Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's

The children at the orphanage in Uganda have a very interesting New Year's Eve tradition - they burn old things. On the day of New Year's Eve the children cleaned house. Mismatched shoes, drawings on the walls, toothbrushes...everything old and unwanted was collected and carted outside the compound. Then went the Christmas decorations, the tree was the last item to be thrown into the pile.

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


Siiba bulungi - Have a nice day!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hope for the Holidays Gala

Hello every one,

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

'Tis the Season - To Be Merry

Ssekukulu Nungi!!!

(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

Tuesday's Tips on Fundraising #9

It's the holidays... relax, and enjoy time with friends and family.

'Tis the Season - To Make Miracles Happen

It all happened on Christmas Eve 2007. We were outside in the courtyard of the orphange...dancing. I don't think I have ever danced so much in my life. It started shortly after the sunset and dinner was over. The radio blared and the drums were played and we danced all night.

Well, we danced until there was a knock at the gate. The gate keeper ran to grab his keys, it is almost 11:30, who could it be? The gate opened and there stood, none other than Santa Clause himself. The children, who had rushed to the gate to see who was there, screamed and ran in the other direction fearing the unexpected visitor. "HO HO HO," he bellowed, "Merry Christmas!!!"

Slowly the children returned to greet the merry fellow who was now giving sweeties to the braver children. Laughter and screams of excitment soon filled the air. The overjoyed children swarmed the jolly man who continued to hand out candy. Running around with excitement, the children declared, "Sister, he is here!!! I have never seen Father Christmas before!!!"

Monday, December 22, 2008

News on Africa

Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I am going to post news articles about sub-Saharan Africa. You can find the links on the left hand column.

'Tis the Season - To Give

This was my first time giving Christmas to children.

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

'Tis the Season - To Dress Your Best

Last Christmas I had the "pleasure" of shopping for 26 children as discussed in a previous blog. But there was one saving grace...All the boys wanted black pants, white dress shirts and a tie. Well, this certainly made things easier than if they all wanted completely different things. Needless to say I managed to find black pants, white dress shirts and a tie for all 14 boys. I couldn't wait until Christmas morning when they would get dressed up in their nice clothes to head to church looking smart.

In all the excitement of Christmas and upon seeing all the other gifts they received that day, the boys were less than thrilled about their formal attire, and dressed in everything but their church clothes that morning. The picture says it best. The girls, as usual, where another story. The girls all wanted white dresses for Christmas. This is where I drew the line. If there is one color that should not be worn in Uganda it is white. The dark soil, dry seasons, and hand washing make cleanliness impossible and the clothes look ratty in weeks. But each girl received at least one lovely dress and another lovely outfit for church.

First, making sure the clothing was appropriate and all knees where hidden from view, the girls changed their clothes regularly, donned their jewelry and shades, and walked around like divas for days.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Photo Updates

Hello everyone,
I have finally learned to utilize the ability to publish photos on my blog in a much better fashion. I urge you to go back, read some entries again as they are now published with pictures from my time in Uganda to help give you a better understanding of life in Africa.
Thank you!!

'Tis the Season - To Eat, and Eat, and Eat

The most exciting part of the holiday season is the food. Many people in Uganda refer to Christmas as the feast you have on Christmas day.

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)
green beans
cabbage (fried)
pumpkin (steamed)
eggplant (yuck)
sweet potato
Irish potato
greens (bitter - yuck)
fish (yuck)
Peeling sweet potatoes.
Anything not marked with a very mature (yuck), I would pile on my plate, mix together, garnish with a pinch or two of salt... and... yummmmmm.

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

'Tis the Season - To Go Shopping

Christmas preparations began in early November. Another volunteer and I painstakingly gathered all the children and took their measurements - inseams, waists, heights - all 26 of them. Forget about a list; we made a shopping chart with each child’s name, their measurements and then listed everything they wanted or needed for Christmas. It was an intricate grid, complete with boxes so we could easily keep track of things we purchased. We were ready.

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

'Tis the Season - To Solve Problems

There is one week until Christmas. Each day I will post a new blog about my wonderful memories of Christmas in Uganda.

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.

With his new watch. All his problems were solved that day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fact on Uganda

Uganda’s economy is growing and has been for a decade. As a result, poverty and its effects are decreasing but Uganda still remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with 31% of the population living below the poverty line. - World Vision

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cookbook Competition

And for the record, I am going to sell more cookbooks tonight!!!

Like I Said, We've Been Busy.

Over the last few weeks we had several fundraisers and I’d like to briefly tell you how they went. We had two “Cookbook Release Parties,” one in Camp Hill, PA the other in Blue Point, NY. In Camp Hill a great friend from high school opened her house and hosted the party. In New York, a BULA board member offered to have the party at her house. These were both a great time and an excellent opportunity to talk about BULA and increase awareness about our organization and life in Africa.

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.

Tuesday's Tips on Fundraising #8

Don’t get into a competition with a board member in regards to who can sell more cookbooks. You may not win and it sucks to lose.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hope for the Holidays Gala

Hosted by: BULA & Mission14
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:
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

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Holidays

Please keep in mind the best holiday gifts are those that keep on giving. BULA produces and sells t-shirts, both long and short sleeve, sweat shirts, and the second edition of our A Recipe for a Future cookbook. All make wonderful presents and all proceeds support our school construction projects in Uganda. My family will no longer be surprised, but yours will love to receive a gift that supports children in need. Everyone is raving about the cookbooks and I can’t think of a better way to spend the cold winter days than bundled up in my BULA sweatshirt!!! Please contact us at 631-419-3090 or if you are interested.

Excuses, Excuses

I must first extend my apologies for slacking off with my blog over the last few weeks. However, I am certain you will be glad to know why I have not posted anything other than my fundraising tips. The last few weeks have been wonderfully hectic - exhausting and exciting at the same time. There have been several fundraisers each week, which explains why I have forgotten my Tuesday’s Tips and why tip #7 is a highly caffeinated drink from Starbucks.

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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday's Tips on Fundraising #7

Seven words - Triple grande sugar free vanilla soy latte.

I'll explain next time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday's Tips on Fundraising - #6

If you are going to post a weekly blog, such as "Tuesday's Tips on Fundraising," you really should remember to do it on that day.