Last Day March 15, 2018 Uganda

I’m sitting in the Brussels airport waiting for my next flight, which will take me to DC. I’ve been without Internet for a couple of days so I’ll try to recap my last adventures here.

It took us 13 plus hours to drive from Nairobi, Kenya to Jinja, Uganda the other night. Yep, we got lost and there are almost no roads signs anywhere so we stopped often to ask directions which took us on many back roads, most of which were pot holed and took hours to navigate. The good part was that we ended up in tea plantations planted on the sides of steep hills. These fields look like checkerboards of bright green. There are narrow paths running vertically and horizontally throughout so that people can walk and work with the plants. I have an image engraved in my mind of a little boy skipping down one of those paths with his arms waving above him. It looked like pure joy to me. We wouldn’t have seen any of this if we’d taken the “right” route.

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We never did find fleece in Nairobi or many of the other things we had hoped to source but we learned a lot and will do it differently next time.

Yesterday, my last day in Uganda, was suppose to be our day off. Phoebe and I had imagined a slow, do-nothing day but boy were we wrong. The cool thing is that neither of us ever felt rushed. The day unfolded with astonishing experiences landing in our lap with no effort at all. We joked that perhaps this extreme planning thing is for the birds.

Our dear driver, Yasin, came to say goodbye and while doing so he mentioned that the woman in his car that he was taking to a meeting also makes reusable menstrual pads. (Really, what are the chances!) So we had to talk with her. She was delightful, shared all sorts of information and exchanged contact info with us. Phoebe will go to an International Menstrual Management meeting with her and work on how we can partner in some other ways. She was so excited that our pads can be worn without underwear, which has been something she has been perplexed about.

We next found out that the Newspaper story about our trip to Pallisa was in two papers that day so we bought several copies and headed for a just then confirmed meeting with a Rotary Club. We sat with several Rotarians who were so excited about our project and want to work with us to expand it in Uganda. They presented me with a fabric hanging with the Rotary emblem on it and took tons of pictures. I joked that I felt like a rock star with all the cameras aimed at me. I’ve been looking for a Ugandan Rotary Club for 4 years and this one looks to be perfect. By the way, when we showed up for that meeting our friends Jane, Emma and Juliet from Pallisa were there too. They wanted to tell the Rotarians how much they believe in The MoonCatcher Project. AND we had the newspaper articles to show them. Talk about synchronicity. This was unbelievable.

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Day last Rotary.jpg

Last but not least, Father Francis called to say he wanted to drive us to the airport. This not only gave me time with him but also relived Phoebe of more driving. On the way to Entebbe we stopped at his school there and saw the new bathrooms that we had discussed with him last year. With a couple of small tweaks they will be great for the girls.

Dinner, repacking some things and dropping me at the airport ended the day. Thanks to Tony, my new ticket has been perfect and I’m on my way home.

Good-bye and thank you Uganda!

Day 16 March 12, 2018 Kenya

It takes six plus hours to drive from Kisumu to Nairobi through the most glorious landscape imaginable. The first part of the trip was flat as a pancake and we wondered how people dealt with all the rain that Kenya gets. Jackie says that some people just vacate their houses for the downpours.

After a while it all becomes hilly and then mountainous. The trees keep changing with the different altitudes and I fell in love with one variety called something like Bongo Bongo. It’s darker than all the others and lifts numerous arms skyward as though talking to the heavens.

Best of all we saw zebras, giraffe, antelope and camels in the wild. I declared the day a success right then and there and we hadn’t even gotten to Nairobi for our real business.

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Our hero of a driver Yasin was thrilled to see fancy cars on the road and would enthusiastically exclaim, “Look at that Chevrolet! That’s a nice ride”. His favorite was a sky blue Jaguar that we just went ahead and added to our list of animals, much to his amusement and perhaps dismay as well.

