UPDATE July 2009
June 24 to July 7 fifteen of us were in Uganda, Africa, visiting our school as well as visiting a women's cooperative and taking a short safari!
As always, there is always a mix of emotions and activities that go with a trip like this but here are the highlights.
The Continental check in at Newark was a breeze, thanks to the efforts of two wonderful women! Michele and I have sent a thank you note to Continental, commending them on their performance.
The Continental/Brussels connection worked well too. I think we have found a winning combination!
We visited Tekerah where Bruce and Brigitte Daley have their school, organic farm and women's cooperative. The women were delightful and I'm sure our group helped with all their purchases from the store! Beautiful baskets, Christmas decorations, earrings, mattes, nativity sets ... the list goes on and on. We got many good ideas for a possible women's cooperative at Mbiriizi.
Saturday was equator and drum factory day. Tony got to have his chapatti chips and guacamole and we all had an opportunity to buy some beautiful original African art.
Sunday we went to church and presented the church with a spectacular quilt hanging for their sanctuary. Made by Judy Antisell and Lynn Liebenow from the quilt pieces drawn by the children in 2007, they fashioned one for the church and one for the school. They measure 48" across and 60" high ... spectacular. We then came back to the Hotel Zebra and all had lunch together.
And, Hotel Zebra will be our regular hotel from now on. What wonderful owners and staff. We had an impromptu drum concert on Wednesday night (staff and guests) and then lots of drumming, singing and dancing from staff and guests and others. A sheer delight.
The one disappointment at the school was the unfinished teachers' housing. We were building a ten unit facility so the teachers could live on campus to protect the children from the rash of arson attacks taking place on schools in Uganda. We started it because we had a promise of $18,000 over three years from a couple who backed out of their gentleman's agreement just a few days before we left. We desperately need to finish this housing, so if you know of anyone who would like to sponsor this please let us know.
Monday through Friday we were at the school. Monday we gave each child (1,000+) a new pair of CROCS and a new pair of socks. Billie, who had been our guide in December, took the bus down from Kampala to help! Tuesday we took 16 children by bus to the Masaka clinic to have a blood test to confirm if they had syphilis or malaria. They all came back negative! :) Wednesday a young man came in with second and third degree burns and the medical people on the trip did a wonderful job of treating him. He never cried! Thursday a quick trip to hospital for Abraham (the burned young man) to make sure he was ok and would get better ... which he will. Our nurse and nurse practitioners did a great job. Friday was performance day with Jeroen, assisted by Eileen, directing 1,000 children in a performance of American music presented by African children. Quite a spectacle. In the afternoon we fed the children and then had a farewell ceremony. They made special African robes for us so the finale was quite spectacular (and, of course, sad.)
Had a wonderful demo of African life and crafts in the square at the school. They showed us how they grind millet, brew leaves for an herbal cold remedy, make Matoke and then a fabulous array of beaded jewelry, woven mattes and purses, beads for life and more that we could take back with us to sell for the benefit of the children.
We currently have 236 orphans at the school with 98 of the boys in the dormitory and 89 of the girls with the balance living with guardians. Only 80 are sponsored so we really need to get more children sponsored. Only $1.00 a day feeds, clothes, educates and houses them ... let me know if you would like to be a sponsor.
The trip ended with a L-O-N-G bus ride to Paraa Lodge in northern Uganda where we saw spectacular giraffes and tons of other wildlife ... hippos, water buffalo, fishing eagles, African buck ... the list could go on and on.
The next trip is November 26 through December 3 and the cost will be $2,500 as we do not do a safari on this trip. The trip is totally dedicated to providing a Christmas party for the children. My church is currently doing a Christmas in July fundraiser (Holmdel Community United Church of Christ) and a school in Wayne is doing fundraising in the fall so we should be able to provide each child with a Christmas "bag" filled with goodies.
Lastly, if any of you love cycling, the church is holding a Century of Hope Bike Tour Saturday, September 19, starting at 8 am. With a choice of 4, 25 and 100 mile routes there is something for everyone. It is a wonderful effort by two choir members, Howard Kradjel and Don Pope.
Thanks for your interest in Sylvia's Children and for caring about those less fortunate that us.
So who is Sylvia's
Sylvia’s Children is a
501(c)3, family-run charity with Sylvia Allen, founder, as President and her
two children, Michele and Tony Costa, serving as
trustees. 100% of the donations go to the school. Administration costs are
absorbed by Allen Consulting so your donation is 100% tax