Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baby Dissan

Every now and then we are brought face to face with the harsher realities of life here and our hearts are heavy. Such was the case on Tuesday when we learned of the death of a little baby named Dissan. This little chap lost his mother at the age of one month and his father asked for help feeding and caring for him. He was diagnosed with TB and was on medication for that. He developed tumours on his neck and these appeared to make it difficult for him to feed and seemed to be restricting his breathing. He was lovingly cared for by the Dendys and staff at Hope House and by Auntie Kate (who heads up the special needs program). Two weeks ago he was brought to the staff fellowship time and we all fell in love with his gorgeous smiles. Catriona had the opportunity to hold and feed him just a week ago at the special needs class. Late last week his breathing became more difficult and over the weekend he was taken to an international hospital in Kampala where a tracheostomy was performed. We learned on Tuesday that he had passed away. What a tragic loss for his father who has several other young children to care for and is still mourning the death of his wife. We ask that you pray for him and for all who have been touched by the life of this little boy.

Last evening David wrote the following:
Dissan and his father

Thank you God:

For the time with Dissan that you gave to us.
For the love he brought to Aunt Kate.
For the love you put in Aunt Kate's heart for him
For his smile every day.
For the conscious smile at the end - truly you are good.
For the care that allowed him to live longer.
For a Dad who loved him and expended himself to care and love him.

Thank you that your purposes are higher than ours.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Timmys Comes To Town

Saturday is market day in Kiwoko the town closest to the New Hope site.  We usually try and go to pick up some produce and some grocery items that are available there such as sugar, beans and washing powder.  As well as produce there are a variety of vendors that set up on the main street selling kitchen items, shoes, clothes and material.  We're often surprised at what's for sale and this Saturday was no exception.  Prominently displayed in the middle of a pile of plates and bowls were two Tim Horton's mugs complete with the phrase "Welcome home."  I couldn't resist snapping a photo which brought giggles from the man selling them.  He called to one of his friends who snapped a picture (on his phone) of me taking a picture. When we showed the mugs to our Ugandan friends from New Hope they convinced us that we really should buy one.  And so I am now happily drinking my tea from a Tim Horton's mug.  "It's always time for Tim's" even in Uganda!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Back to School

I'm quite excited to be back working in the primary school again. After meeting with the headmaster and resource teacher here we decided that my time could be best used tutoring students one on one. I've begun working with some P4 students who need assistance in Math and have enjoyed having a small resource classroom to use rather than working in the open-air which usually meant that a crowd of curious onlookers joined the group demanding that they too be given a turn. Although it's flattering to be so popular it's not entirely condusive to the best learning environment. At the moment I'm tutoring about an hour and a half per day. That seems to fit well into our home-schooling schedule.  Mugisha Dan is one of the students I've begun with. I had brought a string game which my kids had used to practise multiplication and he was delighted to try using it. It's pretty rewarding when your student says: "I enjoyed that Aunt." There will certainly be challenges along the way but it's great to be back doing what I love.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Tuesday evening we had the pleasure of hosting Kiweewa at our house for dinner. Kiweewa is one of the longest standing members of David family having come to New Hope at the age of 3. From the very first time we visited in 2010 Kiweewa has been one of our best teachers of all things 'Ugandan.' He's an excellent translator and would often translate for us when we led devotions with the family group. He also patiently put up with our less than stellar efforts in the gardens and tried to teach us how to dig.

This year he is in the IY program. This mentoring and internship program has been developed for students who have finished S4 (approx. Grade 10) before they head off to further secondary or vocational training. One of its many goals is to help these young people to explore future career paths by allowing them to intern with employers for a few months. The program also seeks to expose them to city life in Kampala which for many of these village children is extemely challenging. They also receive spiritual training and guidance from the staff involved with the program.

Kiweewa had been away on one of these training sessions when we first arrived so it was very exciting to have him back in the family the last few days for some in house training here at Kasana. The esteem and love in which he is held was so evident as we watched him reuniting with the others kids in the family group.
Kiweewa spent the evening sharing many stories about his latest work interning with a vet in Kampala.  It has been his dream to be a vet ever since he was in primary school and he's been thrilled to work in a vet's clinic learning first hand all that is involved.

 Kiweewa has plenty of first hand experience with farm animals such as cows, goats, pigs and chickens but less so with pet animals and so it was interesting listening to him describe caring for cats, dogs etc.  One of his stories involved searching the neighbourhood for a dog which the staff thought had escaped from the clinic only to eventually find it curled up in a corner of the clinic.  Thankfully the dog was found before the owner returned.  He also shared about the challenges of travelling back and worth to work using public taxis (small mini-buses jammed with people).  One night he got on the wrong one and ended up far from home without any more money to pay for a boba or taxi home.  Eventually he was given directions by an elderly man who he decided to 'trust somehow' and walked home very thankful when he finally reached where he was staying.  He is hoping to work next with a wildlife vet so please pray that an opportunity like that will open up for this young man. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Give us this day our daily bread

Catriona and Christina spent Saturday baking bread with the David family girls.  They'd helped previous years and love the chance to spend time with the girls doing something really practical.  Today there were a large number of orders so they started at 8:00 and weren't done delivering the last loaves until 5:00.  I stopped by in the afternoon to deliver some sodas.  That gave them the chance to rest their very dirty feet!  They have a renewed appreciation for hard work and enjoyed their bread at dinner in a whole new way.

