Day two of our work in the school and village, with lots to be done. Derek was up and out early securing prices and products to make up the food parcels ready for Saturday, which meant a slightly slower start for the rest of us.
The children greeted us with waves, shouts and cheers again, and we were mobbed as we got off the bus, all of them keen to hold a hand, grab an arm or lean in for a hug. Their little faces and big smiles are hard to resist, and a moment of kindness towards them costs nothing.
Ruth, Tim, Matt, Sophie and Karenza had another busy day of teaching, but slightly more chaotically so as they were having to work around uniform fitting and worming! Ruth expressed how tough it is to know how much the children are taking in, but was encouraged that they are at least demonstrating different teaching styles to the teachers there, and some of what our team had planned fitted in with what the children have been learning about recently.
It was a busy day for Val, who set up a mobile worming clinic and began to work her way through seeing the children. One class at a time they came to the church hall and waited to hear their names called. It gave Val an opportunity to give the children a closer look and have a minute or two with each one individually – and every child took the (slightly unpleasant) medicine, helped in part by Val’s secret stash of jelly babies!
Sarah was essentially locked in her cave today, deprived of both fresh air and sunlight! She arrived to find a queue of women had already formed and gradually worked her way through them, helped by a Ugandan lady (also called Sarah) who is a nursing student and was able to help translate. Our Sarah helped where she could, but for some women this meant just being listened to, encouraged and some caring love being shown. Later in the day, Sarah met Owen with Clare. Owen is the young lad Reed People previously supplied with a wheelchair, and although she’d never met him before, Sarah could see clear evidence that his mum has been doing her best to do DIY physio at home, and was able to make further suggestions. Owen was full of smiles and laughter, and loved a bounce on Sarah’s physio ball!. Sarah and Clare hope to do a home visit before we leave.
It was a huge day for the students of the school, who were finally furnished with brand new uniforms. From a mismatch of worn clothes, old uniforms and in some cases, rags, the whole school were kitted out in the uniform kindly donated by Greshams School. Suddenly, there was no difference; every child looked the same, and the joy that overflowed from the children as they got changed was contagious. A really special event to have witnessed – and the cuteness level was off the chart!
Ian, Derek, Andy and the two Pastors went out again this morning. The first person they bumped into was a local political leader, who was unhappy that we were in town without having first sought his permission, as is the custom. The Pastors offered apologies and explained our mission, which was accepted. At the end of the discussions, the local leader offered a gift of sugar cane to express a welcome and blessing. The group moved on and came across a group of men drinking some kind of fermented drink, which is both alcoholic but also filling (nutritional value unknown!) and had a grey porridge-like topping…. in any case, Derek shared the gospel with these men, which appeared to be well received.
In the afternoon, our intrepid group were out again, invited to John’s (friend of Reed People) house. Before they knew it, the house had filled with 30 neighbours, and once again they had an opportunity to share the gospel message and invite people to come along to church.
Rachel & Jo started the day meeting a group of local women who had gathered at the church to meet with Joan. We shared our vision of sanitary towels for them as a community and were met with thanks, applause and hugs. We invited them all to our women’s meeting tomorrow – and decided against spending any more time in the village promoting the pads, as we suspect word of mouth has probably done that for us!
The afternoon was incredible. We’d put out a casual mention that we might spend the afternoon teaching women how to sew the sanitary pads (thanks to all the unsewn ones we had left over from our 24hr event) and had over 50 women and girls turn up! All quickly got to grips with how to make them, and there was a lot of clapping and cheering as they were completed. Sophie, Karenza and Rachel had the incredibly difficult job of cuddling babies so their mothers could get on with sewing – tough, but someone had to do it. The 7mth old baby girl Rachel held clearly had a high temperature, so with mum’s permission she took her to see Val, who confirmed there was a fever, and we gave calpol and water and lots of cuddles.
Glorious day, exceeding all our expectations in every way.