We got to Nairobi later than we had hoped. Jackie couldn’t figure out where we were and her phone calls to her sister didn’t help much. We finally worked it out, ran into as many fabric shops as possible and got a few things taken care of. Tomorrow morning we’ll visit a place that we’ve been told has fleece after which we’ll leave to drive back to Uganda.

We ate dinner at our hotel and laughed as our meals were completely mixed up. I got Jackie’s Matoki and Yasin got my Ugali. Phoebe got garlic tea instead of ginger and Jackie got roast chicken as well as another friend’s fried chicken. It was crazy but we sorted it out and added it to another wonderful day to remember and giggle about.

Day 15 March 11, 2018 Kenya

We left Uganda this morning for our trip to Kenya. The drive was really beautiful with lots of changing landscape and plenty of people and small towns along the way. It took a while to get over the border because of the supplies we brought to Jackie. We got taxed for all of it and charged for Kenyan insurance too. Oh well!

Jackie is the “Phoebe” of Kenya. She is a bold, enthusiastic and charming woman with lots of energy. She supports three children, all boys, and has taken in a neighborhood girl who has lost both of her parents. I find her delightful. We went to see the sewing cooperative that she has started. It’s in a row of other little shops and as we visited with Jackie people stopped by to say hello and express welcome to us. It’s a busy friendly place.

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After seeing the sewing shop we were invited to Jackie’s home. I’m always interested in how other people live so was excited to accept this invitation. Jackie and her boys little in a sweet little house nestled in amongst others in a small village. We sat in her living room as rain came thundering down so loud on the tin roof that we really couldn’t talk for most of the time. That was ok though because Jackie handed us her wedding album to go through and her little boys pointed at pictures of themselves and their mother. Pretty cute.

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When the rain let up we headed back to Kisumu, got stuck in the mud twice, pushed the car out and got back to our hotel for dinner and an early night. No water in the shower but a bit in the sink so that will have to do. Kenya is more developed in many ways. It has beautiful mountains and rolling terrain. We could see lake Victoria from the road now and then. The vegetation feels different from Uganda in some ways and the houses look more modern.

Day 14 March 10, 2018 Uganda

We got to hang out at our hotel, The Nile, until 10:00 today. It’s always kind of fun to have a chance to get caught up on emails, laundry and that sort of thing.

At 10:00 we left for Bosoga School to meet Tabitha in her sewing room. Milly, my sponsor girl, met us there and we spent 3 hours helping Tabitha make MoonCatcher kits. Milly and I sat next to each other putting cording in the drawstring bags and chatting about life. We also helped do some cutting of the fleece. She’s such a darling and a joy to be around. Her school allowed her time off to visit with me.

After a lunch of porsha, sweet potato, beans and cabbage Milly went back to school. We went to meet with the Warika Women’s craft co-operative to buy some goods from them to sell at MoonBees. It’s always fun to support these women and see what they have to sell.

Tabitha, Phoebe and I went off to buy thread and seam rippers for two of our guilds. Next, a stop at the bank, made us feel ready for our trip to Kenya tomorrow.

Back at the Nile we packed and repacked out duffels making sure that we were organized for both the Kenya trip and my return to the States. My there seems to be a lot of baskets!

 Millie

Millie

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Day 13 March 9, 2018 Uganda

We woke up in Pallisa today. I sat outside in the front garden drinking my tea waiting for Phoebe and Yasin to join me for breakfast. It was so peaceful watching the birds and listening to the sounds of Uganda.

We visited three schools today. We taught our curriculum and handed out pads to over 300 girls. Each class was so different. In one the girls competed for a chance to answer questions and ask about personal concerns while in the next we could get anyone to make a peep. Phoebe did her magic and worked the crowd getting at least some nods and smiles. She was our model for the day since she had pants on and the rest of us didn’t. She stood on a chair to be visible to the whole crowded room and that at least always brings lots of laughter and commotion.

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Jane treated us to a yummy late lunch back at Woman of Purpose headquarters followed by a short ceremony to present Kevan, the top student in the tailoring program, with a brand new sewing machine. This girl was so happy and gracious.

