Friday, 10 September 2010

Home time...Team 2 and reflections on two months away

So I am writing this from, what I hear is, an unusually sunny England after being back just over a week. It feels very strange so far and I’m sure it will take a while for me to settle back in fully but for now I just wanted to update you on the progress of our projects in Kumi, how Team 2 got on and what everything looks like now we have left.

Team 2 were a fantastic team! It was made up mostly of a youth group from a church in Kent with 7 13-16 year olds and their leaders as well as 4 other adults. It was a lovely mix and they were different to Team 1 which made it all the better I think! But they worked equally as hard and at the end of the trip overwhelmed me and Louise with their generosity towards all of our partners. It wasn’t without hiccups however as we suffered a few more problems with our transport; a broken alternator and three punctures! But hey, it wouldn’t be Africa without those things!!

Once we arrived in Kumi all the team were eager to start work and we got so much done over the two weeks. They followed the same programme as Team 1 but were mostly finishing off the work that we had started on our building at COHAD. We were so pleased of everything we achieved over both teams and I feel so privileged to have really blessed Kumi and the surrounding communities.

In terms of the building site we really did achieve so much as Team 2 constructed the concrete apron (look at me using all the technical construction terms!!), fitted the windows and put the finishing touches to both the inside and outside. We left the site with the house only needing one more coat of paint inside and the windows just needed one more coat of paint too. It was really special for me to see the building from beginning to end, especially as when we arrived our plot was literally a concrete slab and we left COHAD with another house practically ready for another set of orphans and house mother to move into!

Team 2 also gave us a chance to really get to know all the children at COHAD a little bit more as they were on school holidays and so were around site more. We also spent two afternoons running a ‘holiday club’ with them, doing crafts and games which was great fun, but meant that the goodbye on our last day was even more teary than it would have been! I think over the time that we spent at COHAD across our whole trip I had come to realise what a fantastic job these house mothers do...on top of being widows themselves they really love the 8 children they care for and really work hard for them. To hear the stories of where the children have come from and to see them happy, laughing and playing with one another is really a testament to the mothers’ work and to the huge benefit of a family environment.
With Team 2 we also spent time in the rural villages again, renovating mud houses and giving out food packages, but this time we visited a different village. We were all so incredibly overwhelmed by the amazing welcome we received from the ladies there; they were all dressed in their beautiful costume and shrieking and singing welcome songs. We were all so incredibly humbled by their hospitality and their eagerness to have us with them, when they really do have nothing. The team all had fantastic fun getting their hands dirty in the mud renovating houses! This time we were able to help two elderly men; one too frail to build himself a new house to replace his tiny and run down house and the other mentally ill. With some extra funds that we had we were also able to buy bedding for both the men who were completely overwhelmed by what they received. We had great fun returning to the village the next week to give out food to 36 families suffering with HIV/aids. Weighing out the food using a scale hung from a tree and just spending more time with these wonderful people was a real highlight for all of us. We were also able to ‘officially open’ our two houses which had been completed over the course of the week which was really special and just showed how much our help had meant to the community too!

On the Friday we were back at the Health Centre to complete our ‘changing rooms’ style mission with the second ward! It was, again, a really successful day...full of hard work for sure! This ward was a lot dirtier than the first ward with a lot of non-descript brown and reddish stains on the walls which proved to us that what we were doing really was a massive help for the clinic...and it made the transformation at the end of the day even more dramatic! We were also able to deliver Team 1’s consignment of mattresses and mosquito nets to the first ward which really was a special moment, not just for us but for the community. We received a formal thank you from members of the medical board and the town council which was just another fantastic demonstration of the Ugandans’ love of formality and ceremony! Team 2 also donated money in order to provide the second ward with mattresses and nets so now the health centre, I’m sure, looks like a completely different place which is a real heart warming thought!

Kumi, not just physically but through demonstrating how easy it is to show God’s love in a practical way I think will stay with the people of Kumi, especially the church, for a long time. Being there for so long meant that we made so many friends too and, for me, I think that really added an extra-special element to our trip. We couldn’t have done it without their help and their smiling faces to cheer us up when we were surviving on minimal sleep and having to sort out yet another problem with our bus!! I am certainly missing it all; the people, the way of life, the weather and the food (a bit!) but I know that we left a lasting impression and who knows...hopefully I will be back there before too long!

I would also like to say thank you to all for reading my blog, for praying, and for being interested in what I’ve been getting up to this summer! It really does mean a lot and hopefully I will be seeing you soon to show you some pictures!! Thank you again!