I went to Mbale Monday and Tuesday which is about 2 to 2 -1/2 hours from Jinja. David drove me, Helen and Sarah (known as Mama Cook at Amani). Sarah and I have been planning this for literally about one year. She has wanted me to visit her home village and meet her mother and to see that there are needs in her home area. We left Monday afternoon and spent the night at a guest house in town. Sarah's mother is a widow and lives in a village about 30 minutes from Mbale town and we headed there Tuesday morning. I found her mom full of life and smiles and hope and her neighbors (which consists of family and friends) were helping her with her headdress to greet us as we walked up. The ladies were busy preparing a feast (and that is NOT an exaggeration) because they knew that their guests were arriving. It was so sweet to see how excited the entire family was to see Sarah and her new friends. We were seated in their precious humble home and greeted by everyone with smiles and excitement. All of the neighbor's children were peeking in the windows and the doors because a muzungu was visiting their village!
I presented them with two pineapples and in typical Ugandan style, they were the first things cut up and prepared for our table. Ugandans are very hospitable and eager to serve. We were served hot tea to drink slowly because they love to sit and talk and laugh. They served us fruit and bread and then rice, matooke (similar to plantains), beef and chicken.
Sarah showed us around her mother's compound and inside the home where she sleeps. Her mother is pictured sitting on her bed in her bedroom. Sarah's dream is to help her mother finish her house in the next two years. She needs a bed and new netting. And, yet she does not feel as though she needs anything. She has a small piece of land that contains many banana trees, avocado trees, papaya trees and matooke trees. I thought that I would go and visit her and learn the needs (and there are many all around) but I really learned more from her. Life should be simple so that the focus is correct and joy should be found in all circumstances.
After brunch with our new friends, the ladies danced and sang for us. I had so much fun watching and laughing and clapping with them. They were so cute: every lady wanted me to film them and to see their picture! They then wanted me to dance with them and we all laughed and had fun. I knew that I could not even come close to dancing the African dances but I was willing to at least try to show respect. They then surprised us all with a gift that I could not believe. Sarah's mother walked in with a goat and then the neighbor walked with a chicken! They wanted us to drive them back to Jinja but we worked it out for Sarah's son (Omar pictured with her) to drive them back the next day. Sarah decided that the goat should be fattened the next few months and then cooked for the grand opening of the new baby home for Amani Baby Cottage! We hope to start a chicken coop so that Amani can have plenty of eggs at the new home. I actually felt bad accepting a goat and a chicken from this sweet elderly widow, but I knew that it would be disrespectful not to accept them. Sarah told me she was so excited that we visited her home and I was so glad that I took the time to do this. Sarah and her mother had not seen each other since last May.
Since we were so close to Sipi Falls we visited a couple of sights there before heading back to Jinja. Uganda is full of so many beautiful natural creations. As we headed home, Sarah wanted to stop at several market sights to purchase food for Amani. She is such a dedicated and caring employee because she knew that she would save Amani money by purchasing food just past Mbale. She said that the market prices in Jinja are much higher than the remote village areas. She purchased several things including beef from a cow that had just been slaughtered!
Today, I was at Amani when the chicken and the goat arrived! All of the ladies were yelling and laughing and clapping and so excited! After the excitement, I took Alima to town. She is five years old and one of the oldest girls that will be in my preschool classes. Her Mama and Auntee cleaned her and fixed her hair. She had on a pretty pink dress and was excited that she was going to town! I asked her what she wanted to do and she said that she wanted chocolate ice cream! Trey went with us to town and Alima was all smiles! Amani Baby Cottage allows their volunteers to take a child to town between 4:00 and 6:00 pm every day so that they get the experience of outings. Our little field trip consisted of riding a boda to town, having ice cream, and shopping for a baby doll! I called Danyne to ask if it would be okay if I bought her a doll and we both agreed that it would be fine if we bought two. There is another little girl named Lydia that is also 5. They are the only two girls that are older at Amani and they are friends. Alima was just as excited to pick out a little baby doll for Lydia as she was to pick out one for herself!