April's Blog
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August 30, 2016, 12:03 PM

30 August 2016 - Kabale

30 August 2016

Awakened by the discordant, nasal blasting of a boom box version of the Adhan at 05:45, I found myself wondering why anyone would want to clear a pathway for this to become a regular thing within my own country.  We’ve been coming to Uganda for 11 years now, and the prevalence of Moslem influence is more pronounced every time we come.  This time, for the first time, I saw a woman walking down the street in a burqa – nothing but her eyes showing.  Talk about oppression! 

I can’t help but wonder why they are letting this happen in Uganda.  They are still recovering from the rule of their last Moslem tyrant, Idi Amin.  The only answer I get is that the Moslems are pouring money into the country and the government is turning its eyes away from the danger to enjoy the money.  That makes me sick.  Almost the entire transportation industry – busses, taxis and trucking – has now got Bismallah or something similar boldly displayed across rear windows and bumpers.  Before his fall from power, Muammar Gadaffi paid to have the largest Mosque in East Africa built in Kampala.  And he didn’t even live here.  Now, they are using the “refugee” card to infiltrate the rest of the world.  It’s not funny.  It’s not innocent, and it’s not OK.  Religious freedom is a good thing, inviting the Enemy into your house is not. And we are not just letting them in, we are paying their way.  That is insanity.  If we let this oppressive, completely INTOLERANT OF ANY WAY BUT THEIRS religion freely into our country, we will lose everything.  There will be no more religious freedom, no more freedoms of any kind.  Why is everyone so blind to this fact, including the people here who have been horribly burned by it before?  I am not a hater.  I am not intolerant.  In my own family we have a wide diversity of religious beliefs including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and even a couple of atheists.  I don’t agree with their beliefs, but we get along fine – why?  Because they don’t want to kill me for not believing as they do.  They don’t behead people, burn people alive, treat their women like slaves and forcibly “convert” people. 

Looking back over the weekend, it was good.  The birthday party was a lot of fun, even though it started much later than we expected, but that is the norm here.  The talent show happened on Sunday.  First, we went to church way up in the mountains near Lake Bunyoni at a small mud church with no name.  One of the first things we noticed was that the Baptismal font was a cooking pot.  Rick and I donated some money for them to buy at least a nice big bowl for Baptisms.  The people were sweet and hospitable, giving us a wonderful lunch after church.  During church there were 8 Baptisms, the blessing of the new church wardens, Rick preached the sermon, and then there was a lively after service auction of the non-monetary offerings.  An egg, two ears of corn.  Two sticks upon which were skewered dozens of tiny mudfish.  They were quite fragrant.  The last item for auction was a beautiful basket.  Rick asked what the opening bid was. It was 10,000.  He offered 15,000.  Then a very flamboyant woman, dressed much more expensively than the rest of the congregation, came up and held up the basket.  She said, “The mzungu wants the basket.  Help him get it.”  The at this point, it was known it would be Rick’s, but everyone was putting in offerings to raise the take for the basket.  Eventually, there was 63,000 in the offering plate and Rick got the basket.  Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun in the process.  Everything was especially nice because Emily came with us.

We rode home on the horrible “dancing road,” arrived about 16:00.  Isaac showed up shortly thereafter, telling us they had been ready to start the talent show since 13:00. So, still dirty and tired, we went over to the Children’s Home.  And sat for about an hour while the band set up their sound equipment, the video guys got situated, and the kids ran in and out. 