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At 5:00, after hugs and handshakes all around, we left for Jinja and pulled into our hotel parking lot well after dark, we were tired, sticky and happy for another successful day.

Day 12 Uganda March 8, 2018

The rain had stopped during the night and we woke to a brilliant, crisp, blue skied day. Perfect, for our drive to Pallisa. Yasin, our driver and old friend, showed up right on time and off we went.

I love that drive because it takes us out of cities and into the beautiful Ugandan countryside. We pass tea fields, sugarcane, and papyrus. We saw cassava drying by the side of the road and huge bags of charcoal waiting to be sold. My favorite little round houses are everywhere with their grass roofs looking like grass skirted girls twirling under groves of mango trees.

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Yasin stopped at a “rest stop” where he bought us piping hot roasted bananas of a variety that I’ve never had. They aren’t plantains and yet are just the right amount of sweet and savory all together. Yum! Later he shared pancakes made from cassava flour and sugar and the size of a cookie. Another tasty treat!

Jane from Woman of Purpose met us at her home and together we drove to the sewing guild. A program had been prepared for us that included singing, dancing and, my favorite, a skit about The MoonCatcher Project, performed by a dozen students [male and female]. The storyline was about a young girl being teased for having a stained skirt and leaving school because she felt so bad. The teacher talks to the class about the harm in acting this way and some students go to get the girl and bring her back to class. In the end, all the girls in the “class” get a MoonCatcher kit. What fun for us to watch this.

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Phoebe and I spent a good part of the afternoon working on sewing machines. Boy, did I miss Meredith, our machine whisperer, but in the end, we figured out how to thread an old Juki and fix the belt on another brand. We laughed a lot and talked about hanging out our shingle saying Phoebe and Ellie – sewing machine repair!

We ended the day with a short ride down the road to Lake Kyoga where we had an impromptu boat ride and got to climb some incredible rock formations too. We fell into bed at Jane’s lovely guesthouse. It was a wonderful and productive day.

 

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March 7, 2018 Day 11 Uganda

It was a slow start this morning. We sat outside and had breakfast on one of the new tables set out on the patio. We eventually left to meet up with the women from The Begembe Women’s Resource Center. This is the site of another of our sewing guilds and it is financed by African Orphans Educational Trust (AOET).  AOET partners with The MoonCatcher Project to sew kits and deliver them to the schools that AOET supports. It’s a wonderful connection filled with people that have become special friends. (See photo at the end of this post.)

We spent a fair amount of time in the room that houses the cooperative and worked with the sewers [tailors, they say here] fine tuning their work. They asked for a group photo, which I was happy to take and will print and frame for them to hang in that room.

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Next we headed for downtown Jinja. We started at The Giving Circle Africa (TGCA) office where we found Emma who kindly walked us to “Peter’s Place”. This is a nice crafts store that is generous to TGCA so we try to support it when we are in town. Phoebe and I choose baskets, necklaces, earrings and other pretty things to bring back for sale at our MoonBees and fundraising events. Emma kindly waited for us to complete our purchases and then carried them back to the office for us to gather up later. Phoebe and I went on to visit other shops and added to what we found at Peter’s Place. Oops! I forgot to take pictures though we did talk about it. We were just too busy trying to stay focused and get the job done.

Here’s a cool one of Phoebe’s beautiful hands.

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The day ended with a terrific thunderstorm with lighting and the most ear splitting noise I’ve ever heard. It was great. Off to Pallisa tomorrow.

 Friends from AOET with Phoebe.

Friends from AOET with Phoebe.

March 6, 2018 Day 10 Uganda

Today we drove to Jinja. Phoebe and I are sitting in the dining room of the Nile Hotel waiting for dinner. The red wine has gone to vinegar so I’m having my first Nile beer of this year’s trip. Phoebe is drinking tea as she feels cold. I’m in a tee shirt thinking about the snow that I hear is falling back in New York.

