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 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 11 and 12: Let the weekend begin

Friday

Unfortunately internet has not been working well since Friday. There’s always something: mousses, no hot water, no electricity and Friday evening I even found a horrible insect in my bed, luckily it was dead. As you see it’s never boring here 🙂 !

I’m glad the weekend arrived, time for a little break. Friday it was my last day at the nursery section, top class. Before school started all the kids gathered to dance and sing, so early in the morning and so much energy already!

 At 9 am the top class teacher left for a meeting, but told me she would be back soon. Getting used to the African standards of course she wasn’t back before lunch was served. I was in charge of 26 children aged between 5 and 6, on top of that I didn’t get an outline or plan of the day. These kids don’t understand English perfectly, so you can imagine what a pain it was. If they wouldn’t be so cute, I would have seriously punished them 🙂 . All in all it went quite well, I made them draw and gave them homework. After class I was a dead body, I even took a “bodo-bodo bike” home. As I mentioned in a previous blog bodo-bodo’s in Kampala are moto-taxi, however here in Kabale these moto’s are replaced by bicycles. They have put some kind of pillow for the passengers, which is quite comfortable, plus the ride home costs only 15 euro cents.

Saturday

I thought of sleeping long today, however at 7am Mamma Saturday put on the radio in the hall incredibly loud (I felt as if I fell asleep in a club). 94.7FM, if you ever come direction Kabale, never choose this station, it’s full of talking (I mean shouting) in the local dialect, with only 1 song every 10 minutes. My sleep ended as you can imagine.

The hot shower and sunshine made me forget 94.7FM very fast! I went for a long walk up a hill, to a hotel called “White Horse Inn”, it has a beautiful garden and great view over Kabale and its mountains (on the picture you can see a part of Kabale). At noon I got hungry, so I went to the local market. It was quite annoying, seems like those people never saw someone wearing a ‘short’ dress. Luckily on my way home I ran into Paddie, one of the employees of Child Africa.

In the afternoon, Amy, Lilly (Amy’s cousin from Congo) and I went shopping. I wanted to buy some kind of African dress. Instead I bought a dress which doesn’t look African at all, but at least I bought it in Africa for a “good price” (as the shop owner said) 🙂 . Afterwards we went with Julie to the “White Horse Inn”, the weather was still amazing, so we decided to spend some time up there.

The whole afternoon I was the translator, Amy speaks English and Lilly French they both just know a little Swahili, so they prefer to have me as the middle (wo)man.

Right now they are sitting in my room teaching each other French and English, at the moment they are doing numbers and a little conversation, the accents are so funny and cute, I think I’ll be fired soon.

Tomorrow we will go to a lake, Lake Bunyonyi, everyone told me it’s beautiful over there. I’m very looking forward! Let’s hope internet keeps on working to keep you posted!

Day 10: RaLissa and the mouse

It was a lovely day in the nursery section, middle class, although I’m looking forward to the weekend. It’s been a very busy week, I woke up daily (except Tuesday) at 6.30 and was at school from 8am until 5pm. The whole day being followed, attacked and stalked by the little ones, trust me it’s time for a short break now.

The kids from nursery class are starting to remember my name, even though they pronounce it totally wrong. So meet “Ralissa” or “Lalissa”! It’s so funny, everyone, young and old has difficulties with the letter L and R. One time when the moderator during a meeting said “let us pLay now” I got confused, I thought what??? But when everyone closed their eyes I understood what he meant. The same happens in school: “kids go pRay”!

Even without this R and L confusing I need to concentrate hard to understand someone. They don’t really articulate properly or have totally different expressions.  Sometimes I ask to repeat, however to not make things awkward I’ve set my limit at 3 times, afterwards I just smile, nod and start a new conversation (no idea what is more awkward) 🙂 !

Scaring away the mouse is starting to become one of my daily activities. Now I can laugh about it, but a few hours ago I was sitting on my bed for almost 2 hours with a stick and the door wide open. When Amy saw me sitting in the room she burst out laughing, at least someone had a blast! Luckily it’s gone now, but I’m sure it’ll be back again, so I should prepare and man up a bit!

I didn’t take any picture today, for once I gave my camera a break. I’ve just put some pictures to pretty up today’s blog.

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 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!

Day 2: Speke Resort

Sometimes a Wednesday can feel like a Sunday: waking up… having breakfast… walking around the hotel… taking pictures… doing a ‘beauty sleep’ next to the pool… But at a certain point I need some action, so we decided to have lunch at the Cassia Lodge. The owners of the hotel are Belgian and were on board our flight, with their two little twins.  The Cassia Lodge is located near our hotel, but the walk is quite steep, as it is located on Buziga hill, one of the highest hills of Kampala. We took the motobike-taxis, it’s not really recommended to take them as some drive pretty wild and “Uganda” and “traffic rules” do not harmonize! Nevertheless, I really wanted to do it… But no fear, due to my mom we drove even slower than a 4 year old can walk 🙂

  The view at Cassia Lodge was just excellent, the food as well, although our tomato-mozzarella salad didn’t quite taste like mozzarella.. But no complaining it was delicious!

In the evening, one of the habits of Brussels Airlines’ crew is to have an ‘apero’, where everyone brings snacks and drinks. This time the ‘apero’ was at the captain’s suite. Afterwards, we stayed in the hotel for dinner. We invited Julie, Rino and their daughter Amy (the founders and owners of to the “Child Africa” schools). It was a lovely evening, I’m glad to have met such wonderful people with incredibly big hearts!

Day 1: Arrived in Entebbe

Huge panic attack this morning, at the check-in in Brussels I realized my passport wasn’t in my wallet!! After 5 times trying, I was able to reach my stepfather. But end good all good, the passport was in the car, quickly my “hero of the day” drove back to the airport!

Happy I could fly… The plane left Brussels Airport at 10h40 with a first stop in Kigali, Rwanda, to finally arrive around 22h in Entebbe, Uganda. It was a long flight, so what to do? Eating, sleeping , watching movies and chatting around! On top of that my mother was the purser on board and took very good care of me. Starting off with a glass of champagne, gin tonic and finishing the flight with a baileys & a box filled with 24 delicious Neuhaus pralines, was just excellent. Together with the Brussels Airlines crew, we arrived after a 50min drive in Kampala, at the hotel: Speke Resort, where I will have 2 days of “luxury”, until Thursday.

Afterwards, when my mother and the crew are gone,  I will stay in a house near Kampala for 1 day, to finally leave on Friday to Kabale and visit the “Child Africa” school.

I’m very excited and can’t wait to experience everything which will come my way!!

One month Kabale, Uganda

I still have more than one and a half months left in Barcelona, but I just can’t stop looking forward to this new adventure! I am very excited, even though I realize it will not be a fairy tale in which I will play a little princess! There will be hard and painful times, but I’m sure working with the little children will make my stay magical and unique.

I’ve visited Africa quite a few times, but only for a short vacation period where I stayed in lovely hotels. This time it’s gonna be different, it’s gonna be really different, but I’m looking forward to this new African experience!!

I will stay in Kabale, according to google maps it’s about 420 km from the capital, Kampala. I’m pretty sure that drive will be a hell of trip! Kabale is situated in Western Uganda, just about 10 km from the border with Rwanda and even more exciting: it’s about 80 km driving from where the famous gorillas live.

I don’t know much about Kabale yet, at least not more than what I found after my little investigation on google for tips and on Flickr for photographs. So please if anyone has ever been there or heard something about it, all tips, things to do, visits, … everything is welcome!

Many thanks!!!