Finally, it started.  It always starts out with the band, who play on Sunday mornings at a local church, getting the kids fired up.  They sing Gospel songs, get the kids dancing and praising God.  Then the talent show begins.  The song I taught the kids, the one written by David Ivey, a friend of ours, was supposed to be the opening song.  It wasn’t part of the competition, just entertainment.  The kids had done a very good job of learning the song.  Now, remember I said I decided to take the lessons I’ve learned here seriously and make a video myself of the kids singing the song a few days ago.  The one where I accompanied them with the 5 string guitar.  I opted to do that in spite of the fact that I was told the kids would do better at the talent show, and the band guy was going to bring along a good guitar with all the strings for me to play.  Well……  when I arrived not only had the band guy not brought a guitar, he was sitting there playing the five string one that stays at the orphanage.  Grace’s guitar.  He and another guy kept trading it off practicing stuff they wanted to play.  I could hear it getting more and more out of tune.  Then, when the show was going to start, they stood the guitar on the seat of a plastic chair.  I could envision it sliding off and cracking down the middle.  Finally, it was time for us to do the song.  I took the guitar and, sure enough, it was out of tune.  I quickly tuned it by ear as good as I could and got ready to start the song.  Grace came over with a microphone to put next to the strings so it would be “amplified.”  All that did was cause a lot of feedback several times.  The kids had either developed amnesia or were too hyped up from the singing and dancing and started improvising with the song.  When we finished, Grace was very upset.  “Mum,” she said, “that was not good.  We should do it again.”  By now I had a sore spot on my thumb from strumming the rather well worn and very dirty strings on that guitar, as well as a cramp in one finger since the neck needs to be straightened and the strings are further away from the guitar than is normal and it’s hard to hold them down.  But, we did it again, with some instruction from me and Grace glaring at them, and they did much better.  And I was done with my part and could sit down and relax.

The competition was loud.  The cultural differences are such that, the judges gave the prizes for reasons completely unobvious to us.  But the kids had a great time and that is the important thing. 

Yesterday and today have been a mixture of getting a few last things wrapped up amidst sitting around frustrated waiting for someone to take us where we need to go and translate for us.  As I sat in the living room watching a large rat come out from under my chair and run across the room and under the sofa, I thought about how incredibly frustrating it is trying to get anything done here.  Which has sort of been the theme of all my blog entries since I got here this time so I apologize.  I have had to cultivate the “Teflon coating” a friend of mine told me about years ago.  Just let it slide off. 

Downtown this morning, saying goodbye to someone Rick befriended recently, Isaac told us Grace and Elizabeth, who have been “taking exams” since we got here and hardly ever around, would be at Twinomujuni at 14:30 to get their weight and height taken and for Grace to write letters to her sponsors.  He dropped Rick and I off and home about 13:30.  Returned again at 16:30.  He took me over to the Home, scale in hand, to be told, “Oh, Grace and Elizabeth went to town with Abia (the Director) to get some supplies.”    OMG!!!!    I almost lost it right then and there.  Absolutely NOTHING ever happens as it is supposed to here.  So we came home, and the promise is now that all the kids will be there to bid us farewell tomorrow morning.  We are leaving here about 13:00.  We still, after 3 weeks, haven’t been to Joseph House to say hello to the elderly residents.  I am going to demand to go there in the morning,  There is no time to be docile anymore. 

AND, as a befitting finale to this trip, just as we are beginning to pack to leave tomorrow, when we need to take a good enough shower to last the 48 hours travelling home, the power, which has been steadily on for 8 days in a row, went out about 15 minutes after it got dark.  Where are my Ruby Slippers????

 

 



Comments

08-30-2016 at 12:17 PM
Mom the Sup!
OH, my LORD, my Dear! Looking forward to seeing you both back home.
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August 27, 2016, 7:16 AM

Several days August 24-27 2016

24 August 2016

My friend retired Bishop William Rukirande has written a book that I’m reading right now.  It’s really interesting and I’m going to be sharing some of it.

The share for today, speaking about the East African Revival of 1935: 

 “ The Revival brought about gender balance.  Marriages were renewed.  Women were respected in society for the first time.  Women called their husbands sir (Mwami) and husbands called their wives (Mukyara) Madam/lady.

 I do not have time to write on this subject but in short revival helped the Bakiga very much to respect the women.  Women were hated, women were subject to abuse and called them many names.  They were not allowed to eat certain foods like goat’s meat, chicken, eggs and everything that was good.  Women were not allowed to go to school, it was only the boys who were allowed to go to school.  Many women had no choice in choosing their husbands, it was done by their parents.  Many women were beaten by their husbands and sometimes divorced

With revival everything changed.  Today many girls are in schools and are doing well sometimes better than boys.  We have wonder weddings although AIDS/HIV has come in.”

So many people say Christianity is patriarchal and oppresses women.  That could not be further from the truth.  Whenever people embrace true Christianity, women’s conditions improve dramatically.  This example from Bishop William is a good reminder.

 

24 August 2016

Nice day today.  Woke up at 06:30 to kids chasing each other in the courtyard outside our room.  Birds were singing their pre-dawn chorus.  Water was running from the spigot in the courtyard as someone drew water for the morning tea/coffee.  Pleasant sounds.  Until the minaret started blaring the discordant, loud, not even live morning call to prayer.  It sets my teeth on edge.  But, it’s over in about 2 minutes.

