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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sanyu Babies Home

One of our last activities in Kampala was visiting the Sanyu Babies home and volunteering for the afternoon. The Sanyu Babies home has been a home for abandoned babies in Uganda since the 1920's. Babies from 1 day old to 4 years old are cared for there. It was a very busy afternoon changing the babies and playing with them. Of course, it was very hard to leave them and a few tears were shed (by us, not so much the babies). It was an afternoon that will live in our hearts long after we have returned home.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Visiting Betty's family

On Saturday, our Ugandan delegation headed out of the city to a rural area about 2 hours from Kampala. As you know, we visited Hassan's family in an urban area earlier in the week and the goal of this visit was to understand the home life of those in villages and rural areas.  We were hosted by Betty, another Empower African Children scholarship student and her family. Our visit was great fun but also great work as we attempted to do the chores that are typical in African villages - including planting, digging up potatoes, fetching water and preparing lunch. We were most grateful for the help and the company of our friends from EAC. It was a humbling but fascinating experience for all!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter from Uganda!

Oh what a glorious Easter Sunday we celebrated today in Uganda! We went to Mass at the Catholic YES (Youth Encounter the Savior) center with our favorite priest in the world, Father Joe. Father Joe made us laugh and sing and enjoy Mass so much that we didn't even realize that 3 hours had gone by! Then, we organized (or rather, tried to organize) an Easter Egg hunt at the church. It was quite chaotic but still very fun for all.
After Mass, we headed to the Kisugo house to eat lunch and spend time with our friends from Empower African Children. And, of course, we had to have another egg hunt. This hunt was even more festive than the first as we were all wearing bunny ears (shout-out to Maxine Sims for providing the much-loved ears!) and we decided to break a few confetti eggs along the way.
All too soon, it was time to say farewell to our friends. We already miss them more than we can say!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Visiting Hassan's family

Another wonderful experience from yesterday was visiting the home of Empower student, Hassan. Hassan joined Empower African Children in 2007 after his father passed away from lung cancer. Hassan was in 6th grade when his father died. His mother did all that she could to support her five children but paying school fees for all of them was impossible with the small amount that she earned by selling fruits and vegetables. Hassan was kind enough to share his story with us and he said that he remembers worrying so much about whether or not he would be able to keep going to school. His older sister was not able to continue with school because the family could not afford it. And then, Hassan was presented with the opportunity for a scholarship from EAC and that changed everything in his life. He is in school and recently returned from the 2014 USA Spirit of Uganda tour. His mother is so proud of him and Hassan is truly the hope for the future of his whole family.
We were so humbled and honored to visit Hassan's family. They live in an urban slum area of Kampala where there is no electricity or running water. And there are many, many children there as you can see in these photos. Our students were all to happy to play with them and even taught them the "hokey pokey." This visit was a wonderful way for us to learn more about the challenges of Africa and also to grow closer to our friend, Hassan. 
Hassan, his mother (in blue), auntie and siblings 
Inside  Hassan's one room home

making friends

Emma going native
Madison and friend

High Five !

The hokey pokey!

Cool Jeremy ...

Maggie and Hassan

Hokey Pokey video

Videos from Uganda

We thought you might enjoy seeing some videos of our fabulous day yesterday at Kisugo, the training center and home of Empower African Children. The center is where the students stay on school holidays and where they train for the Spirit of Uganda tour.

This amazing performance welcomed us to Kisugo :) More than one of us was moved to tears by the sheer beauty and generosity of the moment.

And here we are trying to copy the moves of the Spirit of Uganda - not so easy!

And here we are after Ms. Beesley's tap dancing lesson - again, not bad but it's hard to compete with those professional Spirit of Uganda dancers!


As you can see, we are making the most of our time in Africa and we are loving every minute!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Welcome (Happy Birthday!) from Empower African Children

We knew that today was going to be special because two of us celebrated birthdays today - Madeleine turned 17 and Jules turned 24. This cause for celebration was the perfect backdrop to our first day with the students from Empower African Children. What we did not know is that the day would be filled with many surprises, dances and joyful moments with old and new friends - take a look!