A Hugger, Not a Mugger

Today we say good bye to Joshua, seluganda. The good thing about a good bye is that they don’t have to be the end of the story. Joshua lives in Seattle and I can get up there from time to time because my sister lives in the area. Plus we have email and telephones. Right?

It is funny how someone can be involved with things you are involved with for a brief moment of time and yet it feels like you’ve known them for years. As I said when I first introduced you to Joshua, he has a big heart. I’ve watched him with members of our team. I’ve watched him with the kids he has interacted with. It is clear he understands the meaning of his name.

So the façade of the intimidating, “don’t mess with me” guy found in that very first picture of him was shattered this week. He is a hugger, not a mugger. I look forward to the time our paths cross again. IMG_2881-Edit-2

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Resting

Philip decided we all needed a quiet day today. People are still not feeling well. Of course, Joshua and I didn’t really listen. We decided it was time to go explore. Caution took over to some extent and I left my camera behind as we got onto the boda-boda for a trip to the market for some coffee and to experience a bit more of Jinja. My first ride on a motorcycle since I was a kid and the first words out of the driver’s mouth were “you big.” Gee thanks. In spite of the fact that I was bigger than his bike, we made it safe and sound. It was a great time for the two of us to connect and share more of life.

Later in the day we took a boat ride to the Source of the River Nile. Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world, second only to Lake Superior. It is also the starting point for the Nile.

Hospitals, Schools, and More

Today has turned out different than it appeared on our agenda, but before we get there we added a new team member.IMG_2322

Joshua has known David and Mary Jo for a few years. He comes from the Seattle area and has helped the mission with some of their building projects. He came along in order to see what might be involved in building a new children’s home.

Meeting Joshua yesterday afternoon took me by surprise. He gave an American handshake. I realized during the introduction that greetings are much more significant outside of the U.S. Handshakes last forever in Africa, it’s kind of nice. Someone described that a handshake and greeting involve a blessing of the person you are connecting with.

I also have to say that just in the first few hours of meeting Joshua he is a pretty cool guy. This picture makes him look tough and intimidating, but he’s not. He has a big heart for mission work. He helped build a school in South Sudan a few years ago. He said he travels a lot. He will work for several months and then head off to some other part of the world.

Joshua, David, Mary Jo and I went to breakfast at the hotel. We were all going to visit a school this morning. After breakfast, David became dizzy. Philip came to pick us up and it took all of us to convince David he should probably go to the International Hospital in Jinja to be safe.

After dropping David off at the hospital, Joshua and I joined up with Lana and Lawrence at Naranbhai Primary School. IMG_2343-EditThe visit was arranged by Elizabeth, also known as Madam Beth to the students. She and I talked quite a bit about education in Uganda, trying to compare it to schools in the U.S.

I honestly still don’t understand how the grades operate, but what I do know is that the student to teacher ratio in Uganda is even more disturbing than back home. I told her that most schools try to have about 1 teacher for every 25 students. She said that the law states they have to have 1 teacher for every 45 students. She went on to tell me that they have a couple of teachers who are running about 1 to 65 and that there are some schools where it is even 1 teacher for ever 90 students. She walked Joshua and me around and showed us that they are building a “University” within their compound. IMG_2327-Edit

Lawrence and Lana held the kids’ attention quite well. Lawrence did a presentation on HIV and AIDS prevention. The rate of HIV and AIDS has been on the decline from the research I found before the trip. The research suggested that it is because of programs like this that are in the schools. Still it is a huge problem in the region and Philip has mentioned that we will see more of it in coming days.

Afterward, Joshua and I were invited up to introduce ourselves. Joshua has a way with the kids, you can tell where his heart is.

Madam Beth and Joshua then gave out sunglasses and Lana gave them candy. Of course all of these things are wrapped in plastic and, in case you haven’t noticed it, Uganda has a significant problem with pollution. There is little regard for the environment and with such a large population there is garbage everywhere. IMG_2333-EditThe first thing Joshua told them prior to handing out the gifts was that they could not just drop the wrappers on the ground, they had to find a trashcan and throw away the garbage. I don’t know if it was a lesson learned, but it is one that needs to be taught.

When Philip came to pick us up, David and Mary Jo were in the van with him. Prognosis was dehydration. Still the group decided not to go back out during the afternoon, giving everyone a chance to rest up a bit.

In spite of the health issues, today was a good day and ended well. Joshua and I had dinner together since David and Mary Jo weren’t feeling up to it. It really gave us a chance to connect and talk. Joshua is a great guy, with a big heart. He asks questions and prods you to think and at the end of the day I think he knows more about me than many people I’ve known for years.