There was hot water in the shower, the power was on.  I had taken a benedryl last night and actually had a good night’s sleep.  Rick and I turned the mattress over yesterday and it was a little more even. 

We went to town and the cappuccino machine was working.  Rick and I walked over to the craft shop where he gets some of the items he sells at Christmas boutiques and had a nice visit with Deborah, the proprietor.  There were a number of white tourists in town and the street boys were out in force. 

We met a white woman at the Barista who is married to a Ugandan man and lives in his village with him.  She drove up in a nice van and was sitting at a table with a Rukiga to English dictionary trying to teach herself the language.  I will pray for her!   We talked for quite a while about how she came her, how she met her husband (of one month now) and what they are doing in his village.  She is from Chicago and I grew up part of my early childhood in that area so we talked about that a little. 

This afternoon at they were spraying for mosquitoes at the orphanage so Isaac brought all the kids over here to the house for a few hours where they sat in the courtyard writing letters to sponsors.  Rick and I gave them a tour of our little apartment.  They seemed to enjoy that.  We want them to feel comfortable with us.  I took a lot of pictures so I will quit writing and let the pictures speak for themselves. 

 

27 August 2016

Today is the 52nd birthday of my oldest child, Joseph Edward Ross.  Happy birthday, Joe!

It’s also the day of the big annual birthday party here at Twinomujuni Children’s Home.  Isaac is off getting last minute preparations finished.  We were supposed to practice the song I’m teaching the kids one more time today before the talent show tomorrow.  But, having been coming here for 11 years now, I have learned lessons:

  1.  Don’t worry, we will have time to practice again when all the kids are here.  
  • I got a video of the kids singing the song with the kids that were there at the time.  I may never get another chance. 
  1. I have talked to the person we know who is in Kampala.  He has bought you a packet of guitar strings and will bring them when he comes.
  • I learned to play the song with the five strings I have.  The Person came back, no guitar strings had been purchased 
  1. When we do the song at the talent show you can use the guitar of the guy in the band.  He usually doesn’t bring a regular guitar (just a bass) but he assures me he will this time so you can use it.
  • I’m not going to plan on that – NO WAY.

I’m going to go to the birthday party and enjoy watching the kids have a good time.  I will insist on picking up the letters that have been written, and make sure the kids with two sponsors write a separate one for each sponsor.  I will get weights and measurements on the remaining 3 kids who have still been at school taking exams until today.

Tomorrow, I will go to the talent show and either play the song with the kids or not.  I’ve also learned that when I’m told something is planned to happen, it isn’t always the case. I will again enjoy watching the kids have a good time and not worry about it.

Monday or Tuesday we will go to Joseph House and say hello to the old folks there, and get some pictures.

Wednesday, we will go to the airport and head home.  We’ve done all we can possibly get done here in 3 weeks.  The same amount that would have taken maybe one week at home.  But, this is Africa.

Things do not happen here according to my plan – actually not according to any plan usually.  Most things are done on a purely reactionary basis.  Yesterday, Rick had us leave him downtown at the café while we went to practice the song at Twinomujuni.  Isaac was supposed to pick Rick up after dropping me off at home.  On the way to pick up Rick, Isaac met the Probation Officer who monitors orphanages.  She asked him why he was late.  “Late for what,” he asked.  “For your interview for the documentary we are doing,” she answered.  “Didn’t you get the letter we left with you security guard last week?”   So, Rick forgotten, the interview was done.  Rick walked home after getting tired of waiting. 

Yesterday, Isaac asked me to get the money out of the bank for the staff salaries.  I usually transfer the money on the 25th of each month because it sometimes takes several days and the staff needs to be paid by the last day of the month. However, I can’t do the transfer from here.  He said the House Mother’s mother had just died and she needed her salary right away to get transport home to her village for the burial.  I went to the ATM but it wasn’t working at the time.  So I gave Isaac just her salary out of my own money to get to her right away.  On the way home, we met Ruth, one of our kids, walking on the road to our house.  Isaac stopped to talk to her and wound up giving her half the money I had just given him for the House Mother.  “What are you doing?” I asked.  “Ruth needs some money for special tutoring for her exams,” he said.  Okaayyy.  I’m just going to not worry about it.     Turns out, he has some petty cash available in the office and he made up the difference from that.  I paid myself back when the ATM got working again and I withdrew the salary money.  It all worked out, but the reactionary aspect of society here drives me bonkers at times.  It’s just like the way all interaction between people, including business transactions, suspends in time instantly when someone’s cell phone rings. 

