Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Trip to Uganda

I have been the Development Coordinator for the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project for just over a year now. I just returned from my first visit to our operations in Uganda a week ago. I spent about three weeks seeing the schools, the clinic, meeting the people whose lives you are transforming every day.

My mother told me that I would be changed by this trip and I really just shrugged that off because...well, I travel. I've been to developing countries before. I've worked with people living in poverty. I've spent the previous year telling other people about Uganda. So I thought I knew everything (which, in general, I do).

But then I got to the small village of Nyakagyezi. And I’m going say something I never say. Mom...you were right. (Also, that counts as your birthday present this year.)

Believe me when I tell you that my world was shattered...in the best way possible. The people that I met there and the experiences that I had will stay with me for the rest of my life. 

Furida and me
I met grandmothers like Furida-- A woman YOU  saved from homelessness! The day I met Furida was the day that the true impact of what Nyaka does truly hit me. Furida is the sweetest, most loving person I've ever met and she's all alone. 13 of her 15 children have died. The grandson she raised for 8 years died from HIV/AIDS, and her granddaughter ran away to find work. What Furida has survived broke my heart. She had every reason to be bitter about life but she chooses to be grateful for the blessings she has. She showed me her new house and new kitchen. She is so proud of what Nyaka has done for her. And she considers her Nyaka family to be like a child to her. Even though you've never met, you have a mother in Uganda who loves you and prays for you. 

Furida's going to be featured in our Ten Weeks of Stories. You can subscribe to our newsletters if you haven't already to get her story delivered right to your inbox!



And, of course, I met your children...

These are some of the nursery students at Nyaka Primary School.


Lots of your children...

Kutamba students love to have their photo taken. I mean LOVE it. If you visit, bring a big memory card for your camera and be ready to see a few hundred adorable faces all ready for their close ups.


Nyaka students are some of the best players I've ever seen. Getting these students to stop for a second for a photo was magical.   

These Kutamba nursery and primary 1 students are giving you flowers. This is something your students do when they want to give someone praise for something. "Our donors are amazing, let's all give them flowers!"


I didn't see this picture until I got back to the States. Don't they just melt your heart? 


One of the children I met was a little girl named Mable (who you're also going to see featured in our Ten Weeks of Stories). She's a sweet Kutamba nursery student of about 6 years old. Like the majority of your students, she's a double orphan. She walks miles to school. Despite the hardship I know she's had to face, she's full of joy. All of your children are. They have no problem focusing on the good in their lives.

The people I met are so happy for what they have, that it can be easy to miss some of the big problems. It was a while before I realized that the children I saw playing in the middle of the day--though adorable--reveal a sad truth. Many children in Uganda aren't in school. And the even sadder truth is, without a miracle, they're not likely to be anytime soon. And, even though we were able to help many of our grandmothers, there are many more who desperately need our help.
Two children in Nyakagyezi.

When I finally got a moment to catch my breath, I sat down to think about my trip--to process everything I had seen. I didn't just think about the children and the grandmothers. I thought about the ones who have been taken by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I imagined myself in their place. I thought of my own grandmothers and my two adorable nieces. If something terrible had happened and they were left all alone, I would want someone to be there. I would want someone to love and care for them as I no longer could. Obviously, no one can replace a parent or a child, but I realized that everyone can show love. Everyone can choose to change a life. I've decided to help.

I went all the way to Uganda but YOU can make a difference with the click of a button!

Making a gift today will help us ensure that your children and grandmothers are taken care of. As little as $21 a month sponsors a primary student's education. Or just $62 a month will build a house for a grandmother like Furida (over 1 year).


       I want to help!


Posted by Daniele Reisbig, Development Coordinator for the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project if you have any questions for Daniele, you can reach her at daniele@nyakaschool.org or at the US Nyaka offices at (517) 575-6623. 

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