Today is the day…

Well…we all knew this day was going to come sometime and it did. Today is the day that I leave for home. It is such a bittersweet moment. All things I wanted out of this trip happened, plus more. My lifelong dream had come true…to go to Africa and help children. I do not even believe those words when I say them, because they seem unbelievable. I am completely and whole-heartedly satisfied with my work done here. I know once I am gone, I will want to come back…and come back I will..soon. There were life-changing experiences, life-long friends that turned into family, and a life-time full of memories.

I understand why they call it the ‘Pearl of Africa‘ because it is the most beautiful place I have ever been to. Everywhere you go there is beauty. There are mountains that carry you to the heavens and green scenery that is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It has not only been a place to stay, but has become my home that I know I can always come back to and be welcomed with warm hearts and big hugs. You don’t feel lonely here or unhappy, because no one will let that happen.

There was so much that has been done here and I could not be more grateful for it all. I walked through many villages and met children who barely had anything, but rags on their backs, I have seen the Nile River and waterfalls and pure beauty, walked through rain forests, made African food by myself, been to about 12 different schools and met over 5,000 children, rode on boda boda’s (African “motorcycle”), walked 2 miles through pouring, taught children with special needs, played and danced the nights away, and the list goes on and on and..on, but it would take faaar to long to write them all down.

I still have a few things that I really want to do here, so I guess that means I just have to come back again! My time here has gone by so quickly and I cannot believe it has come to an end. I remember thinking the first night I got here, that I could not believe I was in Africa and not to worry about time because I have 2 whole months. Those 2 months is over and went by quicker than ever. But whenever one door closes another door opens and for me my adventures do not end here. In 2 and half weeks I will be leaving once again for another adventure in Australia to be an au pair for an amazing family that I cannot wait to be with!

I want to conclude this trip with saying thank you to everyone that helped me get here and everyone that is here. I would not have been able to do it without you and I appreciate all your prayers and support with all my heart. So once again thank you for making my dream come true.

With Very Kind Regards and Love,

Anya and Maria

 

P.s. I will be uploading more photos and videos, once I get home…so keep your eye on here within the next week or so!

Blue Skies and Green Grass

Well, the time is almost here, only a few more days till I come home, quite bittersweet. My heart is and forever will be here in Uganda, but there is part of me that is ready to come home and sleep in my bed, eat my food, and see my dog (and everyone else!). The days have been a little gloomy, but the other day out of nowhere the sun popped, the sky turned a charming blue, and my mood changed around. I became so happy and relaxed, did my wash, then finished off with an ice cold Fanta in a glass bottle, sugar cane, papaya, and my book “Eat, Pray, Love”. I was happy as a clam. Pure beauty. Pure happiness. I admired the blue, blue sky and the green, green land (not just grass). It is moments like those that will make me miss Africa, particularly Uganda. After indulging myself with absolute bliss I felt anything was possible and it is, after all, I am here aren’t I? I am in a place I have wanted to be in my whole life. Life is short and so is 2 months, so live it to the fullest of what it can be and in the end you will be satisfied.

Someone to Love :)

We are back at Stella Maris and have been since Sunday. Man oh man though do I miss Iganga’s Baby Home. Now don’t get wrong, I absolutely adore these girls and the children at Providence Home, but there is something about that orphanage that will remain with me.

This home gives a child their life back and much more. The Sisters may struggle to make ends meet, but they always have enough love to give each of those 30 children. It has opened my eyes to a whole new life and has made me want to give back so much more. I have seen and heard of stories about children that are on the verge of death from starvation or lack of civilization, but once they had gotten a sponsor, they had been nurtured back to health and got a good education. As they say, “Education is the key to success.” It is so true and can do so much for a child. If you haven’t thought about sponsoring a child, please consider. There are still so many children in need of someone and in need of an education. You could sponsor a child with special needs, one without a family, or one who was found on the streets.

 

Now it is hard for me to upload videos on here, but we have taken so many of children, their stories, and why they need sponsorship. So once I get home that will be the first thing I will do and I hope you take the time to watch and hear of these children’s lives.

 

 

African Woman

I am turning into a real African woman. I wear babies on my back while doing other things, I eat with the workers out of a bowl with my hand (which really isn’t that bad or gross, if you wash your hands before and after), I cook over a fire and make home-made chapatti (it’s almost like the Indian nan, but for Africans), becoming addicted to a Spanish and Chinese Soap-Opera that has an English voice-over (I couldn’t take it seriously at first and laughed whenever anyone watched it, now I can’t wait for the next episode!), wear babies on my back, learning to work with no electricity for hours or even days, not screaming every time I see a lizard/gecko in my room, washing clothes without a wash machine, and lastly, something I have mastered at this time, boiling water, putting it in a bucket, and using that to bathe.