I haven’t felt much like writing this time.  I feel like everyone has already heard it all before.  Not much new to report.  I do feel myself changing though.  When we first came here it was so new, exciting, different.  We were new and exciting to the people here.  Now, we are used to it, and they are used to us.  I’m older, I get tired a little easier.  I’ve always gotten bored easily all my life, and the amount of time I spend waiting on other people here is ulcer making for a production oriented person like me.  And please don’t send me a bunch of messages about “what are you learning from this?”  Or, “maybe you need some down time.”  I DO NOT.  I know when I do, and I take it.  This is enforced down time and I don’t deal with it well.  Usually when we come here I have always brought things with me to do during the ‘waiting times.’  Crocheting, enough books on my Nook.  This time I was so busy right up till the time we left that I forgot those things.  There is nothing I can do by myself here.  If I go to town alone just to look around, I’m accosted by people asking for money every 10 yards.  I can’t buy anything because the price automatically doubles when a mzungu walks in, and I’ve never been a good negotiator.  Rick likes to just sit at an outside table at the café and meet people and talk to them.  I’ve never been a good small-talker.  And I’m always waiting for the money request to come. 

Never have I understood those words in more depth:  “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

Also, the aftermath of the national elections earlier this year is like a constant undercurrent.  People are angry.  They have realized that they really don’t have any voting power, that the guy who has been in control for the last 30 years, the one they thought of as the savior of their country at first (which is understandable after Idi Amin and Milton Obote) has seized control for himself and his family and cronies for the forseeable future.  And, with our national elections coming soon, the feeling the same thing could very well be happening in the U.S. is sickening.

I want the best for our kids.  I pray fervently that this wonderful project God has started through us will continue into the future.  But I’m ready for it to be taken over by someone new and fresh. I know St. Paul said to never weary of doing good.  But I’m approaching burn-out.

Well, the power just went out so I’m going to post this before the battery dies in the WIFI modem  Usually it only lasts about 5 minutes after the power goes. 

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August 22, 2016, 3:10 PM

22 August 2016

22 August 2016

Yesterday was a good day all in all.  We installed another new chapter of Daughters of the King.  It was a little different experience as I was totally unprepared.

It was originally scheduled for yesterday the 21st but when Rick and I decided to go on a sightseeing trip the only time available was the days of the 18th through the 21st.  We wouldn’t be here for the installation.  So Rev. David said he had rescheduled it for the 28th

However, as is often the case with things here, the price we were originally told kept being added to.  Finally it got to be almost twice what we thought we would be spending, so we canceled it.  Perhaps, armed with all the information in advance, we will do it next year.  We really were looking forward to it.

I decided to make copies of programs for the Installation sometime this week and have everything ready for next Sunday.  Saturday night, I asked Rev. David where we would be going to church the next day.  He explained that he would be at his home church because he had to do Baptisms and wed a couple that wanted to make their marriage legal in the Church.  He would therefore not be able to go with us to Nyakishoroza for the Daughters of the King Installation but Isaac would drive us and Canon Deborah, Chaplain of another Chapter would be going with us.  Also, Jovan and Penelope, a couple we had met at a church in California, would also be coming along.  “What?”  I asked.  “That was rescheduled for next week.  I don’t even have any programs prepared.”   He calmly said, “No, its tomorrow.”  Okayyyyy.

I had fortunately just discovered a folder in our room that I left here from last year and it contained a number of copies of the programs from the last Installation.  We were supposed to leave at 08:00 to get there for a 10:00 service but of course we didn’t leave on time and then had to go find the people we were picking up to take with us which took a long time because of sketchy directions and unmarked roads.  Because we were late Isaac tried to make up the difference in time by driving much faster than was prudent on winding, dry, dusty mountain roads with no guard rails.  It was quite an adventure. 

