Wednesday, December 31, 2008
After hours of dancing and celebrating we gathered around the large heap of garbage and as the New Year arrived, the fire was lit. We watched as the children grabbed burning materials from the bonfire (particularly the tree) and run towards the more populated area of the village.
As I stood there watching them parade around with flaming branches (surprisingly relaxed, considering), a fellow volunteer asked, "What were you doing one year ago?" I couldn't help but smile as I recalled the previous year and how it had progressed; it was amazing. As another year is about to begin I smile as I look back upon this one as well.
And yet, this New Year's I am focusing on what is to come.
With BULA's return to Uganda only nine days away, there is much to look forward to. We will construct a kitchen at the school to provide a consistent food source for the students who go through an entire school day without. We are also installing water filters to improve the health and productivity of the children at the school. Also at St. Kizito, we are going to improve the solar panels and battery system so we will be able to utilize lap top computers that were donated and introduce technology into the curriculum.
We will also prepare for the fellow who will be living in Uganda for one year and assisting BULA with after school programs to enhance the children's educational experience. Along with this, we are also sending over thousands of donated textbooks for the students who currently do not have any.
This is all very exciting, but that is not all. We are also very excited that we will begin the plans for our second school.
Thank you for all your support over the last year and stay posted to learn more about our progress while we are in Uganda.
Have a wonderful New Year!!!!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I hope you are in the midst of a wonderful holiday season. I just wanted to take a moment to remind you of the Hope for the Holidays Gala in New York tomorrow night.
The party is hosted by BULA & Mission14. It will be held at AVEvenue Social Hall & Event Loft - 15 West 28th Street (10th floor)New York, NY 10001 US on Monday, December 29, 7:00PM to 10:00PM.
Delicious hors d'oeuvres and drink selections will be served from Sherwood House Vineyards and the Blue Point Brewery.
Tickets cost $60.00 and all proceeds will go to BULA and Mission 14 for upcoming projects.
I hope to see you there!!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
(This takes awhile to download, but is worth it and will only be available until January 15th!!)
To all the volunteers who were there to celebrate Christmas in Uganda... this is for you.
To every one else, please enjoy.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
The children finally retired to their dormitories around 12:00AM. Myself and the other volunteers closed our doors as if we were doing the same thing, and we waited and waited. Around 1:30 we decided it was safe to bring the 27 hidden basins filled with gifts from my room. Slowly, slowly we carried each basin from the volunteer house to the all-purpose room.
Silently we crept through the night, more out of fear of waking the cow; one wrong move and her bellowing could wake the village.
The stockings the children made weeks earlier were carefully filled with sweeties and a stuffed animal. Everything was arranged perfectly for the following morning.
A few minor scares - rustling from the dormitories, the cow shifting in its sleep - caused small delays as we all froze in nervous anticipation of being discovered. But scares are all they were and Christmas was successfully delivered.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
For instance, "Sister, where is my Christmas?" ... "It is cooking," I would reply.
This just happens to be my favorite meal.... yummmm.... This is what we had....
matoke (steamed plantains)
g-nut sauce (made from peanuts)
greens (bitter - yuck)
Then fresh, delicious pineapple for dessert!!!
The children walked around that night with stomach's protruding from their Christmas clothes and smiles beaming on their faces.
Bulging belly and fast asleep...the signs of a wonderful Christmas.
Friday, December 19, 2008
The donations, that were given specifically for Christmas, made this possible, but we were still on a budget. We were off to Owino Market. Owino is a massive market near the taxi park area in Kampala where you can, if you are willing to work for it, buy anything you want. It is a narrow maze of shops and booths that are covered in tarps. The floor is comprised of mud and/or broken, unsturdy and sometimes treacherous planks of wood. If your foot goes through or you can’t make the jump, beware of the bog of eternal stench that lies, unassumingly, beneath.
The pathways are winding and branch off in all directions in what seems like an impossible labrynth of people - grabbing you, yelling prices, throwing their garments. The market is always packed; you are always uncomfortably close to many people and there is always a man with a massive parcel on his head sucking his teeth behind you (much like Wal-Mart on Black Friday).
