After 24 long hours of travel we have arrived. This trip is a little different than the past few years, first off we do not have a team coming, its just me and mom for the first time in awhile. Secondly, we are starting our trip in Jinja instead of Kampala, we have never done that. But there is a reason, ALL our kids are home from school this week and we don’t want to miss time with them. So after a quick sleep in Entebbe we are off to Jinja.
We started our week by meeting with our social worker Eunice, to get our plans together for the week and a recap of the dental outreach. Last week, our amazing dental team from Hope Smiles came for the annual dental outreach in Musima. We hated to miss that, but that was the only open week they had to do an outreach. Despite that, we always know our kids are in good hands. Monday morning could not come soon enough, I couldn’t wait to be in Musima. But first stop was our land, it was the first time being there this trip and it was overwhelming to see my dream coming true. They had started building and I couldn’t help but get so excited walking through thinking about what those walls will hold.
We arrived and, of course, we were greeted by the children and their families lining the road, singing and chanting and welcoming us home. We walked down to the community hall and the dancing began. It’s always such a celebration to come home and, even thought its only been a few months since I’ve been here, the kids all seem to have grown. Our week was filled with taking new photos of all our kids, playing, spending time and lots of games of chess. Two of the amazing chess trainers from Dove Chess Academy, Edgar and Adison, were already there and Chess champion Namaganda Christine joined us later in the week. I love how Edgar and Adison have embedded themselves in the community; they don’t just come in during the chess trainings, they stay in the village, they help with the daily chores, they spend time with the kids…and of course play lots of chess. But it’s so important for our kids to see these two men, being a part of their community as well as sharing their love for the game.
Our amazing artist and friend Joel and his wife Tendo joined us again this year to teach the children how to make a craft, this year they made beautiful necklaces made from beads, coconut shells, washers and nuts….sounds crazy but I promise they’re beautiful. Mid-week it was time for some tough conversations and meetings. We gathered all the kids together along with our amazing team of women and men. Our social workers Eunice and Mark, Joel and Tendo, our photographer Geoffrey, Christine and our friend David spoke to the children and shared their stories with them, encouraging them and challenging them to be the best they can be. Then they told the children not to take the opportunity they’ve been given for an education, for a change in their life, for granted. We broke into separate groups boys/girls where we could talk more about specific issues for each and answered questions. Some of the questions we got were heartbreaking, some were interesting and some were just funny and were hard to answer without laughing. But it was good to see communication open, and the girls feeling comfortable enough to ask.
The best part of the week was the sleepovers with my boys, I love getting to spend time with them. They are growing up so fast and are going to be amazing men. We watched movies, ate popcorn and even facetimed back home. We also ended the week with a trip to the pool. We loaded up the van, and I mean loaded it up. There were 12 of us, and a few more friends joined us at the pool. It was a great way to end the week.
All too soon the weekend came and the buses rolled in and it was time to send our kids back to school. The village is so quiet when the kids are gone and we just weren’t ready to say “see you later”. But they were off to start Term 2: off to learn, off to grow, off to make us, their families and their sponsors proud.