With the building material for a large open air pavilion, bathrooms and caretakers room sailing across the ocean, the team in Uganda is busy completing a concrete slab for the addition. This building will serve as a dining area for the children so they can all eat together. This seems like a small matter but think about the things that happen at the dinner table. It is a time for families to discuss their day, share concerns and fears. It’s a time to be excited about accomplishments and console each other for failures. It’s the time we make sure our children are eating well and feeling OK. It’s when we teach our children lessons of life and have our family devotions. It's the time we are most like a family.
Living in a residential orphanage is not an ideal situation, if it were possible all of the children would be in some kind of foster care or extended family situation. For most of the children at Nkumba that is simply not possible. The next best option is to live in a residential facility that is run like a family. Our staff is all volunteer, spending time with the children because of their concern for them.
We have encouraged the older children to assume the role as older brother or sister and they have taken on the role with gusto. The oldest boy, Jumba (really a young man at 22) is a part time student at Nkumba University, he spends the rest of his day chasing after little ones, getting them to school on time, rounding them up for supper and making sure they are all in, come bedtime. Jumba is about 7 foot tall and it is quit a sight to see him shepherding the preschool children around.
The bathrooms and showers will greatly improve sanitation and alleviate the inconvenience of having the children cross the busy road to use the restroom at the school. When it is complete the girls will be able to take up residence in the room built for them and leave the crowded school dorm.
The orphanage is built on Nkumba Presbyterian Church’s property about 100 yards away, the church is growing so fast the adults are worshiping in the sanctuary and the children outside under the trees. During the rainy seasons this is often a problem. The pavilion will double as a church building on Sunday, providing a place for the children out of the sun or rain. The church desperately needs improved toilet facilities, can you imagine a church of more than 400 people equipped with only a two hole outhouse out back.
Lansing Christian School choose Nkumba Home as their spring mission project, raising money for the construction of a security fence around the orphanage, something we have needed for a long time. The road in front of the orphanage is really only a lane and a half dirt track, but it leads to a landing on Lake Victoria where fish and other products arrive from the islands. It is busy and dangerous. The fence will keep the kids from crossing the road other than at the marked crossing. The fence will also keep people out, 40 children in one place also means large stores of food as well as other valuables, theft is a reality.
Finally, abductions still occur in Uganda , not far from Nkumba is an idol temple and sacrifices, though rare, still happen. That many children, especially young girls, creates a target. The children at Lansing Christian were unbelievable. Are hope was to raise $2500, enough to complete the fence. By the end of the next week they had almost $6000. The fence is a necessity, the additional money is enough to build a proper kitchen, so two weeks ago the foundations were started for a proper kitchen. The children at Nkumba can’t comprehend how a school full of children could be so generous, but they are grateful.
School has just completed and all of the children have done quit well. Two of our boys are in their upper teens, but have never finished 3rd grade. They have been apprenticed to a couple of builders from the church learning a trade and taking some remedial classes to learn basic math and reading. Some day we hope to have a trade school to serve all the orphanages.
Many of the children contracted malaria last month, it’s common right after the rainy season. Africans are good at detecting and treating malaria and all of the children are back in good health.
The banana orchard planted last year at the home is starting to bear fruit, in Uganda it’s not really a meal unless you have Matoki (boiled bananas, yea it’s an acquired taste). For the children it’s a real treat and the additional fruit is a cash crop that can be sold. We bought a bunch of little goats awhile back and they are getting fat. Most exciting, we have purchased two cows, cross bred Frisian and African Acholi. They are both pregnant which means two more calves and two fresh cows that will give lots of milk.