Day 24: Pictures of moments speak more than thousand words!

My final day at Child Africa, I can’t believe it’s finished, every time I think about it tears appear. In the afternoon the school organized a farewell ceremony. As always it was wonderful, although it’s been a long time since I cried so much! I don’t even feel like writing this blog after watching all the pictures of today…  450 pictures were taken this afternoon and every single one can make me cry over and over again! The lyrics of some songs the kids performed really broke my heart:

” Farewell teacher Larissa…”

” We will miss your smile every day…”

” Madam Larissa thanks for all your great support, we shall miss you…”

I received presents, letters from some children and many many hugs! Oh you can’t imagine how much I will miss these kids and everyone from school!

My attempt to say something quickly ended in tears…

So my final words were: come and give me all a hug!!! I nearly fell when they ran into me, so a “hug-queue” was organized… Too many tears, but I will never forget all those warm hugs…

The moment Catherine, Aria and Selinah were the next in line, I really couldn’t hold myself when I saw tears on their beautiful faces…

Many many thanks to all the Child Africa staff for taking so good care of me, I will never forget these weeks! Your presents and pictures deserve a special place in my room…

Unfortunately all good things come to an end… but I didn’t say goodbye forever I’m sure I will go back one day!

Much love to Child Africa Kabale, a piece of my heart stays here forever!!

Day 23: The “sunshines” who make my day!

Yesterday I forgot to mention the story of Moses. As I love drawing one of the teachers asked to make a portrait of him. As you can see, I gave it a shot (please use your imagination a bit, I’m not an artist ;)!) He’s so happy and personally came to thank me again yesterday by the house.

Today mid-terms, mid-terms, mid-terms… Luckily there was a great sunshine. After the first break many classes finished their exams for the day and had no lessons scheduled. The whole day I played, drew, chatted, answered millions of questions and had fun with the kids. My camera was all over the place as well, since my arrival I already snapped more than 1000 pictures!

Unfortunately the end of my Child Africa adventure is getting near, but I still had to complete a task for my father: “looking for a sponsor child”. My mom’s and Erik’s child, Catherine, was quickly decided from the start, but knowing there is just one of all these great kids to choose from is a very hard task. I wrote down a few names and verified with the office. One of them is not sponsored, Aria, coincidence or not, she’s the classmate and best friend of Catherine.

Both of them didn’t leave my side for the whole day. I’m sure they will make me cry tomorrow, today it was already hard to see their faces when I said I’m leaving on Friday.

I don’t know much about Aria’s background yet, but tomorrow I will raise all my questions to the office. I didn’t want to ask Aria too much, I find it sad when they tell me they don’t know their parents or one of them died. Until now, all I know is that she’s not at the boarding school, has 3 sisters, lives close to school and most importantly that she definitely can use a sponsor, as all of them, she also comes from a very poor family. I didn’t personally inform my father about Aria yet, he was too busy, but I’m sure he will trust me on making the perfect choice, right daddy 🙂 ?

In the afternoon the teachers attended a meeting so I needed to oversee all the kids. My attention was quickly lost when Aicha entered the school gate. She lives next door Child Africa, but whenever she and her friend get the chance they come and play with the kids. On the picture you can see Aicha, she has hydrocephalus (water on the brain). She’s such a cute little girl, all the children are always so sweet and helpful to her, it’s wonderful!

In the evening Mamma Saturday absolutely wanted to cook something for me and this time I wasn’t allowed to buy ingredients. I filled my plate until there was no space left, still Mamma Saturday looked as if it wasn’t enough. I forgot enough in Africa means when you have reached the top of a pyramid on your plate :)!

During dinner Mamma Saturday realized she also prepared a salad. Everything was so delicious that I wanted to show her my appreciation and went for a next round, which I regret now, I’m glad I don’t have to walk anymore tonight!

Day 22: A smile a day…

They say “A smile a day keeps the sadness away”, I couldn’t agree more with this very wise quote!

Yesterday evening when saying good night to my new “African family”, Saturday was cleaning the shoes of his boys, the twins. After having heard a lot of sad stories happening to children, it’s wonderful to see how responsible this father is. Many of the kids at Child Africa are being left behind by their families and dropped at their grandparents place. The twins don’t have a mother anymore (did she disappear or die? I don’t know) all I know is that they live with Mamma Saturday. Yet every morning at exactly 7am and evening at 8pm the father comes to take care of his sons. I wanted to give him a little gift and remembered a pair of men’s shoes in one of the boxes. They fit perfectly, he was so happy and immediately started to polish them. When Mamma Saturday saw the shoes she thanked me so much, hugged me and gave me a big kiss! That really almost made me cry. I’m starting to repeat myself… little things mean so much here, it still amazes me every day!

