Saturday, 24 June 2006

Uganda: The Distribution is Complete

The day has come to say goodbye to the sweet little faces of Uganda and travel home to our own families. We will take with us memories and happy thoughts of another 6,000 children sleeping on their new beds with a warm blanket to cover them and a mosquito net to protect them.

We will take home the pictures etched in our minds of the smiles and "Sanku's" [Thank you's] that we were given when the children were handed their new bed kits. And we will take home the new-found friendships developed with our team mates and the ladies of the Inner Wheel.
From Uganda Photo Album
Uganda is truly "the Pearl of Africa." It is a place full of open arms, smiles, and hopeful people. It is full of beautiful skies, fields, mountains and animals. To fall in love with Africa is easy — to say "Good-bye" to Africa impossible.

So instead we say: "See you next time."

Our team has just finished the final distribution in the photo at left. The child who received the final bedkit has six Canadians around him, holding on to one another and wishing that this moment of exhilaration could last forever.

We have represented our many donors and together we have brought meaning to the words of the late Murray Dryden: "It is every child's right to have a peaceful night's sleep."

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Sunday, 18 June 2006

Uganda: Canadians do the African Dance

From Uganda Photo Album
"Muzungo! Muzungo!" [White people!]

This is what you hear as you drive into a distribution site. Then comes the clapping, dancing and singing — including the very young, as you can see in the picture below. The song is often "We are happy to receive you. Welcome."

With such a great team that is so full of energy and love for the children, it is easy to become part of the Uganda customs. Joining in with the dance becomes a daily treat.

Two of our team members, Nancy and Sally Jo, have become true African-style dancers, taking pride in learning the dance moves. Nancy knows how to shake just right and Sally Jo adds the Canadian touch — much laughter accompanies their efforts.

Music and celebration is a very big part of Uganda. It is a great reward for our team to be part of the joy that a distribution brings to these villages.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Saturday, 17 June 2006

Uganda: A Kind and Gentle People

The 2006 Uganda Distribution team has been on the road for a couple of days. This time they went to the western part of Uganda. They plan to return Saturday evening. So, in the meantime, here's a report of what they see while they're on the road.

From Uganda Photo Album
As our bus passes along narrow bumpy roads our eyes meet those who are walking along the road or working in nearby fields. Their reaction is immediate: a beautiful smile and a friendly wave. Instantly you are made to feel welcome!

Children will run to the roadside waving frantically. Some will follow the bus for a short distance, calling to us in voices that express friendship and happiness.

"You are welcome in our community," is what you hear from the caregivers as we reach a distribution centre. Hands reach to touch ours and we feel very fortunate to be among friends.

Following the distribution our hosts will sincerely offer their homes for as long as we need to rest. As one local village member said in a soft voice, "You do not need a bed to sleep in my house."

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Friday, 16 June 2006

Uganda: Matoki, the Signature Food

From Uganda Photo Album
When you travel to the Maritime provinces in Canada, you must experience a lobster dinner. In Western Canada the grade 'A' beef will tempt your taste buds. Major cities in Canada will offer foods that represent many different cultures and they all taste so good!

In Uganda, you will find matoki — a food made from the inner pulp of a green banana. It is cooked over an open fire wrapped in banana leaves and served at any time of the day. The people of Uganda love their matoki and the Canadian team is trying its best to acquire a taste for it.

In remote villages matoki is a daily staple. The issue for these people is that their meals lack the important nutrients that a balanced diet requires. The tragic reality is that malnourished children become victims of the food they love!

Uganda: Agriculture

From Uganda Photo Album
Driving along the dusty roads we observe the farming that sustains village life: small plots of corn in front of thatched huts. peanut shells drying in the sun, and palms which are banana or matoki trees.

Millet (pictured at right) is a type of grain used to make a jelly-like bread with a mild flavour. For school lunches, children take a small plastic bag filled with maize, a corn which has been ground to a fine powder. Water is added to provide a filling but not very nutritious drink.

Other crops we have seen along the way include rice, pineapple — the sweetest fruit — and tea. Village markets display pyramids of tomatoes, mangoes, cabbages, cucumbers, and white potatoes, known in Uganda as "Irish."

Uganda is such a fertile land that it is hard to understand how so many of the children we see are malnourished.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Uganda: The Inner Wheel — Our Overseas Partners

From Uganda Photo Album
The ladies of the Inner Wheel of Kampala, our overseas partners in uganda, are an amazing group of women who plan for months in advance to ensure the success of the distribution.

Twelve sites were chosen with a coordinator for each one. They contacted suppliers to negotiate the purchase of bedkit items, a task made more difficult with this year’s requirement of including a mosquito net treated with anti-malarial material,

Selecting the children is accomplished through contact with tribal leaders, teachers, social workers and teachers - not an easy task. In one district there are one million children, all needy, but only 500 could be given what Murray Dryden called the most basic right of any child -”The comfort of a good night’s sleep.”

On distribution day the site coordinator arrives very early to organize the events to follow: Dressing the children in their SCAW clothing - rainbow colours of red, yellow, green and blue; counting the bags to ensure exactly 500 are piled up for giving after the photo; roping an area where parents and neighbours can observe without getting in the way. All this is done to ensure SCAW’s promise that only the most needy children will receive their gift.

