Raymond! The sweetest kid. His mom is Joska - one of the tailors here at Krochet kids Uganda.
Our ladies faced off against the ladies who work at 31 BITS for an epic futbol match on the pitch! (I sound super acholi now. that or british. futbol? pitch?) We woke up saturday morning, gathered our posters, put on our KK gear, and walked to Gulu high school. There was quite the turnout of fans. Between all the women who came and didnt want to play, to all our ex-pat friends, to kids from the neighbor hood that heard the yelling and came running to watch, it was quite the community event!
After the match, the women faced off in another event - traditional dancing. We all gathered under the trees as they performed their high energy dance. It was awesome to see the women in their element, doing a dance they've all grown up doing. The 31 BITS ladies won the dance part of the competition, but we're still stoked on the futbol win!
I feel super blessed to be seeing this side of Krochet Kids. Back home I knew the company as a rad beanie making machine that helped ladies in Uganda. But now, i'm seeing the many layers of relationships that have built the foundation of Krochet Kids over the years. Its incredible, really. I love seeing these women flourish and live to their fullest potential in all aspects of their life, especially outside the compound.
the gang's all here! Ben, Lucas, Travis, Charissa, Sydney, and Maddy
how these women carry things on their head i have no idea! neither does Lucas
we had some fun making the posters
Irene was the best cheerleader I have ever seen hahaha she was SO into it!
celebrating our 4-1 victory
the crowd assembling for the dance portion
group leader Christine. This lady is so hilarious!
Thankful for another radical weekend here in Gulu. We woke up saturday morning and headed to Gulu High school where our ladies from KKU had a futbol (still want to call is soccer) match against the ladies from 31 BITS. I'll hopefully get around to posting those photos soon. It was such a fun game to cheer on and be a part of. Our ladies took the trophy home for the second consecutive year (booyah) and we were all so proud of them. After the game we all headed to Bomah, a local hotel, for some pool time. It cost 10000 shillings (4 bucks) to go swim there and they have a really nice set up - towels, $1 sodas, french fries, lounge chairs - not bad. The whole crew of ex-pats came to the pool (seriously about 20 of us) and we had a blast all relaxing and catching up on our busy work weeks. I finally brought my gopro on a boda ride and got a few weird looks from the locals like "what is that contraption youre holding" but so worth it for you all to see what life using a boda as our main form of transportation is like. Also, we're developing a very ugandan skill which is "calling" a boda. Something I would compare to a New Yorker grabbing a cab. Its an extremely subtle eye movement towards the direction of a boda driver that tells them you need a ride. We've been practicing this skill and will report back once we've mastered it. haha.
also, yesterday we went to a local recreation park and saw the impossible happen - 5 MEN ON A BODA. seriously insane. It was hilarious and probably one of the greatest things i've ever seen.
yesterday I saw the sweetest moment.
Every few months the ladies at work get new papyrus mats to sit on. Yesterday was one of those days and a pile of the old mats were laying on the floor. I was walking around taking some photos for the group mentors when I spotted Angel (the little girl) and her big brother like this.
I'm not sure what about this moment struck me. Maybe it was the way they were mimicking each other's positions. Or the way Angel's big brother was being so gentle with her. Or maybe it was the way you could see the love they have for one another, so sincerely, so natural.
whatever it was, I loved this moment. I'm sure moms feel this when they sneak in on their kids at night, right as they're falling into deep sleep. So innocent. So precious.
There are so many of these children here. It's truly incredible seeing the way these kids grow up. Their skin is made tough at a young age. Most of them learn to walk before they're one. Their bare feet get used to the rocky hot ground. They learn to play with nature. They're smart kids. Independent. Brave. Eager to learn. And no matter their age, they always take good care of their siblings. Its common to see a 7 year old girl walking to the market with her 2 year old sister on her back, or a 5 year old boy babysitting his newborn sibling.
*also side note, just got back from futbol practice with the ladies and one of them was carrying her crying baby boy while scrimmaging. hahaa no joke. this is Africa.
Its cool seeing how life is like here in Gulu, especially when it comes to kids. Back home i'm always surrounded by little ones, and especially now with two nephews and a niece. I'm learning that life may look different for moms and kids in the states vs. rural African - but there are things that remain so constant - no matter where you are. Things like the way a kid runs to their mother after they fall down and scrape their knee. Or the way a kid will smile at you then run away and want you to chase them (Hunter). Or the way a baby falls asleep in his mother lap like its the safest place in the world. I love bearing witness to the love these mothers have for their kids, and the love the kids have for their friends and siblings. Its truly a community effort here and its awesome to see how naturally they live and work.
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." - Romans 12:9-10
"Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12
"Jesus said, 'let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" -Matthew 19:14
I've always been the type of person that remembers the weirdest stuff about events or trips. Like the taste of the Peanut Butter Cliff Bar I ate on walk about, or that one kid from summer camp who kept acting like a spider in the pool, or that time in paris when we were walking behind a guy with a baguette sticking out of his backpack, or how my theology professor in college would always wear vans.
