Welcome to the second edition of our Week 1 blog.
The group enjoyed their well deserved day off on Wednesday with a trip to the equator and the craft markets in Kampala.
The equator has three water cylinders, one in the northern hemisphere, on in the south, and one right on the border.
They run water down it with a flower to show which way it runs down. In the north, it runs clockwise and in the south it runs anti-clockwise. On the border it runs straight down the middle!
A quick photo shoot and then on to the craft markets in Kampala. I don’t think anyone can help spending a small fortune at the markets. You can buy pretty much anything here, mostly carved out of wood. The baskets are gorgeous and in every colour you can imagine. They are made using wicker pulled from the swamps and they are then dyed and woven.
After a couple of hours everyone was shopped out, well we thought they were until people would run off for one other thing, then another, then another!
Thursday was our day with the the Ugandan charity ‘Friends of People with Disabilities.’
On the last Weightmans trip, we met a lady called Geraldine and her daughter Diana who ran this day Centre for children with special needs. They can still be very stigmatized in Uganda and shunned from society. Particularly in the poorer villages where people cannot afford to see ‘western’ doctors and will still listen to the witch doctor. The witch doctor will often tell them the child is a curse and they must kill them for it to go. Therefore many will keep their child hidden away from their society.
Geraldine, as a child, used to take her cousin on a piggy back to school each day who was unable to walk as a result of Polio. She recognized that she was no different to the rest of us, and as a result has dedicated her life to those with special needs.
The Centre is free for the children to attend, they receive no funding. Many children turn up hungry too and so she also has to feed them. She is a true inspiration.
Our accommodation at Hibis Guest House has a lovely large private garden, and the owner was more than happy for us to use the grounds for this special day.
We had a huge variety of sensory play items prepared for the children which were funded by Weightmans. We had a parachute, puppets, Jenga, instruments and so much more.
The Manchester office at Weightmans support a charity called Seashell Trust which is also a Centre for children with special needs. They did paintings over in the UK which Richard brought with him. The children here did them in return which he will take back to them.
It wasn’t long before we had 11 extremely excited children arriving on the bus. We took them to the gardens and they immediately started to play with all of the toys. Their eyes lit up and they couldn’t contain their excitement. The volunteers were just as excited too and it was such a special day which they, and us will cherish forever.
We treated the children to a KFC lunch, and then we got the parachute out. They loved hiding underneath and playing tent and loved us all being around together in a circle just playing.
We also had care packages full of clothes we had prepared back in the UK for them. They sat so patiently waiting for their names to be called out and were thrilled when they saw their new clothes.
Over five hours went by in a flash and we waved the children off. It’s safe to say it was a very special day for everyone.
Friday was party day organized by Linda and Michelle. This was to not just celebrate the end of a fabulous week, but also to celebrate 10 years since our first house was built, and also Papa Charles retirement. Papa has worked at our house for years and works tirelessly on our gardens. He is also seen as a father figure for the children. Papa really deserved this well deserved retirement and he will be truly missed by all of us.
Linda has organised for two cakes to be baked. We counted just over 60 children and 40 adults. The cakes were so big everyone had a piece and some even more!
The was also games like pass the parcel, pin the donkey, there was sodas going around, popcorn. We also had lots of fancy dress costumes donated and so there was Disney princesses and so many more costumes everywhere.
There was sooo much noise everywhere with party poppers, party blowers, streamers, whistles. Music blasting. There was also lots of pictures from the original build 10 years ago.
It was such a lovely and happy afternoon. Everyone is already starting to prepare themselves for the emotional goodbye at this point.
Saturday was a wash out morning, which gave everyone the opportunity to pack and have a good sort out of the remaining donated items the first week brought with them.
We had nothing specific planned the our last day. The week one group wilpild be flying home that evening and so it was a nice opportunity for them to say their goodbyes.
The goodbyes were emotional as you could imagine. The first day feels such a long time ago now and everyone already knows each other so well, as well as all the staff and children and community too.
It was an emotional good bye, but everyone has left with so many memories of what has been a life changing experience.
We look forward to our week two volunteers.