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The Esuubi Team Blog

Recent Posts

By: Elise

07/04/2016: First impressions...

In Aril 2016, a team of volunteers is supporting the work of Esuub in Uganda. Over the next few weeks, they'll be sharing their thoughts on the...

By: Josie

30/07/2014: 45 years in the making

What an amazing time to have experienced Helping children in Africa has been a long awaited dream for me. I have waited over 45 years for this ...

By: Helen

29/07/2014: Water, water everywhere

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink Uganda, the “Pearl of Africa” is a very rich natural in resources.  The soil i...

By: Jill & Malcolm

28/07/2014: A productive day

Today has been the Muslim festival of Eid, so the children’s planned exams were delayed, and they had an extra day off school. This meant tha...

By: Liz

27/07/2014: A day of adventure

This afternoon we all went to visit a village, Dan Douglas village. The village was about a 40 minute drive, it took that amount of time as most of...

By: Keanna

26/07/2014: Uganda - a learning experience

Uganda never fails to disappoint, day after day I have learnt so many new things, met so many amazing people and have had so much fun. After a week...

By: Margriet

25/07/2014: A day of surprises

Every day is a surprise and an amazing gathered adventure.  Friday After breakfast we, our belongings  we had to use for the day:&nbs...

By: Sharon

24/07/2014: An emotional return

I first visited Mityana and the Ekiwumulo orphanage in August 2011 – I was stunned at the work that was going on there and how far reaching a...

By: Mike

23/07/2014: Journey into space

This morning was the first session (of three) of the Holiday Club, combining stories from the book of Daniel with a theme of heat and space; in our...

By: Pam

23/07/2014: A day to remember

We woke to a sunny day which showed every promise of remaining dry – just as well because most of us still had mud sticking to the soles of o...

Post 11 to 20 of 79

Posted: 04:55:39 on 07/04/2016

First impressions...

In Aril 2016, a team of volunteers is supporting the work of Esuub in Uganda. Over the next few weeks, they'll be sharing their thoughts on the Esuubi blog. Today we hear from Elise, who is on her first trip to Uganda. Here are her first impressions.

Even though I was shattered from the 11 hour plane journey involving 3 stops as, I was still amazed by the scenery around me, our first night in Entebbe was quite like London, torrential rain, the ground was muddy and I was really missing home.

Next morning wasn’t quite so bad, I got dressed and went down for breakfast which was lovely. We had an 2 ½ hour drive to Mityana. In the Kolping house, where we’re staying, I’m a bit culture shocked, as there were cold showers and not the food I was used to at home, but after spending the night there I got comfortable.

The next day was work day! Which I wasn’t used to.. We all met the children, some came running up to you hugging you and holding your hand and others were shy.

I couldn’t believe how polite, kind and caring these children were. They showed us round where they slept and there classrooms and we met a lovely lady named Winnie, who I’d say was the ‘big momma’. All the staff and children were so loving and really helped you out when you needed it.

We’ve done various things: making bracelets, playing general games with the children and also checked up on there health, I found it really emotional when some of the children didn’t know how old they were or any of their background history, as they were orphans, but despite them not knowing this, it did not affect the personality or cheery ways.

The school shocked us with a surprise performance done by the children, which really showed off the roots and culture, of course they had to dance to a bit of Justin Beiber too!

Over all so far I have really, really enjoyed my trip to Uganda and cannot wait to come again.

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Posted: 20:05:55 on 30/07/2014

45 years in the making

What an amazing time to have experienced

Helping children in Africa has been a long awaited dream for me. I have waited over 45 years for this experience, having seen a slide show about orphans in Africa at my local village. With 2 weeks to prepare, as I took the spare place due last minute cancellation on the trip. A few days later I agreed to take charge of the medical checks on the resident children in the orphanage. So I quickly gathered as much kit together as I could: medical, clothing and items for the children and a few essentials for me to survive also.