We met our old friends Moses, Tabitha, Rose, and Elizabeth at the Bosoga Junior School this afternoon.  It’s always so sweet to see people here who we’ve formed such strong connections with.

 Elizabeth, Rose and Moses

Elizabeth, Rose and Moses

We spent the next few hours doing some of the work that we had scheduled. I saw my little friend Kaddu who is deaf and has spina bifida. I have been seeing him for 3 years now and he always greets me with the biggest smile. We had so much fun today. His sponsor mother, my dear friend Helen from back home, had sent Kaddu flying whirligigs that light up and are sent airborne by a sling shot. Once Kaddu got the hang of it he cracked up and wanted to do it again and again. I also gave him some diaper covers that Helen had made. She and her husband Don are making him a tray to slide over his wheelchair so that he will have a writing surface. I measured the chair and took pictures to bring back to them.

 Kaddu and Ellie

Kaddu and Ellie

Phoebe and I spent some time helping Tabitha with some MoonCatcher sewing and we will return Saturday to do more of this. Tabitha runs one of Uganda sewing Guilds and we were happy to meet with her and see how it is doing. She supplies our MoonCatcher kits to five schools in the area and teaches our curriculum as well.

We delivered birthing kits to Elizabeth, the midwife here, along with some stickers to give to children who also come to her for medical help.

What a delight to see the changes at Bosoga School. The children were happy to see us and, like all the other kids we’ve met, wanted their pictures taken. We were happy to oblige.

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March 5, 2018 Day 9 Uganda

What a day! Phoebe, our friend Enid and I went to Kampala to buy supplies for two of the sewing guilds that we will be visiting this week. I expected it to rain but for some reason it never did though it threatened to all day. Thank goodness. We bought well over 100 yards of fabric and it would have been a nightmare if we were carting it around in the rain.

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We also bought an overlock machine. (An overlock is a kind of stitch that sews over the edge of one or two pieces of cloth for edging, hemming, or seaming.)  Maureen had the one we bought in the states all packed and ready to go, but when she came down with the flu we decided to use that one for our cooperative Malawi that we will visit next month.

It was interesting working with the machine guys getting the overlock up and running. I think they were a little amazed that I knew so much about it. I just wanted to be sure that it would be understandable to our tailor in Kenya so I made sure every detail was attended to. It constantly amazes me that all the work I did in my father’s factory comes in so handy as I do this work. Thank you Dad!

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Buying fabric was fun even though it was a million degrees in those little shops. It was a blast to pick out fabrics that we thought girls would like and to find some pieces to sell at MoonBees. The stores are so colorful and the stacks of materials so alluring. It’s hard to decide which ones to choose.

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We brought shoelaces, velcro, elastic, threads and a ton of other stuff. It really made me appreciate how much Phoebe does for us. She usually does all of this alone and rides a "boda boda" (a bicycle or motorcycle taxi) back and forth to deliver goods from shops to her car, safely parked in a secure parking lot.

Tomorrow we head for Jinja to see our dear friends, and visit a school.

March 4, 2018 Day 8 Uganda

Pisie and Tony left today and my dear friend and every year companion to Uganda is back home sick in bed with the flu. So, I now start the next part of this journey alone. Well, that’s not really true, because Phoebe will be with me and various other Ugandan and Kenyan friends along the way. Never the less, I will miss Maureen.

We spent the day doing the last of Pisie and Tony’s filming. We woke to torrential rains making it too loud to jump right in and start recording. It was hard to hear each other speak above the sound of the water slamming against the metal roofs. We took photos of our favorite hotel staff members and Pisie gave them polaroid photos of themselves which they loved.

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So, because we couldn’t do interviews they filmed me painting a picture of the scene outside the 3rd floor balcony. Pisie had asked me to bring a canvas and some paint and because of weight limitations I brought just 4 tubes of color, 3 brushes and a tiny little board to paint on. We borrowed a plate for a palette and I stole the bathroom cup from Pisie’s room for water. It was fun and has gone home with Tony and Pisie as their Uganda souvenir.