We got there, everything went well, and everyone was very nice and hospitable.  On the way home, about 2 km from the summit, the radiator boiled over.  Fortunately, there is nowhere in this country where you can be without encountering someone else within minutes.  So a guy on a motorcycle went and got some water for us.  While we were waiting for him to come back, a car with some bzungu (white people) came by and they pooled all their water bottles and gave them to us.  After motorcycle guy came back we put that 2 liters in and made it over the summit and to the first creek.  We filled the radiator but you could still hear the water hissing out below the car.  Evidently a hose had sprung a leak.  We made it home and got it fixed today.

The thing that is still impressed on my mind though is the mindset of the people to always expect someone else to pay the bill.  We were with some fairly well off people yesterday, people who own several homes, land, and have accumulated some pretty good wealth over the years.  And yet, what did we hear?  “We would love to come to America someday.  Could you please start telling people there how badly we want to visit so someone there will sponsor us?”   I started asking some questions and found out that even the wealthiest of the people here, people we know that own very successful businesses and a lot of land, and have been to the U.S. on many occasions, have never paid their own way.  And wouldn’t even think of it, probably would never go unless someone “sponsored” them.  They don’t give to charity either.  Everyone expects World Vision, Compassion International and other organizations to just keep paying for things forever.  How is this country ever going to get out of the Third World if they don’t start realizing you can’t always get it for free?   (If anyone in Uganda has something to add to this, or explain, or even say I’m way off on my thinking, I welcome discussion, but so far, this is what I’ve seen).

I remember when Joe was a baby and I had to be on Welfare for about a year and a half.  My entire focus was on getting off of it.  It was virtual slavery.  Whoever is paying controls everything.  And that includes the government.  It’s so frustrating, both here and increasingly in our own country.

Today I went to the orphanage to get pictures of the kids’ report cards for their sponsors.  All in all, they are doing well.  About half of the kids are exactly average, right in the middle of their classes.  Some are way at the top, and one or two are struggling.

While there I saw the kids working on feeding the animals.  Isaac had thought there weren’t as many chickens as there should be so he had a kid go into the chicken house and start throwing the chickens out one at a time to county them.  It was pretty funny actually.  A chicken would come sailing out, land with a thud and pick itself up and I swear they looked indignant.   When the count was over, the door to the chicken house was opened and the chickens piled back in without hesitation.  I guess even with chickens the assurance of food and safety overrides freedom. 

I went into the all-purpose room and the kids all came in and we started practicing the song I want to teach them.  They learn the words and the tune very quickly but are having a hard time with the concept of waiting for the bars of music between verses etc.  But they are very bright, very talented, and it will be good.  Talent show is this coming Sunday!

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August 20, 2016, 11:24 AM

20 August 2016

20  August 2016

I am going to try to give you some idea of the frustration of ministering to people in a third world country.  The entire world view is different.  Everyone is scheming all the time, and it is not just because of poverty.  It is a mindset even among those who have enough.  It is like trying to find your way out of a labyrinth to ever figure out the truth of any situatuation.

A few days ago, Rick, who always has a soft spot for kids, especially the street kids, met John.  John was on the street but didn’t look dirty and hungry like the other street boys.  He struck up a conversation with Rick.  He said his mother sold sugar cane on the street, he goes to the public school because they can’t afford school fees for a private school.  Rick got a friend who speaks English to help him translate John’s story.  The story was, John’s mother had been married to a man in Rwanda, he was abusive or something – not sure of that detail.  John’s mother had three children with him but she felt she had to leave.  The mother in law was caring for the kids, so John’s mother left and came to Uganda.  Not sure whether the husband in Rwanda died, or they got a divorce or what, but John’s mother either married or lived with a man here in Uganda and had John, who appears to be about 11 years old.  John’s mother makes about 2000 Uganda Schillings per day selling her sugar cane on the streets.  She pays 30,000 UGS per month for a small room for them to stay in.  So they live on 1000 UGS (about $.33)  per day and the other 1000 goes for rent.  Since the concept of saving money is very foreign here, I’m not sure how she saves up the 30,000 to pay the rent every month. 

Rick and a guy he knows here who has a project helping people learn trades to support themselves decided it would be nice to try to help John and his mother.  Rick bought them about a month’s worth of food.