What have been the challenges for me over the 9 days?  The designated medical room was open for business every morning. The room cool spacious and airy, when organising the checks on the children we had a team 6 for the initial checks made up of members of our group and two more Ugandan volunteers.  I must mention my Ugandan colleagues John and Robert.  My job without them would have been extremely hard as they were able to speak to the children in their native tongue Luganda. John recently graduated in “Mass Communications” and Robert continues to study for his chosen career in law. They were a great help in checking for fungal infections (very common)   tooth decay (eating the sugar cane) and anaemia. Calculating if they were a healthy weight and height for their age on the growth charts was time extra homework at night.

In addition to this we had a few casualty children, wounds were spotted by team members as they did various activities. Burns and lacerations caused open fire cooking and stones on the ground walking in bare feet.

I was lucky enough to see every child in the orphanage as the reviews of the children who were underweight took place in the 2nd week. All the information I have collected will be given to Kate’s father Simon for him to analyse and compare to previous records. All children with dental problems will visit the dentist those in pain ASAP. The fungal treatment will be given to all children needing it. Children with no shoes have had their feet measured and will receive shoes.

I have had a really interesting and challenging time. The children have few material things other than their clothes and gift they may receive. What they do have is a fabulous smile, sing great songs, dance with rhythm and expression. They so love to learn and still have the sense of innocence that has been lost in so many children today.  May I return to Ekiwumulo again.

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Posted: 19:12:35 on 29/07/2014

Water, water everywhere

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Uganda, the “Pearl of Africa” is a very rich natural in resources.  The soil is fertile and there is plenty of water for crops.  For example, on our trip to the village on Sunday we saw: coffee, maize, cassava, sweet potato, jack fruit, avocado, banana to name but a few.  However water supply is something of a problem for many. Our hotel lists among its amenities flushing toilets and cold running water.  We had been warned, before our trip, that the a group of our size can put a strain on the supply of water and on Friday the hotel ran out of running water for 24 hours.  Fortunately we are supplied with a jerry can and a large bowl in our en suite bathrooms.  The water for the hotel is supplied by a tanker and stored in water tanks and so once the tanker had been our water supply was restored.  

On our late afternoon walks we have seen women and some quite young children with jerry cans of various sizes collecting water and today a group of us decided to go and see if we could find the source of the water.  We eat most of our meals at the hotel in a room on the roof of the hotel which offers fine views across the town (and this evening a splendid sunset).  From here we have seen a green area near the hotel which we suspected was where the water was collected from.  So after tea today, a group of us decided to see if we could find where the water is collected from.  We headed off in the general direction and sure enough we soon started to see children with vessels in which they had collected water.  This led us to a steep valley surrounded by houses and two of us descended to the little stream at the bottom. The stream had been dammed and there was a spout from which the water was collected.  The children were intrigued by our interest in this daily task.  When Verena and I joined Margriet and Liz, we found them talking with James who had seen them from his house and had come out to speak to them.  He was a retired teacher who had visited a school in the UK during his career to learn more about teaching methods. He shared with us his concerns about the quality of the water that people use. We have appreciated the way in which strangers have stopped to speak to us on our walks and this has greatly enhanced our understanding of Ugandan life.

One of the next projects at Ekiwumulo is the provision of water tanks for the houses where the children live.  Water is collected for the school from the guttering and stored in tanks and the plan is to install guttering and tanks on each of the houses.

Other highlights of the day include Andrea’s birthday, complete with birthday cake, made by Stella, the café cook and just about finishing Painting the 7 classrooms.

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Posted: 19:18:05 on 28/07/2014

A productive day

Today has been the Muslim festival of Eid, so the children’s planned exams were delayed, and they had an extra day off school. This meant that the day pupils stayed at home and only the boarders were around. For us however it was not a holiday, and the decorating continued at a rapid pace to ensure that all the classrooms are finished by the time we leave.

There is a great team spirit, with people cleaning dried plaster off window frames, removing posters from the walls (which had been stuck on with porridge!), repainting blackboards, priming bare plaster, and of course the painting. Mike has been busy fixing wobbly desks and his hammering could be heard all round the school. Our foreman Nigel is very pleased with the progress of the decorating!

