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Heather Plett Visiting LAKER Memorial School

Ms. Heather Plett from Canada has Visited our project to celebrate our 5 year anniversary.

Here is a small report of here visit.

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I’ve left the snow behind. After two days of travel, I’m in Uganda! After a short stay in Kampala, we’ll be heading to Kitgum district to visit Nestar’s family and the school that many of you helped support.
Today (15/11/2018) has been more emotional than I expected it to be. I don’t yet have the right words to explain what it was like to pay our first visit to the school and to be so warmly welcomed as a member of the school family, so I’ll start with pictures. Perhaps more words will come later. These children have captured a piece of my heart.
 
 
 
Today (16-11-2018)  we visited a resettlement camp for refugees from South Sudan. I had images in my head of people living in tents, crowded close together, but this was not that image. Look closely at those huts - some have even planted flowers to make their (hopefully temporary) homes more welcoming. There are 32,000 people in this camp, and yet, surprisingly, we happened to wander into just the right block where Nestar’s relatives from Sudan are living while they wait for peace in their country to allow them to go back home.
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These are bicycles lined up for distribution at the refugee camp we visited. One of the things we learned while we were there is that the intention at this camp is to house the people here until they are able to return home, and not to resettle them in other countries. The EU sends money to keep the people at this camp, which may be partly protectionist (ie. keep them out of our countries) and partly wise (ie. they are likely better served staying close to their home, in case they can return some day). Now... I’ll admit to knowing little about refugee and resettlement issues, and this camp is far from the perfect answer (ie. able-bodied people complained about the lack of opportunity to make money for their families by doing things like making bricks for sale) but it begs the question - why wouldn’t the U.S. send money to support the caravan of refugees traveling across Mexico rather than sending troops to the border?
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Today was a remarkable day. I had the privilege of being a guest at the kindergarten graduation at Laker Memorial School in Kitgum District, Uganda, and it was unlike any kindergarten graduation I’ve ever experienced. It was a day-long community celebration with many speeches (including yours truly), dances, songs, a spelling bee, a brass band, gifts, and a huge feast. There was even a hilarious “make a fool of the white woman whose hips can’t move like that” dance that I may or may not show you evidence of later. I’ll share more photos and video once I have more data for uploading.

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To be honest, I have been somewhat reluctant to post photos from this trip on social media, for fear of looking like the tired cliche of “do-gooder white woman who saves Africa”. Know this - Africa does not need saving and I will never come here for that. The only things I have to offer here are friendship and financial resources in support of their leadership and vision. I am here, resolutely, with humility and a learning posture, receiving, with deep gratitude, the beautiful hospitality of the people of Kitgum District. I believe in finding ways to support more equitable distribution of resources, but I do not believe in the need for western interference.

 

Nope, these hips don’t move like that. (But DAMN was it fun trying!)

Nestar, on the other hand, is a seasoned pro

 

Those kids though! Whew!

Even the toddler can shake it better than the white lady.

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It was a privilege living in community with Nestar’s family in Kitgum District, Uganda, this week. I was well fed and cared for (even my laundry got done), and I’m happily taking home a jar full of peanut butter from their farm.

The family compound.Nestar’s sister and niece making the best chapati I’ve ever tasted.More family members preparing the meet for supperNestar’s sister washing my laundry. How she worked bent over like this for about an hour is beyond me.The “kid’s’ table” at lunch timeEnough chapati for everyone!My laundry on the line.

(19-11-2018) Nestar tells me that I have now had the “true African experience”. After a twelve hour journey that should have taken six, we arrived in our destination in Kampala just as the sun was rising. To say that the night was eventful would be an understatement. It included a broken-down car on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in the pitch dark in a thunderstorm (in an area known to have roadside bandits), a lot of creative thinking and negotiating over cell phones to try to find us another solution, a long and cramped bus ride that brought us to downtown Kampala at 3 a.m., failed technology that meant that the transportation we had arranged (because taxis in Kampala in the middle of the night may not be trustworthy) had not come to meet us, two more hours of sitting in the bus (because it was safer than waiting anywhere else) waiting for a driver, and finally getting lost on the way to our host’s house. In the end, we are all safe (including the live chicken we were transporting with us), and we have an interesting story to tell.