Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Uganda: Beautiful Colours

Today we departed for our bus journey, far removed from the paved road. Our very capable driver, Hassan, is expert at steering down the 'clay' road, filled with many ruts and holes, some the size of small craters. Our bus is filled with 28 cheerful people. The lush green fields of Western Uganda provide families with abundant fruits and vegetables, such as mangoes, pineapples, papayas, cassava, potatoes, beans, and avocados. It is a bountiful land, filled with beautiful colours, reflected in their National Flag of black, yellow and red.

We saw 2 family dwellings. One child in each of the families received a bedkit today.

By Monika Sergeant
Team Uganda 2018
Post your comments here:

Uganda: Blue Skies & Blazing Sun

Travelling into the lush mountain area of Hoima district to Kitoonya public school.Our morning journey takes us off the main road, down a dusty, winding and bumpy road. The road is narrow with lush vegetation on both sides surrounded by mountains of the Rwenzori Range. We all marvel and admire the "Pearl of Africa" landscape with the blue sly and blazing sun starting the day.

We turn a bend arriving at Kitoonya Public School with parents and children lining the driveway waving, chanting and dancing on our arrival.We disembark to a sea of colours surrounding and welcoming us. Our kits have already arrived and assembled and ready for our distribution. A jubilation follows with everyone clapping, chanting and dancing to show their gratefulness for this wonderful day in this remote location. Blowing soap bubbles with the children, dancing within the crowd, along with singing, allows us to share in the celebration.

Then the distribution team is ready and all the children are attired in their red, yellow, green dresses for girls and blue shorts with red, blue and green tees, what a sight as they line up. Two hours later all 585 kits have been distributed - a job well done by everyone. Now it is time to pack up the bus and head back to rest.

Well the Inner Wheel Group had another surprise for us on the way home, to complete our day. A home visit to one of the individuals receiving our kit that day. We arrived at the home of a young 24 year old woman with two children and four other step children from her new husband. We arrive at the humble abode hesitant to disturb this family with everyone attending but wanting to view their humble lifestyle We are truly taken back by the meagre necessities. 

The mother was cooking supper on an open fire with a blackened steel pot. Supper consisted of sweet potato and pinto beans which she grew in her yard. ,She had walked her daughter who received the kit, three km to the distribution, while the other children were at home with an older child. The girl receiving the kit was still dressed in her yellow outfit while the other children were dressed in very sparse essentials. The house was constructed of mud brick and some cement with dirt floors. The small dwelling was divided into a bedroom for the parents, a bedroom for the six children, and a storage/living room. Outside was a cooking hut, as well as a small area protected by bamboo stalks that was used as a bathing centre. A rudimentary outhouse was also on the property (a dug hole in the ground). We left with a lot of respect for this 24 year old mother who was doing the best she could at such such a young age with the limited resources available.

We are all very thankful for what we have and where we live.

By Bill Helmer
Team Uganda 2018
Post your comments here:

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Uganda: Possibilities

While we did not have many miles to travel today our bus did have to fight its way up a very slippery mud road in the rain. We were concerned about our bedkit delivery truck but we were delighted to see the truck there and unpacked as we arrived. It must have been all the Inner Wheel women singing on the bus that got us there on time. 

After the children were changed into their new clothes we were ready to begin. All went well as the rain passed before we started and in fact it became a hot and humid day. We tried to keep the children in the shade as much as possible as the Uganda sun was hot. At the end of the day 583 children received their gift to help them have safe and healthy sleep.

We were fortunate enough to have a meeting with a local General Practitioner to hear more about local health issues. Dr Alex Gahanza spoke with us for over 1.5 hours. He highlighted the many health issues that are directly related to mosquitoes, poor nutrition and hygiene. These parents are facing multiple challenges including food, school fees and medical attention. He congratulated SCAW on assisting with helping to reduce systemic problems like malaria. With guidance the parents can properly help to protect their young ones.

Our team is working well together and with the Inner Wheel we are touching many lives for the better. We thank our donors for your continued support. 