Oh and I cannot forget the most important one, I am finally getting the language down, to some degree at least. I can get my point across most of the time and understand them, sometimes! Practice makes perfect? It’s coming to places like this that makes me want to come back to Uganda again. There is so much more I want to do here and not enough time to do it all.

 

 

Baby Home Adventures:

Well I have been here for over a week now and have been busy ,busy, busy. Although the beginning of the week was a little slow due to the fact that my little buds got me pretty darn sick. It made me so sad to see and hear them all playing outside and there I was stuck in my bed. Blah! Before and after that though I was busy bringing the child side of me out; playing Lion King (which turned out to be just chasing each other on hands and knees, roaring), coloring pictures and eating the crayons (I didn’t do the last part), learning and teaching hand games, swinging on swings, spinning on the merry-go-round (let me tell you, is FAST I felt like I was on the Tilt-a-Whirl at State Fair) they learned the word ‘stop’ quite quickly. We dance to Raffi, and watch Disney movies, my favorite being Anastasia because every time they said the name ‘Anya’ in the movie the kids all turn and look at me and smile, then say, “Anya you’re in the T.V.!” I became Auntie Anya to most of them or even Ya-Ya for the little ones. I even theoretically adopted a little 2 yr. old, Claire. She was very shy and didn’t really go to anyone, but I played with her and soothed her when she cried. Now every time she sees me, she just waddles over to me, knowing that I will pick her up with a big smile on her face. She fell asleep on me and when we went to put her in bed I looked down at my chest and there was a red mark the shape of her ear. Swoon x100. My little baby! She has absolutely no family outside of this orphanage, but once you come here everyone is family. I love this place, these children, the workers, the people, and I don’t want to leave.

Claire Bear

Iganga Baby’s Home

I honestly and whole-heartedly do not know where to begin. I have only been here for about 5 hours and I have done and seen so much. I don’t think 2 weeks is nearly enough time to spend here, but it will have to do.

Today alone I have played, feed, bathed, and tucked in children from 1-4 years old. This is where I belong and this place will bring me back to Uganda many times.

When all the children were put to bed I had asked to see the little babies, so the one who takes care of the babies, took me to their room. It is separate from the other children because of health reasons, but when I went into the room I fell in absolute love. There are three babies two of which are about 2 months old and another which is almost 9 months old: two boys, one girl. Steven, Ester, and Innocent. They were tucked in their little cribs ready to sleep, looking so sweet and at peace.

The caretaker had told me that the babies they get are found in toilets, garbage, in the roads, left at the gates, or brought to them because they have no money to care for the child. When I looked at these babies’ faces when she was telling me this I nearly started crying. How a person could do that to a little baby is beyond me. I so badly just wanted to pick them up and hold them, but I resisted that urge and walked out the room reminding myself there is always tomorrow.

I can’t wait to see what comes next on my adventure at the Baby’s Home.

 

Lake Nakuru

Ok everyone needs to have a little fun time when they go on a trip. Two days before I left back for Uganda, we went on a safari at Lake Nakuru National Park! Right when we arrived there were monkeys everywhere! They where on top of parked cars and when one jumped on the car the alarm even went off. Quite funny, if I do say myself. I kept telling myself, “Oh my goodness, I’m actually on a real safari in real Africa…Ahh!” I saw giraffes, lots of zebras (I actually saw a bunch on our way to Nakuru from Nairobi on the sides of the roads!), millions of flamingos, rhinos, tons of monkeys, and some other African animals. There were times when the monkeys were actually right next to the car! I wanted to pet them, but I was told I couldn’t. :(

It was absolutely breath taking when I stood on Baboon Cliff and looked down on Lake Nakuru with the flamingos everywhere and just beautiful landscaping all around. I can’t really even describe the view because it is something that you have to view yourself to get its’ true beauty!

If only I could take them home:

I have been quite the busy little person in Kenya. Mainly going around to different schools and making videos with my two other ladies. We were at the Mother Kevin School in Nakuru, Kenya, where there were so many stories that I heard from children that made me want to cry. Two stories in particular that I heard really touched my heart. The first that I met was Abraham, who is about 4 years old in nursery school and is mixed with Asian genes. His mother disappeared when he was a week old, because she was so ashamed that he was a mixed baby and didn’t want anything to do with him. He now lives with his great-grandmother, who is considered to be mentally unstable physically and mentally. If you saw this little boy, you would fall absolutely in love with him because of how adorable and sweet he is.