By 1:00 the rain let up and we set to work doing interviews first with Phoebe, then me and then a short thank you to our donors from the two of us. By 4:30 we were on the road to Entebbe to bring Pi and Tony to the airport.

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It was hard for me to see them go. We’ve had such an incredible and productive week and it was exciting to see how a filming project goes together. I know they were improvising due to lack of equipment and more help but they were cheerful in spite of all this and graciously told me they had a life changing experience. I will miss them and so will Phoebe.

Tomorrow we will shop for supplies for our sewing guilds and get ready to leave for Jinja the following day.

March 3, 2018 Day 7 Uganda

Today was Tony and Pisie’s last day to get some video that they were really looking for. We went to Phoebe’s house and they got footage of a girl [Desire] that we’ve been following for the last year. They also got some of Phoebe and some of the tailors. We spent the whole day there. I worked with Phoebe organizing for the next week and working out some figures about supplies that are needed. Meanwhile Pisie and Tony filmed various things, I read my book and felt a little like I was on vacation.

At one point during my outside reading time I stood up and noticed two little boys coming down the pathway past Phoebe’s house taking turns pushing each other in a wheel barrow. When they passed the house I asked if I could take pictures of them. They were thrilled to see themselves on my phone and giggled with delight.

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We came back to our hotel for the last night together, had a nice dinner and discussed the week. I will miss this part of my journey. Pisie and Tony are thoughtful, introspective people who make me think about how to do my best for this project. I have learned a lot and am so thankful that they have been here with me.

Friday, March 2, 2018 Day 6

Today we went to Kimenyedde to visit our sewing guild there and then on to two schools in the district. This is the village that my friend Fred grew up in, and has given back to, by bringing The MoonCatcher Project to the schools there.

We first visited the sewing guild. We call it Alice’s Guild though offically it’s the Kimenyedde Guild. Alice is Fred’s sister and makes sure that the guild runs smoothly. She and Phoebe communicate and decide how many pads will be made and where they are going. It was such a delight for me to see that one year from when I first met Alice this project has taken hold. 500 kits have been made and distributed and 300 more are in the process of being produced.

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We went to Fred’s primary school to distribute kits to every girl in the school who had started to menstruate. It was fun for us to be at that school and see all the restoration that Fred has done there and to meet people who speak of him so fondly. It truly is a wonderful learning environment.

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Later in the day we went to one more school in the area and gave our menstrual management and reproductive health class to 87 girls who we then provided with kits. These girls struggle with English, so they struggled to understand me. It’s hard enough to understand my accent much less understand a language that’s difficult for them. Several teachers were helping us so hopefully they will continue the education piece of this since they really seemed to understand what we were teaching.

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We got back to our hotel early enough to enjoy a nice dinner, glasses of red wine and long conversation. Pisie and Tony came to my room to get their first hot showers in Uganda. I didn’t know they were taking cold showers while my bathroom was spoiling me. It was fun to listen to each of them ooh and ahh as they stood under the hot water. We later watched the days footage on Tony’s computer and I was blown away by the absolutely lovely film they took. I feel so lucky to have them doing this. They are truly capturing the story of The MoonCatcher Project.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

I finally got a mosquito net today after asking 3 days ago. I’ve been getting bitten each night and not sleeping as well as I’d like because of it. My friend Enid from the hotel made sure that I got a net today. Yay Enid!

We went to another two schools today. The first was a secondary [high] school where we spoke to about 150 girls and gave out about 60 kits with the promise of getting one to every girl by term’s end. The head teacher, a man, was so grateful that we were there and we spoke for about 20 minutes about menstrual issues and how boys treat girls at this school. He told me that one day a group of giggling boys learning about women’s issues were asked, “ I’d like a show of hands from each brave boy who was not produced by a woman.” Apparently that was met with complete silence. I was told that in that school, boys are taught to respect women and to help their female classmates.  Uganda often seems far more advanced than the US. Sometimes I truly wonder why we call this a developing nation.

