Molly in Africa

Monday, January 22, 2007

After My First Presentation...

I went home this past weekend and did a presentation at my church, St. Nicholas, in Evanston about my experiences in Uganda and talked a lot about CRO. This post is really directed to them:

THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Thank you for coming to my presentation and for listening to my stories and those of the children in eastern Uganda. As I mentioned during my presentation, it has been frustrating to talk about my experiences since coming home because people can hear me, but they don't really listen. You really listened and I appreciated that more than you will ever know. Please feel free to look through this blog to read about other experiences that I had while I was in Uganda.

If any of you would like for me to give a presentation for a different group of people you know, please let me know because I would be more than happy to. This can be either in a formal or informal setting- I am simply happy to share what I know about the area and about the people to help raise awareness. Please just email me:

I will update this once the non-profit organization has been set up. It seems that it might be very soon since people have already offered to help in that process. In the mean time, please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or really anything else. Email is the best way to reach me since I keep a very busy schedule at school. If you are interested in donating money before the non-profit organization is set up, please get in touch with either me or my parents. Thank you to those of you who already donated! I feel so blessed to be part of a community filled with people willing to help others in such a positive way.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Christmas pictures

welcoming crew: Fr. Simon Peter's youngest brother and sister and his nieces and nephews- all singing and dancing for us!

Midnight mass:

Dancing on Christmas day:

The day after Christmas- the blankets we passed out and us sitting at the event

Final Week in Uganda...

On Christmas Eve, my parents, Matt and I went to Simon Peter's mom's house. When we arrived, we were greeted by drumming and dancing of Simon Peter's youngest siblings (ages 20 and 22) and his nieces and nephews. It was quite a welcoming ceremony! They took us to the their water source which meant that we got to see some of the little gardens that people keep to help provide food for their families. These crops were mostly sweet potatoes, maize and beans. After a nice visit with them, we returned to the Parish Center nearby where we were staying for the next couple of days.

That night, we went to midnight mass and we all wore traditional African formal wear. My mother and I each wore a gomesi (the "i" isn't really pronounced), my dad wore a kazu (I'm not sure on my spelling of this, but hopefully you can at least get the pronunciation) and Matt wore a kitangi shirt. The mass was in Luganda except for the second reading which was read in Luganda and in English (by me) and the gospel (which Fr. Simon Peter read in English for us). At the end of mass, I introduced myself and my parents and Matt in Luganda and everyone thought it was hysterical to hear a muzungu speaking their language. :)

On Christmas day, after going to mass in the morning, we went back to Simon Peter's mom's house. The festivities were unbelievable! There were musicians and professional dancers hired for the afternoon, so we were entertained by great music and dancing. Near the end of the dancing, Simon Peter's youngest two siblings and I danced the traditional Baganda dance (which I have learned) and we were quite entertaining. Everyone was impressed that a muzungu could "shake it" like them. hahah! It was a fun day.

The day after Christmas, we went to the parish out in the bush where the school will be built that my mum's school is supporting. We distributed blankets and mosquito nets to women and children there. That night, we went back to Fr. Simon Peter's mom's house and exchanged presents. His family is so wonderful and fully embraced my family. While I had been adopted early on by the family, my whole family was adopted and we were all given new Bagandan names from their clan.

During our last days we visited Queen Elizabeth National Park and were able to see elephants, warthogs, hippos, birds, a hyena and more. On our last night, we had dinner in Kampala with some of Fr. Simon Peter's family and then they all saw us off at the airport.

I'll put pictures in another post because they're too big to fit here. :)

some pictures :)


at the Nile River- Bujagali Falls

waiting in line with Matt and my pops to get our passports stamped when entering Rwanda
at the equator with my mum, pops and Matt

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Week one of my time with the 'rents

Sorry this is so after-the-fact, but I still owe you the last two weeks of my Ugandan adventure. We packed a lot into a very short time, so I'm going to separate this into two entries.

Since my mum's entry in the blog the day after they arrived in Kampala, so much has happened! On that Sunday, we drove to Mbale with Fr. Simon Peter, stopping at the Nile River along the way to see the Bujagali Falls.

On Monday, my parents came to CRO (Child Restoration Outreach) so that they could see where I had worked for six weeks while I was here. Eric, one of the social workers there, and I took my parents and Fr. Simon Peter on the regular morning street walk which was a pretty powerful experience for them. They got to see where we find most kids, hear about what the children do to find food and/or money for food. My parents went back to the hotel to rest at that point and I was able to spend the rest of the day with the children which was wonderful for me since I had missed them all so much after having been gone for only two weeks! That night, my parents, Fr. Simon Peter and I went to Esther's house- the place I called home in Mbale. It was a great night filled with tasty food (Esther is a great cook and made all of my favorites!), good company (Esther, her two daughters, the neighbors and a few of Esther's friends all came) and singing!

The next day was the Christmas party at CRO and my friend Matt Maroon (from UD) joined us that day. My parents were the honored guests at the event and to be honest, it was a bit long and boring. The kids did a great job with their songs, dances and dramas, but there were a lot of speeches (which is true of most formal Ugandan celebrations) which were a bit tedious. Saying goodbye to that community was really hard for me. I had made such strong connections with people there that it was hard to imagine going another two years without being able to see them. (I say two years because at this point, I am hoping to go back to Uganda after I graduate.)

We left Mbale the next day and traveled west to Mbarara. On our way, we visited the source of the Nile (which Matt was REALLY excited about), stopped in Kampala to have lunch with my assistant academic director and stopped at the equator! In Kampala, Fr. Simon Peter left us and Muna, the driver from my study abroad program, picked us up in his mini-bus/van which allowed each of us more room. The following day (we're on 21 Dec for those of you keeping track), we entered Rwanda and went out for dinner that night to celebrate Matt's birthday! :)

The next day, we visited the genocide memorial museum in Kigali (the capital of Rwanda where we were staying) and we went to visit a genocide site which was a church just outside of Kigali. My study abroad group had visited both places during out visit to Rwanda three months earlier. The museum was the same, but it was really interesting when we went to visit the church. When I had been there three months ago with SIT, there were bones and debris and lots of little things in between the pews, all over the cement floor of the church. When I got there with my parents and company, it had been swept and cleaned. The bones were separated into piles at the front of the church, the material goods (jerry (sp?) cans, rosaries, thermos bottles, shoes, etc) that were around had been organized in a separate building nearby and there was a whole different feel to the place. It was a really interesting contrast and in many ways I was disappointed that my parents couldn't have the same experience that I had.

We left Rwanda the next day and the weather was perfect- clear and sunny- which meant we got to appreciate Rwanda's beauty as we exited the country. We ended that day at a hotel in Masaka just about twenty minutes away from the village where Fr. Simon Peter's mother lives. I'm going to stop this entry there, but I will give the next week's events in another blog entry, I promise. :)

Oh, and I tried to put pictures up with this blog entry, but it didn't work. I'll post pictures in a separate entry and maybe that will work. We'll see...