Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beginning of Holiday Outing

The holidays have begun and of course they need to be started with something fun! Since not all of the children had yet arrived at my house by Saturday, my boss and I decided to take the three that had to Garden City. That way we could enjoy and it wouldn't be too expensive as we would be few.
We arrived at Garden City around six in the evening and went straight to the eating places. The kids all enjoyed chicken and chips (french fries) while my boss and I decided on pizza. The kids tasted the pizza and all decided they didn't like it. Who would have guessed children don't like pizza?
Then we spent a couple of hours just walking around looking through the windows at the different shops. Then, time for ice cream! Everyone loves ice cream and the kids did as well.
Then we goofed off at the mall taking photos of anything and everything until around 11 in the evening. Of course, most shops were closed but the main part stays open late since there is a club on the top floor.
These children are really amazing. I watch them sometimes and am blown away but what God is doing in their lives. They've had so many obstacles put in their way but they just seem to hurdle over it all. It's really blessed me to be a part of their lives.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

End of Term One Celebration 2009

Ok, I know it's a lot of photos! But, there could have been many more. Yesterday was the last day of school for the first term and we had to celebrate the kids completing their first term, taking their first exams, and just generally celebrate the beginning of their month long holiday.
We had no lessons for the entire day, which the kids as well as the teachers enjoyed. We played games (sort of like having a field day, only inside in our case), laughed a lot, took lots of photos, and gave the children chicken again for lunch! I think the chicken was their favorite part and also playing in the water after eating the chicken.
Their hands were so greasy after lunch that they all needed their hands and faces washed. Only problem is the water issue I've been having for the past week: no water. I have it stored in 10 and 20 liter containers so we still had some but very little. So for hand washing, water was put in a large saucepan, soap was given and the children all washed themselves- at the same time. Not the greatest hygiene but it got the job done and they had fun in the process.
Now I won't be teaching them for the next month. I'll miss the noise in the house, especially being greeted each morning with their smiles and hugs. Lucky for me I am in the slum every day so will still get to see them.
Plus, I still have a house full of children for the holidays, some of them actually arrived in time to celebrate with us yesterday.
Pray for the children during the holidays. Pray for their safety, their health, etc.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Beginning of the Holiday Break Insanity

The first term of school is coming to an end. My kids have one more day to go. Other schools let their kids out last Friday and others have been getting out throughout this week.
Every holiday, I always have children raid my house. Some stay there because the situation in their homes is unbearable. Others just have no where to go. Some are kids I've taken off the streets. Others are total orphans. Whatever the situation, I want them to feel like they always have a place where they are welcome.
Every holiday there seems to be a new addition so I'm guessing that they all feel welcome. They keep coming back!
This holiday will be no different. It all began yesterday evening when I went to pick up three young ladies from school. One a total orphan. Two others abandoned by their family.
This is their first time staying at my place for the holidays so I decided to pick them up first so that they could get settled in. Others will start arriving tomorrow and the madness will be in full effect! Actually, it's never been bad. These kids are amazing!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Rat is Back

Remember the rat that was in my home when I first moved into my new apartment. Well, after that sighting and putting out traps, I never saw him or any evidence of him again. That is until last night and again this morning.
I am ashamed to say this but I have not dusted my room in a couple of weeks which is really evident where I live. Because of all the dirt roads, especially in the dry season, the place stays a bit dusty. Anyway, last night as I was putting clothes away, I noticed rat footprints in the dust on my bedside table, my bookshelf and on the headboard of my bed. Since I noticed the footprints, I decided to check my bed. Lots of little droppings there that weren't that morning when I made the bed. I sent a message to my boss in the U.S. (I love the fact that I can send text messages from my phone!) that the rat had returned. His reply: oh crap. My reply back: Yeah, lots of it.
I knew that there was not really much I could do so I continued putting clothes away (after changing the sheets on my bed). That's when I saw it. It ran out from behind the suitcase where I was putting my clothes and out of the room. I chased it but it ran out of my front door which has a really wide gap under it. The reason the rat has free access to my house!
So, again last night, I slept with the lights on because the guard still assures me that they won't come back if the light is on. I still think he is just telling me that so I won't bother him but at least it eases my mind enough that I can get some sleep, although I wake up every couple of hours making sure all my toes are still there. The rats here are known to bite your feet at night while sleeping. However, I made it through the night without missing any toes or fingers.
Then........ this morning I got up to get ready for my kids arrival for school. It had rained during the night and was a bit cool so I wanted to put on a sweater. I put it on. No problem except for the big lump in my sleeve which shouldn't have been there. I quickly pulled my arm back out and out dropped the rat! I was disgusted which gave it another chance to escape.
I've really got to get that gap covered, destroy every rat hiding place possible and get some better traps.