The sound of music also rang round the school as Verena, ably assisted by Saul and John, taught some of the children songs that I remember from around the campfire, such as ‘A ram sam sam’ and ‘Shalom my friend’, while Keanna led others in ‘brown girl in the ring’ with many actions. Margriet undertook to teach patchwork, while Pam, Micah and Kaine introduced the ever-popular loom bands to eager students.

Rumbles of thunder and a darkening sky heralded the approach of another storm and heavy shower which gave us a slightly extended lunchtime as we waited for the worst to pass before we returned to the classrooms to continue our labours. The storms here are impressive, with torrential rain and very loud thunder.

It is a joy to have the happy children around always eager to watch the work and to ‘help’ where possible, although this afternoon Teya provided another source of entertainment, with a crowd of admirers gathered around her as she played with a Ugandan girl!

When the time came for us to board the taxis home we were rejoined by Andrea, who had spent the day having her hair braided by Winnie - it looks amazing!

Although we love spending time at Ekiwumulo it is always good to come back for a cold shower and a cup or two of chai, today accompanied by ginger biscuits and delicious groundnuts roasted in their shells.

Altogether a good and productive day!

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Posted: 19:22:36 on 27/07/2014

A day of adventure

This afternoon we all went to visit a village, Dan Douglas village. The village was about a 40 minute drive, it took that amount of time as most of the journey was ‘off road’, along some very bumpy holey tracks - but again another interesting journey with lots to see along the way, children running along beside the minibuses waving and shouting ‘muzungu’ while we all wave back.

When we arrived at the village we were greeted by many children and the women, they had laid out woven mats and benches for us to sit on. The children sang to us and did some amazing hip wiggling (Kiganda) dancing.

We were offered some sugar cane to eat which they had kindly skinned and cut into bitesize chunks to protect our delicate teeth.  We also tried some Jackfruit which I thought was a cross between a banana and a mango in taste. Then we had lunch which consisted of chicken, pork, potatoes, rice, pumpkin and matooke.

After lunch we had some pots of bubbles and balloons for the children to play with which they loved, Malcolm got mobbed by the children whilst blowing up a balloon for them – he has survived but I’m not sure if the balloon did.

An enormous crack of thunder and some spots of rain prompted us to leave as if the rain came down hard again we wouldn’t have got the minibuses along the tracks.

It was a lovely visit and really nice to meet these friendly and welcoming people as everyone we have met in Uganda has been.

Back at Kolping  John, one of our Ugandan volunteers, gave me a Lugandan lesson,  especially important is saying  the word for ‘water’ correct otherwise you may get some strange looks!

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Posted: 19:38:40 on 26/07/2014

Uganda - a learning experience

Uganda never fails to disappoint, day after day I have learnt so many new things, met so many amazing people and have had so much fun. After a week at Ekiwumulo, playing various games, singing songs, laughing, dancing and eating pineapples and mangoes, Saturday truly has shown me a new side of Uganda.

Today I visited Mityana Hospital, a government owned hospital (the biggest and only one in Mityana) the experience was eye-opening and heart-warming - although at times harrowing -. Despite the hardships these children, women and relatives were facing on the maternity and children ward, they all continued to smile. A team of us went down to the hospital, with teddies and clothes to give out to all the children on the ward and to the expecting mothers or women who have given birth. The smiles on the mothers and children’s faces truly warmed my heart, as sometimes it is so easy to forget how good things are back home in the UK, with the NHS and the facilities and resources we take for granted. As well as this, we met a young girl who was suffering from Malaria with her mother and her younger sister, her mother asked for us all to pray for her, as we held hands and began to pray I couldn’t help but say a few words, seeing it first hand with my own eyes, nearly brought me to tears, to see mothers physically holding things together for their children despite knowing that their children may not make it through, comforting words from Christ truly made a difference. As I watched all the women, doctors, nurses, all working so hard despite having so little, was really moving. Whilst we were visiting the maternity ward, the sister on duty thought my mother and I were Ugandan, to her surprise after trying to hold a conversation in Ugandan with no response, soon realised we were actually from the UK.  