Today at Child Africa children were doing mid-terms. Instead of supervising, I went into the nursery section and made drawings to fancy up the classrooms. After lunch Catherine ran up to me and gave me a huge hug! That again touched my heart so much, I can’t tell how happy I am to see her with such a big smile. She really acts differently since the first time I saw her walking around at school. I’m sure my mom and Erik are contributing to this pretty smile on her face! Without me mentioning anything she wanted to have a picture with her sister, me and herself. When I get home, I will definitely frame it and search the best spot in my room!

Today I brought the last bag of clothes to school… Dividing among children is so much easier than among adults. It seems there was not enough for all of them, as some took more than 1 item. These kids know much better how to share! There was even one staff member who just took something and kind of ran away… Strange, very strange, but all the others made up for that. Look how proud showing off their new pants, shirts, sweaters and shoes! Don’t they look fabulous? 🙂

There was still a boys trousers left. I choose one of the deaf children to try it on. Although the pants was a bit too big, I just couldn’t take away his happiness when I saw that smile. Many thumbs up and a big smile can mean so much more than words!

 I’m glad to have seen all these happy faces today, I will definitely miss those! I also want to thank YOU for donating clothes! If you recognize some of your clothes on the pictures, many many many thanks to you!

Day 17: Another day at Child Africa

It was a lovely sunny and rather relaxing day. The whole morning I made placards  to welcome the sponsor in the most enjoyable way! The kids from P3, knew that I would be coming to their class so they constantly came to ask whether I was ready. After lunch I entered their class, they were having Local Language and Literacy which wasn’t so interesting for me, instead I had some fun outside with others and went back for their last hour of arts.

I laughed so much with one of the deaf students. This little guy is the funniest guy I know. He always walks around school with a happy face and screaming out some random sounds. He also likes to hit other students, but nobody cares. Today he walked around with a stick ready to attack everyone who came his direction. I was sitting on the bench and enjoying the whole show. He is deaf -mute as well as mentally retarded, nevertheless he is always happy and smiling, it’s lovely to see! When I explained him (in my best sign language) that I wanted a picture of him, he scared  away all the students and was ready to pose!  Isn’t he lovely?! I tell other kids not to walk around with a stick or hit fellow students, this kid just cannot do anything wrong in my eyes 🙂 !

Today I also wanted a picture of Catherine, so my mom and erik could have a look at their “sponsor child”. When I called her, she came up to me and kneeled down, I really find it horrible when these kids do that, but that’s the way they are taught to behave. It makes me very uncomfortable! Erik and Mom say hello to your new daughter: Catherine 😉 !

When sitting outside, a teacher came up to me with THE question of today. Please read carefully it was so funny! “Larissa, did you ever act in a movie?” My answer was a short no. “Are you sure? Because once I saw a movie called Titanic and one of the actresses Rose (Kate Winslet) looked just like you. Are you sure it’s not you, because I think in movies the actors get different names”. I had to explain him that sure it’s not me and that names are changed, on top of that he still doesn’t believe that it’s a true story 🙂 !

As you can see every day there are funny stories to tell, I’m laughing so much here!

Day 9: Another day in nursery class

Today I was again in the nursery section, but this time in middle class. The kids were aged 3 to 4. The first hour they sang, danced and said rhymes. I was amazed how many songs they know and how confident they are singing solo in front of all the others.

Around 11.30 a meeting took place, normally it had to start at 10am. It’s incredible how most people have no sense of time, they all have cell phones and watches but I have no clue according to which country they set the time.  Anyhow, at the meeting parents and teachers were present, a new PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) had to be chosen. It was a total chaos, those parents behaved worse than their children.

After Julie introduced me to the parents, I was able to leave the meeting and very glad to go back to school, although a difficult task was waiting for me. I was in charge of ALL the nursery kids, more than 50! I really love those kids, but I can assure you, ALONE it ain’t all that fun. The problem is that some of them don’t know English that well. So I got some pupils from the older classes and together we managed to get those kids to sleep (more or less) 🙂

I could write so much more, but I’m exhausted. Every single minute I need to shake these kids of my body, run away from them, it seems I’m having a kid-magnet inside me :-)!

Goodnight for now, hopefully without a mouse in my room, Patrick is gone so I doubt anyone else is candidate to eat it!

Day 7: First day at school, nursery class

In the morning there was heavy rain, thunder and lightning. Kabale is known to have a lot of lighting, it actually was quite scary.  Mohammed drove me to school by 9.30, normally school starts at 8, but because I was in the ‘baby class’ I could come a bit later.

I was accompanied by a really nice teacher (I forgot her name, just too difficult to remember) there were 16 children in class, aged between 3 and 4. Some names of the people in Kabale are so peculiar : Pretty, Anxious, happiness, Lovely, Precious, Monday, Tuesday … Sunday, Confidence, etc. I think parents make too many kids that their imagination for baby names gets lost 🙂 !

