Uganda – Sponsor Day

23 12 2013

It’s been a busy month, coming to the end of these blogs now, I’ll try to finish them before the end of the year – here’s the Saturday!

For the sponsors on this trip, this really was the big day of the week – the day they met their sponsored children. Some of them met one, some met two or even more. Some had met before, for some it was the first time. For some of them their child was about to finish the programme, and so for them it may be the last time.

We got on the bus and headed to the amusement park. This wasn’t any Thorpe Park, but a small, slightly run down ground with dodgems, a couple of water slides, a pirate ship, teacups, and a few other little rides, along with face painting and other fun little things, and everything painted in bright, happy colours!

As we drove up to the park entrance there was a line of children, all singing and dancing, with their project workers who’d travelled with them from all over the country stood behind them. We parked up, got out and enjoyed the entertainment. Then joined in as they sang songs we knew.

Then it got emotional! With the children in their line, the sponsors formed a line opposite, and one by one, Lillian read out names and the sponsor and child would run into the middle, hug, and cry! As I wasn’t meeting my child that day, I borrowed one of the sponsors’ nice cameras and took photos at rapid speed as they spun around! Once we’d gone through a few though, I got pretty upset. I wanted to see my little boy who’s in Tanzania. I kept taking photos, even though there were tears running down my cheeks!

On the Tuesday we had been to Prisca’s home, who was sponsored by Patricia from our group, and so she was there again that day, and what’s more, her project worker Robinah remembered me from when we had visited on the Tuesday, saw me upset, took my hand, and took me over to the three of them. Patti asked what was wrong and I said “I’m just being selfish and jealous, don’t worry!” They let me hang out with them, but I knew it was their time, so once I’d sorted myself out I left them to it.

We entered the park and each group of sponsor, child(ren) and project worker(s) sat at a table and went through a folder full of all of the information the project holds on the children. School information, health information, all sorts! So lots of time was spent leafing through them, and chatting, getting to know one another. I went round taking a few photos while they did this, (and met a stunning stray kitten), and then went to sit with JoAnn and Jennifer, the American staff – they were my “family” for the day!

Everyone headed off to rides and I carried on wandering and taking photos – little did I realise I was getting sunburnt! I saw Jocelyn and her sponsored child were going on the pirate ship and decided to go on with them. This wasn’t quite like a UK theme park ride – the rail we pulled down to keep us in was still nearly a foot from my lap! It was just as scary though, and went on to ages, which her sponsored child did not enjoy at all. Of course, she’d’ve never experienced anything like it before! We just kept telling her it was ok and that it’d be over soon, and eventually it was, but she didn’t feel well and lay down for quite a while afterwards.

We went into a room for lunch in our “families” again, I had chicken, beef and rice 🙂 Then after a couple of children sampled ice cream, we took them back to the hotel on our buses. The kids and project workers came down to the field by the lake, and the sponsors went back to their rooms to collect their bags of gifts. Justus who was one of the kids hung out with me, it was nice to have the company, I think he knew I was alone, it’s amazing how intuitive kids are – plus he had his face painted like batman! He and a couple of other kids had been given cameras for the day so I also got him to take a photo on mine 🙂 I also had a lovely chat with one of the project workers who actually happened to be the church leader, Pastor Samuel.

The goodbyes were tough on the sponsors. I had a packet of tissues in my bag so just went round handing them out as needed, along with occasional hugs etc. When Prisca got on the bus I just took Patti’s hand, she’d had the privilege of seeing her child twice that week, had spent much more time with her, and so I guess the goodbye was a little tougher.

This day was particularly difficult because I didn’t get to say hello to my sponsored child, Hamad, in the morning. But it did mean I didn’t have to say goodbye at the end.

We went to the hotel restaurant for dinner and as it was the last night I decided it was safe to sample the Asian menu! The hotel was owned by Indians, so I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala and it was fantastic! 🙂 I decided to only have half as it was so rich, and I’d had so much plain food all week, I didn’t want to make myself sick! That said, to get to the point where I was choosing not to eat where I would have expected to struggle to eat, this was a great step forward!

We had a debrief and a group photo (which I need to find actually!), packed and went to bed.

That night I wrote in my diary:

“I never thought I’d get to the point where I didn’t want to leave this place, but it’s happened. I’ve had the most incredible week.
We have seen the end result of Compassion!”