Wednesday, June 10, 2009


So, I'm very used to my house being raided by a multitude of children over holiday breaks. It's very different being a full time "parent" during school time. You see during the holidays, there's so many of them that it's very little work for me. There's no school the next morning so I don't have to worry about bedtimes, clean uniforms, waking up early, cooking, etc. I just let the girls pretty much have a month long sleepover during holiday time. They cook when they want. My only job is to make sure food is available in the house. They sleep when they want and wash clothes when they want.
Having one seems to be more work, especially since school has to be considered. I actually have to be responsible and make sure someone else is ready for the day besides myself. I have to consider having dinner ready when Mary gets back from school (6p.m. on some days and picking her up from school at 9 p.m. on others).
It's definitely been life changing but fun. I like that it is challenging me to grow more. And it's been a joy to watch Mary change in the short time that she's been with me. She's talking more, although language still challenges us. She's starting to feel more free in the house, letting me know what she needs or wants. Yesterday we even spent the day together in town and she was able to get on internet for the first time. Later in the evening when a friend of mine came by the house, she was proudly telling him of all that we had done during the day. It was nice to see her smiling!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Break Is Over

The end of the first term holiday break has ended and school has been back in for almost two weeks. It's been great seeing the kids back in school. I've been really impressed by how much they remembered over the break. Could this be because Uganda is on a more year round school calendar> More frequent breaks but less of a "summer" break.
It's been great for us teachers. We've not had to spend so much time reviewing old material and have been able to more on to new things.
Also, I added two new students two the school, two more girls. One is the young girl I talked about meeting at the medical mission. Her name is Jacque and we were able to successfully get her started on ARVs. She is slowly gaining strength, although she is still visibly weaker than the other children. She rarely runs and plays with them, preferring to be held and watching from the sidelines. However, she's really sharp in class. Although not in school during the first term, she has quickly caught up to the other children. Pray that the meds will be completely successful and that she will continue gaining strength and getting better. Pray that her childhood will be as close to normal as possible and that she will live a full life.
One concern I had was how the other children, staff and parents would react to her being there. Most times there is a stigma attached to the disease out of people's fear. I've found though that people dwelling in slums have been used to contacting the disease. Few families there have been left without being impacted by it. I've been able to praise God that no one feared Jacque being there. All the staff treats her the same as the other children. Other parents pick her up and take her home when her guardians are not able to.
Then there have been some really funny times at school as well.
I'm letting my hair grow back long and have a new hairstyle this week. This has impressed one of my 3 year old boys! He went home and told his mom she had to come and see how good I was looking. Amazing that a 3 year old boy notices what my hair is looking like. Guess that means I shouldn't let it start looking shabby or he'll go home and tell his mom I was looking a mess!
Then there's Herbert, who is quickly becoming our class clown. He repeats everything as if he is a parrot and in general has funny things to say.
Since the school is in my home, we remove our shoes inside of class. One of his recent antics is to only allow me to remove his shoes and put them back on. Not a problem, unless I'm not there which was the case on Tuesday. I had been called to meet with a teacher at another school for one of the girls in the sponsorship program. This meant that I wouldn't be there for the beginning of the day. The school cook happens to be Herbert's mom so I dropped the key to my house to her on my way to the meeting so that she could be there to let the children in. None of the children seemed to miss my being there except Herbert. When I returned from the meeting, 45 minutes late for the start of the day, I found him waiting on the steps outside for me to take off his shoes! Kids are too funny.
Another thing that is now keeping me busy is Mary. A couple of days before school started back, Mary moved in with me. She's 12, an AIDS orphan (luckily not herself infected) and was in need of a place to stay. Her aunt is a good friend of mine and is the one that was raising Mary. Her aunt is also infected with the disease and lives far from town. Mary has been in and out of school, sometimes living in the village and other times in town with her aunt. This has resulted in her being behind in school. Also, her aunt is having some complications due to the disease and doesn't want Mary to see her like that.
Since I don't much like living alone, we decided to let her come and stay with me for a while. The plan is that she will finish this school year with me and hopefully her aunt will be doing better. If so, she can continue in the same school and move back with her aunt. If things don't improve with her aunt, she'll continue living with me or if she wants go to a boarding school (most common for serious students in Uganda).
I've loved having the company in the house but it's definitely been an adjustment. During holidays, there's not much I really have to be "responsible" about. The kids can sleep when they want, eat when they want, etc. Plus there is so many of them that they help each other out. Now it's just me and Mary and I have to be responsible. Responsible to make sure breakfast is there. Responsible that I make sure to send her to school with her homework done. Responsible for supper (which I rarely cooked before). Responsible for washing twice the number of clothes. Responsible for everything. Definitely not the same as a totally single life when I could just drink a cup of tea and sleep or come in any hour of the night. Mary is afraid to stay in the house alone and since she is in school I can't exactly bring her home late and send her to school with little sleep. Another adjustment.
Overall, it's working and both of us are happy with the arrangement. Please pray that the transition will continue to be smooth, for me to be a good "mom,"and for Mary to adjust to a new school and friends and life in the city (like not fearing to stay home alone).