Not only were all the babies so beautiful but the atmosphere was one full of love and gratitude. Sister Deborah tried several times to stop me and my mum from leaving and called us her long lost sisters however we managed to escape and headed back to Kolping.

John, Saul and Wilbur took us on a short tour around the local area and the market, before the rain came chucking down and soaked me from head to toe. One of my highlights and one I can definitely share with my younger brothers and few others in the team, was having chips for lunch! When everyone heard that there were chips for lunch the boys dashed up and everyone had seconds. After lunch we headed down to the café where we had some cake and tea, as well as purchasing beautiful pieces of arts and crafts to take back to the UK. The best part of the shopping trip, unfortunately was not the wonderful banana cupcake with passion fruit icing, but instead was knowing that all the profits were going back into Esuubi and helping all of the wonderful people I have met on this remarkable experience.

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Posted: 19:55:19 on 25/07/2014

A day of surprises

Every day is a surprise and an amazing gathered adventure.  Friday

After breakfast we, our belongings  we had to use for the day:  rucksacks containing paint brushes, jay cloths, painting clothes for those who had to start in skirts in the classrooms with the children, or doing the medicals or telling stories  for the children. The card box with the medical notes, two boxes with water bottles, the baby, the equipment and everything for the holiday club: in short, like every day, we did not travel light! The two mini buses arrived promptly at 9.00 am.  All the luggage was put in and under the seats and on our laps and off we were on the road to the orphanage.

The road leading to the work place is amazing. Both on the left and right side were countless little “shops”, wooden doors for sale, bananas still on the van, advertisements for mobile phones, women with bags on their heads, and everywhere motorbikes.  From there we went to the right on an extremely narrow path with unbelievably many potholes.  It was a very green and beautiful area with mountains in the distance. When we arrived at the school, the children were expecting us already.  Each one of us went to their allocated classroom, either to paint, to do craft work with the children or to tell a story.  Today the theme was about Daniel and King Darius. The children in the craft group made lion masks and Verena and I told the story of Daniel to 5 groups of children in 20 minute slots.  We put the desks in a semi-circle and the children sat on the desk, on the bench or on the floor. The first group consisted of at least 40 children, most of them about 5 years old.  They were all very quiet while Verena and I waited for the teacher to translate.  The children loved the story, some already had their made lion masks on top of their head.  Verena had already prepared everything at home. The children who had the masks were allowed to join her in the den!  It made a big impression on them and they enjoyed it very much.  At break time we had to help prepare more lion masks and during one session Verena and I had to join in with the outside games.  It was disturbing to see how many children were without shoes and ran very fast over the rubble while they played the Ugandan game “cat and mouse”.

After lunch in the “medical room”, we picked up the paint brush to do the priming, painting or preparing the next room.  At 4 p.m. the minibuses took us again along the very bumpy track down to the main road.  At 5 p.m. we had our Ugandan tea with samosas.  Today we decided to explore the better off area which could be seen from the top of our “hotel”.  There is so much to tell about this little trip, which made a change from a visit to the incredible market that we had visited on the previous days.  Today we saw a little hut with chickens, goats, mango trees, banana trees and opposite the hut were women and girls of only 3 or 4 years old carrying water cans from the stream towards their huts.  We also passed three schools with notice boards.  One of these stated that “Education means wealth” and another “We prepare for heaven”.

While I have been writing this blog, the rest of the team have been sorting out all the gifts that we have brought.  I am sure that everyone will be grateful for the gifts.

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Posted: 19:03:07 on 24/07/2014

An emotional return

I first visited Mityana and the Ekiwumulo orphanage in August 2011 – I was stunned at the work that was going on there and how far reaching an impact it was having on the children and the whole community. I found the set up utterly holistic and felt the love for the children pouring out of all the staff, workers and volunteers.

