Ok, let’s be honest…. I was acting like a child in Africa today. The biggest one of all, and I don’t event care because I had a ball!
Today was joyful and all about the impact that World Vision is having on children’s lives here in Uganda. We had another packed itinerary of visits and sites to attend but I felt light and was prepared for an exciting, engaging and enjoyable day.
My child like antics began when I shouted from the car “BABOON!” With good reason of course! There was a baboon, or a bunch of them in fact, just wandering down the highway. One even had a baby and I had to do the classic “Tourist in Africa” photo of the wildlife, and if say so myself, it was a good one too!
Our first site visit was a school in the area of Busia ADP and we were greeted by an enormous crowd of children and another singing group. These women dressed in beautiful traditional dress were jiving away as they sang a welcome song and let out yodel like screams. It brings an instant smile to my face and makes me want to run and join in, waving my arms around and clapping along to the beat as I ran from the car. If only we could start everyday this way!
We were welcomed to an outdoor classroom like set-up where we sat in very old school pews. I rushed behind the desk and sat with my back upright like the overly high-achieving keen bean student I’ve always been. The women were giggling at Eden and I as we sat amongst them and waited for the presentation. We were told from some of the women about their role with child sponsorships and their help with Annual Reports and letters between sponsors and the children. As a long-term child sponsor, I shared with the group how important their role was and how grateful we as sponsors are to receive such correspondence. It’s a blessing to be able to be a part of a child’s life on another continent and see a positive and powerful change.
Next on the agenda was the most glorious performance by the 100’s of children who were jumping out of their skin to get over and show us their dancing skills. They did a welcome song for us, to the beat of the African drums. I was jiving along in my seat and just waiting for the chance when I could jump up – this is my jam guys! They did a beautiful interpretive dance of the water sanitation process in a village. After the song was complete, I took the opportunity to jump up and ask for an encore with one minor adjustment…. I got to be in the routine!! These kids were a bit overwhelmed at this big haired woman waving her arms around but we got the message across and before we knew it we were bouncing around to the beats of the drums and laughing along with the children at our hilarious attempts at dancing. What a joy to spend this time with these amazing kids!
The dancing was short lived and we were soon back on track with our planned agenda for the day. Off to a household visit of a registered child in the area who had been sponsored by an Australian family. Little Jimmy was an absolute sweetie. We asked to sit on the mats amongst the women and children and to be able to interact with them. I tried my darndest to focus on the question and answer time, but to be fair, I was seated on a play mat with kids. It was time for fun! I spent most of the time trying to get Jimmy to crack that big beautiful smile of his. We did hand clapping games, I pulled silly faces and even tried ticking him. It was selfies that got him in the end. Seeing our faces pop up on the screen was too much fun and his lovely little smile came out.
Play time continued at the next visit as we went to visit a farming family who also had a beautiful child being sponsored. Her name was Leticia and she was so darling, she even curtseyed when we arrived. ARGH! So cute! We again sat on the mat amongst the family and learned how the support of World Vision had helped to provide their family of eleven (yes, they have nine children, wowser) was now receiving great benefit from farming resources and practices. Farming? So you have animals? Like goats? I stuck my hand in the air like a five year old and asked the translator to ask them to show me the goat and if I could pet it. Before I knew it, Leticia and I were meeting the family goat and I was getting fluffy farm animal cuddles. Leticia cracked a big smile and seemed to be enjoying the moment with the kids – the real kid and the big kid, Emma!
Our final stop for the day was to a nursery. No, they were not dropping me off for daycare! It was a tree nursery run by a women’s group. The project was just one month old and it appeared as if the entire community had turned out for the presentation of this incredible activity. A group of children from the nursery group were singing loud and proud and clapping along as we arrived. They sang in English and the local language and they were tiny, but man, were they mighty. The passion in their singing and the noise coming from these little ones was overwhelming. Cute overload!
The project leader approached us and took us on a tour to see how they will be growing the seedlings and replanting them to grow into small plants, eventually taking them to schools to be planted as trees for shelter and to be used for wood. I am no green thumb but I genuinely enjoyed learning about the process.
A small group of people were in the process of making the casings for the seedlings to be replanted and they explained it to me, I was having none of that, I’m a hands on learner. I was down in the dirt and ready to get stuck in the mud…. Literally! We were using the casings to stuff in a mixture of soil that would best suit the plants- I probably caused them more work than I helped with but we had a great giggle and it was a joy to be amongst the group. Garden play is fun! Of course, no visit is complete without another big sing-along and lots of high fives from the giant group of children under five. Adorable!
This day just brought a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. So much focus on the children in this community and helping them to have the best opportunities in life. A whole community working towards the betterment of child welfare. It’s just incredible. We may not be like Peter Pan, never growing up and living forever in Never Never Land, but kids should be allowed to be kids. In safe environments, in comfortable homes, with good education and with plenty of opportunities to play and have FUN!
Follow my journey with World Vision Australia in Uganda on a number of channels: