The drive to Olgoloi from Soroti where we stay is a long slow one down a dusty and pot holed road. About 2 km out we take a turn down a small dirt road into the bush and drive at walking speed down the narrow lane with trees scraping the sides of the car.As usual, when we were still about half a kilometer away the kids met us on the road…with banners and flags. There was the usual singing and dancing, but the atmosphere seemed a little low key. We found out later as we were sitting in the church building with the kids that there had been 2 deaths the day before. One was an 8 year old child who passed away of Malaria who lives in a neighboring village. Despite the fact that the village was in mourning, we were welcomed into Ogoloi (after walking the final 1/2 km with the kids – the van in tow) with signing, dancing and much cheer. This is a people with beautiful and joyful hearts.
After a brief (African brief = American lengthy) set of introductions in the church building, the kids took us outside and informed us that we were going to receive an “African Treat”. We were broken up into groups and the kids began writing all of their names on our shirts in permanent market. This is difficult to explain, but it was an incredible experience. Each group of kids wrote their names on us for about 4-5 mins before we moved on to the next group. By the time we were done (30 minutes later) we each had about 120 names on our shirts…which will be priceless assets for each of us for many years.
Here is what we looked like at the end of the day….
We were able to connect with many of the kids that we got to know last year, but spent most of the day playing. There are a lot of children in the CarePoint who are HIV+ and a lot of them are sick. Jess bumped into one of the two children whose parents had died of HIV/AIDS right before we came last year.
We believe that he and his sister are also HIV+ but haven’t confirmed it yet.
Most of the day was fun and games.
Jessica D. played netball with the girls…Nate and John played football with the boys and Duck Duck Goose with the little ones. Jinny played guitar, Megan drew and colored with the little ones, Jess Hansen worked on her aTeso, and Jen and Rachel got involved in serving lunch.
We took some fun videos, like this one thanking Scheels for donating soccer balls again.
And at the end of the day we celebrated with the widows and children…African style. I could not video the entire thing (it was at least an hour long), but here is a snippet that will give you some idea. These guys know how to celebrate, and it is contagious being with them.
Tomorrow we join the Ogoloi community for church in the mud building with the leaky straw roof. It’s the most beautiful church I have ever been in. And worship there is an experience you will never forget. The entire team will take a brief spot in front of the expectant community to be “preachers” for a while before we break out to lead Sunday School under the mango tree with the kids.
The afternoon will allow some of the team to go on a few home visits, and we will begin the process of getting photos and video of each and every kid to bring back to their sponsors.
As was the case in Bukedea, there is notable progress in Ogoloi. The kids have been making great improvements on their grades. I asked Julias (who is the lead “discipler” at the CarePoint) who he thought this was and he suggested that it was because the kids are now well fed and spend less time working to find food. They are able to concentrate better with their minds at rest.
The staff have also started a small Nursery School at the Carepoint during the week so that the children that are too young for school have a place to go during the day and be educated. And we will begin discussions in the next few days about plans for the development of the CarePoint…now potentially on the church site instead of on the neighboring land.
There will be a lot to share as the week progresses.