Friday, 31 May 2013

Uganda: The Gift

At each distribution the Uganda team shows the parents and the children who will receive the bedkit the contents that are in each kit.  One of the incredible Ladies of the Inner Wheel, our Overseas Volunteer Partners translates for the large group of parents, grandparents, guardian, caregivers and friends. We introduce ourselves and the bedkit to great cheers and yelps and dances of joy.  The biggest cheers go up for the school bag, the 12 exercise books and the compass and protractor sets. The water bottle and basin are cheered as is the mosquito net.  We explain that it is treated and can prevent diseases like malaria which continues to plaque Uganda and the adults nod their heads in agreement.  The mat, blanket, sheet, shoes and additional tee shirt are also cheered.

We carefully explain that donors have given $35 Canadian to purchase this bedkit for their children and what the process will be for the picture taking and the child actually receiving the bedkit.  It is clear that many times these villagers have been duped by individuals and some organizations into turing over funds that have been borrowed with the promise that they will receive items or school fees for their childdren.  However the person never returns and families have lost very valuable resources that they desperately need to support their families.  So when they hear about Sleeping Childrem Around the World, there is some scepticism initially until the Inner Wheel complete their assessment of the needy children and choose the site in the village and then we arrive. 


The cheers today in Mity-ebili when we arrived were overwhelming as was the beautiful singing of the children singing a welcoming song for us. Their "wel-a-come song" touched each of us as the children waved their arms as we moved among the lines to greet the children.  They were waiting patiently for us to arrive, then changed into their new clothes to get ready for their pictures to be taken.  Even though we talk to the children about what is happening and the gift they will be receiving shortly, they do not seem to truly understand until they recieve the bedkit and then the smiles are then enormous.  Today we raced against an oncoming storm to complete the distribution before the skies opened up.

Watching the children leave with their bedkits is a joy to watch and as we leave the site we often see children and their caregivers along the road.  The waves and smiles we receive give us the understanding of the power of the gift of the bedkit that Sleeping Children Around the World is able to give to children in Uganda through the generosity of our donors.

Team Uganda 2013
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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Uganda: Parents

There are many opportunities to interact with parents through out the course of the distributions . When we first arrive parents are eagerly awaiting us and we spend several minutes mingling and greeting them. Their smiling faces show their excitement and they are all anxious to shake our hands and show their gratitude.

One of the most fulfilling things that we do is to interview the parents, It is an opportunity to ask about their family life as well as solicit feedback about the contents of the bedkit. We meet with them informally and with the aid of an interpreter they often shyly tell their stories.

Many tell a similar story about the hardships caused by Aids , malaria, malnutrition and the trials of being a single parent when abandoned or through the death of a spouse. Grandparents in particular have a difficult life as many have no income and are the sole caregivers due to the ravages of Aids. Many of them are elderly, frail and lack the energy to cope with a young family of several children.

In spite of all the obstacles encountered in their lives the Ugandan caregivers that we meet maintain a sense of hope for the next generation and are grateful for the gifts the SCAW Team brings to their children as they realize the value of education and importance of a good night's sleep.

Team Uganda 2013
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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Uganda: Kasawo

This morning we left Jinja after two nights on our way to Kasawo for our fourth distribution.  We had about a 90 minute drive and of course, the last half got a little bumpy and dusty.   We hardly noticed the drive and the bumps since we were treated to the singing talents of our Inner Wheel ladies!  It was so inspiring we couldn’t help but join in.

On our way we saw the typical Ugandan home.  This is where  many of the children that received a bedkit live.  Before the distribution we had an opportunity to meet and interact with the children before they were ready for their pictures.   The Team was able to spend some memorable time laughing and taking pictures with the very excited children.  Today they were clapping and singing while they waited to receive their bedkit.   As they were shown what they were going to receive today, the cheers were especially loud for the school books and math set.   We are finding that this is the most popular item to show them before the distribution.  

As Pat lined the children up for their pictures, I was ready and waiting to hand them their mattress and the rest of the bedkit.  They were so excited when they finally reached the time of day when they could hold their bedkit and proudly carry it to their parents.  It was such a privilege to watch them show their family what they had received.  