Class today started by teaching the kids animal names, afterwards they shaded the apple we drew for them and finally we taught them numbers.

Around 1pm it was time for lunch, but before lunch the kids performed some dancing and singing for me. I enjoy it every single time!

 On the lunch menu stood: matoke (mashed green bananas) with a sauce of beans. The kids got a full plate although no fork, spoon or knife. So I don’t want to explain you what a mess it was. All kids baby/middle/top class (about 50 kids aged between 3 and 6) were eating with their hands. As you can imagine, their whole face was enjoying the lunch. I kind of lost my appetite, although when I looked the other way I enjoyed my food, luckily with a fork.

After lunch we played a bit outside and then the kids went to sleep for 2 hours. Not in beds, just with their heads on the desk. In the meantime I made some drawings for the wall ( a cow, a duck, a rabbit and a chicken).

 After meeting some other schoolchildren whom (without success) tried to learn me their local dialect, I walked home. On my way home I was thinking something was wrong with me (did I transform into a weird creature or was I walking naked?!) It was incredible how ALL people on the street were staring at me or wanted to talk to me. Is this how a celebrity feels 🙂 ? I was just laughing from beginning until the end! I literally think that I’m the only Mzungu (white person) in town, it was quite an adventure to get home, looking forward to more of those!

Day 6: Church and surprises on Sunday

Had a great night in my African bed, however early in the morning I woke up because of singing. As it is a Sunday, church starts early in the morning. I tried to switch on the light, but electricity was down, which also meant that there was no hot water. I got a bucket full of boiled water and washed myself with that. Living the African way is quite adventurous.

 Around 10 we went to the “Child Africa (kind of) church” inside the school, all the kids sang songs and did some dances, which was lovely to see. Unfortunately there was a more boring side as well, the readings from the bible and prayers are absolutely not my thing, so I kept myself busy looking at the kids!

During lunch me and Amy did a “photo shoot” with the two twins staying at the house. Erik and Patrick, check out the picture isn’t he cool ;)!

In the afternoon a BIG surprise for Julie, the founder and director of Child Africa, was waiting. We drove up a hill and went to a hotel, where the whole staff members prepared an event. We got great lunch, entertainment, speeches, cake and finally a party to end the evening.

It was a wonderful day again! But I’m very tired now, all these new things are getting too much for me and my eyes, but I’m still loving it! And can’t wait for tomorrow: “my first day at Child Africa school

Day 4: On the equator

Today was a very packed but interesting day, starting at 7am and ending at 11.30pm. I got a lot of impressions and experienced new adventures. In the morning the driver, Mohammed, picked us up and dropped us outside the city at a “bus stop”. Amy and I took a local bus (read fully packed little smelly van, and if that wasn’t enough the lady in front of me started to eat grasshoppers) Our destination was the Child Africa school located on the equator.Image

Arriving at the school… I cannot describe how I felt. A mixture of many feelings came over me. I was welcomed as a princess, everyone was excited to meet me, I took a visit in all classes, played with the kids and they performed some acts. I really needed to hold myself from crying, but when a little girl started to sing by herself, that was just too much! It was just absolutely wonderful, no words to describe the experience I had at the school! On top of that they served us lunch. They were informed that I’m a vegetarian, although at first they didn’t know the meaning of the word, they did an excellent job serving many different kinds of vegetables.

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 Around 2pm we took the public transportation back to Kampala, again a 1h30 drive, but this time the bus was bigger and a little less smelly. Mohammed picked us up in Kampala and brought us to the Child Africa office. But Amy and I wanted some more adventure so we took a ‘bodo-bodo (mototaxi’s) to town to pick something up. The three of us on one moto, in the middle of the center (sorry mom:) !)

In the evening, as we still didn’t see enough today, we decided to take a night ride and drive with Mohammed to the airport to drop of Rino, who is going back to Norway. Day and night Uganda is a very exciting country, my eyes are red from capturing all these moments and probably as well from dust, sand and dirty car exhaust gases.

Now it’s time for a good sleep, tomorrow the day starts at 6 am with a loooong drive to Kabale. Can’t wait to experience what’s coming next!

Alex Nursery school The Gambia

No internet the last few days, it’s Africa we gotta deal with that!

On Tuesday we visited (another) local school, which was setup by some of our Belgian hotel guests. “Alex Nursery School The Gambia”. It opened in 2010 and has 4 classrooms with 180 children aged between 2,5 – 8. It has 4 classrooms. The project is sponsored by the city of Maaseik, Belgium and some other individual Belgian sponsors. It was amazing to see the result of such a wonderful project.

We arrived to the school at noon, when the children got there lunch. It was very amusing to play with those little cuties.