Life here at NewstART has been getting into somewhat of a routine and I’m feeling more and more at home every day. The boys are so loving and sweet and I have to remind myself sometimes why they are here and where they have come from. Already some of them are sharing more of their stories with me, and it is shocking to hear some of what they’ve been through in their short lives. I am slowly starting to realize that there are more forgotten, ruined, beautiful people on this earth than I ever imagined existed. This gives me more reason to care for the people that I come into contact with, instead of always looking for the next big project that I can get involved in.
Last week, Amelia was here (from the US), and we had 5 days of art camp with the boys. They really enjoyed it, and we were able to use a lot of the art supplies that people donated. Many of their drawings and paintings will be sold at a traveling art show in the US to raise money for the project. The boys were excited to be able to participate in some of the fundraising efforts. We worked with a variety of materials and media, and some of the projects went over really well! It was wonderful to see the boys take pride in their work and really focus on getting the pieces done nicely. Other ideas I had that I thought would be really successful were difficult for the boys to understand—they are used to copying things or very specific instructions to make something—there is not a lot of creativity or independent thinking in their education. One of the things I have decided to focus on while I’m here is to help them become more free and expressive in their art.
Starting next Monday, I will be facilitating a music camp with the boys. I plan on teaching them some new songs; helping them with some basic music skills (they each have a glockenspiel, so we will see what happens with that!); creating some kind of choreographed drum routine using jerry cans, pots, etc; and doing an activity to combine art and music with a focus on creative expression. I think it will be a great week, and the boys are all really talented, so I’m sure it won’t be difficult to teach music to this group! Probably very different from the kids I teach in davidson, nc.
Every day here is an adventure. I’ve never been afraid of cows, but last week, Amelia and I were walking down a dirt road and this herd of long-horned cattle was coming towards us. Suddenly, one of the bulls (with 3-foot horns) charged at us. We ducked into the bushes and thankfully avoided getting impaled. Later that same day, we were on the back of a boda cruising along a bumpy road and hanging on to each other to keep from falling off, when we were faced with a truck heading straight for us! Our boda driver had to swerve into the ditch to avoid being hit. It was a very close call. We also took a trip into Kampala…something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone unless you’re a thrill-seeker with a boring life. It was absolute chaos and more than a little frightening. There are armed police everywhere, and at one point we saw what looked like a bomb squad of at least 50 piling into the back of a huge truck. Apparently, since the bus bombing in December, security has been much more strict and they are screening people for bombs every time you go into a grocery store, restaurant, or even church. I guess it’s a good thing, but it was somewhat disconcerting. Probably the most traumatic part of that day was crossing the streets. The vehicles don’t stop for pedestrians so you have to make a run for it! Just when it looks like the street is clear, a boda will come out of nowhere and scare the crap out of you…it sure makes me appreciate the traffic rules back home.
I have a new appreciation for running water (now that I’m living without it). Hauling water in jerry cans and washing clothes in small basins of cold water is no small task. Bathing also takes a lot of skill. But I won’t go into detail on that one. There is electricity here, but no refrigerator and we have frequent blackouts (almost daily). The boys love their new headlamps…now they can see what they are cooking outside! We usually eat after 9pm so it’s dark the whole time they are preparing dinner. I’m getting used to the food— we have rice, potatoes, chapati (kind of like tortillas) or posho (white, globby, tasteless starch) for every meal…sometimes with beans or cabbage or the occasional chunk of meat. We very fortunate to have fresh fruit most days (pineapple, mango, bananas or jack fruit), which is incredibly tasty!! The bugs here are huge. I am still not used to coming into my room at night and feeling like an intruder on a cockroach party. It’s slightly terrifying how many of them there are. And there are ants, spiders, lizards and of course mosquitos…but I am trying to embrace them as part of my new life here. Now that I’m the only “mzungu” here, the boys have reverted to speaking mostly Luganda…by the end of the day, my head hurts from trying to follow conversations in a language I have NO clue how to speak. I have learned a few basic words and phrases, but I don’t think this is a language I could learn in a few months. It is definitely isolating to be surrounded by people speaking a different language, and makes me think of my little guys with autism back in charlotte and how they must feel when they are bombarded with too much sensory input and a world that they do not understand. I miss them!
There are some aspects of life here that I’m still struggling to adjust to…my daily routine has been shaken to its core, and I’m definitely out of my comfort zone. but I’m alive, I’m okay, I’m being sustained, I have somewhere to sleep, I’m meeting amazing people and having an incredible experience. My own ideas and expectations tend to make me deaf to hearing God’s will. I think it is important to just lay them down and listen… to leave the next move entirely up to God. I pray that God will have His way, grow me as He sees fit, and show me what He wants me to see. I wouldn’t want to miss out on all of this just so i could have a hot shower or a refrigerator full of food. There is contentment in letting go of comfort.