27 June 2013
Today we started our day off with Ayoo Jennifer, who works with Reach Out an HIV/AIDS outreach program. We visited the homes of several women in the Acholi Quarter who are living with HIV/AIDS. To learn more read our post here about Reach Out.
Navigating the winding paths through the Acholi Quarter can be challenging. Walking on ledges, stepping over trenches, squeezing through narrow passages, climbing hills, and navigating the maze of mud homes make for a strenuous trek. However the people there navigate it with ease. The homes are small, simple mud homes but the people will gladly welcome you in. We were so glad to meet each of the women, hear their stories, look into their eyes and tell them they are so strong and courageous.
After we finished meeting with them we headed back to the center where we had a delicious lunch of posho, peas, chapatti, cabbage, rice and fish. Mama Oyet was a little upset that we didn’t try the fish.
Once we finished lunch we headed down the hill to Creamland school where 3 of Mali’s kids attend. We met with one of the head teachers, and he showed us around the school. Now when I say school, do not picture the traditional “american” school. This is a dirt compound lined with wooden shacks that are classrooms. Where the children sit on wood benches on dirt floors. There is no air conditioning, other then the breeze coming through the wood planks. There are no computers, no TVs, no books, and no projectors. What they have is a single blackboard in the front of the room, when they run out of room there, they write on the wooden plank walls. But what stands out to me more then anything is that the students want to be there, they are proud to be there,and they respect and admire their teacher. When we walked into each classroom we were greeted with a chorus of sweet faces saying “You are most welcome our visitors” as they sat politely on the wooden bench, dressed in their tattered and worn uniforms. We entered Makmot, Gabriel and Lydia’s classrooms, and the children were proud that Mali was there, and that their classmates could meet their sponsor.
Then we walked back up the hill to the center, and Mali was surrounded by children along the way. She stopped to talk to them, as they braided her hair and hammed it up for some pictures. Once we got back to the center we finished handing out the dresses. We gave out over 450 dresses over the past 3 days. It was so sweet to see how happy the girls were, you could tell they felt pretty in their new dresses by their smiles. We had crowds of people outside the door of the center waiting each day for dresses, we tried to give out as many as possible, but there were still girls who went without. When we were walking throughout the Quarter earlier in the day we saw some of the dresses we had already given out either hanging on the clothes line or on the girls as they ran and played. It made us so happy to give to not only the children of Project Have Hope, but to all of the Acholi community.
Afterwards we headed back to the Red Chilli for some dinner and relaxing before another busy day tomorrow.