Monday, 5 June 2017

Uganda: Mission Accomplished!

Team Uganda and The Inner Wheel of Kampala successfully completed our last bed-kit distribution on Friday in Banda. What a marvellous sight to see the smile of the 5,500th child receiving her bedkit!  We were all trying to make the most of our last day playing and singing with the children, and capturing those special memories to take back to our friends, family and future donors.

A long bus ride followed where we stayed near the 'Source of the Nile'.  The Inner Wheel women planned a special reception at the hotel where we shared tea and tasty treats.  The highlight of the evening was a round table discussion with each volunteer sharing a touching personal story experienced during this distribution.  There were many laughs, a few tears and lots of fun! Saturday morning we toured the 'Source of the Nile'.  We ventured onto a small wooden boat to experience the birds and plants before visiting the exact spot where the Nile River begins from Lake Victoria.  It then flows 4000 miles before reaching the Mediterranean Sea. 

Sunday was a day of closure with the Inner Wheel Club of Kampala.  Team leaders met to review the financial records and evaluate the success of the bedkit distribution.  Then everyone attended a lovely dinner and an evening of fun to celebrate the conclusion of our journey together.  There were silly skits and lots of laughs, as well as sincere words of appreciation for the great contributions made by both the SCAW travelling volunteers and the Inner Wheel women.  They had a lovely cake made to acknowledge the contributions of both teams working together to successfully deliver 5,500 bedkits.  The SCAW team presented the Inner Wheel women with Canadian maple leaf scarves as a token of our appreciation for their hard work and partnership.  These amazing women have been partnering with SCAW for about 25 years, working tirelessly each year to register the neediest children, purchasing and packing the chosen bed-kit items, and then joining us for the actual distributions of bed-kits.  We are lucky to be connected with such a dedicated group of passionate women.

This morning we visited the uniform factory where the clothing was made for this year's distribution.  Unique Uniforms is a modern factory that designs, cuts, sews, irons, and embroiders school and workplace uniforms.  It was interesting to hear how the owner of the factory started his business with only 2 sewing machines and is now able to employ 135 Ugandan workers. 

Well, this is the end of our journey.  Thank you for following our distributions over the past two weeks and offering your support from Canada.  It makes a difference to know that others care about our work to improve the lives of 5,500 children in Uganda.

Signing off!

Team Uganda 2017
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Friday, 2 June 2017

Hand in hand, we grow together

We've come a long way since our first distribution outside of Kampala 10  days
ago, growing personally, growing along with the others from SCAW, and growing
even stronger as a team with the women from The Inner Wheel of Kampala. They
pave the way with their planning and organization, and we are pleased to join
them hand in hand.
Today was our second to last distribution.  We've seen 5,000 happy children  and
 have 500 more to go. We are excited to have changed so many lives by delivering
the bedkits on behalf of the so many who have donated.  Each village makes a
point of asking us to bring back their  thanks.
Before the distribution each day, we have lots of fun playing with the children
and mingling with their families.  Memories we will cherish forever.   As you
can see, the  pictures speak louder than words...

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Another joyous welcome!

Team Uganda awoke very early to be on the bus by 7am.  The rocky hills of Tororo were beautiful to see in the early morning sun as we passed crops of rice, matoke, coffee, sugar cane and maize.Two bed-kit distributions for 500 children at each site were planned for today.  

We set out from Tororo and drove about 1 1/2 hours on very bumpy dirt roads in rural areas.  The sites were amazing with more small round homes with thatched roofs. Children, and parents alike, were excited to see a big bus coming into their community.  The first distribution was in Bumufuni.  We were greeted by lots of women dancing and singing; we enjoy joining in their dances and they think our efforts are quite amusing!  The children were happy to be dressed in their colourful new clothes and welcomed us with lots of clapping and cheering for the 'bazungu' (white people) who had arrived to bring them gifts.  After completion of the distribution, we were provided with a wonderful hot lunch of Ugandan dishes at the home of a local couple before heading off for a one hour journey to the second distribution centre in Magale.

