Monday, July 9, 2007

From Laura Westover

Uganda is getting better and better by the day. I am finally finding things
I am interested in and I am going to make them work out. I went to the
Special Needs School again this morning and met the most impressive man.
His name is James and he is the head of Hand-in-Hand Uganda. His organization
funds the school and he wanted to show us some more of what they work on.
He drove us to a plot of land where they are building a two story building that
is going to be dormitories, offices, and a school all for kids with disabilities. They are also building a clinic next door where people can get health care and medicine for free until they can get back on their feet. He said that they sponsor kids and then expect them to give back to the community. He himself is a beneficiary of the program. They took him off the streets, sponsored him through secondary and university, and now he is a
successful lawyer in Kampala who volunteers his time to be the chairman of this corporation. They are doing some really cool stuff. I am going to get
involved helping them do home visits to the kids who cannot come to school
because of physical limitations and teaching awareness classes to the community. Having a child with a disability in Uganda is considered a curse
from God. They are often abandoned and those who are not are neglected and
never educated. It is a huge problem. He wants me to get involved possibly
teaching their parents that they are intelligent and as human beings deserve
an education. I am looking forward to it.
Even without that cool meeting, Special Needs (from now on SNS)
was a blast. I busted out the parachute today and they *loved *it. I just
love those kids. Viola is a young teenager with a learning disability who
is so sweet. She is smart too and I love teaching her primary songs. Rose
and Edith are two adorable deaf girls who always come laughing and running
down the street to get me when they see me appear around the corner in the
mornings. Shafic is a little rascal who can speak but only does when he
feels like it. He loves repeat songs and dancing but gets sheepish if you
pay too much attention to him while he is doing it. I am still trying to
figure out Stephen because he is much older and higher functioning than the
rest of the kids and I can't ever figure out if he is having fun or not.
Bruno is an adorable snoog who walks with the tiniest crutches I have ever
seen. Well, I should say he is supposed to walk with crutches but he refuses. He is so
determined to be like the other kids and is always trying to play hopscotch and dance with us but I constantly have to grab him to keep him upright. I will never forget the first time I saw Jonah. He is very disabled mentally and is just always smiling. And the cutest part I saved for last—he is cross eyed. I seriously died the first time I saw him.
There are more that I am not as close with yet but I am learning. I will write
more as I learn more.
Today I also made contact with the other special ed school in
Mukono. There are 240 disabled kids there!!! I was shocked by how many
there were. It is a school of 800 with a huge disability program. I am
going to try to get a lot of volunteers involved in the afternoons when
there is less going on. They really want us to play games for PE and art
projects. The headmaster was the most delightful man I have met so far.
I told him that I was interested in helping out with the disabled kids, he
grabbed my hand and then raised them both up to Heaven and said, "Oh thank
you God for this girl." He was so grateful. I love finding people who
appreciate our efforts and don't just ask for money. I hope I can get the
volunteers to get more involved. They would all love it if they just gave
it a chance. I think they are just scared by people with disabilities.

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