As the distribution ended and the Team was loading the bus for the bumpy ride back to the home base in Kampala, we again had the opportunity to interact with the children as they preparing to leave for their long trip home to their families.  We had a great time with one of the last trucks loading the children and families (and all the bedkits) into a very small space.  It was interesting to watch as they used every available space to make sure that everyone had a place.   The Team had a lot of fun with the very relaxed and talkative children who had received a bedkit.   The weather cooperated and we all had an awesome day.

Pat and Joan for Team Uganda 2013
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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Uganda: Kajuki

Day three of the Ugandan distribution took us from the city of Jinja (The Source of the Nile) 85 kilometres to the town of  Kajuki.  Most team members were awakened early around 5:00 a.m. with a heavy downpour and continuous lightening.  Our travel up country was on a reasonable road for the first hour.  The road quickly changed to our roughest ride of our distributions so far.  This rural road showed signs of heavy rain fall overnight however at several places people were washing their bikes in the puddles.  Earlier dust masks were distributed but as a result of the heavy rain they were unnecessary.  


As we approached the distribution site our bus drew unusual attention from both adults and children.  

Our VOPs (Volunteer Overseas Partners), The Innerwheel of Kamapala, had the distribution site and the children well organized ahead of our arrival. Despite the intense heat the distribution moved along at a steady pace.  The parents and children  were very appreciative of the special gift of the bed kit.  This was demonstrated by the childrens' sincere thank you, spoken in English, accompanied by a polite bow.  The women caregivers broke out in their distinctive expression of thank you when their child reached them with their new bedkit,  "Kalulu".
On our return we noticed that the roadway had become  crowded with many workers and children returning home.  We recognized several bedkits at a considerable distance from the school where our distribution had been held.  
Jan and John for Team Uganda 2013

Monday, 27 May 2013

Uganda: Kowolo

The Team From Uganda 2013

Our second distribution was at Kowolo, on the way to Jinja which is the source of the Nile River.  We had many extremely helpful volunteers assisting us with many jobs such as lining the children up, organizing the bedkits for the Scaw volunteers and helping the children return to their parents with their new special gift.  It was very useful having these volunteers since it helped the distribution go quickly and smoothly which was particularly useful since we were racing ahead of the coming rain storm.  When we realized how far these children had traveled to reach the distribution site, many of them walking seven miles or more, it was imperative to have them receive their bedkit and be on their way before the rain came.  It was a sight to behold to see them walking along the path below us clutching their new bed kit and dressed in their colourful new clothes. 


After the rain storm, our OVP, the Innerwheel of Kampala, shared with the Canadian Team one of the most spectacular sights of Uganda, The Source of the Nile.

Team Uganda 2013
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Uganda: Visiting Factories

Our first day in Uganda took us on a tour of the local factories that are so important to the production of items in our bedkits. The ladies of the Innerwheel work throughout the year to procure the items that are needed and negotiate the best price to give the best value for the $35 that is available from each donation. This process takes several months and much work on the part of our Overseas Volunteer Partners. 

We visited a factory where the mattresses are produced. The owner spoke with pride about  his production of the 6000 bedkits and had generously provided storage of all the bedkit items throughout the time of the distribution.  We also saw the factories where the sheets were made and the uniforms.  It was interesting to hear about how local people, particularly women were employed in these factories contributing to the local economy.  

Team Uganda 2013
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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Uganda: Our First Distribution!!

It was an early morning start for team Uganda for our first day of distribution.  The incredible ladies of the Inner Wheel met us at our bus for a two hour drive through Kampala traffic to the site of a primary school very near to Lake Victoria.  On the way we saw the homes of the children that we would soon meet and many parents were able to accompany their children as it was a Sunday.  Many other families were there watching who were not receiving a bed kit and were hopeful that we might return another year for their children as well.  

We were greeted with smiles and cheers as we introduced ourselves and showed the contents of the bedkits.  We were pleasantly surprised that the biggest cheer was for the school supplies: twelve exercise books, a math set and a school bag made by a small local cottage industry.  

Other items that particularly excited them were the mosquito net and the mattress.  All of our team members were very moved by the children's enthusiasm particularly since several of our team members are first time SCAW travelers.  

The time spent by the Inner Wheel of Kampala in the months before we arrived was evident in the excellent organization of the bedkits and the choice of the children who obviously could benefit greatly from the bedkits. 

Team Uganda 2013
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Uganda 2013: Post Your Comments Here

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