Monday, February 16th
Team 2 left the Sunset Hotel in Jinja on Monday and headed to Nakabango for a quick visit to the school in Nakabango. Since we had spent Saturday at the wedding and ordination, we didn’t get to see the kids in their classrooms.
The kids had lined the driveway beside the church to greet us. As we got off the bus, one of Brian Watkins’ sponsored students, Samuel, caught my eye. I had told him in October that there was a good chance that Brian would be with me during our visit in February. I nodded my head “yes” and motioned towards the front of the bus, where I knew Brain was looking for Samuel. I stepped off the bus just in time to see an incredible embrace between the two of them; what a sweet reminder of the importance that relationships play in our work! It was a touching moment I won’t soon forget.
We met the headmaster in the school office and then visited each classroom where we were greeted by smiling faces. We were all wondered aloud how the kids could concentrate when there were, at times, three classes meeting in one room simultaneously. There is a lot of recitation in Ugandan classrooms and it seemed impossible to concentrate. The motivation to build a permanent school structure there, with separate classrooms for all, is getting stronger with each visit!
We left Nakabango and got back on the main road for our visit to Kamuli. The road has improved so much in the past 2 years; a 3-4 hour drive is now down to only one.
We pulled into the Hearts and Hope primary school in Kamuli as students ran from across the field to greet us. Some of us had not even left the bus before Brian was in full dance mode. The hope and joy in Kamuli is tangible and we love to be there!
We did not have a lot of structured activities planned, since we had met with the sponsored kids during Team 1’s visit so we had a few hours to just enjoy being with the kids. That time is always a gift! There were games of soccer, volleyball, and some with no names, but it seemed at times that there were 400 kids all engaged with a team member somewhere! Several times I surveyed the field and saw Matt in the exact same spot, playing catch with the same group of 15 girls; it seemed like hours! He assured me later that he was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing!
We passed out soccer uniforms to the team and watched the smiles break out. We shared several hundred books with the school and Mark and Ann listened to kids read for at least an hour.
Alex is one of the kids we always look forward to seeing. He speaks perfect English and even seems to understand our sarcastic sense of humor. I was sitting with him and around twenty other kids watching volleyball and he asked if we could listen to music on my phone. He wanted to hear John Legend’s “All of Me”. I put it on and he sang every word from beginning to end. I don’t mean he quietly sang along; he belted it out! It was fun to watch him pour his little heart out!
All too soon it was time to leave. Ronald, who was travelling with us, asked if I would like to try out the new hotel in Kamuli. Many people know that staying at our regular hotel in Kamuli is my least favorite part of the trip, so it’s no surprise that I jumped at the chance to try the new one. The receptionist gave us a quick tour and Charles negotiated our price. I believe the consensus was that it was a lovely stay and we will be trying it again!
It was a wonderful day and the team continued to see the progress being made through Hearts and Hope. We have seen a huge disparity in the schools we have visited. I think we are all wrestling with what we can each do to change a life!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.