In Magale, we received another joyous welcome from parents and their children.  At this centre a young boy of about 7 years of age bravely stepped up to recite a poem for us.  We couldn't believe it as he recited a long speech in English, demonstrating his knowledge of spelling in his second language.  He was followed by a young girl who also welcomed us with a short speech.  SCAW always encourages Ugandan children to attend school, and we were thrilled to see the competency and confidence of these children.  Everyone wanted to participate in the excitement, as you can see from the picture of the rooster who also wanted to pose for a bedkit picture.

Our Inner Wheel partners explained that some needy families had refused to register their children to receive a bed-kit, believing that the promise of such a generous gift  must be a scam.  It was sad to see their faces when they saw other children walking home in new clothing with a comfy mattress, wash basin, blanket, sheet, sandals, mosquito net, water bottle, lunch container, tooth brushes, a backpack and school supplies.  These parents were told there could be another opportunity for their child to receive a bedsit in a future year.  

We have now delivered a total of 4000 bedkits in 8 different villages and looking forward to our scheduled rest day.  Then on Wednesday we begin our last few days of distributions to provide another 1500 children with treasured bedkits.  

To all those who donated money for bedkits in Uganda, your gifts have been appreciated more than you can imagine.  Your $35 gift has made a world of difference for a needy child living in poverty!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Uganda- A Touching Moment!

Today the team visited the district of Suni and we were once again greeted by
singing and clapping children and parents singing traditonal African songs.
Much dancing ensued! We were happy to distribute another 500 bedkits, and were warmly thanked by the area priest.


A very touching moment came at the end of our visit. Three children came forward
to give us a gift - in this case 3 eggs. They have so little and yet they wanted to
give us something in thanks. The same gesture was made several distributions
ago. We received bananas and fruit from children who had just received a bedkit.
There were hugs all round. We then managed to "re-gift" these generous items
to another family further down the road...and wouldn't you know it, they turned
around and gave us corn!

Only 1000 more bedkits to go.

Debbie Stelzer
Team Uganda 2017

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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Uganda: A Hot But Great Day!

Today was a very hot day, but it was balanced out by the amazing reception we received as we arrived to our site.  The women greeted us with dancing and singing in their colourful clothing, while the children sang joyful African songs.  It was so great to see how the children naturally switched places to lead the rest of the school in the songs.  One would sing and the rest of the children would respond in song and dance.  

Today we saw a few more children who were suffering from malaria.  They were very weak as they sat for their photos.  Many of the children smile for their photo but it is clear that it can be difficult to smile when you are sick, hungry and tired.

Agatha's family provided us with a delicious lunch today at their home.  What an honour to spend some time with her family and meet her 103 year old father!

Now this evening we are preparing for two distributions tomorrow.  We will give out 1000 bedkits!

P.S. Check out our video from earlier this week. Click here for blog!

Team Uganda 2017
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Uganda: Memories Being Made!

Everyone was very excited today as we woke up in a new location. We had a fantastic breakfast buffet awaiting us down in the lobby as we prepared ourselves for another amazing day. The drive was short and as usual every minute worth it. Warm waves and big smiles always coming from the door steps and yards of the children and families as we make our way. We again were greeted with such a warm reception and songs of joy that only being here can you truly appreciate the beauty of such happiness and graciousness. The people have to see us when we enter the bedkit site. Another day that brings such joy to all the children. Nothing can beat that smile and the look in their eyes when they are walking towards you, to receive their kit. As they approach me, I give them the biggest heartfelt high five that I have ever given! Hoping that this memory will last forever for them, as it will for me. 

Ty Gauthier for Team Uganda 2017
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Saturday, 27 May 2017

Uganda: Our Fourth Distribution!

Today marked our 4th distribution and a long travel day. Hitting the road at 6am, we traveled four hours to the village of Bwoko. Even though it was quite the drive, it was very rewarding and emotional. The women of the village greeted us with a beautiful traditional song and dance, that is native to the area. It was simply amazing to see! 


The greeting just ensured us of the work we are doing here in Uganda and how much it means to each and every individual. The children could not stop smiling and the parents dancing. 

