Bukedea….For Better or Worse

Bukedea CarePoint

Our arrival in Bukedea was met with an exceptionally warm and celebratory welcome – even for Uganda. By the time I got my camera turned off and in my pocket Jess was crowd surfing on top of the kids and the rest of us were mobbed with hugs and hand shakes and joyous Ugandan smiles

From the outset we knew that out time and purpose in the Bukedea CarePoint visit was drastically different than that of Ogoloi. Whereas our trip to Bukedea was in part to celebrate the fact that we have successfully found sponsors for all 123 kids (find out how 120 became 123 at my post from 2 days ago “Dad Committed Suicide and Mom went Mad and Left“), and to just get to know the kids…our time in Bukedea is primarily to position ourselves to be able to come back to the U.S. to find willing sponsors for the 180 kids in need of sponsors in Bukedea. 
The CarePoint is also in an entirely different setting. Situated on a small plot of land just half a kilometer from the MBale highway, the CarePoint has been well developed. The Kitchen, the Multi Purpose Pavilion, and the latrines have been built thanks to a one time donation to Hope Chest. The kids here are also a little better dressed, and speak a little more english than their Ogoloi friends an hour away. 
Here is a brief tour of the CarePoint….you can see the buildings, and the kids at play

The primary needs at the CarePoint are obvious….

  1. The sponsorships are terribly low. Only 30 kids of over 220 are accounted for, so we are are profiling all the kids and ready to go to work as soon as we get home
  2. The CarePoint has to buy its water every day in large barrels. Its costly, and time consuming. We are currently working to raise $5,000 for a well to be dug in the CarePoint next Spring. If you havent yet, please check out Advent Conspiracy Blog Post
The leadership at Bukedea CarePoint is exceptional.

Widows of Teso

There are two Disciplers (a husband wife team called Richard and Pauline) who know the kids and their family stories backwards, two incredibly hard working cooks, a social worker named Bernadette (who is an absolute rock star), and a care-taker (known to all as Mamma) who is the Chairperson of the “Widows of Teso”. Her real name is Christine. 

Richard (discipler) and Bernadette (Social Worker)

“Widows of Teso” is an association of Widows from all around the Teso region who work to support each other. 

Dont Judge a Book by Its Cover
As usual, much of the day was spent in games with the kids. Ally pulled out the guitar and was a huge hit, and Matt taught all the kids to throw Frisbees (which apparently aren’t real common in Uganda – not even the national Hope Chest Director had thrown one before). 

Jen and I spent much of the morning working on the profiles of the first 50 kids that we will be working to find sponsors for. Along with the Richard (the discipler) and Bernadette (the social worker), we worked through their family and personal stories one at a time with the kids answering questions and Richard translatin. 

I must confess, when we first arrived, we noticed that the kids were a little more exposed to urban influence. They wore slightly more modern clothing, and seemed more educated. I think that our team formulated an opinion about the kids pretty quickly that I now know is pretty far from the truth. They looked better off, so we presumed they were. 
The reality is, that as we ran through the profiles, we learned of story after story of hard to comprehend tales. Almost all of the kids had lost at least one of their parents, most had lost both. Many fathers were killed in the war, many had passed away of HIV. Bukedea was a major military post during the war, and the woman often would sleep with the soldiers for food, resulting in the rapid spread of the virus at that time. Several of the kids themselves are HIV positive. There were numerous tales of poisonings (common in Uganda when one person is jealous of another’s “success”), and far too many incredibly sad stories of plain and simple…no other way to put it…abandonment. 
It was rough just hearing all the stories. 
We didnt have to live them. 

The more we learned the more we have come to realize that the kids in Bukedea actually have a much harder life that some of those in Ogoloi. Not to downplay Ogoloi, but the village in Ogoloi provides a very caring and family environment that the isolated trading town of Bukedea does not.

We visited several of the homes of children from the CarePoint by foot. Some were a few kilometers away, which meant an interesting trek down the footpaths that snake throughout the African planes.

These visits are incredibly humbling. The people of Uganda who live in these tiny mud and baked brick huts are exceptionally honored by a visit of this nature, and welcome you with great joy. Their living circumstances are deplorable, and many are on the absolute brink. We met woman caring for several of their grandchildren who were in their 60’s and even 70’s who work from dusk till dawn in other peoples fields to feed their grandchildren earning around 3000 Ugandan shillings per week.

With an exchange rate of about 25,000 to 1, that’s about $1.25.
Per week. Which equates to about $60 a year. Its absolutely impossible to fathom.

I have some incredible stories of some of these people and their circumstances to share, but that will have to wait for next time.

I have posted some photos of the kids and the CarePoint on the Facebook page (see link below). There are many more, and we have great video of most of the currently sponsored kids. We will post more photos when we get back on U.S. soil…and cheaper internet 🙂

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