Sunday, 23 May 2010

Philippines: Mission Accomplished

The SCAW travelling team and
the SCAW Core Committee (Kiwanis) team.
From Philippines 2010
Today the Philippines team had the pleasure of distributing the final 400 bedkits to needy children. Now 6,000 kids have the materials to ensure "the comfort of a good night's sleep." The kids and their parents are most grateful for their "Gift of Love" from Canada.

The Kiwanis team in Manila carried out their part of the distributions without the leadership of Dr. Juan Torres who had emergency surgery on the second day of the schedule. They are so committed to the goals of meeting the needs of children that they have every detail covered. It is a family affair with husbands, wives, and teen-agers all working to accomplish the tasks.

Thanks to all who supported the team with blog messages and e-mails of encouragement. We will be home soon to share our stories and photos.

Sally Jo Martin
for the SCAW 2010 Philippines Team

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Saturday, 22 May 2010

Philippines: Anticipation of a gift

The children are both shy and excited at the same time when they come to receive their bedkit. They try to contain the excitement that they are feeling when a gift is forthcoming but the expression on their faces tell it all.

When they come forward to receive the bedkit they try to suppress a giggle or big smile and some even do a little dance hopping up and down. You can’t help but feel part of their excitement as well.

It’s a birthday/Christmas present all rolled into one -- something many may not receive too often. They are so appreciative.

One little boy expressed it the best. When seated to get his picture taken, he looked down at all the items that make up a bedkit that were spread out in front of him and said “Incredible."

Joyce Foster
for the SCAW 2010 Philippines Team

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Uganda: Distribution complete

Our distribution is complete and 6,000 more Ugandan kids are sleeping peacefully!

Best part of the distribution:

The excitement when we pull into the distribution site and the smiles that are present when we hand the children the bedkits.

Worst part of the distribution:

The many children waiting at the end to see if there are any extra bedkits. They are happy to collect our empty water bottles ... Imagine how they would feel with their own bedkits.

Children all around the world have big dreams for their future. We hope your bedkits will help these children realize their dreams.

Jenny Simpson
for SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Friday, 21 May 2010

Philippines: The "Eyes" have it

They sparkle, they are shy, they smile, they are worried and some are sad. Each of those dark brown eyes tell a human story.

The rewarding part of being the member of the team that gives the bedkit is that you have the opportunity to make eye contact with each child.

One little girl today came dancing to me with sparkling eyes. The bedkit she received was almost bigger than she but she was soooo happy.

Each child receives a blessing and the blessing that I use is “A Gift of Love.” Yesterday some of the children came from an area that, by our standards, has very little. Many said "Salamat, Po" ("Thank you.") in their language and added “God Bless.” Here were these children who needed so much, blessing me. It was very touching and a reminder of how lucky we are.

Frank Best
for the SCAW 2010 Philippines Team

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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Philippines: Life on the Streets

Today’s distribution in Metropolitan Manila took us to the grounds of a convent where local children greeted us enthusiastically.

After all the photos had been taken today we went on a walking tour of the area where many of the children who received the bedkits live. This “informal housing neighbourhood” which we would consider a slum was an eye opener. Tiny concrete block homes with minimal water or hydro supply stand on a steep slope leading to a road lined with small shops.

There we saw the children happily playing games using improvised equipment. Flip flops, stones, a kiddy riding toy, a basketball all had them running and laughing.

Most touching was their approach asking to be blessed. Indeed we are the ones feeling blessed to have brought comfort and joy to so many beautiful children.

Sally Jo Martin
for the SCAW 2010 Philippines Team

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Uganda: Getting home …

Here in Uganda we have noticed the many modes of transportation for getting bedkits to their new homes.

The road into the distribution was long and bumpy on our bus today. We were slowed down by a herd of cattle that moved at a very slow pace despite our honking.

Many children came from far away villages and had to share transportation with other children on the way home. It is common to see one large truck with 50 to 60 bedkits and their new owners as well as the children’s families.

We have seen other modes of transport such as motorcycles and bikes carrying numerous bedkits at a time and many children walking with the pails on their heads.

Rain or shine they proudly wave as we make our way on the long and bumpy road to the next distribution.

SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Philippines: Blessed

From Philippines Slideshow 3
Today was my day to receive 350 blessings from the children as they received their bedkit.

I am overwhelmed with their spirit. As a way of thanking us, the children take your hand and press it to their forehead. It symbolizes respect.

In a time when respect is often overlooked these children are very grateful for what they have received.

I am the one who feels blessed.

Marg Garrett
for the SCAW 2010 Philippines Team

Note: For more photos of this day's distribution, see yesterday's slide show.

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Uganda: Hello, Muzungu!