 Secondary students receiving MoonCatcher Kits.

Secondary students receiving MoonCatcher Kits.

The second school we visited was a primary school. I had thought that these young children would be shy and not know much about the subject. Boy was I wrong! These girls spoke up and had insightful things to contribute. We had a blast in that classroom and left feeling like “they got it” as Phoebe would say.

 Primary students learning about menstrual management.

Primary students learning about menstrual management.

Throngs of little children met us outside wanting their pictures taken and to see the results. They created a circle around me and kept pushing closer and closer until I could barely show them the camera much less take a photo of all of them. It made me think of the first year I came here and handed out stickers to ever growing crowds of kids. I laugh when I think that the same child would take off the sticker, put it behind his upper arm and ask for another as though he’d never seen me before. Rows of stickers were on that arm before I finally noticed that they were getting the best of me. We all had a good laugh.

 A group of school children enjoy being photographed.

A group of school children enjoy being photographed.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Again the day started with rain. It actually felt cold though how could this be when weather at home is snowy and frigid. Pisie and I found ourselves in sweatshirts and raincoats but Tony seems oblivious to the cold. By 11:00 we were shedding our wintery garb and agreeing that it was warm and summery.

It’s been another busy and productive day. We visited two schools.

The first was a primary school called St.Yowana Mana Mizzeeyi-Kayunga. This was their first visit from The MoonCatcher Project. After endless rearranging of desks, some of which were carried across the schoolyard by helpful boys, we managed to squeeze in 241 girls between the ages of 9 and 14.

Phoebe is a rock star!  She got those girls to answer questions, share personal stories and ask questions. I did the calendar part of the curriculum where we teach the girls to plot their periods so that they will know when to come to school with their kit. I felt a little rusty, but after a while, I got the hang of it again and the students were able to answer my questions and understand how to figure out their cycles. We handed out 50 kits with promises of returning with enough for all the other girls.

In the afternoon we went to a school that Maureen and I had gone to last year. Maureen called this “the sad school” because it was in desperate need of almost everything. We had taught in a room with just slats for walls. Each board had a good 4-5 inches of space between it and the next one. We couldn’t believe the condition of this place and wondered how the students managed to learn anything. We met a girl there named Desire who really stood out and we have been able to connect with her again this year. Desire has now graduated from this school but we brought her with us today to help with our class.

Earlier today Phoebe had said something about looking forward to my reaction to the school but I didn’t pay that much attention until we drove through the gate and found a school that had been completely transformed. With a grant from Japan, St Mary’s has become a beautiful place to learn. They have not only redone all the classrooms but have constructed a new kitchen and canteen and places of worship for both Muslims and Christians. I was speechless! The pictures below are of Desire standing in front of her school last year and again with the remodeled school this year.

 Desire at school in 2017.

Desire at school in 2017.

 Desire visiting St. Mary's today.

Desire visiting St. Mary's today.

Our afternoon class was amazing with girls role-playing scenarios of pregnant girls confronting their mothers and the man who put them in that position. It was the best improv I’ve ever seen. It drove the message home that it may be best to wait until after you get your education to think about motherhood.

The time at St Mary’s ended with success stories, what we can do better, and talking to boys about what they know about menstruation. We handed out another 50 kits with promises of more.

 

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Back at our hotel we had about an hour to get cleaned up and meet in the dining room for dinner with our friends Juliet and Priscilla. Weighty talks about homophobia in this country ensued. This can be a difficult and dangerous place to be if you feel that everyone is equal.

We leave early tomorrow for two schools very far away. We are tired but feel good about what we have accomplished.

 

Monday, February 26, 2018

We woke up to much welcomed rain today. It’s been dry here for the last month and the crops haven’t looked very happy or the farmers either. Phoebe grows some vegetables and fruits and was pleased that her garden got a good soaking.

