... Living inspired by the beauty of life, one post at a time.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Watoto - Raising Future Leaders

Jet lag has set in and I am awake at 3a.m. It is so good to be home with my beautiful children though. Nineteen days away was such a long time, rewarding, challenging and a dream come true. Strange though how the days fly by but at the same time it feels like such an eternity. So much living and expectation crammed into a few short days, wow! What a beautiful moment to see the happy faces of my children at the airport, so full of excitement and delight. A few hours later and we were all back to normal. Children have a way of bringing you straight back to reality. I get to do the rest of my life with these exceptional people, growing their hearts, expanding their perspectives, and guiding their decisions and loving them for the rest of my life. My heart is full, so so full. More than ever I am so very aware of the preciousness of life. What a gift! I have gone more than half way around the world and experienced an avalanche of thoughts, feelings and emotions and learnt that dreams really do come true. 

Watoto is an exceptional model of hope, raising the next generation of Ugandans as future leaders. They do an outstanding job of rescuing, raising and rebuilding a nation. It was such an honour to have witnessed hope in action. If you ever get the chance to volunteer, go for it. It will change you forever, I will never be the same.


My heart has enlarged and my soul is open wide
a moment in time

I hoped to be the change.... but I am forever changed
Sunrise over Africa

 Truly so much to be thankful for - Thank you Africa, I will never be the same.

For more adventures from Africa click on the Watoto label.

Check out the 'Living Hope' program here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Safari in the Pearl of Africa

    A long drive across Northern Uganda and we finally made it to this breathtaking wide, open space. So worth it to experience this little bit of paradise situated along the Nile river. Bordering the Congo, this  vast grassland stretches as far as the eye can see.  An African savannah teaming with wildlife.

    It was Winston Churchill, at the beginning of the century, who said "...for magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life - plant, bird, insect, reptile, beast - for the vast scale... Uganda is truly "the pearl of Africa".
    Uganda, in the heart of East Africa, is full of the wonders of nature. With landscapes ranging from snowcapped peaks, through broad savannah and tropical rainforests to arid deserts, as well as significant wetlands, Uganda is undoubtedly a special place.
    Nestling in the western arm of the African Rift Valley , Uganda has flora and fauna species found in both East and West Africa, as well as an amazing range of its own endemic species.
      Source - http://www.safariweb.com/uganda/attract.html
    Parra Safari Lodge - Jewel of the Nile

Living Hope - Gulu

Women and young girls are the most marginalised and wounded people in Uganda and so many have been left abandoned or widowed due to rebel armies and the HIV+ virus. The LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) has left an oppressive and dark cloud over Northern Uganda. So many destitute women and countless orphans have been caught up in unimaginable horrors. It is hard to comprehend and difficult to understand that hundreds and thousands of women and children can be abducted by a rebel army and only a few short years ago.
'Living Hope' peanut butter

Some of the girls

Cheeky grin ... love that children are welcome alongside the working mums.
the sewing room...making merchandise....supporting women.
Uganda is a country so desperately needing hope, education, justice and dignity. The 'Living Hope' project is doing just that by transforming the lives of so many vulnerable women. 
Watoto is rescuing, raising and rebuilding a nation by making a difference in this region. Living Hope provides opportunity for local women to learn new skills and the women are better equipped to contribute purposefully to their society. A number of different products (like clothing, jewellery and peanut butter) are made on sight to help the project become self sustainable. The dark cloud is moving and bright rays of sunshine are filtering through and warming the earth once again. Life is blooming in this beautiful part of the world. It has already restored dignity and hope to so many women - an estimated 1200 women in Kampala and 900 women in Gulu.

Gulu Children's Village

Beautiful smiles
Beautiful children - always ready to smile.
Jumping rope with the children from Gulu
Children finding hope

Gulu in Northern Uganda has faced much heartache over the last few years but is finally finding peace. Since the rebel army (the LRA) have moved out of Uganda much has changed. Life is being restored. Peace has also brought a lot of help from the International community in terms of Non-Government Organisations like Watoto. These NGOs are helping the community in various ways by providing food, medical help and rehabilitation centres for formerly abducted children. The NGOs have also created many jobs, changing lives and making a difference.

Land to still be built on 
The village is in the process of being developed

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Watoto Accommodation

Garden view

We were pleasantly surprised by the comfort provided at our guest home. The compound is small but comfortable with neatly manicured gardens and a security guard on duty at all times. Enormous gates keep us safe and well protected.

The staff are just beautiful and so hospitable. The rooms are airy, light and relaxing, with mosquito nets covering each bed. Our beds are made daily and the food is exceptional. We even have proper toilets, hot water (although only a trickle), cooked breakfasts and delicious dinners (pancakes for breakfast and lasagne, bolognese and fish n chips for dinner :). Outside the compound walls life is very different......so the contrasts are blatantly obvious. However the face of Uganda is slowly changing. I love what Watoto is doing in raising the next generation of Ugandan leaders to impact this nation. Lives are being transformed. It has been such a delightful experience.

Front entryway

Verandah for rest and relaxation

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bbira Children's Village

Entry to Bbira Children's Village
Kids just delighted to be holding hands!!!
Was lost for words and completely overwhelmed. I held hands with little people, who were so delighted to hang on to the Mzunga - 'white person'.

Mama Rosa - words of wisdom ... truly an amazing woman.
Inspired by humility, dignity and grace.

Signs of value and worth, it says "Build Self Confidence"
I was in awe! 
Loving the signs planted around the school
 inspiring hope, purpose and dignity.

Beautiful Anneliese ... the smile says it all.

A very happy day. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Watoto Church

Watoto Church is a vibrant, colourful place with a sea of smiling faces. We had to line up to get in and had our bags checked prior to entry (bomb check). They have four campuses in Kampala alone and four morning services. There are also campuses in Subbi, Bbira and Gulu. The music felt just like being at home. Truly Amazing. We were welcomed with open arms. Located in the heart of Kampala and standing as a beacon of hope in Uganda, it is positioned well to influence and bring about change to Uganda's people. Love this thought by Gary Skinner " I have a dream that injustice will roll back like the morning sun."  I stood their feeling completely overwhelmed and grateful to be here. Thank you everyone who helped make this possible.

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