It seems to be that those moments are some of my favorite. They are weird, random, and seemingly insignificant, but they are so fun to look back on. I realize that once i'm home i'll probably get asked a lot of BIG questions. "What did you learn?" "How were the people?" "What was the culture like." I'm sure i'll come up with some fairly decent answers to those big questions - but I dont want those big moments to drown out all the awesome tiny ones.
so welcome to my list of tiny moments from Gulu (thus far)...
-The other day our day guard Samuel was wearing a Patagonia button up shirt. "Samuel, you know your shirt is very popular in American." "Oh wow! I did not know. That is so good!"
-Mentor Christine has a son named Faith and is convinced that her son and I should be married. "Faith plus Faith will produce Grace!" hahahaha. And she now refers to herself as my mother in law.
-Played basketball today with the guys from work. Got taken to the wrong court by my boda driver. Befriended a nice Ugandan man who knew the guys from work and told me where to go. I was glad to find them because playing bball with them has been one of the best moment here so far!
-the tropical "pick-n-peel" juice here is the best thing ever.
-Eric, one of our boda drivers, is training to become a world class MMA fighter. Dude is legit and trying to get to the world champs this year.
-The group of ladies at work who sit by hut one are hilarious. Every morning I walk over to them (Josephine, Jennifer, Diana, and Florence) and say "whatsup dawwwwg" they always bust out laughing and reply "whatsup gwoc!" (dog in luo)
-There is a tiny human at work who I have been calling Joshua for the past month. The other day I found out his name is Dominic.
-We have hideous purple couches in our living room. Not only are they hideous, they are also huge. Not only are they huge, they are also infected with bugs so it is a death trap sitting on them.
-There is one indian grocery store in town that SELLS OREOS. The cashier, "oh wow you Americans like these crackers."
-two young girls knocked at our gate the other day. They introduced themselves then handed me 5 pieces of paper. With drawing on each. The best one was two Americans talking, "hi my name is susan. Can we be friends?"
Ugandan fashion is amazing and the women we work with wear some of the most spectacular fabrics I have ever seen. And the best part is, they are not trying to be overtly fashionable or stylish, they just wear what they want to wear and it always looks effortless and beautiful.
I've always been a fan of mix & match patterns, but these ladies take it to a whole new level. Its proper culture here for women to come to work in long skirts or dresses that cover their legs. While working they wrap a piece of kitenge around their waist and use it how you would an apron. Kitenge (kit-teng-aye) is a traditional African fabric that comes in hundreds of bright patterns and colors and is usually sewn into dresses or bought by the yard.
Also, a common saying here is, "you look smart!" which is like saying "you look good today!" and the proper way to greet someone is with a firm hand shake and an, "echyo mabae, ate nah nee (good morning, how are you)" *also not sure on the spelling since Luo is not a commonly written language
I've been slowly working on my kitenge collection and am currently getting a dress made by one of the tailors in town, Florence. I love all the color here in Uganda. It is all so bright and beautiful!
This was a particularly busy week here at KKU. The women ended production early on Wednesday in order to fulfill a request from the guys at HQ for a shipment of friendship bracelets to go out. Krochet Kids does a lot of events and they wanted something small to be able to sell along side the beanies, scarves, hats, etc. So the group leaders were taught how to make the bracelets on Tuesday, and then they were responsible for teaching their group how to make them. 140 is a lot of ladies to teach, so I was able to step in and help some of them with the pattern. When I worked at Forest Home we made these bracelets all the time, and its funny how God uses little moment like that from your past to shed light on present situations youre in. I love when that happens.
We finished the week off with a lunch with our head mentor at KKU, Sarah. She was born in Gulu, studied social work at a university in Kampala, has worked with various organizations such as World Vision, and now leads all the mentors at KKU. It was so rad discussing the mentorship program with her and where she sees this organizations going in the future. Which got me thinking about leadership and the roles we must step into in order to make change happen in life. And I was reminded of this quote...
"leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead. This scarcity makes leadership valuable. Its uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers. Its uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail. Its uncomfortable to challenge the status quo. Its uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle. When your identify the discomfort you've found the place where a leader is needed."
-Seth Godin, Tribes : we need you to lead us
oooo good stuff!
Yes, they do celebrate Valentines Day here in Gulu! Who knew. Not me. haha. In the spirit of this usually chocolatey-lovey-dovey holiday, we decided to make little Valentines for all the women/men at work. Thankfully there was a Twilight book on our shelf at our house not being used for anything too important so we cut it up and made tiny hearts for all of them! They loved the hearts so much they started pinning them to their shirts and all the little kids were running around all day with them. It was a great end to another week here in Gulu.
so all the interns here send our love back to the states wishing you all a happy valentines day!