Home From The North
Once the first three of our team left for home, the remaining six of us plus our fearless Ugandan ISEE leader Andrew left for our 5 day trip to Gulu in the north of Uganda , about a 5-6 hr trip.
Gulu was the hub of Global aid during the 20 year war waged by Kony and child soldiers which ended in 2008. Today it is a busy town with many changes since I was last there in 2014 .
Next morning after warm showers and exotic Ethiopian food we left for Lamwo district farther north, close to the Sudan border. ISEE (Erika) met Grace Labong in 2012 . This is a woman who has a passion to help the young women of the ravaged north by helping them learn a trade in tailoring . Her dream has been to start a vocational school.
We arrived there this year to find a large 2 room area ,one of which is a sewing room with 15 treadle sewing machines which were purchased by ISEE in Kampala and brought to Lamwo in 2014. They had many examples of garments that they have made. Their instructor is a man who told us that he had been captured by the Rebels (Kony) but were not able to hear his story.
We attempted to go to some of the schools to distribute kits but found that everyone was at a local dance competition. With Grace’s help we located the school where they were and the competition was over. She divided them into three groups of 50 and we all went out to a grassy field where we sat on the grass .The six of us each took a group and spent the next hour or so talking to them about puberty, menstruation , sexual reproduction , how to use and look after their kits. They are very serious young girls and teenagers (some had babies) so there is not the joyous reaction that you might have expected but life is tough for them . Some of the girls told us that they walk 2 hours each way to come to the Vocational school.
We headed back to the town of Kitgum to our hotel which took about 1 1/2hrs over muddy, rutted roads with people and goats along the side.
Our second day back out at the Vocational school was spent with the girls from the area coming to us, it was a smaller group so Erika did the whole presentation herself. It gave us all a lesson on how a teacher approaches the topic in such a professional way, we all got the same message to the girls but she is the pro!
The most rewarding part of the day was when we asked Grace if there were any of the girls that we had presented to in 2014. Yes! There were about 15! This was an opportunity that we at Days for Girls Canada , Kelowna , have been wanting to hear –feedback about the kits, what is working, what would make the kits easier, better etc. We will share some of that information with you when we get home and start up again this fall .
The wrap up to our day was a much anticipated soccer match between us and them, a video of it has been posted on ISEE website for your viewing, Liz and yours truly were in goal together and our team won 5-0 !!!!!
All in all, we have had a wonderful time here in Uganda the people are the so warm, so welcoming , so kind . They may live in the slums or are our drivers, restaurant staff, our cooks or teachers, they all come into your heart and we will take a little bit of them back with us in the memories of the time we have spent with together. Then there are the children! They call us Muzungu (white person ) they run and jump around us at the schools , they laugh and perform to get our attention , they are beautiful children and our wish is that they stay in school and become the educated people who are the future of this country.