The bonus for the Canadians is that the Inner Wheel ladies have become our friends. They ensure that we are well fed and comfortable as we travel from site to site. Their infectious laughter and good natured teasing will remain with all of us long after we return to Canada.

Thank you ladies of the Inner Wheel of Kampala.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Uganda: Distribution Album 2

Uganda: Salute to our Donors

We received so many photos from Uganda, we've added another distribution album showing some of the 6,000 children who will sleep more safely and more comfortably after the Ugandan distribution.

From Uganda Photo Album
Sleeping Children Around the World is supported by free will donors. The children of Uganda and all the other countries we visit sleep more comfortably due to your generosity. The team continues to witness the absolute joy all of you have given these children. It is evident in their faces and it warms our hearts.

So many schools, churches, community groups and individuals donate bedkits — it is truly incredible! All across Canada as well as Internationally — we have already seen donations from Thailand, the UK and the USA on this trip — have given so thoughfully for the love of children around the world.

Donors are very creative in their giving as well. We often see bedkits donated for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, holidays, and births. A special example is a couple celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Congratulations Sam and Mildred!They donated 64 bedkits and plan on using the photos they receive as invitations to the celebration of their lives together. The 2006 Uganda team would like to send a special "Congratulations" to Sam and Mildred! We have included a picture with 64 Ugandan children to help illustrate just how many lives you have influenced.

All of us want to thank all of you. We salute you for what you do to help these precious children.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Uganda: Medical Concerns

In a country where so many are poor, medical services are hard to access. Bedkit recipients have included a boy with severe cerebral palsy, another with polio, and several with birth defects that could have been treated with modern medicine. Many are infected with ringworm, a condition that is easily treated with inexpensive medicine if only the parent could afford it.

Some of the children we see suffer from high fevers, a symptom of untreated malaria, and an unknown number are HIV positive.

In spite of these conditions, the children greet us with enthusiastic clapping and singing. Their bright smiles express their happiness and excitement at receiving a gift so large they can hardly contain themselves.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Uganda: The Very Young

From Uganda Photo Album
Two days ago, we spoke about the elderly in Uganda — today it is the very young.

While we were in the Tororo District we visited a medical centre in a very simple building a 45-minute drive by automobile from the town. As we disembarked from our bus we discovered that the centre had no doctor.

A single nurse provided help to mothers who give birth. The facilities in the centre were sparse. Old iron framed beds had thin mattresses and in some cases no sheets or blankets.

In the recovery room several men were recovering from simple surgeries. The medical centre did not have adequate space to provide a separate place for the mothers who were recovering.

As we left, we wondered aloud how life can be so unfair to mothers and children in conditions of extreme poverty.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Monday, 12 June 2006

Uganda: A Birthday in Africa

From Uganda Photo Album
An absolutely amazing woman and wonderful member of the 2006 Uganda Team, Kristein, had a birthday on June 11th. Kristein is the proud mother of three great kids and runs a homeless shelter in Calgary. She took most of the pictures you've been enjoying in our live reports. If you ever wondered what it would be like to have a birthday half a world away from your dear family and friends, Kristein can now tell you.

She would probably share with you that her day began when her teammates gave her a gift of broken sunglasses — although by the picture to the right you can see that she pulled it off quite well.

At yesterday's distribution, one of the women from the village gave her a Jack Fruit.

Our local partners — the terrific members of the Inner Wheel — honoured her with a birthday cake, cards, and gifts.

However, she received the most precious gift of all when she walked off the bus. 500 Ugandan children sang “Happy Birthday” to her. (Check out the movie link below.) We know she was very moved by the super kids and felt honoured to be able to distribute 500 bedkits to very deserving children.

Her strength motivates us, her committment to the children encourages us, her photos inspire us, and her humour enhances all of our experiences in Uganda.

Happy Birthday, Kristein!
Leslie, Mary-Jo, Grant, Sally Jo, and Nancy

Uganda: Happy Birthday, Kristein.

Sunday, 11 June 2006

Uganda: The elderly in Uganda

From Uganda Photo Album
Their eyes often have a look of exhaustion and fear. They are the elderly members of the villages.

They have proudly raised eight to twelve children of their own and watched them mature into strong young members of the village. However, they have also watched many of them die. AIDS and malaria have claimed many victims but the grandparents have been held hostage in another way.

In addition to the great sadness of losing their own children, they must again be responsible for another generation of children.

They come to share in the celebration of the bedkit. They also fear for the future of their grandchildren.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Saturday, 10 June 2006

Uganda: Saturday, June 10

From Uganda Photo Album
The travelling team is able to send live reports back to Canada thanks to Felix Rwamafa in Kampala who emails reports and pictures so they can be posted here.

Felix (pictured right) helped us last year too and worked with SCAW as a volunteer for the first time in 2002. He studied computer networking at a university in Uganda. He told us he loves SCAW and the Canadian travelling team and says he's so happy to be able to do something for them.

Thank you, Felix.