At the same time, Rev. David came to me and said he needed the money to pay the girl who was helping to care for the old people at Joseph House because she needed the money for transport to Kampala where she would be going to school.  She was leaving her job at Joseph House. The question of what we were actually paying her for since it was the 18th of the month – were we paying her for August of which she had not really worked the entire month – was never answered to my satisfaction but after a time it becomes too much trouble to keep trying to get to the truth and you just give in.  The amount in question was about $60.00. She had been hired as a temp because Shanda, the mother of the five boys who Rick and Isaac had rescued from living in a hut in a field about 18 months ago and given the job at Joseph House, was gone with the boys to Rwanda.  Evidently, the Rwandese government is inviting back those who were forced to escape into Uganda during the Genocide during the 1990s.  They are even willing to help with school fees and the parents getting started in some way.  But they have to prove they are really Rwandan.  So Shanda and the boys (not sure about the father, Charles, who has been in and out of the picture for the last 18 months) have gone to Rwanda to be screened to see if they are really Rwandan.  If they fail to prove they are, they will be back.  If they are proved to be Rwandan, they will stay there.   The upshot of which is, there is now no one caring for the elderly at the moment and we need to find someone quickly. 

So, Rick had the idea that maybe John’s mother would like to have the job. She had already told Rick that she doesn’t see or hear well and has a “stomach problem,” which sounded a bit strange to me and kind of like she was setting the groundwork for excuses. But, it would be a free place to live, free food, and a salary of 150,000 per month plus John would be able to go to our school. Compared to earning 60,000 per month and spending 30,000 on rent, it seemed like a good deal.  And all it consists of is cooking, doing laundry, making sure the elderly in her care are OK.  Rick arranged to meet her downtown, explained (with the help of a friend) the job to her and she seemed to be in agreement.  Rick brought her to the house and introduced her to Rachael who is in charge of Joseph House, and they went over to Joseph House to show her where she would be working and introduce her to the elderly people.  They made arrangements to meet this morning to have John’s mother tested for TB and HIV before actually employing her.  So this morning we went to town.  She was very late showing up.  By that time Isaac had joined us and he spoke to her.  Well, a very different story then emerged. 

After talking to her, Isaac turned to us and said, “She has told me she doesn’t want the job.”  And little by little it came out that what she really wanted was what many street people everywhere really want – a hand out instead of a hand up.  She was hoping we would “invest” in her by helping her start a better business than the sugar cane business, and that we would pay for John to board at our school.  She had no intention of working at a regular job, even if it was doing things she does all the time for herself anyway and would give her security and money.  Her main objection, she said, was that we pay by the month instead of by the day.  Rick said he was very disappointed and sent her and John away.  Rick and I talked and thought that since John always looked clean and well-groomed maybe he was a more responsible type of kid in spite of his mother and maybe we should look at sending him to private school anyway. 

Later, Isaac came home and told us he had run into a friend of his from another agency who helps kids.  They saw John and his mother on the street and Isaac told him what had happened.  The friend told Isaac, “Oh, we are already taking care of them.  We pay for John to go to private school.”  So John had also lied to us.

Is your head spinning yet?   In the course of 24 hours we found out the five boys we just paid an entire semester of school fees for may or may not actually be here to go to school, we probably paid a girl for half a month she won’t be working, and almost got totally scammed by John’s mother, and probably John too.

It’s like slogging through molasses waist high trying to get anything done here, hardly anyone ever tells you a straight story, and almost everyone is trying to get something from us all the time ­­whether they really need it or not.  It really gets tiring.  I am to the point where I don’t believe anyone’s story unless Isaac or Rev. David clarifies it for me. And it almost always turns out to be a lie. 

So, why bother?  Because there are 40 kids at Twinomujuni who maybe, just maybe, will grow up with a different attitude and start, in no matter how small a way, turning this country around.  The U.S. and Western Europe, and probably Japan, got to be where they are by having an underlying culture of a strong work ethic, pride in workmanship, and honesty.  That’s what we are trying to impress on these 40 kids.

Unfortunately, our current “leaders” are actually leading our country to be more like it is here by encouraging people to “beat the system” and get all they can for nothing without working for it.  And that is terribly sad. 



