Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Trip to St. Nicholas Uganda Children's Fund and St. Nicholas Cathedral

Saturday the 25th of April. 

Peter picked us up at 10am and we headed to Namungoona territory where the offices of the St.Nicholas Uganda Children's Fund is located. Peter and Sharon Georges started this organization and live here 6 months out of the year. They are currently back in the states, so we were sad to miss them. But we got to meet Agnes and Frank who work for Peter and Sharon. They were so welcoming! They showed us the report cards that just came in and how they were sending them in the post to Peter in the states. We got to see Henry's report card. He is the boy we sponsor. He is doing very well and was listed as 14th in his class. His sister Sharon, who goes to the Orthodox boarding school is 8th in her class. Henry goes to the local school instead of boarding school because he wants to stay near his brother who has sickle cell anemia. James asked Agnes how far Henry is from his school. Agnes replied, “Oh, not far at all. It's about an hour, well, maybe 45 minute walk is all.”

That's all!

Agnes then took us on a tour of the area around the offices. They are just down the hill from St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral where Metropolitan Jonah presides. He has been quite ill though and hasn't been out and about since Holy Thursday.

First she showed us the primary school just a short walk from the office. The St. Nicholas Uganda Children's Fund has helped the school financially quite a bit. They are in the process of building a large building behind and there are several classrooms just like this one where they are already having class.

We then walked up the hill to the cathedral. 

Beautiful temple! 

The Church owns a lot of land all around and there is an Orthodox Secondary School and an Orthodox Primary school.

The schools and the hospital are on a this road, pictured left.  

Here is the gate to Holy Cross Orthodox Mission Hospital. 
 Agnes gave us a tour of the hospital. It is a decent hospital. We saw the maternity ward, momma's nursing babes and women about to give birth. It felt invasive being shown around. 
We met Papadiya (priests wife) who is a nurse in the hospital. We saw the children's ward, the men's ward, the women's ward and the x-ray department and also the laboratory.

Outside the hospital building was the canteen and kitchen. The UCI has a similar kitchen set up. They showed us they were cleaning greens to cook, matoke, egg plant and there was a rack of beef grilling.

While we were in the St. Nicholas Children's Fund offices they had 3 visitors. The first was a gentleman that lives nearby and he was asking for help, financial help. They talked for a bit and sent him on his way. Right after he was there a little girl, about 13, came in to ask for help. Her dilemma was that she needed to pay the rest of her tuition so she could get her report card. It was the end of 1st term and the children were getting out of school for 3-4 weeks until the next term. In order to get your report you had to pay your tuition fees. Agnes read a note the girl had that said she had paid 70,000 out of 100,000 shillings. She was asking for the 30,000 shillings. Her sweet little face stared at us. My heart broke for her. 30,000 shillings is $10! She needed just $10 to get her report card and move on.

I so bad wanted to just hand it to her but we knew we couldn't. After she left we asked Agnes about it. She said you have to be very careful because so many come in “deceiving”. If Peter was there he would inquire at the school to the validity of it and if he could he would help her. We should have left the $10 and told Agnes to look into it. I'm regretful. 

Agnes working with Daniel and Frank is scanning report cards for Peter.
The 3rd visitor was Daniel, a student of theirs coming in to communicate his report card to them. He was in Senior 5 (11th grade). He wants to be a doctor, if his grades allow. He is working very hard but struggling. He must have certain level of marks to be able to go to University. If he can't go to University he said he would pursue nursing or something like that. He talked to James for awhile about his work and med school in USA.

It was truly an amazing experience to see all this. Each day is eye-opening. My heart is full. 

We went home, had some snacky food and leftover "bunny chow" for dinner, stayed up late talking.  

A lovely Saturday in Uganda!

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