I had the privilege of completing a few surveys with some of the parents and children who received a bedkit today. During this process, a reoccurring theme was present. The bedkits were everything and more; we weren't just giving a gift to this one child. It was a gift to the entire family, sometimes as large as 17 family members. 

I'm so thankful to be apart of this experience and with such a great group of Inner Wheel ladies. Their passion for the children, to ensure they become something more than the situation they were born into is exactly the type of people we want to work with. This is what makes the difference. 

Sheyndl Gauthier for Team Uganda 2017
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Friday, 26 May 2017

Uganda: Gimbo

Today, day 3 of our distributions, we headed to Gimbo, just 25 km from Kampala.  Travelling to the destination of the day brings new sights and sounds of the beautiful Ugandan countryside.  Lush green hillsides with maze, matoke, and root crops, to name a few.  Today we were challenged with very narrow, and dusty rut filled roads we had not encountered on prior days.  Thankfully our driver Hussan delivered us safe and sound.  

Driving into a location for the distribution is one of my favourite parts of the day, and a sight to behold.  Mattresses and bed kits piled high, children and their families lining the road in greeting and excitement of what's to come.   All are dressed in their Sunday best and singing in celebration.  It's hard not to get a little emotional each time.

Theresa Cheverie​​​​ for Team Uganda 2017
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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Uganda: Muduma

Today was a beautiful day in Muduma, Uganda about 50 K from Kampala. We enjoyed our ride out with the amazing ladies of The Inner Wheel led by Harriet, and of course our SCAW Team. The local Church provided a wonderful setting for our distribution of 500 Bedkits to local children. The team was able to entertain them with bubbles and photography of the children and their families. The children looked great in their outfits and the distribution went very smoothly and in a timely fashion. The other volunteers there were a tremendous help in making things go very smoothly. Thanks very much to all involved.

Debbie Stelzer for Team Uganda 2017
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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Uganda: Our First Distribution!!

Today was Team Uganda's first distribution.  We visited the village of Bulo where we were greeted with songs, applause, and many many thanks from the local priest.  We started out well, laying out the sample bedkit and getting all the children into their new outfits. They were entertained with  beachball soccer and lots of bubbles.  Then, the rain came down - in buckets! After a short delay we were on our way, and by the end of two hours , 500 children had their new bedkits.  The team pulled together beautifully, and our three "newbies" did a fantastic job.

Debbie Stelzer Team Uganda 2017
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Monday, 22 May 2017

Uganda: Working Hard!

​We began our first day in Uganda meeting 30 members of the Inner Wheel club.  It was an honour to be a part of such excitement!  All the women are so committed to making sure the Ugandan SCAW distribution is successful.  

Lois and Suzanne were reacquainted with friends they met on their past distributions to Uganda while the rest of the team were creating new friendships.  

After the meeting we all travelled to see the factory where the mattresses for the bedkits are made.  The staff worked very hard and long hours to ensure the order of 5500 mattress were ready for today. 


We  are all pretty excited to meet the first children to receive their bedkits tomorrow!  

Team Uganda 2017
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Monday, 24 April 2017

Togo: Goodbye and Thank You Togo!

Team Togo 2017 successfully handed out 5,000 bedkits with the help of our Togolese OVPs during the period 10 - 21 April 2017. The SCAW Travelling Volunteers made many new friends among the hard-working OVPs. They were always the first in and the last ones out of each distribution - we could not have done it without them. After completing the final distribution in Zomayi, Togo, the SCAW Travelling Volunteers and the OVPS held a celebration at Casa Blanca, which also served as a farewell party for us. Our Togolese OVPs sang a song of thanks and performed a traditional dance in our honour just prior to our departure to the Lome International Airport. It was hard to say goodbye to our good friends, but we hope to stay in touch with them. 

The SCAW Travelling Volunteers and our Overseas Volunteer Partners, along with last 10 of the 5,000 children who received a bedkit during their distributions in Togo.  

The children gather at the team's van to say 'merci' and 'aurevoir' as we get ready to depart Zomayi after handing out the last 500 bedkits to the deserving children in this area. 
Togolese children waiting to receive their SCAW bedkit.

Team Togo 2017
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