Officially the Last Day in the Bush
March 3, 2010
Today, the ladies of the group (including myself) left at 7:30 am for Bethany Village where we were scheduled to do dental work on the orphans. We took the 30 minute boat ride across Lake Victoria and we were concerned that it would rain on us. This time, the boat didn’t have a tarp covering us and the clouds were dark!
The men attended the graduation ceremony for ARM sponsored students. These kids graduated from high school and “university” (our equivalent of college). The students considered it an honor to have “Muzungus” at their ceremony.
Our boat ride to Bethany was so peaceful. The water was very calm and the lake was smattered with fisherman looking for Tilapia.
Once we got to Bethany, we walked to their clinic lugging my 2 suitcases full of dental equipment. Once we got there, we set up a makeshift dental clinic on the patio of the medical clinic. It was amazing to do dentistry outside, especially when it started raining! Luckily we were kept dry by the roof. But, it is cool to say that I did dentistry outside, in the rain, in Africa!
I saw 3 patients at a time. Bonnie, Mary and Janice were very helpful in keeping the “clinic” running smoothly. Bailey kept the kids busy playing games and passing out stickers. I extracted 30 teeth here as well. With the exception of a couple of kids, they were very stoic and hardly showed any emotion during the procedures.
Due to time constraints, we had to turn kids away. This, of course, was heart breaking considering how much they needed our services.
We did get rained on during our boat ride back to Ggaba and the waves got a little choppy. Bonnie struggled a little with motion sickness but did manage to keep her lunch!
Upon our return, I was introduced to 2 of the 3 kids I sponsor through the program. I was thrilled to meet them and gave them the gifts I brought for them. The gifts consisted of a back pack, soccer ball, pump, flip flops, oral health supplies, fruit and vegetable seeds, a bible, pencils, pencil sharpener and eraser. They were delighted to receive them
I enjoyed talking with them. John, now 19 years old, reminded me that I have been sponsoring him since he was 11. He expressed his sincere gratitude for my sponsorship and I was touched. He is a very bright and good looking young man who liked to laugh at my jokes. When I asked him about school, he said he’s planning on going on to university. When I asked what he would like to do with his studies, he replied that he’d like to become president of Uganda one day!
And you know what, I think he can do it! Just think – $35 a month of an investment in this child has allowed him to dream big and have a chance at accomplishing his goal. I told him that I looked forward to coming to his graduation and he smiled a HUGE smile.
I also told him that I would be delighted to host the future president of Uganda at my home in California. He laughed and said that he was on his way to “being somebody important” and he would definitely come visit me.
My other sponsored child, Jemima, is 11 years old. She was shyer, as is common in this culture. We got to know each other a little bit and I was touched that she kept saying, with all sincerity, how happy she was that she had this opportunity to meet me. For these children, meeting their sponsors in person is like meeting a super star. They consider it an honor and a privilege to meet the person who is giving them the opportunity to receive an education. Jemima came with her sister and her father. He was so thrilled to meet me too! He just kept thanking me for sponsoring his daughter. The sincerity of their gratitude really touched me in a way that I can’t even put into words.
We visited for about an hour and then our team went onto our next destination, another slum known for its darkness and association with witchcraft and Satan worship.
We drove about 45 minutes away from Ggaba into that slum area. ARM has a church and school right smack in the middle of this area. The teacher, Rebecca, who gave us a tour, told us about one of their 16 year old students, Michael, who was kidnapped 3 weeks ago in an attempted human sacrifice. The Satan worshippers were looking for a virgin to sacrifice. By the grace of God, they let him go because they noticed a scratch on his leg. The in order to be a proper sacrifice, the victim cannot have shed any blood. How they would know that, I don’t know. I spent most of my childhood with scabby knees. Luckily, the noticed the scab on his leg and let him go.
Rebecca called him out of class so we could meet him. What a sweet boy. We prayed for him and thanked God for sparing his life. He was appreciative. The school moved him out of the area where he was living and put him closer to the school.
In the US, we teach our children “stranger danger” techniques (what to do if a stranger tries to take you). In this area of Uganda, they have to teach the same things. It just makes me sick thinking about it.
That night, our team had a debriefing and we visited with Pastor Peter who prayed for us and with a Texan, Helen, who just arrived here and bought a condo to live in. She is in here 60’s and felt that God was calling her to come here to teach the kids. So, she sold everything she had in Texas and now lives in Uganda and will be teaching at one of the schools! Wow, that’s a leap of faith.
Today was our last official day of ministering to the people of Uganda. Tomorrow, we will head off to safari to have a little fun as a team. I can’t wait!