Magical Mukono

Trip Start Aug 19, 2012
1
28
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
CHAIN Foundation Orphanage and School
What I did
CHAIN Foundation Orphanage and School

Flag of Uganda  ,
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Uganda.  Week 1.  Mukono.  CHAIN Foundation Orphanage and School.

1 word:  magical.

No, it wasn't a comfortable, luxurious experience for us.  Far from it.

Our flights from Jo'burg, to Kigali (Rwanda), then to Entebbe (Uganda), then our 3 hour drive to Mukono, where CHAIN Foundation is situated, were far from comfortable.

We were tired, dirty (Uganda is very, very, very dusty), disoriented, trying to keep up conversation with people we had just met at the airport, and our backpacks were drenched from the storm they were left exposed to by the illustrious Rwandair.  I will never fly them again if I can help it.

And when we arrived, we discovered we would be bathing with the help of one bucket, and one faucet that released only cold water.

Were we expecting this?  Not really.  We didn't really know what to expect to be honest.

But were we prepared for this?  Yeah, kind of.

We've been changed and "trained" throughout this trip to the point where stuff like this doesn't throw us over the edge any longer.  It's a beautiful and freeing feeling to realize that we can be changed and formed into people who can get over the "little" things.  I don't know how long this will last, but I hope a small part of this change is permanent.

So, as I was saying:  magical.  Why?  The kids at CHAIN are happy and free.  They aren't spoiled by any means, but they are provided for.  They care for one another.  The adults and staff care for and love them.  They have community.  And we were so privileged to be let into that community in such a short period of time.  The only thing we regret is not staying longer.  It was heartbreaking to leave, for the both of us.

Some mornings, we would wake to hear children singing or playing instruments.  Some evenings, we'd hear them drumming (talk about gifts - African kids can drum like professionals) and catch them dancing.  Blind children would walk around the grounds, sometimes alone, and sometimes in packs, without the help of any aids at all.

We watched them singing during devotions.  Or dancing the local dance while others drummed with their whole body and soul.  Or playing games together.  

We also watched them toil under the sun in the well developed farms that sustain them with food, or cooking in the smoke-filled kitchen, or constantly washing their clothes.  They always seemed to be washing clothes.  They are given much, but they also contribute much.

In the very short week we were blessed to be a part of this microcosmic heaven, we connected with several children.  Some of whom we will never forget.  The very heart wrenching part of it all is that we may never see or talk with them again.  To know that we could make even one child feel important, known, loved and that they mattered was the most rewarding part of being there.

The staff at CHAIN work tirelessly, and with genuine love for the children.  It makes such a huge difference.  We were deeply touched when one of the staff, Uncle Fortunate, who is the farm manager that plans out the agricultural and livestock details, felt prompted to invite us for tea in his very humble abode in one of the dorms.  So, just as the sun was beginning to set, the three of us sat on the concrete floor of his tiny room, where he had made a simple life for himself.  We drank Ugandan milk tea (with fresh, hot milk from the cows on the farm), and ate ground nuts he had roasted himself and little store-bought cake/breads which I'm sure were a luxury he would normally not buy.  More importantly, in the short 1 and 1/2 hours we had together, we shared our lives, thoughts, dreams, and needs with one another.  So there are also staff we are very sad to say goodbye to, whom we know we may never see or communicate with again (he cannot afford to fix his motorbike, let alone buy a laptop).

We also received an impromptu invitation to visit Archbishop Nkoyoyo (who started CHAIN) at his nearby residence.  We really don't know why we were treated with such generosity and graciousness during our stay throughout the week.  We certainly didn't feel special, and definitely weren't anything special to look at.  But we took it all in stride, knowing that everything has a reason and purpose.

In the end, we felt that there is life-giving magic at CHAIN, and it gave life to us as well.
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