Friday, April 17, 2009


So, it seems April is a month of posting about body functions. Sorry for that but it seems since I'm working around 3 and 4 year olds most of my time, it seems to be something I'm experiencing a lot of. You know the usual stuff.... constant coughs and runny noses. This morning I realized I am beginning to feel like a professional snot wiper.
Anyway, I have a little guy in my school that is a real heartbreaker. He's the one that gave me the capris and is the child that refuses to leave in the afternoons when school is over. He's also my roughest kid. But, probably one of the brightest. So, this week he's had a really good week. He's not cussed anyone out. He's not hit anyone. He's not thrown a fit. He's participated in the lessons. So, when school was out, he didn't want to go home. I decided to give him a reward for his good behavior and let him stay and hang out with me for a while. That went well. He played with the puzzles and books that I have and colored with the markers.
Today was also a day that some of the children that are sponsored are getting their holidays from school so I needed to go to one of the schools to pick up one of the children. My little guys still wasn't ready to go home so his grandmother told me just to take him with me and bring him when I bring the other child since they are neighbors. Not a problem to me. So we headed to the school. All was still going well. We picked up the other child. All was still well. We headed back home. Things were going well until out of no where, the little guy decided to vomit. No warning. And the worst part was we were in public transportation. The child was covered in vomit. I was covered in vomit. The child I was picking from school was covered in vomit and because I was sitting in the middle with the little guy on my lap, the person sitting on the other side of me was also covered in vomit. Plus the driver was not in the least bit happy.
The driver stopped the car and made us clean up the kid on the side of the road since he was the one wearing the most vomit and since we are in Africa, we just stripped the kid and he proceeded the rest of the trip naked while the rest of us wiped off best we could but were smelling not just a little bit foul.
Thankfully when I reached the kid's house, he has aunt's that live there that are my size so I was able to bathe and change clothes. Good for me so that I didn't have to go home before coming to the internet cafe to tell this story and to also catch up on some emails!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

They Can Make You Laugh And They Can Make You Cry

I have no idea if these pics show up well or not. The computer I'm on has them looking so dark so possibly they really look that way or possibly I'm just using a very old, third world computer.
Anyway, on to the subject of this post. These kids were so tough the first couple of weeks. I thought I had lost my mind for starting the school and was wondering if I was going to survive it. They could cuss us out, climb the doors, throw fits, were obnoxious, were un-cooperative, and had no concept of obedience or order or anything else of that nature. I never literally cried about it but it was definitely rough.
Now, after almost two months, and within a week of school starting, the introduction of a switch, the kids are actually really enjoyable. They have become sweet little children, with only a rare need for the switch. I've gone almost two weeks now without being cussed out.
And it's becoming fun to play games with them. They're learning to take turns and are even starting to show concern for each other. Today was a day when I didn't stop laughing. They kept doing things to amuse us. Now it is in a cute, sweet way instead of the old looking for any kind of attention even if it's negative way. Their smiles are becoming constant which is definitely contagious. Plus they are learning!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Less Than Two Weeks To Go