I was not sure how I would feel on this return visit… I have been sponsoring a child for the past two years and was not sure what to bring her – I decided to follow the Esuubi guidelines on gifts for sponsored children – a bookmark with a biblical quote, a photo of my son and myself, a prayer card that I made myself with my favourite prayers and a small rosary page saver – it all fitted into a small oblong pencil case! The smile on her face and the happiness her friends showed for her when I gave it to her was overwhelming and today, three days later, I had a wonderful thank you letter carefully written in perfect English and decorated all around the edges, asking after my son and wanting him to come with me next time to visit her and expressing her appreciation for my support.

There were other children that I have thought about since my 2011 visit and over the past few days I have been able to catch up will all but one, who now goes to another school. Today whilst I was helping with the medical check ups, Francis, a little boy who loves Michael Jackson and does the most amazing moon walk on a concrete floor and bare feet( I have video proof from my last visit!) came to my desk and when I read out his name I had to get up and give him one of my best hugs!

It has been wonderful to catch up with Douglas and Brendah too, as they both remember that I taught them how to sing ‘Ging gang gooley ‘ and are expecting me to do a rendition again with the all children! As there is a lot of painting to be getting on with before the week-end, I just might get out of it…

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Posted: 18:13:25 on 23/07/2014

Journey into space

This morning was the first session (of three) of the Holiday Club, combining stories from the book of Daniel with a theme of heat and space; in our case a space quiz and a game of astronaut “beetle” – an unlikely combination, but they appeared to go well. 

Five groups of up to thirty children for twenty minutes each is pretty hectic!  The younger children needed their teacher to translate for us, but the older primaries are fluent in English, if shy.  So concepts of the sun being very hot, the planets too hot or too cold for us, except the 

earth were quickly grasped – very conveniently our picture of the earth from space has Uganda clearly visible and the UK hidden under cloud!  But whatever their ages they were very keen for their team to complete the astronaut first.

After a brief lunch we first-timers, especially, went to see the Mammas at home with their “families”.  Mama Joyce posed for a photograph with her sewing machine and some of the girls proudly showed us their bedroom - five bunks under mosquito nets for the ten of them (and similarly on the other side for the boys).  Everyone obviously works very hard.

This afternoon it was back to the painting of the first two classrooms, the first now almost complete with bright cream walls and a grey “kick board” round the base.  They had been painted first four years ago, but in the intervening time windows and doors had been fitted; the plaster around the windows had never been painted and the rest was looking a bit tired. So one nearly down and several more to go.

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Posted: 07:21:51 on 23/07/2014

A day to remember

We woke to a sunny day which showed every promise of remaining dry – just as well because most of us still had mud sticking to the soles of our shoes after yesterday’s brief visit to a rather soggy Ekiwumulo! Some of us (we shall plead complete anonymity) found our way sleepy-eyed to the breakfast table where boiled eggs with chapatis awaited us as did the marmite afficianados who kindly offered us their jars to “enhance the taste”!  At the very considerate hour of 9am we piled into the minibuses and set off to the school where we spent the whole day. It was really fantastic to be back there again and to meet those we had befriended several years ago.

Today was the day of the big welcome. The teachers have worked so hard with the children to put together a wonderful concert to welcome us, their visitors, in a myriad of ways! We were shown to our ringside seats and the performances began once we’d been welcomed by the MC, Joseph (Primary 7 teacher), and by the headmaster. Teya (our youngest team member at 11 months) was captivated by the singing and dancing although flagged a little as her mid-morning nap time came along. We however continued to enjoy the rest of the performances and were so impressed, in particular, by the choir who sang and danced so confidently. The drummers kept the beat going as little children filtered their way from the rear of the room to our seats at the front, the luckier ones finding a lap to sit on or even snooze on (ask Rosamund for the details!)

Still we weren’t there just to be entertained so once the presentation was over, it was off to work either by conducting healthchecks, playing outdoor games or, if you were really lucky, tackling plastering or decorating! This year we’ll be re-decorating classrooms so we knuckled down to clearing, sweeping and preparing Primary 4’s room for the onslaught of paint rollers and brushes. How pleased we were to find the pupils and several teachers drifting in to give us a hand!

All in all a very memorable day although those with more energy hit the market and are, as I type, buying some of Joyce’s lovely colourful bags and purses.

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