Christina, Agnes, Annet, Catriona


Saturday, July 14, 2012


Well it was bazaar time again at New Hope.  The money raised from this huge garage/jumble type sale is used by a group of young people to do outreach work in surrounding villages.  These teams help to build or repair houses, work in gardens or do domestic work for sick or disadvantaged people in the community.  John always finds something interesting to buy.  This year it was a small American football and a condensed version of The Swiss Family Robinson.  David and I bought 3 pineapples (they are cheap and taste fantastic), a cabbage, some tomatoes and then wandered over to get a look at the roasted pork for sale.  The monkey bars were put to good use supporting the carcass.  The guy wielding the knife was pretty impressive.  Our find of the day was a Miss Read book.  These gentle stories set in an English village star a village school mistress and I've always loved them.  Who would of thought I'd find one I hadn't read at a bazaar in Uganda!  A great deal for 2000 Ugandan shillings.

Note the banana leaf cutting board and the weigh scales with weights

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sport's Day

 Here are some of the sights of sport's day.  The kids and I went to a neighbouring village to watch the children from New Hope compete in football and netball.  We are amazed at the patience of the children as they wait for two and a half hours to be weighed and measured before the first games finally begin.  Competition is intense and the spectators crowd the sidelines to get a view of the action.  The officials on the sidelines sometimes become frustrated with people crowding the line and run up and down with a stick to move people back.  We attract the usual attention as we wander around in a sea of Ugandan faces.

Watching the action

New Hope Football Boys

The goals driven hard into the red dirt.

Uncle Joseph saves the day by driving the cows off the field in the middle of the game.

Bare feet pound the ground in pursuit of the ball.

Girls leap for the netball to the resounding cheers of the crowd.

A collective gasp for breath as we wait for the ball to fall into the net.


My curious little friend.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jerry Cans


Living in Uganda makes one so aware of how precious a resource water is.  A large part of the day here is made up of fetching water, filtering water for drinking, boiling water to wash our dishes in hot water and remembering to run the water pump if there's power so we can shower. We also witness the excitement when rain falls to fill cisterns and water the gardens.  Last night and today we've been treated to massive thunderstorms. Children in Uganda are the main 'drawers of water' and use it not only for drinking and cooking but also for bathing.

We've decided to get our kids into the act and so Christina and John are learning to walk to the water pump, fill their jerry cans and carry them back home. Christina's goal is to be able to haul two full 20 litres ones and John is working up to 10 litres. I snapped some pictures of them arriving back this morning. As they say here "Gyebaleko" or well done!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Uganda's First Lady: Mama Janet

On Saturday we were honoured to be a part of a big celebration that marked the visit of Uganda's First Lady Janet Museveni to New Hope's Kasana Children's Centre.  The week leading up to the visit has been filled with preparations as grass was slashed, banners were put up and choirs practised.  David was roped into running the power point for the songs (someone from Woodgreen must have alerted them to the sound schedule)!  Dressed in our finest we walked up the path to the central church circle and were met by soldiers who ensured that we passed through a metal detector set up on the field before we could proceed to our spots.  As songs were sung and testimonies were given we heard the whirr of a helicopter in the background.  The president's wife arrived on the secondary site and was then driven to the clinic to meet with some special needs children and then to the new baby house to meet some of the smallest orphans.  A number of large vehicles with soldiers then escorted her to the church and we rose to sing the Ugandan national anthem.
Uganda, Oh Uganda
May God uphold thee,
We lay our future in thy hand.
United, free
for liberty
Together we'll always stand.
After a dance presentation from a group of deaf children from Kampala and more speeches of welcome we were treated to the Chairman of the New Hope board Uncle Peter singing in his deep, deep voice.  He then welcomed Mama Janet to the podium and we listened to her speech in which she spoke movingly of Uncle Jay and Uncle Jonnes' work to establish and maintain the ministry here.  Her own Christian convictions were clearly expressed; no political correctness here!  One of best moments was watching Nabukeera a David family daughter translating for the First Lady.  From all accounts she did an outstanding job including translating from memory ten verses of scripture which Mama Janet read in English into Luganda. When I asked her if she had seen the speech ahead of time she said "Oh no!  I just had to do my best with God's help." 
No cameras were allowed (except for a few people with official designation) so unfortunately we can't share the sights of the day.  I will include one of my favourite pictures of Nabukeera, who in my books ranks right up there with the First Lady.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


 The day began with the rooster's call.  As my eyes slowly open a warm breeze blows through the window.  A few short days ago I was freezing on the sidelines of a Calgary soccer field so the warmth is extremely welcome.  I come fully awake in the cold shower.  Refreshing later on in the day but right now I have no wish to linger.  Toast for breakfast from the David family girls' Saturday bread batch.  It goes down nicely with a cup of Twinings tea kindly purchased for me by a friend who was in Kampala on Tuesday.  We greet Christine and Sedonia our inside and laundry workers.  It's a chance to practise our Luganda and French (Sedonia is from Rwanda and speaks French).  How thankful we are for these hard-working women and look forward to getting to know them better.

