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.
I look around and am astounded at the changes in this place over the past two years. A maternity clinic now stands and functions. An office and a storeroom. A dorm room for boys and one for girls, for those who cannot go home every day due to the distance from home to school. It’s so exciting to be here and to see how the small tree I planted three years ago is growing…the tree feels like a promise of things to come – healthy, vibrant, shinny, and growing.
Betsy and I can barely contain our excitement as we point out every piece of office furniture that came from our warehouse, the bunk beds the children use, along with every single piece of medical equipment we see. It all came from us! And the office was built with funds from the sales of clothes we sent. Really, really neat to see it all being used so well.
Emma and I talk alone, walking around the property, me listening to his plans and offering some suggestions along the way. I like the way he thinks – he’s a dreamer with a plan of action. Not just a visionary, but a mover and a shaker with plans for being totally self-sustaining so that donations don’t need to continue indefinitely. This is a man after my own heart and I am thrilled to continue joining him in his dreams.
We visit the school attached to the clinic, a place where 764 children study. Betsy and I ride bicycles from the clinic to the school while Karina sits sidesaddle on the back of another bicycle. What a spectacle for the children to see as we pass some on their way home for lunch!
Each of the children in the older grades receives a backpack full of school supplies from us, while the younger ones each receive a bag for their books. Third grade thanks us by singing, complete with dancing, clapping and huge smiles. We sway and clap alongside them, marveling at their ability to move their little bodies as they do.
Fred, a retired school teacher and principal, offers beautiful words of encouragement to the children as they all gather in front of us with some Nike soccer balls we brought for them. I am touched by his words and by his obvious care for these children and am happy he is here with us. How he puts up with Betsy, Karina and me, giggling in the back of the car on our long drives, plus our requests to find a restroom sometime during these long hauls, is a mystery.
After delivering seeds intended for 400 families and visiting the future lodging for Vacation with a Purpose teams, we are taken to our hotel. What a place! Hot showers with nice pressure (a true treat!), comfortable beds, mosquito nets that don’t touch me as I sleep, clean floors, and delicious food make me feel that I am on a mini-vacation. After dinner, Betsy teaches Martin (driver) how to dance polka to an 80’s tune and we all laugh and laugh.
We each enjoy our stay in this little unfinished hotel nestled on a hillside outside of Tororo town and we sleep deeply and well, ready for tomorrow.