Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas from Uganda

I can't seem to wrap my head around 30°C  at Christmas time but here I am, burnt and all and loving every minute of it.  I arrived two days later from Vancouver due to the Nairobi airport being closed for a National celebration but after one good night's sleep, I was excited to go to the project and see all the changes.  It had grown so much since I left in March.  The grass was thick, flowers blooming, the trees flourishing and the wall partly plastered.  The house had the first coat of paint on it and Edwin chose the best colour to hide the red dirt everywhere. It really looks lovely.

We decided to invite the children for a Christmas party.  We hired a woman to cook rice, meat, cabbage salad and Irish potatoes.  This was a real treat for them as it was the first time they had such a meal.  Oh, and I can't forget the pop.   But the surprise was a cake for desert that Edwin and Dr. Isaac had made for them.  This was the real treat.  We blew up balloons and let them go up into the air and the kids showed me their Ugandan singing games. Lets just say this was the best day they ever had and even 91 year old Jaaja came and enjoyed himself colouring children's doodle art.

There has been no water for more than a week and we could see the people walking further and further away to fetch their jerry cans for cooking and washing.  Edwin and I decided to open our boar hole to our community to share the wealth of water that we have.  We are still pumping 5000 litres a day and to share it won't make any difference to us.  The levels are very high and all our tanks are full.  We needed to help these people make their lives a little easier.

Huge changes are happening now and we are so grateful to all of you who have sent donations to help us provide this home for the kids.  You have changed lives and it is really evident in the expressions the kids have now. Thanks from all of us for caring.

It's so nice to see these kids so happy.  The only two that are missing are Alan, age 2 and Olivia, age 3 but they wouldn't have understood what this was all about.  These kids know that Jesus was born on Christmas day and families get together to celebrate His birth.  Their joy is what it is all about and it is only the beginning.  We have 20 more kids to find but Edwin and his brothers are being very specific as to who will come to live with us.  They must be a real orphan, no family and more than likely have HIV/AIDS.  For me to see little Joseph (green shirt with white stripe) is a miracle.  In February we almost lost him twice but he is hanging on for his new home and family.  I would bake another 7000 loaves of banana bread just to see this happen again.  If it wasn't for Lorna, we would not have been able to provide this party so thanks from all of us for your huge heart.

We want to say a special thanks to Catarina for the toques.  It may have been 30 Celsius but they never came off the whole day.  Also, to Trudy for the pillow case dresses.  They all fit perfectly and the kids felt so special in them.  Thanks to both of you for your Christmas gifts.

This is real happiness....a whole bowl of food and a pop to go with it.  

We had a few other children that showed up for the party unexpectedly.  Maybe there wasn't a dress for them but we allowed them to join in as we had enough food to eat.  How can you ever say no to a child like this?  They blew their balloons up and watched them sail up into the sky over and over.  It's amazing how they can play together for hours and only laugh.

And then there was the cake.  Everyone wanted to cut it so Edwin let them all put their hand on the knife and slice. I would say each child averaged three pieces of cake if you can imagine.  This was their first Christmas party cake and they didn't want to ever forget.

Because there had been no water for more than a week, we noticed the children walking further than
normal to fetch water.  When this happens we know it's time for us to step in and help.  We are pumping so much water an hour, why wouldn't we help the people in our own community.  Our electrician told us that after 4 hours of filling the jerry cans, that we hadn't made any change to the water level.

Maryanne is taking water to her 91year old Jaaja.  She can't lift the jerry can so Hadeja helps to put it on her head so that she can walk a 1/4 of a kilometre to deliver it.  These two girls will be living with us along with their little sister, Olivia.

The men have been working on plastering the wall for the past 3 days and it is looking so nice.  It's amazing how they are all taking such a personal pride in this compound now.  The hedges are growing and all trimmed, the grass is thick and the flower gardens are all blooming.

On the outskirts of our kale garden you will find the guardhouse.  We still need to plaster it, install a door and window and put in the floor.  We will also be building a kitchen in this area where the children's food will be prepared.   Edwin has finally given me a job.....I get to paint the gate black with gold trimming.   

The main house is almost painted both inside and out.  We purchased the rest of the paint today so I think in another week it should be done.   These boys brag about being the Canadian boys now because they don't work in the Ugandan time anymore.  Days and weeks for one little job is long gone.....they have learned to move much faster with a good quality of work being done.  Our crew even comes in on days off to work because they are taking great pride in their work.

The ground in the front of this picture will be covered in stone slate.  It is much cheaper than the paving stones and will work well with the water run off.  We have underground pipes taking the water to the end of the property and outside.  The kids house is finished except for a good cleaning.

Global Television has done another story on our Home of Angels and it was recently aired while I was in Uganda. They just sent me the clip so I could put it on the blog to show all of you.  We are very grateful to have the updates done and we thank you Global for caring so much to show the world that a simple thing such as a banana bread can make a difference.

Edwin, myself, Dr. Isaac, David and the children would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Thank you for your prayers and help to make this home a place for children to grow and feel safe.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Introducing the Angels

I wanted to send out one last blog before I depart for Uganda and this one is really special.