 As they begin to wash our clothes by hand and sweep and mop the floors the kids and I get down to school work.  We've decided to get a head-start.  It will give us more flexibility throughout the year and everyone else is in school so we figure we might as well be too.  The morning passes quickly and soon it's time for lunch. 
The afternoon brought the realization that our pineapples needed to be used so after a quick search on the internet Catriona and I made some pineapple muffins. Then it was time to bring in the washing, re-heat the pasta sauce I made yesterday for dinner and look out for John and the girls who had ventured off to visit friends.

After dinner we headed to David family for devotions. Along the way we meet little John the youngest member of the David family who turned two today. We give him a small ball donated by a mom from John's class and watch his eyes light up. As we gather with our family group we are reminded again by Uncle Eric that the only debt we should owe is one of love. A simple day full of the simple blessings of life.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Family Feast

All the orphans at New Hope are placed into family groups headed by a Ugandan father and mother.  Short and long term staff who may be teachers, child care workers or adminstrative staff are also connected to one of these family groups and play a variety of mentoring roles.  We were connected with the David family the first time we came and will continue to be assoicated with them.  It's one of the things we like best about the New Hope model of orphan care.

One question we're frequently asked is:  "What is the food like in Uganda?" The staple foods are beans and posho (ground maize) which is cooked over a charcoal or wood fire.  Today our laundry lady is cooking beans for her lunch.  We like our beans best with sweet potato which is a denser white root vegetable which we can buy at the local market which is held on Saturdays. 

One of the many varieties of beans

Charcoal Fire

On Sunday evening we were treated to a special meal at our David family group.  Ugandans love to celebrate comings and goings and so after some introductions and prayers of thanksgiving for our safe arrival we shared a meal with the children, family parents and staff members that make up the David family.

Rice, matoke(with gnut sauce), chicken, cassava
 Our Sunday evening 'welcome back' meal was a true feast.  We had seen four chickens being carted off by the legs on Saturday so we knew something good was in store.  Our meal pictured above consisted of rice, the afore mentioned chicken boiled for a long time and served with gravy and g-nut sauce (short for groundnut), matoke (a mashed banana like plantains) and cassava chips which are from the root of a plant and which my kids said reminded them of french fries.  Of course we never eat enough to truly satisfy them but we did our best to clean our plates.  Webale David family; it was delicious!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


We left Calgary Wed. June 27th with a splendid send-off from a group of friends.  Thanks to all of them for seeing us off.  We flew overnight to London and met up with Christine, a friend from Edinburgh, who flew down to see us (a long way to come for a swim)!  It was great to see her.  Then it was on to Uganda Thursday night.  We arrived and waited patiently for our 15 pieces of baggage.  Unfortunately only 14 arrived.  After filling out some forms and expecting the worse we were happily reunited with our last rubbermaid tub today!  We arrived at New Hope around 6:00 p.m. local time on Friday and were greeted by a group of willing children from Jonathan family who carried in our tubs and gave hugs and greetings all round.  Taped to our door were many more messages of welcome.  We spent Sat. getting settled, reuniting with friends and appreciating the warmth and love showered on us both here and at home.  We did indeed "Go well" and will pray that all of you will "stay well."

Aunt Constance's house - our home for the first few months

Packing Up!

The Bowals

Our Woodgreen Prayer Warriors

More Prayer Warriors
Our last few days in Calgary were busy ones.  Here are a few highlights of those days:
  • Packing went well - we are thankful for the people who are helping to store and use furniture while we are away.
  • Good weather and lots of people to take away a garage full of unnecessary items from our home at a garage sale. It was good to see so much of our younger kids stuff go to new homes.
  • BIG Praise Item: Catriona got a serious concussion on Tuesday June 14th and was on bed rest for a week and a half. She was well enough to travel and survived the two nine hour flights with just a mild headache.
  • We are thankful to God that the rock that fell off a truck, cracked and splintered the glass on the inside was not worse (also on Tuesday the 14th!)
  • Many thanks to the Bowals, Mandins, Ann and the Frasers who helped make the move out of our house go so smoothly.
  • The Frasers were gracious and helpful hosts during our last few days in Calgary.
  • Our home church gave us a warm send-off on Sunday June 24th - see some of our Woodgreen prayer warriors pictured above.
  • God has provided us with enough support to get going and we are very grateful for the many who have made that possible. We are still some short in our budget but are trusting God to provide for our needs.