Dear SCAW,

We are heading East and will not be back until late Saturday evening.

You may not hear from us until Sunday -- we will try to connect but are unsure of connectivity.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Friday, 9 June 2006

Uganda: Malaria Prevention

From Uganda Photo Album
Dear SCAW donors,

Malaria arrives as Uganda experiences another beautiful sunset and nightfall descends on this extraordinary country.

It begins as an innocent mosquito bite. The fever develops rapidly and becomes instantly intense. The natural defences of the body to battle this ravaging fever are not available for a poor malnourished child with no access to life-saving medication. The duration of the disease is often short and fatal. In the time it has taken to read this paragraph, several families in Africa have confronted the sadness of the death of a beloved child.

The bedkit for Uganda in 2006 includes an insecticide treated mosquito net. At distributions we explain to the adult caregivers how these nets can be used safely and effectively.

As donors, you should be proud of your powerful role in protecting the lives of these precious children in Uganda.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Uganda: Hello Canada!

Ugandan children at the Sleeping Children Around the World Uganda distribution welcomed the Canadian travelling team with a clapping song.

Click to watch and listen to the video.

Thursday, 8 June 2006

Uganda: Thursday, June 8

From Uganda Photo Album
Dear donors in Canada,

The expression is one of sheer joy and utter disbelief. A child in Uganda has just received a gift that is greater than might be expected in an entire lifetime — a bedkit!

This gift is possible due to a selfless act of generosity by an individual or organization who has made a donation to Sleeping Children Around the World:

  • It may be through the tireless efforts of the Teaching Assistants Association who designed and produced a beautiful cookbook for sale,
  • It may have been a family from St. Gertrude’s Catholic School,
  • It may have been a participant in the Crossroads Academy at the T.L. Kennedy Secondary School, or
  • It may have been one of the other extremely generous groups or individuals whose free will donation has reached our charity.

All of our donors are making a powerful impact on the lives of six thousand children in Uganda in this distribution!

As a special addition to our blog, please enjoy this photo album as we follow two young children through the distribution process.

Grant Clark,
on behalf of the 2006 Uganda SCAW team

Uganda: A Distribution Photo Album

Follow Samson and Diana through the distribution process. Samson is a 12-year-old orphan whose parents both died of AIDS. He now lives with his grandparents. He dreams of being a doctor so that he can cure diseases. Seven-year-old Diana lives with her Mom and four siblings. She dreams of being a nurse.

Click on the link to see all the photos in the Album showing stages in a distribution.

Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Uganda: Wednesday, June 7

From Uganda Photo Album
Dear SCAW,

Our team is distributing in neighbourhoods within Kampala for the first two days, June 6 and 7. This provides us with the comforts of our guest house in Kampala before we begin to travel long distances to more remote villages in the East.

Our team is dealing with the emotion of meeting five hundred needy children each day who are dressed in their new everyday uniforms — provided by the generous SCAW donors — ready to have their photograph taken.
What an experience!

We hope that the pictures attached will give you a feeling for the important work that your donations make possible.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Tuesday, 6 June 2006

Uganda: Tuesday, June 6, 2006

From Uganda Photo Album
Dear SCAW,

Sally Jo is typing this report while Nancy works on sending the pictures. The Internet cafe is really busy so the service is slow. Here are Grant's words on behalf of the team to go with the pictures:

Murray Dryden, beloved founder and inspiration of Sleeping Children Around the World always cherished his visits to Uganda. He loved the beautiful sunsets, the spectacular scenery, and the gentle people and the beautiful children. Our team is experiencing the same love affair with Uganda!

Uganda struggles with issues that Canadians do not know. Poverty is endemic. Poor nutritional knowledge contributes to malnourished children. An average income of less than one dollar a day makes life a daily trial for many. Malaria and AIDS attack families in a merciless fashion. Children are the innocent victims.

This year our team is confronted with the challenge of regular hydro-electric blackouts. In previous years, sections of Kampala might experience a outage once every one or two weeks. Now it is practically a daily occurence. This is a challenge for our team in sending live reports with pictures.

We will do our best to send reports regularly.

2006 Uganda SCAW team

Uganda Photo Album 2006

Monday, 5 June 2006

Uganda: Arrival

From Uganda Photo Album
Dear SCAW,

We are all very well and excited to be here in Kampala. Nancy was the first to arrive mid afternoon from Capetown after a week in South Africa. The rest of the team followed later last night.

Incredible luck and good travel omens allowed everyone to meet up. Grant, Leslie, and Mary-Jo left from Toronto, Kristein left from Calgary and all met up in London.

Sally Jo was coming from Kuwait after a visit with her son and daughter-in-law and met up with the team in Dubai.

All together, we went onwards to Entebbe and arrived at Anne's Guest House at about 10:00 p.m.

Everyone is excited about starting tomorrow's distribution and meeting all the wonderful children. Above is a picture of the team taken last night at Anne's Guest House (a motley crew of tired travellers) as well as a photo at left taken from the balcony after a heavy rain this morning.

We are thinking of all of our loved ones and supporters in Canada!

The 2006 Uganda SCAW team