Kerry Harman
Team Uganda 2018
Post your comments here:

Monday, 28 May 2018

Uganda: Deep Contrasts

Kiboga, also a remote rural mountain area, was a three hour bus ride from Kampala.

Beautiful lush mountain vistas were juxtaposed beside other bus window- views of stark poverty.

Arriving at our site, everything was well prepared by our Inner Wheel site people. Like a well-oiled machine, it took less than 3 hours to distribute 585 bedkits.

Hot sunny skies prevailed as did sunny dispositions and warm hearts. This poor, remote community were so grateful for their bounty, it brought three parental interviewees to tears.

Our setting for lunch was the home of a Inner Wheel collaborative partner. The view from the yard where we shared our meal was breathtaking!

So many sites that take your breath and pull at your heart.

We continued on from there to our new hotel, happy to resettle and prepare for the next 6 distributions.

We're told that Uganda's rainy season is coming to an end...only one drizzly day so far. I know …..

By Janet Helmer
Team Uganda 2018
Post your comments here:

Uganda: Rock Stars!

We left Kampala early on our the bus , prepared for the "jam" - early morning grid-lock traffic - for our long trip up into the small remote mountain village of Mende. Heavily rutted dirt roads, ravaged by the spring rains and a wrong turn brought us to the school site where children and parents had been anxiously awaiting our arrival.

They surrounded our bus making it difficult to disembark and maneuver through the crown to set up for our pictures. We were ROCK Stars with no paparazzi!


Heavy grey skies and distant thunder led to a constant drizzle but never enough to force us to stop or move inside. We presevered and 585 bed kits were given to 585 children who felt like they were the luckiest kids in Mende- very thankful, appreciative children and caregivers, as it needs to be remembered, many of these children are being raised by their grandparents. AIDS took many of their parents.

So many of these families have 3-4 children between the ages of 6-12, And although only one child per family is eligible to receive a bedkit, we know every child in family will benefit from the gift.

Such heartfelt gratifying work as a SCAW volunteer.

Janet Helmer
Team Uganda 2018
Post your comments here:

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Uganda: Lugasa

Our fourth day of distribution started with a three hour bus ride North East to Lugasa in Kayunga District. We were certainly rewarded by 585 smiling and brightly beaming faces along with all their parents clapping and throat singing as we entered the school yard. Our Inner Wheel group and local volunteers had already unloaded our delivery truck and arranged the bedkits in the front school yard and the children were lined up to change into their new outfits. We received numerous welcomes, thank-yous and bless yous, while waving to and shaking the hands of the many parents. A very moving experience for this first time volunteer.

The children were then changed into their new clothes which was met with a boisterous applause from everyone, upon their return to the school yard. Our SCAW group assembled our camera position and along with the Inner Wheel organized the process for the day. While the children were organized under shade we entertained the children with well-known children’s songs to have them clap, stomp and shout "Hurray" and mimic our actions. The children then provided their own versions with joyous voices, dancing and clapping hands much to our pleasure so much, we joined in.

Our Team Leader, Lois Wey then started with our discussion with the children, introducing SCAW from Canada and providing details for this event. We then individually showcased the specific products included in the bedkits which everyone was going to receive today. A thunderous round of applause was heard after every item was shown. Lois reminded the children to "STAY In SCHOOL”. We then proceeded to meet with the parents continuing with another resounding applause as we introduced the gifts. 

The day was getting hot as we started pictures and the children performed with upmost patience and politeness during the long sequence to complete all group pictures and the final 100 single pictures completing the day around 2:30 pm. During the event one member of our group completed six interviews with parents receiving bedkits that day. When every bedkit had been delivered we were totally relieved and satisfied that our efforts had again been rewarded, knowing everyone had gone home with something to improve their quality of life.

We quickly picked up our equipment and headed to our bus for the ride home.  A very joyful but tired group.

By Bill Helmer
Team Uganda 2018
Post your comments here:

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Uganda: A Visit With A Past Recipient!

