LRA was more active here. WHen I say camp - these are 8' huts spread all over. We purchased biscuits to hand out to the kids and it was as if kids came out of nowhere. We must have had 500 kids surrounding us. Lian was so thrilled to play. I met a 17 year old mom, Ann, who had a one year old and her child was stricken with malaria. Precious child, precious boy. But the future is limited.
THere is much more to process. I feel very newsy in this post. Tomorrow we head to a widow's hospice and another children's home.
Our new plan or twist in the trip is that Dano and I are headed to Rwanda on the 22nd. We will arrive at 6 pm and leave the next afternoon. Dano was invited to visit some water distribution workt hat Food for the Hungry is doing. We will have the chance to see our friend, Seng Thor, who works for FHI.
Thanks for your prayers.