I never did get to use my raincoat however, because by 10:00 the rain had stopped and the sun came out. We were well on our way to visit two soap cooperatives housed in the same building but serving different groups of women. Pi and Tony took lots of video and ran about the room trying to get all the steps of the process documented. It all ended with singing and dancing and of course a lot of laughing. These women have doubled their initial investment and will soon be able to draw some income from these ventures.

 

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The afternoon was spent visiting Balibaseka Secondary School. Phoebe taught a menstrual management and reproductive health class to incoming students while Pisie, Tony and I interviewed 6 girls ranging from age13 to 18. These girls had been using our pads for the last year. We were touched and amazed at how articulate they were and their words of gratitude brought tears to our eyes. Soon we’ll have videoed success stories to share so that everyone can hear these extraordinary girls.

 

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We also interviewed a male teacher Jude, who spoke with us about the importance of boys understanding about what girls are experiencing and about them being respectful and helpful during this time in a girl’s life. He voiced his interest in a boy’s curriculum and agreed to teach this class once we have it ready.

The workday ended with a visit to a 15 year-old girl’s house an hour’s walk from the school we had been visiting. We took the car but Merce and her sister Sharon make this hike every morning and afternoon in order to attend school each day. Both girls have received our kit and agreed to let us visit their home and talk with their mother, a single mom of four girls. Rose supports her children by selling cassava on the side of the road and breaking stone in the rock quarry at the edge of her village. Both jobs bring in enough income to pay school supplies but judging from the house not much more. We spoke at length about the usefulness of the MoonCatcher kits and what life had been like before hand. We were touched by the openness of the mother and the children and felt we had been graciously welcomed into a piece of intimate Ugandan life.

I am tired, covered in red dust and feeling pretty grateful right now.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

We’re here!

At the very start of the trip, In the Albany airport, right opposite the ticket counter for United, JetBlue has a big banner that Says “Go With the Flo”. If that’s not a good sign for a trip about menstrual issues I don’t know what is. I laughed and took a picture. The adventure could truly begin!

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Pisie [my daughter] and Tony [her sweetheart] met me in Brussels where we boarded the plane for Entebbe. It was a relief to be together after various airport adventures that made us wonder if we’d get to Uganda on the same day.

This is a really special treat for me this year because I get to do some of this trip with Pisie. She and Tony are working on a film for The MoonCatcher Project and if today is an indication of how things will go it should be an amazing week.

We spent the afternoon with the Woman with a Purpose [WWP] sewing guild. This is the first guild that we started two years ago and the one where we learned a lot about how to make this model work. A few familiar faces were there so it was a reunion. The women worked the sewing machines while Pisie and Tony filmed and asked questions. All of us are impressed with how articulate these women are and how well they could explain just how the MoonCatcher kit works.

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Africa Trip 2018

I leave for Uganda and Kenya next week. This trip feels different from the others but that’s probably because I’ll be there longer and have a lot more to accomplish.

I’m excited that my daughter Pisie and her partner Tony will be with me for the start of the trip. They will do some filming to help our MoonCatcher family better understand what The MoonCatcher Project is doing. We’ll visit sewing guilds, schools, the soap cooperative and fabric and supply stores. We’ll talk to as many girls as we can to see how our kit is working for them.

Maureen, my dear friend and  companion on all of these trips, will join me when Pisie and Tony return to Brooklyn. She and I will spend some time in a the resettlement community that we went to last year. We’ll visit more of our sewing cooperatives and take a side trip to Kenya to meet Jackie who has recently started a sewing guild there. We’ll go back to our beloved Kagoma Gate village, outside of Jinja, Uganda too. We’ll show the kids a movie, do an art project and Maureen will work in the  feeding center handing out plates of lunch to the students.

I have been packing for days trying to remember all the things that will be useful for our cooperatives. We’ll bring thousands of calendars used by the girls to plot their periods, health curriculum posters, hundreds of yards of waterproof fabric and lots of Tyvek. We’ll be carrying an overlock machine for Kenya and a voltage regulator too. And of course we’ll bring Phoebe a jug of New York State maple syrup.  

 

 Doing some packing!   

Doing some packing!