Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Uganda: Wonderful Welcomes!

Today our team experienced a wonderful welcome by parents and children at our rural distribution site.  They all clapped, sang and danced enthusiastically as our van arrived, and as our team shook hands and mingled with the crowd.  The excitement resumed when the SCAW team showed the bedkit items to the crowd, with the loudest cheers for the school supplies and mosquito net.  The team then took the pictures of the children and had a special moment giving  bedkits to the smiling children.

Carol and Ted Swanston for Team Uganda 2016
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Uganda: A Day in the Life of A Ugandan SCAW Member

Today we were up before the sun in order to arrive at our distribution site in good time.  As we drove we watched the sun rise on the horizon.  Our 4 hour drive took us through Queen Elizabeth park where we saw lots of wildlife.  The weariness of our early morning start was completely erased upon arrival at our site as we were greeted by the throngs of children and parents.  At the end of the day 444 more children would have a better night's sleep.  

Team Uganda 2016
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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Uganda: Full of Adventures!

We started on our journey at 8:00 and our amazing driver  Robert lost his  driver's licence. Do not fear we stopped at a police station and he was given a temporary oWne. About half an hour in our journey we came across a family of baboons. That made our morning. Lots of laughter and picture taking. On arrival at our site in  Fort Royal which was a church compound there was a wedding, a choir practice and a service.  Parents and children were very happy to see us with the children singing and dancing for us. Our distribution went very smoothly with the help of all our overseas volunteer.

Norma for Team Uganda 2016
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Philippines: Farewell!

All good things must come to an end…and such is the case with the Sleeping Children Around the World’s 2016 distribution to the Philippines.

Our last day consisted of a 300 bedkit distribution in the morning at San Isidro, with a final 300 bedkits at Bago Bantay.  Both sites were situated in Manila which involved a fairly lengthy commute (timewise) through traffic. At San Isidro the children were ready and waiting in the local basketball court, eagerly waving Canadian and Filipino flags. Following  brief opening remarks, the singing of both national anthems and we were into photography mode. The flow of children was excellent! A combination of local volunteers and members of SCAW Philippines made for steady, uninterrupted progress.

A typical Filipino lunch of tilapia, rice, fresh pineapple, papaya, yellow melon, and small bananas was generously provided by the local volunteers for both teams.

Then we were off into traffic again to reach Bago Bantay, our last site of a hectic and rewarding two weeks. The massive oak doors of the local church provided an ideal backdrop for the children’s photos.

The final recipient…smiling like so many others before her. A tired but elated team took their places where 5,000 children had sat previously, behind the bedkit at sixteen locations across Luzon.

Our post distribution meeting, an emotional gathering, with the full SCAW Philippines team was held in the evening, where we discussed the success of yet another Philippines distribution. Doctor Ito and his team expressed their gratitude to the many donors in Canada and around the world who made this project possible, and to the Canadian team for their commitment to the children of the Philippines. The Canadian team in turn thanked SCAW Philippines for all their time and effort preparing for the distribution and for their untiring support and generosity to the team during our time here. 

Salamat po (respectfully thank you)

Team Philippines 2016  

Uganda: My First Distribution Trip!

Today will be our fourth distribution.  It is hard to believe I am here in Africa after so much planning and anticipation   it has been so much more than I expected  - the dancing and clapping as we arrive. The shy smiles as the children receive their bed kits. The dusty bumpy roads as we travel the amazing organization and care of the Inner Wheel ladies and the support and encouragement of the team from Canada.

Team Uganda 2016
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Friday, 27 May 2016

Uganda: The Land and the People

As Winston Churchill quoted: "Uganda is the pearl of Africa "

Our SCAW team with 18 Inner Wheel ladies experienced this vast, rich and wonderful terrain as we traveled west for our distribution site.  Mangoes, avocados, plantain, corn and "Irish" potatoes are a few of the produce visible en route.

There are many smiles from the Ugandan people, young and old.  We receive warmth and enthusiasm from the children and their parents as we give the bedkits.  What a joy to deliver such a gift to the Ugandan children.  Thank you donors.

Team Uganda 2016
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Philippines: Vigan to Manila!

We're on the road again! We are embarked on an 8 -14 hour drive back from Vigan heading south to Manila. Timing depends on roads, construction, traffic and the reliability of the several people who gave us a wide range of time lines. We helped pass time by guessing our arrival time and multiple “road games” thanks to Jenny Simpson!

The time was also broken up with a stop at a SCAW Philippines members’ home for a brunch along the way and a chance to catch some ocean views!

This day also gave us all time to reflect on the distributions so far and how every little “job” we hold during the day contributes to the entire team effort.

Chris Hills is our Team Leader and takes all the photos, as well as coordinates our work with the Philippines SCAW team on the ground here.

Gail Hills handing out a bedkit to a thankful little girl.

Jenny Simpson during a home visit with a bedkit recipient from earlier in the day.

