Sunday, February 14, 2010

Update from Bideka

Well, here I am at the orphanage, located in the village of Bideka, in the Walungu territory (for those of you who are into maps). There are 25 kids here. The youngest is 2 and the oldest is 16 however the rest of the kids are between the ages of 3 and 12. They don’t really speak any French so we can’t communicate much, but they are really sweet and I love them to pieces already.

The biggest challenge so far is the language. Like I said, the kids hardly speak a word of French and neither do the two women who work here. The orphanage “supervisor”, a guy probably in his forties by the name of Cesar, speaks French however due to his accent as well as simply his personality he is very difficult to talk to. So, I am learning as much Swahili as I can yet conversations are few and far between. It’s challenging for sure but I’m getting used to it pretty quickly.

So, I thought I’d let you know what a typical day looks like so you can get a better picture of my life here…

My day starts at 5 a.m. as I get up, get ready and spend time with God before the day begins. From 6:00-6:30 I join the kids for a time of prayer and worship and then the kids get ready and eat breakfast before the older ones head off to school for 7:30. From 7:30-12:30 we are left with just the younger kids, 13 kids between the ages of 2 and 5. During that time I help with the dishes and every few days I wash my clothes. Most of that time however I am with the kids. We do organized preschool for about a half hour a day, aside from that I simply try to find things to do with them. We play with the ball (the one and only toy they have here), I chase them or swing them around or I simply let them clamour all over my lap as we play hand games, tickle each other, make funny faces and random noises or hum simple tunes. At around 12:40 the older kids get back from school, we eat lunch and then from 1:00-3:00 the kids nap. At that point I head to my room for some much needed alone time to refuel for the afternoon. During that time I either read, pray, listen to music, wash my “personal items” (you know, the stuff you don’t want to wash in front of everybody and then hang on the line for the whole neighbourhood to see…) or, if I’m really tired I’ll take a nap. At 3:00 it’s back outside to spend the afternoon playing with the kids. At 6:00 the kids bathe, at 6:30 they have another time of prayer and worship, at 7:00 we eat dinner and then the kids are in bed by 8:00. At 8:00 I get ready for bed, journal and am usually asleep by 9:00 in order to get a full eight hours (I figure I face enough challenges here, there is no reason to add sleep deprivation to the list).

So, that’s what my days look like. I hope that helps to give you an idea of what life is like here. I imagine you have some other questions too such as:

What is the food like?
Well, in the morning the kids eat porridge. It’s really not like what we would call porridge at home though. It’s millet flour mixed with water and then boiled until it thickens and depending on the day you can either drink it or eat it with a spoon. They have it in Uganda too and I have always hated it. It has this sticky, grainy texture and the few times I’ve had it it’s taken me like an hour to be able to finish one glass. So, for breakfast I have bread (one of the few things you can buy here) and a fruit 2 go which I brought from home. The rest of the time I eat what everyone else is eating. For lunch, 9 times out of 10 we have rice and beans however every once in a while the rice is substituted for potatoes. As all my friends in Uganda would tell you, I love beans, it is my absolute favourite African meal so I am thrilled. For dinner we have what in Uganda they call posho, here it is called foufou (sp?). It is certain type of flour mixed with boiling water until it takes on the constituency of what I could best describe as sticky mashed potatoes. Most of the time we have that with small, bite sized fish and a leafy, spinach-like vegetable which in Uganda they call “greens” and here they simply call “legumes”. Sometimes the small fish are substituted for “poison salĂ©” (fried tilapia) or the greens are substituted for cabbage. I’m not a huge fan of any of those items in Uganda but they are prepared a little differently here and I really don’t mind them, in fact, some days I find it quite good.


What about electricity, running water, etc.?
We do have electricity here but only for about six hours a day, sometimes less and sometimes we can go days without having any electricity at all. There is never any electricity after 6 p.m. so the only thing the electricity is really used for is charging our cell phones. There is a bathroom in the house and there is running water however there is no plumbing. In other words, there is a toilet but in order to flush it you need to fill a bowl with water and pour it down the toilet. There is also a bathtub you can stand in to bathe however you need to first fill a basin with water and use that to bathe with.

No, it’s certainly not the cushy life I was living in Uganda with all the conveniences and luxuries of the West, surrounded by friends who spoke my language, etc. I will be honest and say that being here is a challenge but God told me it would be hard. He also told me that He would be with me and He is. Every day God reveals Himself to me anew and gives me the strength that I need to persevere and I am so grateful for this opportunity to draw closer to Him.

Anyway, it’s the 3:00, the kids are getting up and my laptop battery is running low so I’d better go. Thank you so much for your prayers!

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