Wednesday, June 23, 2010

African Adventures With Mark

I will admit that it is one of those few times were I just am not sure what to write… I am sitting here in my office at school and the lunch bell has just rung. Being that I am immersed in the school at least five days a week and sometimes six as most schools have morning classes on Saturday I think it is time for me to take a walk and take notes for you on what I find.

Let’s begin with our kitchen staff of three who arrive while it’s still dark and are here by 6:00 AM to prepare breakfast for 165 hungry mouths. Today we are having a rare treat of meat and rice for supper. The usual is posho and beans which is not my favorite. However, the ground maze-like starch/paste tends to fill a person up.

Like most institutions here in Africa we are facing tighter purse strings due to the difficulties in the west. We are trying our best to grow some of our own food as a way to add something to our budget cuts. Our 500 mounds of sweet potatoes will be ready to harvest in about three months, last about three months and help spice up the menu. Unlike western sweet potatoes these are more of a cross between potatoes and what we consider sweet potatoes. My absolute favorite meal here is sweet potatoes with a pounded ground-nut sauce with some mixed in fish (tilapia) from nearby Lake Victoria. However that is a rare meal and a real treat for me.

All our food is prepared on one of the five big wood burning stoves that we have in our kitchen. The pots are massive and are built especially to help conserve the amount of fire wood we use. The pots are so enormous and heavy that the food has to be scooped out into smaller pots.

Even though I will admit that I struggle with the main staple on the menu – poscho and beans-, it is amazing how much the students and staff can pack away every day. It is not a favorite of the staff but they do a great job of putting a smile on each and every time. They are enjoying our new staff room that is about five times as big as our old one and has a fresh coat of paint on.

Once back in my office I think back to some early home visits last month and remember students who had no food at their house. Our small food hamper was the best bright spot for the whole week. In the hamper was some more of my not so favorite posho and beans. I remember seeing a boy in the food line for lunch today that I had visited during this past term’s holiday. At the time of our visit his family had been without food for three days. Today I noted how eager he was to receive his big mountain of food and I understood why. Yes, I am one of those very fortunate Canadians who do not always realize the feast that most of us have almost every day back in the land of plenty. It’s true some are less fortunate in Canada but compared to my little friends here in Africa it is hard to compare. God bless you and remember to be thankful and enjoy your next meal as I am learning to be. Take care, Mark

African Adventures With Sarah

Have you ever administered eye drops to a near two year old when they have Pink-eye? Poor Jodie has had it (as have I) and I want to bless the generous people who sent over M&Ms. Because without them this eye drop thing would not be going so smoothly! She eagerly climbs up on my lap saying, ‘Drops! Chocolate! Chocolate!’
Then she says sincerely, ‘Cry cry, mommy.’
‘Are you going to cry, Jodie?’ I ask.
‘Yes’, she says. But she never really cries. She just can’t wait to get her chocolate.
Otherwise we are all fine. Much to the horror of many of you I’m sure, I recently took Seth out to the clinic on a boda-boda (motorcycle). On the way there he rode between me and the driver. On the way back I asked if he wanted to drive. Of course! So he held the handle bars all the way home (pretty far actually) and I tell you, his eyes were shining like little diamonds when we got home.
The only other report I have is an update on my Sudanese friend, Hope, the fourteen year old mother whom we’ve been helping. She and her baby are doing great. Baby Andrew is six months, healthy and happy and really loves his mama. Hope is taking three hours of tutoring classes a day and has really come alive now that she has some studies. She lives with an African family and nannies their children in the afternoon. This is an excellent Christian family who have modeled a healthy family and taught her so many things already. It’s so great for her! Her refugee status in Uganda is about to be finalized so we can begin to look into options for her future (this status takes her out from under any family authority or rights that could be forced on her and puts her under the care of the Ugandan government). From that position she has many options. God is good!
I need to sign off. Lots of love! Sarah