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Hope is the Spark that Changes Lives

Day 7

MudIt is muddy.  Really muddy.  A slippery, gooey, brown mud path winds its way up and down through a slum called Mikindani in Mombasa, Kenya.  We are not prepared for this trek, as we didn’t know we’d be visiting Berverlyne, one of the young ladies who has been in our program for 9 years.   I am wearing sandals while my boots are sitting in my suitcase at the hotel and these sandals were not made for this type of terrain or weather.

Day 6

Today the air feels brisk and cool, thanks to a refreshing rain during the night.  We wait and wait for Martin to come pick us up and finally, 48 minutes late, he and Rogers show up to take us to our last hospital stop in Uganda – Mpumudde Clinic. It is a small clinic with only 26 beds and is located about 2 hours from Kampala, near Jinja.

Day 5

Atutur Hospital – here we come!  We climb back into the vehicle and speed off to visit Atutur Hospital, a new place for AFCA.  I am excited to see this place not only because it is new, but also because we have been told that we can make a big difference here. 

Day 4

Up at 6:45. Shower. Breakfast. Hit the road again.

This time, we head east toward Papoli, a small village I love.  There, we are met by Emmanuel (Emma), a dear man who overseas so many good things.  We hug and kiss our cheeks together, with introductions all around.

Day 2 afternoon and Day 3

We travel 6 hours west towards the boarder of Congo, to Kilembe Mines, arriving after dark. The road is surprisingly good, with few potholes or surprises.  What this road has, never seen by me before, are speed bumps grouped in sets of 4, one right after the other. This gives us the feeling of being run over a cheese grater, over and over again.  As we approach any village or town, 5 or 6 sets of these sets of 4 greet us and we bounce up and down, up and down, up and down…

Day 1

AFCA Uganda - Day 145 minutes + 12 hours + 5.5 hours = flight time from Harrisburg to Entebbe, Kampala (via Qatar).   Add to that quite a few loud children on the 12 hour flight, a child who screams every once in a while like clockwork –a loud, piercing scream that doesn’t seem to end, an incredibly misbehaved child during our wait at the airport, a two-year old who climbs on my lap during the flight because he is lost and what do you have? You have a tired puppy.  That is me.  A tired puppy who thanks God every day for her own children who don’t scream on planes and who tend to behave when they are told to. 

Earlier this week I was talking to a friend and we were discussing how incredibly easy we Americans find it to change things out, to dispose of what we consider to be old and unusable, even though the items in question are still good and fully functioning.  Take, for example, a cell phone.  One day, we are perfectly happy with this phone, yet when we notice that a new model is available, we suddenly find fault with our old phone and decide to that we need a new one NOW. 

By Ron Adams, Teacher and Acting National Director of ODWUSA

Yesterday, the Operation Days Work USA (ODWUSA) presentation delivered by four girls in grades 7 & 8 brought tears to the eyes of 31 teachers and school librarians who attended the "To Light the World" Conference at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The kids explained how enormous the challenges are facing peers in countries like Zimbabwe where you do such incredible, life-saving work. To achieve this objective of discovering the huge discrepancy which exists globally in terms of where you are born, the students passed out charts listing the life expectancies of males and females in every country of the world.

I know we should treasure all moments in life, all the bits that come to us throughout our days and hours.  Yet, sometimes, there are specific moments that take on a bit more brilliance and that inspire me deeply.  If I am lucky, I get a chance to savor these moments, to take them in, to remember them.  Yesterday, I had two such moments take place – TWO!! What a gift!

by Rachel Johnson

At first glance, Lebanon Valley College senior Tito Valdez would not seem to have much free time. In addition to his studies, he serves in a number of leadership roles on Lebanon Valley’s campus, including President of Student Government, President of the Senior Class, President of the Lebanon Valley Educational Partnership, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, a Resident Assistant, a College Center Desk Supervisor, a student worker at the Student Affairs Office, and involvement with intramural basketball, the Pallas Society, and membership on the Diversity Action Committee.  This is in addition to his coursework and planning for his life after graduation. 

Isabel, Thandeka and ThabelaniIsabel Dube is a sickly widow who has been looking after Thandeka and Thabelani since the death of their parents a few years ago.  This family received three goats last year as part of our Livelihoods Project. Sadly, one goat died of tick-borne disease and the family thought their project was collapsing.  But, thankfully, the other two goats gave birth and, presently the family has four healthy goats. Thabelani is so excited about the kids who he says are adorable and full of energy. He went further to say, "when the other goat died, it was very painful to me and I thought our project was failing.  Seeing these kids has renewed my hope and I know that with proper care from us, this project is going places and that we will be fine."

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