After a week including overnight trips to Kampala and Jinja with Leah and others, I left the orphanage for the last time on Sunday, February 12
|Painting the girls' dormitory|
|Melissa from Australia and friends|
|My gifts included bubbles to blow...|
|...ropes to jump|
|soap to wash with|
|Joseph got my binoculars|
|Isaac got a chemistry book|
|Fashionista Fiona got school shoes|
. The kids were very sad to see me go. I gave out a few gifts, such as my binoculars, speakers, some toiletries, a fan, etc., which also lightened my bag. The kids were very happy to get them. I had charged up my laptop in Jinja, so was able to show them one more BBC nature show on forests. By popular demand, they again watched "Horton Hears a Who" by Dr Seuss. It is always strange seeing 20 kids patiently crowding around a laptop to watch a movie, without any pushing or arguing.
Per Yvonne, an AIDS volunteer who conversed extensively with Joshua, the founder of the orphanage, he was a soldier in Idi Amin's army from the age of 10 until Amin was deposed and fled the country. Joshua apparently had an epiphany that children on the streets would be hardened to that life and unable to change unless they were taken from there early. He became a pastor and started the orphanage, as well as his endeavors to feed the poor and house battered women and widows.
Joshua's brother, Regan, showed up to take Leah, Melissa and me to Entebbe. James, the IVHQ representative, had said Joshua, the head of the orphanage, would take us at no charge, and I don't know if he realized that his brother, Regan, was going to charge us 100,000 shillings (about $42). Melissa texted James and he met us at a gas station outside of Kampala and got a friend of his to take us the rest of the way. He gave Regan 70,000 shillings and said he would settle the rest later, but that it was too much money. I don't know if he will get in trouble for charging us.
Leah and I got dropped off at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center in Entebbe, while Melissa continued on to the airport, where she will get a plane back to Australia.
One of the orphanage volunteers, Alexandra from Australia, had spent a week at the Wildlife Center as a volunteer and raved about it. Since then, several of us have spent a few days there before leaving the country. Leah will spend 3 nights with me before meeting the boys and going to Kenya. I plan to stay the whole week, but I am not sure if I will be volunteering the whole time. I will have to see what that involves.
We are staying in a banda, a round brick hut with thatched roof about 10 minutes walk from the front gate. The ceiling rises to a point about 30 feet high. The interior walls are plastered, but the sloping ceiling is wood lattice covering sheets of aluminum. We feel we are living in luxury with hot water, TV, electricity and a refrigerator. We can see and hear the waves of Lake Victoria from our doorstep, but there is a chain link fence with barbed wire on top separating us from the road along the lake. On the other side of us is a fenced enclosure with giraffes, ostriches, elands, hartebeests, and cows.
|Bandas at the Wildlife Center|
|View of Lake Victoria from the Center's restaurant|
|Grooming the young|
|Inside the banda|
|Interior view of the banda roof|