I can't believe the first term of the 2009 school year is about over. The first term of school is about to come to an end. It has flown by.
On the first day when I thought I must be mad for starting the school, it seemed like it was going to drag on forever. I guess it feels that way when kids are throwing fits, cussing you out and just plain refusing to cooperate in any possible way. Thank God that only lasted a short time and we now have some sort of order in the classroom. Notice I said some sort of order, not order. I'm not good at schedules or formality so I knew that wasn't going to work or happen.
At this point, I've still got the kids calling me Cari. Like I said, I'm not formal so I didn't want them calling me Teacher Cari and I figured just calling me Cari is much better than shouting mzungu!
Anyway, with my style of lack of schedules, I started to become a bit nervous about whether or not my kids are really learning anything and how we are doing compared to other schools. Remember we started school about a month late and my worst nightmare is for the school to be a bomb and the kids to not be keeping up with their peers in local schools.
I wanted to check this out so I went to the national office of the Ministry of Education and asked some questions. Apparently, the kids in baby class (K3) repeat it two or three times before they're moved up to the middle class (K4) if they start school when they are 3. Unless of course they know the information. And even baby class takes end of term final exams! What fun! How do you give a 3 year old an exam? Guess I'm going to be finding out soon enough, like next week! I asked them to give me a copy of the exams for the government schools so that when I make mine they can be equivalent, and they were happy to do so.
My kids are ahead of where the national exams expect them to be! For the first term exams, for the baby class, they have them mostly coloring and matching. My kids are doing that plus they are recognizing some of the colors, a couple of shapes, a couple of letters, speaking some English (they understand a lot more than they speak), and are already beginning to trace some of the letters. Plus they can almost sing the alphabet song and almost count up to 10. I guess I'm not doing that bad after all. The guys in the Ministry of Education were impressed when I told them that and asked if I would mind showing them what I've been using to teach and how I've been teaching. Not a problem except lugging things to and from their office in the rain using public transportation. It was worth it though to see that they liked what I'm doing. Hopefully this will mean when I start applying for a license from them that I won't be given too much of a hassle, at least if corruption can somehow be avoided.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunday

The rainy season is in full effect! Yesterday, for Easter it was raining mad dogs. It started during the night and continued until the mid-afternoon. So, like any good heathen, I missed church. What? Missing church on a holiday! You see, when it rains here, you can't move, especially where I live. I live next to a slum and there are no paved roads so walking anywhere becomes tricky. When it rains, it is muddy, slippery and the mud is all mixed with only God knows what. So, when it rains, everyone stays indoors until it is dry enough to move around without disastrous consequences.
I enjoyed a nice, quiet morning at home and then around 4 in the afternoon decided that it was dry enough to move out of the house. Bad call. I reached the fellowship under the avocado tree with a layer of about two inches of mud (and God knows what else) on the bottom of my shoes. Also, it was freezing. Ok, maybe not freezing, but it was cold enough that long sleeves and a jacket were needed.
After the fellowship was over, I went to my Uganda mom's house for dinner. Our journey from the fellowship to her home was quite an interesting one! I was wearing sandals that happen to slip in wet weather. (What made me think of wearing those on a day like that?) And she was wearing the traditional dress of Uganda which has an under layer that makes it difficult to jump over the trenches and the mud puddles! We finally made it, although with another layer of mud, this time between our toes and covering the tops of our feet.
The journey was worth it though. We spent the next several hours at her home with her son and daughter, and her neighbor (a South Sudanese soldier working here in Uganda). We cooked lots of great food and enjoyed conversing until late in the night. Then it was time to head home, again jumping trenches and the mud, for a much needed shower.
Although I missed church, I'm glad the rain had stopped enough for me to head to my mom's place. It's still one of my favorite places here. Last night as we were sitting there talking and laughing with the light of a single candle, I thought about how content I was there, how much I felt loved there, and how there is no other place in the world that God I would want God to have me at the moment.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

School Celebration of Easter

I realize that my last two posts, the only two so far for April, have been about poop so for this one I will digress to a more pleasant topic. Easter!
Easter is a big holiday for Christians in Uganda and everyone is looking forward to it. We wanted the kids to have a special treat for Easter and what better way to do that than to have chicken for lunch! Chicken is a really rare treat. It's expensive for Ugandan standards so only eaten on special occasions. Actually any kind of meat is a treat for most people here, including me. I splurged when Eric was here and ate it frequently. This spoiled me so I've also been wanting to eat meat.
I've been really blessed in being able to stretch my support to cover the cost of feeding the children. Most schools in Uganda feed the children the same menu every day: posho (mingled flour) and beans. So far, I've managed mixing up our menu and including fresh fruit, vegetables such as greens and cabbage, and feeding the children porridge every morning for breakfast along with boiled eggs as often as I can afford them.
Also, on Fridays we feed the children these small fish (which I don't know the English name for) which are cheap here and have had beef once. So, since there is no school tomorrow, we had our meat for the week today. Chicken!
It was delicious! We first smoked it and then cooked it in a delicious soup and served it with cut up chapatis. Can I say it again? It was delicious. There was not a scrap of meat, fat, or gristle left on anyone's bones, just a heap of bones left!
Hopefully we'll get to do this again before the Christmas break at the end of the school year! It was a great treat for child and adult alike.