Armed with the shopping chart and measuring tape, this is where I spent several days a week until Christmas. I quickly learned to strategically maneuver through the chaos, bargain for fair prices, and dig through the mounds of second-hand merchandise that lie in piles on the ground.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
One of the older boys approached me, "Sister, I have many problems… can you fix my problems?”
I simply shrugged my shoulders and made a face that clearly read, “I don’t know, tell me more”.
“I am the time keeper at school,” he continued, “and my watch, it has no technology.” I looked briefly at the sad shell of a digital watch; the face has no numbers, behind the clear plastic barrier I see his skin.
I nodded in understanding, “what are your other problems?”
“Sister, I have too many shirts and not enough pants. Sister Endie, this Christmas, can you fix my problems?”
“Yes, I can fix your problems.” I pulled a pen from my bag and wrote the time on his wrist below the empty watch face. “And now you must find a man who has too many pants and not enough shirts; then trade. All your problems are solved. Anytime you need anything, I love you and am always here to help.”
I walked away, the young man laughed, knowing my sarcastic nature. Little did he know in a few days, all his problems would be solved.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
There was also a golf tournament, sponsored by Black Bird’s Bar and Grill. This was held on the surprisingly beautiful day after Thanksgiving and 88 golfers arrived at the event for a wonderful day of golfing, great food, and fun. The response was fantastic and the support was amazing.
We also had a 5K run, which was the inspiration behind BULA’s new slogan – From Blue Point to BULA - a tribute to the wonderful community that has supported BULA since its initiation. The walk/run was a complete success, more than 150 arrived to support BULA and to participate. With the tremendous generosity from the Blue Point Brewery, a good time was had by all, especially upon completion of the race. We hope to make this run an annual event, so look for us next year, and join us to support our school construction projects in Africa. In addition to this, we have been selling our cookbooks and sweatshirts outside of Bayport/Blue Point school district’s holiday concerts. The school has, once again, shown its amazing support by allowing us to speak briefly and show our video before the concert. We have been able to sell boxes of cookbooks in this manner and are slowly getting closer to meeting our financial needs to construct the second school.
We have also had a wine and cheese get together. A neighbor who has been hugely supportive organized this event. This was a wonderful opportunity to talk to new people in the area who did not know a lot about BULA, but knew they wanted to learn more and support the cause. We showed the video, which I have attached the link to help provide a better understanding of life in Africa; again the support was tremendous.
Finally, a friend of ours from Mission 14 helped organize a happy hour fundraiser in the city. This was a very low key event, but was a lot of fun and carried on well into the evening. At this fundraiser BULA and Mission 14 decided to hold a joint event to support both organizations, and this was the beginning of the Hope for the Holidays Gala discussed in the previous blog.
Thank you to everyone who helped organize an event and to everyone who attended - we couldn’t do this without you.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Location: AVEvenue Social Hall & Event Loft 15 West 28th Street (10th floor), New York, NY
When: Monday, December 29, 7:00PM to 10:00PM
Phone: Melissa: 631.375.2790 or Brian: 631.804.4857
The pleasure of your company is graciously requested to attend Hope for the Holidays 2008 Gala Event hosted by BULA & Mission 14.
We would like to reflect upon all the great work done in 2008 and to discuss our future plans & projects for 2009. We would also like to take this opportunity to say,"thank you" for all of your support and efforts over the past year. Delicious hors d'oeuvres will be served along with drink selections from Sherwood House Vineyards and the Blue Point Brewery.
Ticket Cost is $60. Please Vist the following website to register for the event: http://2008hopefortheholidays.eventbrite.com/
The website accepts both credit card & pay pal payments.
*All proceeds go to the funding of future BULA & Mission 14 projects
*Please RSVPby December 27th
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The support has been amazing. We have held a golf tournament and a 5K run, Cookbook Release Parties and Happy Hours in Manhattan, along with several meetings, lunches and gatherings all to benefit BULA.
We have been zigzagging our way from Long Island through Pennsylvania and D.C. all the way to Virginia and back (in two days) spreading the word about BULA as we go. Friends and family members are pulling together to help us host these events and to sell our products in anticipation of our return to Uganda on January 9th.
Throughout the next few days I will let you know about each of these events and what else is happening to make up for my deficiency in blogging, get you caught up on the last few weeks and keep everyone informed about the month prior to our departure.