From Day 9
The Uganda Team was "on the road" for a few days. They sent this report & photos just before they left.

"Hello Muzungu!"

As we travel through Uganda, the team encounters the incredible warmth of the Ugandan people. Whether it be a warm embrace from a distribution helper, a welcome song by the children, or mothers dancing in celebration of our arrival.

Our particular favourites are the constant waves to us on the bus and children yelling "Hello, muzungu, how are you?" as they run alongside. (Muzungu is the local word meaning "white face.")

In so many ways, we are welcomed into the community. The people here are joyous, kind, and so very gracious.

SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Monday, 17 May 2010

Philippines: Slide Show 3

SCAW 2010 Philippines Team

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Uganda: Rain

"Rain, rain go away, come again another day."

During a distribution we never know when rain is going to happen or how long it will last. One day we were reminded just how tricky Mother Nature can be as a lengthy downpour rolled over our distribution site. As one bedkit recipient’s parent said “During the rainy season, it is very cool for the child and I can’t go to work.”

Uganda is very dependent on Mother Nature. She could make a person unable to work.

As for us, we still work -- rain or shine! We’re ecstatic to do it knowing that each child will sleep on a comfy mattress, wrapped in a warm blanket and under a mosquito net tonight … and for many nights.

SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Philippines: Snapshot of a recipient's home life

From Philippines 2010
Sean Michael is an 8 year old boy in Grade Two who received a bedkit recently at the rural San Mateo distribution site. His father, Mr. M, (pictured at right) who participated in SCAW's parent survey, spoke briefly about his family's situation.

Mr. M, who himself completed high school, and attended a college program for a while, had to drop out before finishing, for financial reasons. He then worked for a while as a Manila taxi driver, but gave it up due to the hazards of the job. Now back in the rural area, he is only seasonally employed.

His son, Sean Michael, is one of four children, aged six to twelve, living in the family's humble accomodations. Sean Michael also has an older brother living outside the family home. Sean Michael's younger sib has a hole in his heart, as yet untreated.

The four children and two parents share the family bed, which is a sheet of foam on the hard floor. They share one government-issued untreated mosquito net. They also have a sitting room where they enjoy watching TV. Last fall they lost the roof of their house during some high winds. Mr M had to borrow money from his sister to rebuild the roof but, unfortunately, the water still gets into the house.

Money remains tight in the household and, for instance, Mr M cannot always afford to buy his growing children shoes when they need them. Mr. M was very grateful to SCAW and the Canadian donors who help provide some necessities for his son.

Marsha Hardy
for SCAW 2010 Philippines Team

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Philippines: Slideshow 2

Uganda: 4,000 bedkits distributed!

From Uganda Day 7
The team would like to thanks all the donors, the Pinehurst house volunteers, and our friends and families for all the support that makes a trip like this even possible.

We are now two thirds completed with the distribution and are thrilled to have seen the joy in the children’s faces. We are just a wee bit sad to know it is almost over.

We are definitely making the most of each and every day.

See more of today's pictures in the Photo Album

SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Saturday, 15 May 2010

Uganda: Cute doesn’t even begin to describe it!

Today we travelled out of the capital (Kampala) to the eastern region of Uganda. We did a distribution in Jinja and then we were able to do a boat tour of the source of the Nile.

The team sends our best to those of you following the blog. Not much else to say today -- but check out our cute kids!!!!

We will continue our journey east for the next four nights. Stay tuned!

SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Friday, 14 May 2010

Uganda: Bump, Bump, Bumpy

From Uganda Photos 2010
The Uganda team now knows well where the words to a verse in “the wheels on a bus” came from … the people on our bus definitely go up and down with each bump.

Certainly a challenging part of our trip is travelling from site to site. There are few paved roads and when we do take them we are likely to get into the “jam” (traffic backups) or encounter potholes so frequently and so deep that it often feels like we are in a slalmon course.
As we depart from the paved roads and venture to the red dirt roads of Uganda, we really get to experience the Ugandan travel experience. The dirt roads have been particularly bumpy this year due to the rains. With little or no storm water management infrastructure, they are compromised by extensive erosion. Our distribution sites have been planned closer to the main road this year in order to enable access for our bus and the lorry that carries the bedkits.

We share the road not only with people and vehicles but also with livestock (cattle and goats). It is an amazing site to see children shepherding their flock along some main roads. Quite often it is with a smile and intense concentration.

As with all roads in Uganda there is always constant movement. Whether this movement be cars, lorries, people walking or riding, the people here are definitely “on the move” regardless of the absence of a smooth ride.

SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Philippines: What a difference

From Philippines 2010
The donors can feel that they have made a difference in the lives of four young people! Four former recipients returned today.