Joan Hatcher conducting an interview with a bedkit recipient and his mother.

Rick Beardon handing out a bedkit.  This is the task we all love to get!

Iain McIver having fun with the children before the distribution.  This can be the most fun part of the day for both the kids and us as team members!

Brian Barr with the task of the very important “label pulling” job of the day!

Our roles change daily but each one plays an important part of making sure the distribution runs smoothly and for the children!

Joan Hatcher for Team Philippines 2016
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Thursday, 26 May 2016

Philippines: Vigan!

Today found the team in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the seven wonders of the modern world. It is an exceptionally well preserved example of a European trading town with many examples of Spanish design and architecture.  
This is the first time SCAW has been here to make a distribution, and the efforts of SCAW Philippines and many, many local volunteers worked extremely hard to make this special day a success.

The melodies of Lupang Hinirang (the Philippine’s national anthem) and O Canada filled the arena.

After the official introductions and acknowledgements, we were fascinated with an example of the tinikling dance. An energetic dance where very quick reflexes are required as dancers step in and around moving bamboo poles. Several team members (Filipino and Canadian) were invited to join in.

Nothing was too much trouble for the local volunteers as we asked for the calesa carriage to be relocated for the photo shoot.

Jess Navarro, our constant companion and guardian showing off our backdrop.

With the proximity of Canada to the North Pole (and the gifts that come from there) being noted, 350 children lined up waiting patiently to receive their gift from Sleeping Children. Delighted expressions of joy lit up their faces once they realised that each and everyone of them could take a bedkit home with them!  

After 350 children went home happy…Edgar, one of the local volunteers kindly invited the teams to his home for a  wonderful Filipino feast.
We also met his exotic pet…….

Team Philippines 2016.
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Zimbabwe: Mission Accomplished!!

Mission Accomplished!  806 more children in Zimbabwe sleeping cosy in their new bedkits!  We are so grateful for all the support from our Zimbabwe partners as they took on this challenging new distribution, truly embodying their Rotary motto of "service above self" and the SCAW mandate of 100% for the children.  Everywhere we went we were showered with thanks, and we pass this along to you in the videos. Hope and joy, for sure!

Team Zimbabwe 2016
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Uganda: The Inner Wheel!!

Mahatma Gandhi said "To find yourself, you must lose yourself in service to others."  The women of the Inner Wheel have truly found themselves in their untiring service to the children of Uganda.  To work shoulder to shoulder with these women each day is a true inspiration to our Canadian team.  We all rejoice in the joy of the children receiving the benefits of the work done in Uganda, and thanks to our donors.

Team Uganda 2016
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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Uganda: Our First Distribution!

Today was our  first distribution. We left our hotel in Kampala at 6.45. Our destination was a church in Kakuba which is a 28 km ride.  Traffic in Kampala can be busy. It took us 2 ½ hours to reach our lovely rural destination. Our day started and ended with an inspirational prayer. 

The church is high in the mountains. We were surrounded by sugar cane and banana trees, with stunning views. The children were greeting us along the road long before we reached the school. What can be more touching than seeing those huge smiles and waves as we navigated the narrow clay road .

At the church we were welcomed by 500 smiling faces. The Bishop and his wife were also on hand to  greet us. Following a welcome speech by the Bishop’s wife and Regina the Inner wheel organizer, the distribution started and went smoothly.  We left the site knowing 500 children will have a better sleep tonight.

Jean Macnab for Team Uganda

Philippines: Laoag and Burgos!

Today we did a distribution at  Laoag. It went extremely well, including a live pony and ice cream seller as props for the photo shoot. We did some more recipient interviews, both were blind children. One had the gift of music. Though blind Ian an 8yr old lad taught himself to play the piano. He is able to go to school but at his age it is only half days. Unfortunately he is an only child as well so he seldom has anyone to play with as he has to stay close to his mother. His home situation is complicated with the father abandoning the mother and child at his birth. To survive she moved back to her mother's house where young Ian practises on her piano. We were assured that he was quite good and that he could make a living from playing the piano. Blind artists by custom are in demand at various gatherings such as wedding and funerals. Another Stevie Wonder maybe? What was the most important thing in the bedkit? The towel, because now I can have a bath. We ended the visit with a gorgeous meal that left us full. 

On route to our next site we stopped off at Paoay Church, the Roman Catholic church of the Ilocos Norte. This is a UNESCO Heritage site built around 1710. 

In the afternoon we drove to Burgos and the Argo-Industrial school. This is an agrarian community with most being farmers. Again more interviews. Jay-de is 8yrs old living with his family in a bamboo structure of roughly 12x 14 ft with an earthen floor. They suggested that more school supplies would be good. After the distribution a dance troupe put on a colourful local dance for us. As is the custom we were treated to a meal. This time it was a suckling pig, with crackling! 

We had a lot of traveling today and finally got to our hotel about 8pm.

Team Philippines 2016
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