Today we handed out much needed 585 bedkits in a remote village in the Kayunga district. Our Inner Wheel ladies had arranged for us to stop and see a family that had received a bedkit 4 years ago. We entered the small dwelling and were shown the school writing on the wallboard as the 10 year old girl still attends the local school. She was glad to show us that she is still using the backpack she received as well as the sheet that is used as a covering for the doorway. Both of these items seemed to hold up very well. The house has only two rooms however seemed to be one of the few with a cement floor and brick walls.

This village is one of many that we journey to bringing the invaluable items that make living with very little just a bit more tolerable. Thank you to each donor for making a difference in the lives of many Uganda boys and girls.

Monika Sergeant
Team Uganda 2018
Post your comments here:

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Uganda: Nakifuma

It was another early day as we left Kampala shortly after 7AM. Our destination was Nakifuma, a village 38 km northeast of Kampala. Our distribution center was the tree-shaded lawns adjacent to the Roman Catholic church and school. The children and parents lined the driveway as, led by the tuneful ladies of the Inner Wheel, we sang and waved. We were heartened by their friendly greetings. 

The children were quickly organized and got changed into their new uniforms. As they lined up waiting, we engaged them in a spirited game of "toss the beach ball." We then settled the children down just a little as they serenaded us with the Ugandan national anthem and other songs. The team members countered with Oh Canada which was received with great cheers. 

The formal part of the proceedings completed, it was on to the distribution itself. Five hundred and eighty five children received their mattresses and bed kits. The time passed all too quickly and we had to bid farewell as the families trekked home, wash basins and supplies balanced atop their heads.

We were treated to a hearty lunch of chicken, beef, and cooked local veggies. Many thanks to Judith, especially, from our hearts (and our stomachs) for managing today's distribution and cooking the lunch. The ladies of Inner Wheel make multi-tasking look so easy!

In summary, everything came together today: a beautiful distribution site, helpful volunteers and, most importantly, the children and families who shared our day. Their warm makes everything worthwhile. Even the weather was on our side as the gentle afternoon rains held off until we were headed back to Kampala.

But the day was not quite finished. Before returning to the hotel, we stopped at Unique Uniforms, where the children's uniforms have been made for the past 11 years. Paul, the business's owner, talked about his story. An accountant by education, he found it difficult to find work. Fifteen years ago he purchased two pedal sewing machines which he used in the same room where he slept. Today he employs 163 people in his modern factory as the largest uniform producer in Uganda, exporting to several surrounding nations in east Africa. Paul expressed his gratitude to SCAW and recounted how we were instrumental in achieving recognition for his brand in Uganda and beyond. This is an example of how the generosity of our donors impacts many individuals beyond the children who receive our bed kits. 

By Lawrence Hutchinson
Team Uganda 2018
Post your comments here:

Uganda: Off To A Rain Free Start!

After an early breakfast in the hotel garden, the SCAW team was on the bus and ready to roll by 7am sharp. Immy of the Inner Wheel group was our efficient bus manager and Hassan our skillful bus driver. Our first stop was the Crest Foam factory where the 7,000 mattresses had been manufactured and were ready for distribution. The irrepressible ladies of Inner Wheel had arranged for the storage and delivery of the mattresses and other distribution items to be handled by Crest Foam. The SCAW team members and Inner Wheel volunteers made a brief visit to the factory for photo-taking before heading to Nkokonjeru, 55 km southeast of Kampala and the site of our first distribution.

Our prayers on the bus beseeching a break from the rains proved fruitful. The skies threatened but 585 children received their bed kits without a soaking. The colourful new outfits provided the children were outshone only by their bright faces and captivating smiles. When our job was completed, the SCAW volunteers and Inner Wheel ladies tucked into a home cooked meal arranged by the latter and prepared by the ladies of the village.

On the way back to Kampala, we stopped once more at Crest Foam. This time Leo, Ben and others of the management team provided a detailed tour of the premises, an explanation of the manufacturing process, and a brief overview of the company's dynamic history and progressive philosophy. Thanks to the many friendly folks at Crest Foam for their hospitality, professionalism and caring attitude.

A debt of gratitude is owed to the Inner Wheel group and other local volunteers who helped make the day a success. As the kickoff to the 2018 Uganda distribution, the team couldn't have asked for more.

By Lawrence Hutchinson
Team Uganda 2018