Gloribel Dariano, a '99 recipient is a 2007 high school graduate and has completed one year in an I.T. program at university. She has been a volunteer teacher for a year and next month will start teaching 5- to 8-year-old students at a school in town.

"JOYFUL" was the feeling expressed by Ronahan Navarro, also a '99 recipient, the first night with her bedkit when she was in grade one. High marks in high school have led her to a Bible School scholarship. Her goal is to teach in missionary work.

Robinson Serrato was in grade two when he received his bedkit. His first night was "RESTFUL" and he has now graduated from college in a computer science program. He wants to be the best teacher in his prep. school teaching "basic school training."

Success comes in many ways. A fourth recipient came for a brief time but had to leave to go to his job some distance away.

These four young people walked and spoke with confidence. The donors made a difference and our team felt that our mission was worthwhile.

Frank Best
for SCAW 2010 Philippines Team

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Philippines: Slide Show

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Uganda: Our Culinary Journey

From Uganda Photos 2010
One of the many interesting things we are able to experience is the traditional food of Uganda. The country is full of diverse crops and livestock and our Oversea Volunteers ensure we are able to sample as many of the choices as possible.

As we travel to the distribution sites we see “maize” (corn), bananas, sweet potatoes, “irish” potatoes, “pumpkin” (squash) and so many other crops.

The team definitely has some favourites however:
  • Debbie has a fondness for the matoke (in the plantain family & pictured at left), specifically when it is twice cooked (first steamed, then wrapped in banana leaves and baked over a wood fire) with ground nuts (a purple peanut sauce). There are photos of the preparation of matoke in our Uganda Photo Album
  • Sieg would like to highly recommend the goat.
  • Diane can’t believe how sweet the pineapple tastes.
  • Jenny is a big fan of the “chips” but is thinking of venturing out to the grasshopper realm … stay tuned.
  • Laurie is captivated by the specially prepared chicken, which is steamed wrapped in banana leaves with tomato, curry powder, onions, and so much more. This dish is called Luwombo.
  • Nancy looks forward to the wonderful rice preparations.
  • The entire team can’t get enough of the avocado!
We always look forward to the next meal!

SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Philippines: The team has arrived

From Philippines 2010
We received a brief series of notes from the Philippines team.
  • Tomorrow is day one of our distribution.
  • Ready to go on Friday with our first 700 bedkits.
  • 6,000 bedkits fill an entire three-bedroom house.
  • Assembly plant is under a leanto in the back yard.
  • What a wonderful friend we have in Dr Ito and his family.
  • More later.

In the photo are the Philippines travelling team with Dr. Ito, our OVO leader and some of the 6,000 stored bedkits. (Left to right) Dr. Ito, Tom Chudleigh (Team Leader), Joyce Foster, Frank Best, Margaret Garrett, Marsha Hardy, Sally Jo Martin.

Margaret Garrett & Tom Chudleigh
for SCAW 2010 Philippines Team

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Philippines: Post your comments here

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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Uganda: Sheka

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”

Today was our third day of distributions, and we wanted to share our smile words:
  • Sheka (pronounced Shake-ah) means to laugh and smile (singular)
  • Musheke (pronounced Moo-shake-ee) means to laugh and smile (pural)
Here are a few of our smile pictures!

SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Uganda: Stark Contrasts

From Uganda Photos 2010
We are now a quarter way through our journey. We have had the pleasure of meeting 1,500 beautiful Ugandan children. The team had a great (but long) day distributing 1,000 bedkits in two districts: Mpigi and Kampala.

Sir Franicis Bacon said: “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."

We encounter the very same each and every day.

We see so many children in need, yet there is a light and joy of life not often experienced in the western world. The peoples here hold each and every healthy day here so dear and it is in each day’s contrast that the beauty of Uganda is so clearly seen:
From Uganda Photos 2010
  • The vibrant red dirt, the whitest of white shirt.
  • Unimaginable heat, beautiful deep green vegetation.
  • Difficult infrastructure, while supporting a sea of movement (people walking, riding, driving).
  • A pair of mismatched shoes …
Nancy Holt
for SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Uganda: Slide Show

Monday, 10 May 2010

Uganda: The Inner Wheel of Kampala

From Uganda Photos 2010
Today was our first distribution and it was a great experience. However, we couldn’t do it alone.

For each distribution, the SCAW team is paired up with an Overseas Volunteer Organization. Team Uganda has been paired with the Inner Wheel of Kampala for seventeen years. The Inner Wheel is made up of service-minded women who donate money and raise awareness about important issues in their community.

Each year, this team of women has taken SCAW under their wing and been an important force in making sure each distribution happens. One main job that the Inner Wheel has is determining which children receive bedkits and what items make up the bedkit.