Comments

08-22-2016 at 12:05 PM
May
How discouraging!!!
08-21-2016 at 9:17 PM
Heidi
Wow! 🙏🏼
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August 18, 2016, 1:56 PM

17 August 2016

17 August 2016

I spend much of my time in Uganda waiting.  I begin to see why things change so slowly here.  People are fatalistic.  Something breaks.  No one fixes it.  They just go back to doing things the way they were done before they had the item.  It took me three years to get the faucets in my bathroom repaired.  Meanwhile, I just adjusted.  I used the water spigot that comes out of the wall to take a sort of shower instead.  The electricity in our room quit working.  Now, I suspect it is a faulty light bulb but I have been assured it isn’t.  When we arrived, there were no lightbulbs in our apartment.  Rev. David arrived with three light bulbs, put them in, and the one in the bathroom didn’t work.  He disappeared, came back with a new one and put it in the bathroom.  It worked, but the next day the bedroom light went out.  I asked if it could be the light bulb.  I was told no, the switch must have quit working.  I would have checked it out myself but the ceilings here are about 18 inches higher than the ceilings at home and I would have had to remove the mosquito netting from over the bed, climb up on the bed frame and unscrew the bulb, then repeat the process in the sitting room, go back to the bedroom and put in the working bulb.  I just decided to live without.  I have a keyboard light for my computer and it lights up the room pretty well.  When there is power.  An electrician was called after a few days of no light in the bedroom.  He arrived just as we were leaving and since we didn’t want anyone in our room when we aren’t here, we asked him to come back in the morning.  The power went out that night and didn’t come back for 48 hours.  He finally returned tonight and found out – get ready – it was a faulty light bulb.  Oy vey.  And he did repair the faulty outlet so now we have two in our apartment.

Today, Isaac asked me to come with him to a meeting at the Children’s Home.  It was supposed to be with a Probation Officer from the Ugandan equivalent of the Children’s Protective Services.  The meeting was set for 11:00.  We arrived at 11:15, pretty good for African time.  No P.O.  Finally Isaac told me, at 12:05, that the meeting was rescheduled for 14:00.  We went home for lunch.  At 14:20 I said, “Ummm, it’s 14:20.”  Isaac said, “She said for after lunch.  We will leave in about 20 minutes.”  We left at 14:45, arrived there at about 14:55, and at about 15:05 four social workers showed up, but no P.O.   Isaac seated them in the Director’s office and introduced me as his “boss.”  Then he told them I was one of the founders of the Home and everything he does he discusses with me and Rick.  They each told me their names, and then I could almost visually see their eyes glaze over and my presence fade from their sight.  They began their meeting with Isaac.  Everyone but me had a chair, so I left the office.  I walked around the property, said hi to some of the kids, scoped out the chicken coops and goat pens.  Went back inside.  I could hear the voices droning on and it appeared as if they had not gotten far.  I felt like one of the Hobbits at the Entmoot.  I sat there writing notes on what I could hear.  Daydreamed a bit.  Cleared all the old messages out of my phone.

 Finally they all came out.  And left.  No good bye to me.  No one asked me a question.  They were in there for 2 hours telling Isaac he needs to hire 2 more employees, he needs to provide everyone with a month’s paid vacation and 3 months of paid “compassion leave.”  They pointed out things that need to be improved.  They cited new government regulations about this and that.  And none of them even work for the government.  They are social workers from various international agencies paid a fee by the government to come around and “assess” orphanages.  What B.S.  So when Isaac told them we were unable to provide a potential 4 months of paid leave to employees, they started revising things.  “Well, you could have them come in part time…..”   More B.S.  After telling Isaac all the money they expect him to spend, there I sat, the representative of the sole funding organization, and they didn’t even ask me anything like, “what is your monthly budget,”  “where does your funding come from,”  “what qualifications do you have,”  or even, “where do you live?”  Total disinterest.  I wonder what they would “assess” if we just walked away from the whole thing thanks to all their “helpful hints.”   What would they “assess” then?  Oh, and the P.O. was still in the process of “coming later” when they all left. 

Needless to say, I was not impressed.  We talked about everything on the way home.  Then Rick and Isaac went into town for a while to talk and they came up with a good solution.  From now on all workers at Twinomujuni will be individual contractors.  If it’s good enough for Compassion International, it’s good enough for us.  Other things were more annoying, like Privacy laws have now invaded Uganda.  So every child’s case file that has a picture attached to the outside of the folder has to have it moved inside. Yawn. 