Monday, April 6, 2009

When a 3 Year Old's Stomach Blows Up

I really love the kids that I'm working with. They drive me nuts at times, but overall, I really enjoy them.
Sometimes, though, I do wonder what I got myself into. Like this morning. Hadijah, my teaching assistant, called to let me know she was stuck in a traffic jam. Not unusual for morning hours here and I couldn't get annoyed because she's always way earlier than I expect her.
So, this morning all the kids had shown up and for once they were all on time. This is not the norm. Anyway, I decided that instead of frustrating myself over the language issue, that I would let them play a bit until Hadijah arrived. Good idea! Things were going great. Some were looking at books. Others were doing puzzles. Some were drawing pictures. And one beautiful little girl was playing on the floor with stuffed animals.
All was going well until I started smelling a foul smell. The kids are all toilet trained so no one has yet had an accident. Well, that streak ended this morning. As I began checking around, I discovered that the little girl playing with the stuffed animals had a massive attack of diarrhea. Not a pretty picture. The place was a mess. She was a mess. No change of clothes were around. Thankfully, we are in Africa and I was able to just bathe her and let her run around naked, at least until her clothes were washed and dried. But, the mat she was playing on is still a mess. I'm not sure if it will ever be the same!
Anyway, after we got her cleaned up and the floors mopped and Hadijah arrived, the day went on as usual as any other day in the life of a room full of 3 and 4 year olds!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lizard Poop and Jumping Trenches in the Rain

So, the other night, I was at my "mom's" house for dinner as usual. Dinner here is not usually served until around 9 at night and I had arrived by 6. Since it's warm in the house, we decided to sit outside. I was sitting in the doorway so I was a bit inside as well as a bit outside. Gekkos and lizards are common here. There's no way to keep them out of the house and most people don't want to since they eat mosquitoes.
Anyway, as I was sitting there enjoying the breeze and the conversation, I felt something drop on my head. It didn't stick too much because when I brushed at it, it landed on my arm. At first, I wasn't sure what it was. Then I brushed at it and noticed it had a not so nice smell. We looked up and there sitting above the door was a rather large lizard. Large lizard equals large, smelly poop.
So, I was given water and soap and I proceeded to wash my arm and hands while standing in front of the house as well as having everyone check my hair for evidence of poop. Thankfully, no evidence.
I probably could have waited just a few short minutes to wash my arm because the rainy season has begun and right after washing, it began to rain. We ran in the house where we finished cooking (in lots of heat) and laughing as we listened to the wind howl and the pellets of rain hitting the tin roof.
Around 10:30 we decided that I was going to either have to spend the night or run home in the rain. Since I had school the next day, I decided it wouldn't be a good time for me to spend the night. I would have to be up early, had nothing with me and would still have to have someone escort me home in the morning since the sun would not yet be up.
We decided that I would try to go when the rain lightened up a bit and my friends would go home with me.
Now to get to my house from their house, we have to walk through the slum as well as the muddy roads around my house. Through the slum, there are many trenches, which even without the rain, are sometimes a huge leap to cross. These trenches are supposed to remove the water from the area into larger bodies of water but as well serve as the local toilets. Most homes don't have a toilet so what better way to relieve yourself than to hover over a trench!
Needless to say, we didn't quite make it across all of these trenches on that night. By the time we reached my house, we were all filthy with only God knows what. Another shower quickly ensued.
Lesson learned: leave clothes at my "mom's" place so when rain comes again I can just spend the night. Another lesson is that anything can be laughed at because that night, although we were totally disgusting, we laughed a lot! It was sort of like being a kid again playing in the rain.