From Uganda Photos 2010
This year, their task was 6,000 children and $35 (CDN). They found discounts on items and managed to get nineteen items for $35. In addition to these tasks, they secure transportation, do a financial report, select distribution sites, and they still have time to do other positive things in their communities.

Some of the things that they have done include paying school fees for children, building a protected well, donating money to hospitals and schools, giving out wheelchairs, and informing other people on HIV/AIDS. We are incredibly lucky to be partnered with this wonderful group of women.

Laurie Guay
for SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Sunday, 9 May 2010

Uganda: The whole team is here

From Uganda Photos 2010
The whole team has arrived!

Pictured (Left to Right) is the SCAW Uganda 2010 Travelling Team: (Back Row) Nancy Holt, Sieg Will & Debbie Will-Dryden (Team Leaders). (Front Row) Jenny Simpson, Diane Warkentin, Laurie Guay.

Nancy arrived this afternoon and we all attended our predistribution meeting at a beautiful estate in the hills of Uganda.

We are looking forward to meeting 500 Ugandan children tomorrow morning!

Debbie Will-Dryden
for SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Saturday, 8 May 2010

Uganda: Getting ready in Kampala

From Uganda Photos 2010
Today we visited the manufacturing facilities for the school uniforms included in the bedkit. The manufacturing takes place in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and employs mainly single mothers and student apprentices learning the trade. They have a high turnover rate as many of the women save their money, purchase their own sewing machines, and start their own businesses.

We also visited the homes of three former bedkit recipients. It was very emotional for us all.

From Uganda Photos 2010
We saw how very few possessions each recipient had and how their bedkits had weathered so well. One young teen boy told us how he had received his bedkit in 2007 and with an emotion-choked voiced claimed it "one of the highlights of his life."

Another recipient now lives with her grandmother and twenty-four other grandchildren as the parents have all died of AIDS. Another lives with her grandmother and struggles with being a parapalegic in Uganda society.

It was a day that made us all eager to get to the work of distributing the bedkits!

Debbie Will-Dryden
for SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Friday, 7 May 2010

Uganda: The team is assembling

A brief email arrived this afternoon
Just wanted to let you know that 5 of the 6 team members have safely arrived in Uganda. Jenny, Laurie, Di, Sieg, and I left on Wednesday and Nancy arrives on Sunday. Will update with photos once we begin our work tomorrow.

Debbie Will-Dryden
for SCAW Team Uganda 2010

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Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Togo: 4,000 Bedkits -- Mission Accomplished

From Togo 2010 Photos
"It is the right of every child to have a peaceful night's sleep."

- Murray Dryden, circa 1970

Au revoir Togo.

Team Togo 2010

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Monday, 3 May 2010

Togo: 4,000 Bedkits

Children in Canada think that 4000 bedkits are a lot. For children in Togo it is merely a beginning.

Many are waiting!

Team Togo 2010

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Sunday, 2 May 2010

Togo: Our OVO

From Togo 2010 Photos
The conversation sounds like this:

"How did SCAW transport the bedkits to Africa?"
"We didn't. The Overseas Volunteer Organization, (Action Enfance et Développement - Togo) sourced all items in their country."

"How did SCAW deliver the kits to the remote villages?"
"We didn't. The Overseas Volunteer Organization [OVO] arranged for lorries to deliver them."

"How did SCAW get bedkit items at the best quality and price?"
"We didn't. The OVO received competitive quotes."

"How did SCAW select the children?"
"We didn't. The OVO identified children from a strict selection criteria."

"How did SCAW arrange for your security in Africa?"
"We didn't. The OVO was with us at all times during our stay."

Our partnership with our OVO is "the magic" that makes the distribution process possible on behalf of the children and our donors.

Bravo OVO!

Team Togo

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Saturday, 1 May 2010

Togo: Personal touch

From Togo 2010 Photos
Labels are the heartbeats of our charity.

They identify each of our donors. They also verify that $35 has been received for each bedkit. A label appears in each photograph together with the child and the bedkit items. The label is the connection between the donor and the recipient.

Labels tell many stories. They remind us of special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. They describe school fundraisers, church bazaars, and service club projects. They also recall moments of unspeakable personal grief. Our team saw Alina's label on day number three. We also felt a mother's pain. Alina was the daughter of one of our SCAW team members. Her daughter's life had tragically ended at the age of twenty-three.

Our team is inspired by Carolyn Carere's courage. Two children in Togo received bedkits in Alina's memory. Carolyn met privately with these families to add a personal donation. She discovered unexpected similarities that amazed her. Each child was one of four children in their family -- as was Alina.

When Carolyn rejoined our team we were strengthened by her beaming smile. The "excellent personal touch" of our charity has taken on profound new meaning for each of us.

Team Togo

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