One good thing we learned.  The Child Welfare laws have been amended to make adoption of the children much easier.  It used to be if someone from elsewhere wanted to adopt a child from Uganda, they had to come here, meet the child, and then come back every year for three years while keeping in touch with the child or his representative continually.  It was prohibitive.  But now, the time period has been reduced to 12 months and it requires only continuous contact with the child or a representative, no trip here until time to pick up the child.  That means, potentially, that all sponsors of children at Twinomujuni are now eligible to adopt their sponsored child.  The new thinking is that orphanages should only be like foster homes, that all kids that come in should be considered adoptable.  They believe this will be better for the kids in the long run, and will provide more room for more kids to come in as others are adopted.  This would work OK for some of our newer, younger ones.  But the ones who have been there for 8 years?  This IS their family.  They would probably not want to go anywhere else.  But, on the whole, it makes sense.

Along those same lines though, this little group of pie in the sky college graduates have also decided that the first course of action should be to try to “reestablish the child with its family of origin.”  Meaning, a child is either orphaned or abandoned by his or her parents, winds up in an orphanage, and the first thing to be done is find a blood relative to send the child back to.  Have these people ever actually BEEN here?  Have they no idea that if a blood relative was going to take the child they wouldn’t have wound up in the orphanage to begin with?  Don’t they know that in 95% of the cases where a kid is taken in by blood relatives they wind up virtually an indentured servant?  The biological children get the school fees, the clothing, the best food.  The “adopted” child sleeps in the goat pen and serves everyone else.  Some of the kids we have at Twinomujuni were rescued from blood relatives who “took them in” after they lost their parents. One had scalding water poured over her body.  One was sleeping in a goat pen and starving to death.   So their solution is to send the child back to a relative with a “package.”  The “package” would consist of a mattress, clothing, some food and some money.  As Isaac said, “so you are going to send a kid with a mattress to live with a family where no one else has a mattress and you think he’s going to get to sleep on it?”  Not to mention where the money would probably go. Oh, no, we would have to monitor the child’s situation and make sure he or she continued to be cared for.  So now, instead of just providing for the child at the orphanage, we would be providing for the whole family in a village.  On our dime.  Nothing coming from the bureaucrats who make the rules.   What idiocy.  I thought we had the market on that in the U.S. but I’m having to revise my opinion. 

Well, obviously, we are not going to do that.  We have always made sure the kids stay in contact with any living relatives.  They are allowed to go home to visit for weekends with grandparents or aunts and uncles.  But they never, ever, want to stay.  They are even reluctant to go.  We make sure the relatives know the kids are alive, well, and have their rights protected.  No one can come and get one of our girls and demand she come home and get married.  Twinomujuni is the legal guardian of each and every child who lives there.  Which brings up another little sideline of today’s meeting.  The guardianship forms have been “updated,” so they all have to be filled out anew and re-signed by the Probation Department. 

Ok, I’ve vented.  We have also given up our planned trip to Murchison Falls since, like everything that happens here, the costs to go turned out to be almost double what we were originally quoted.  “Oh, then there is the fuel for the transport vehicle….”  ($300.00 for the round trip).  We should have known.  But I’m OK with skipping it.  The trip there and back would have been about 14 hours in a van and I’ve had enough of that for a while.  If we really want to go, now we know the actual cost and can plan for it for next trip.  And I really want to thank our Ugandan son, Fred, for the work he did trying to set it up for us. 

18 August 2016

Yesterday evening, Grace came by the house to learn the song I want to teach the kids.  She is the oldest and was one of our first arrivals at Twinomujuni, and has become kind of the oldest sibling.  We talked for awhile, I showed her some pictures of some of the kids’ sponsors on Facebook. 

Then, I got out the guitar (which is missing the high E string) and started singing the song to her.  She watched my face intently, and before I was finished with the first line, she was singing it with me.  Note by note.  And I know she had never heard it before because a friend of mine in the U.S. wrote it and it has never been heard here before.  It was amazing.  The song is an easy one to learn the words to, “Sing to the Lord,” second verse, “Worship the Lord,”  but then Grace, big smile on her face, started suggesting other verses.  “Can we do Praise to the Lord?”  “Clap to the Lord?”    I don’t know, Grace.  What do you think, Dave?  Can we add to your song?

 



Comments

08-19-2016 at 8:57 PM
Frank Sumrak
Whenever the water or power goes out, just keep repeating to yourself: TIA, TIA, TIA,
08-18-2016 at 2:54 PM
Mom the Sup!
Still can't see any pictures :~(
Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!
08-18-2016 at 1:20 PM
Bea sanderson
WOW! I probably would have bitten my tongue in half.
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