Tuesday, March 19, 2013

With love from Great-Gramps


This morning our kids received type-written letters from their Great-Gramps John.  David's grandfather sent letters to Africa over forty years ago when David's Mum and Dad were in Ethiopia. He continued to write letters to David and his siblings as they grew up in Scotland. Full of anecdotes, questions and pithy comments Gramps at 90 is still an excellent correspondent.
The following are some of our favourite lines from the letters:

"Yes, I am keeping well (I sneeze occasionally).  

"You say there are 11 kids at the Special Needs class. (Tut-tut, goats have kids, people have children)."

"You should have seen me blowing out 90 candles; somebody suggested I should let the children help blow, but I said I thought there would be less spit on the cake if I did it alone!"

In this age of facebook, blogs, texts, and emails, a carefully crafted letter is a rarity.  Thanks to Gramps my kids (oops, children) have experienced the pleasure of a personal letter.  Write back soon, Gramps!

Weight Gain

 You may have read about this little girl who traveled with Catriona and I to Kampala a few weeks ago for an assessment. She was diagnosed with TB and has been on medication since then. It's been exciting to watch her slowly put on weight. When she first came into the Special Needs program she weighed 8 kg; now on medication and receiving proper nutrition she is 13 kg.   (David, my nephew took these photos while he was here in February).  What a joy to see the smile of a little girl who spent her first years hidden away in darkness.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Happy Birthday Girls!

 How old were you when you went to your first birthday party? Yesterday, at the age of 15, Agnes went to her first birthday party. It was one of those little things that happen every now and again here and remind us of how much we take for granted. Catriona turned 15 yesterday and Christina turned 13 on Wednesday so to celebrate we invited the girls from our family group over for a sleepover. When the girls gave Agnes her invitation she danced for joy. Last night as they presented their cards and shared prayers and thoughts about our Bible reading passage, I was filled with thankfulness that my girls have the opportunity to spend this time with these girls. Laughter, good friends, and brownies who could ask for a better party! Next time you're blowing out your candles think of Agnes.

Little by Little

The primary school began again the last week of January. In Uganda the school year follows the calendar year and so many of the children I was working with last year have moved on to P4. It’s been good to be here for a longer period of time so that I can follow these children up and build on learning that they have acquired.

Two of my most enthusiastic students are Nantambi Rebecca and Nakamonye, Justine. They love to read and slowly by slowly their comprehension skills are improving as well. They spur each other on, encourage one another and try so hard.

Another student I have just begun working with is Obetta Vicent. At 14 he is one of the oldest boys in the P4 class. I was told that he was unable to read. The first day I met with him he was very withdrawn and I tried various different approaches to try and access his abilities. The next day I tried again asking him simple questions and then writing the answers. He was able to answer many of them and even was able to give me the spelling of some words. When I asked him what he liked to play he answered not surprisingly "football."  I sensed a tiny spark of interest in his eyes and before too long we wrote sentences about his favourite position and where he played.  A connection between the two of us was established.  He reread his sentences more confidently.  We practised the words he didn't know.  We broke the sentences up into words and put them back together.  He even laughed when his sneeze blew his word cards off the table.  These are small but important steps and I'm looking forward to watching his progress in the weeks to come. 


The last few weeks here have been very hot and dry.  We've watched as the water level in our cistern went down, down, down until it was just a few centimetres of water on the bottom.  I used the last water in our storage tank on Wednesday to wash the dishes after lunch and was gearing up to cope with fetching jerry cans of water from the primary site when we heard some thunder.  Twenty minutes later we had high winds and then the rain.  Who would have thought we'd get so excited about rain. Praise God! We were so busy collecting rain in buckets and dumping it in the cistern that the afternoon passed by.  Last year Christina had a snow day on her birthday this year it was a rain day. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Feathered Friends


Uganda is home to hundreds of bird species.  Here are just a few we saw on safari.

The Majestic Fish Eagle

                               Crested Cranes the national bird seen on the Ugandan flag.

Water Skidders
Watching them fly in formation was amazing.

Whenever you see a large animal there are almost always birds along side. Christina has been learning about symbiosis and she saw lots of examples on safari.  When the warthogs run through the grass they stir up insects which these birds gobble up.  Other bird species feed of the parasites found on larger animals.