Edwin decided to have a party for all the kids coming into our Home of Angels.  They live in different areas but he managed to get them all into one place to meet each other for the first time.  The only kids
that were not there were the youngest ones...Olivia  (3) and little Allen (2).

The party alone was a strange event as none of these kids ever had the opportunity to attend a real "party".   Oh, what we take for granted.  They arrived throughout the morning, very timid and not sure
exactly how to behave, but after time they became friends, played together and had so much fun.
Edwin said it was difficult to separate them to go home.  They wanted to stay but he told them soon they would have their home to come back to.  Trusting him, they left carrying special memories in their hearts and knowing that they soon would have a family and home to return to.  Even though most of them are very sick,  they know they are blessed to have been chosen.

Just to give you an idea of what is happening on our side of the world, I am very grateful to my church, Northview for making the "Pulse".  This is a video telling our story.  After each service, I was there selling banana bread.  The 1st service sold out on Saturday night in 5 minutes.  The 9:00am service on Sunday morning again sold out in 10 minutes but thanks to a wonderful friend who had baked 32, we got through the 6pm service, selling out immediately once again.  Thank you Northview for exposing our story to so many and to Sam and Adam for their expertise in developing it.

Regarding the compound...BC Holstein News has written another wonderful article in their newspaper about us.  Thanks to Karen and Gary Booy and the dairy community for their support in helping us.  You built the wall and now all we have left to do is plaster it and put the rolled wire on the top for protection.

Thanks to all of you for supporting us.  So many people in so many different ways.  I have to say that we owe so much to Save on Foods.  They continue to be our contributor for all banana bread ingredients and without them, we would not be where we are today...Thanks to all of you at Sumas and Whatcom Stores for allowing me to call you weekly for ingredients and you still keep the smile.

Edwin has sent pictures of the compound where changes are evident.  We are moving along into completion and I am sure we will be opening in 2013.

The "Angels" meet each other for the first time and really enjoyed their time together.

The three in the white are brothers and sisters, all sponsored by two people outside Vancouver. Little Sammy (shortest) has been missing for over a year so when he showed up for this picture, I was very shocked and happy.  His Grandma is blind and afraid.  She kept him in a place of seclusion because she was frightened to be alone and used him to do all the work.  Sammy is only 7 years old.   I cannot imagine her pain, but now, when it came time for this picture to be taken, she let him come with the other kids and he had so much fun.  He played like every little boy should.  We now have come up with a plan to keep him and thanks to a wonderful woman who donated money to help a Grandma,  Edwin suggested we might use this money to hire someone to watch over her for a year.  We will let you know if our plan works.

I have always used the phrase "Kids helping Kids" and I want you to meet Shanelle and Kailie.  They thought the children should have a Christmas present so they purchased a "Ty" Beanie Babies for each child and personalized it by making them a friendship bracelet and tying it around the neck.  They even took it a step further and purchased all the special thread, taught me how to do it so that I could teach the kids to make them.  Thanks also to a third sister Mackenna who wasn't in the picture.  This will probably be their 1st Christmas present and I know they will treasure them.

My doctor is the best.......I go in to get my shots for Uganda and I walk out with bags of medicine.
All this and more expires in 2014 so I know that Dr. Isaac will be able to help a lot of kids.  And then,
to top it off, last night a special person donated the money to ship it over there.  How blessed are we
with people like this in our lives.  Thanks to both of you for making a difference.

The gate is finished and I could hardly wait to show you.  Jenson worked very hard to make it
his own design and we really are proud of it.  Once the paving stones are down, the wall is plastered and the wire on top, we will be opening soon after.  The dairy community of British Columbia took it
upon themselves to accomplish this task and we all thank you so much.  Please keep us in your prayers that we can finish this by May 2013.  

The undercoat is on and the painting has started.  I can see where I left off in my painting job last trip, so I know I will be part of the painting crew in the next weeks to come.  I love the part of being able to contribute physically. The home will be completed by the time I leave and if all goes well, Edwin, Dr. Isaac and David will have been moved in.  I'm excited to witness them do this.

Grandmas are helping Grandmas also over there in a big way and this is just one result.
We have 3 very devoted brothers who come every day and help Edwin.  Never have they asked
for anything, but one day they took me to their hut and I met their blind grandma who had raised them from little guys.  They had nothing and she is always on the bed and I knew we had to do something for the boys to say thanks for helping us in such a big way.  A wonderful lady who has been a part of this project since the beginning wanted to be the Canadian grandma to help this blind grandma.  She bought a pig for them.  This pig had "9" babies just recently and they will now be able to survive in a more humane way.  I find out tonight that we may have more in the coming months.  All it takes is just one of something....and it multiplies.  Baby Alan's grandma used her donation to buy rabbits and oh my goodness... we certainly have rabbits now.  It's survival.  So thanks to all the big hearts who have helped the elderly and the widows.

Christmas time is almost here and I hope that you are all preparing your hearts for the amazing gift of Christ's birth and all that it means.  Whether we celebrate in a country blessed with everything
or in an impoverished nation, we must never forget that we have received a priceless gift and to remember all that He has done for us.  When you give, give from your hearts with gratitude.

You all have done that and we thank you so much.

Merry Christmas

Barb and Edwin and most of all....the Angels