 

 

The next story I heard was of a sixth grader, Laurena, who actually started crying when she was telling her story to us. In 2008, her single mother got into a car accident and became mentally unstable. She has been living with her Aunt ever since the accident, although living there is not the best place either, seeing as the aunt doesn’t even want to look after her.

It was only a couple months ago when her mother actually came to school wanting to see her daughter because she wanted to kill her and herself. They had to put Laurena in hiding on the school grounds so nothing would happen to her. The mother didn’t want her living with the aunt, so she thought they would be better off dead.

When I saw her crying, while telling the story, I couldn’t help but tear up myself and just hold and hug her. If only I could take her home. I notice that I say that quite a lot about children I meet, “If only I could take them home.”

 

Kenya In a Snap

(Ok maybe not exactly a snap because there were so many life-changing experiences that I can’t do it in one blog, so I will break the days up.)

Going to Kenya was one of the best decisions I have made. I have never experienced so much in one week before. It went from seeing Lion King trees (acacia), to robe lights, run down buildings, child beggars, zebras, slums, garbage, exotic flowers, giraffes, and other African animals. I did as many things in a week as one would in a month. I’m surprised I haven’t died from exhaustion! Although we did get a few days that we got to sleep in…at least until 8:30, which was late for us!

Here’s a bit of what we did:

Kibera- the largest slum in Africa, second largest in the world. We went to a nursery school right outside the slum and if you wanted to find a school for charity this school fits every word for the meaning of charity. More than ¾ of the children don’t pay fees because their parents are too poor to pay them. It is a small little place with about 50 children in all. The Little Sisters run this school and the headmistress Sr. Lucy has put forth so much for these children. She made sure there were uniforms for each child because she didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable about being in rags. The uniforms made them look clean, tidy, and unified. There is porridge for breakfast and then some type of lunch every day and that could be the only food these children eat that day. There isn’t much money going into the school, basically all donations. Sr. Lucy must beg all the time to other schools and Sisters in order for these children to have food. It doesn’t even stop there. The desks are really only metal benches that are about 2ft. off the ground (for 4 yr. olds I guess that’s ok), during naptime they have to sleep on them. There isn’t enough money to buy them mats to sleep on. There is not even enough money to pay the teachers so their pay is being able to live at the school. Didn’t you ever think, when you were little, that teachers lived at school?

After the school day and all the children were picked up, Sister took Michelle, Andrea, around the slums and see for our own eyes, what the living conditions were. People tried burning the whole slum down about 3 years ago, killing thousands of families and homes, and left millions homeless. It may not being the most physically pleasing place to be, but it was still peoples homes and then they were gone. Obviously it had not gotten rid of the slum, but it still did a good amount of damage. Words can’t even describe what I was seeing with my two eyes. Honestly, pictures don’t even express half of what I was witnessing. I did not take as many pictures as I had wanted to because sometimes the people do not really like that. (I snuck a few in though.) I couldn’t believe what I was all looking at. Everywhere I looked, I was in utter amazement. Dead rats, human feces, garbage every square inch (thank goodness I wore my Toms!), people selling whatever they could find to sell and they sold it in their little town that was right in the middle of working train tracks! There were shops on each side of the tracks with maybe 5-10ft. between the two.

How about that, but you know what? I believe that there is some beauty everywhere you go. The flowers were so vibrant and exuberant, that once you looked at them everything went away and your eyes were transfixed on these gorgeous things. Don’t ask me what they were called because I have no idea.

Kibera, you have changed my life and make me want to give so much more. Thank you for making me appreciate all that I have 100x more then I ever have had before!

 

Change

There had been a slight change of plans for me here, and I will actually be flying to Kenya today for a week, to do some of the same things I have been doing here, but flying back to Uganda to finish off my trip. I hope the people are as nice as they are in Uganda! But I know Kenya will be one of those experiences that will really touch me. I say this because during some of my time there I will be going to the second largest slum in the world to work in a nursery school and help with whatever may be needed to do. I will be staying with the Little Sisters of St. Francis there along with Michelle and Andrea. I am quite excited, that’s for sure!

I will make sure to write in my journal everyday, as I have been, to remember every detail and report back to you again soon!