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Friday, 21 February 2014 10:47

Uganda Diary

By Egan Mills

For Saratoga TODAY


BUGEMBE, UGANDA— (Editors Note): Egan Mills is a freshman at Saratoga Springs High School.  In mid-February she, her mother Meg Kelly and thirty other volunteers went on a voyage to the Town of Bugembe in Uganda to work with the Aids Orphan Education Trust. She will be there until the end of this month.


Egan and the other volunteers worked on various projects including fixing up the school buildings, providing medical care and working hands-on with the children on some basic educational skills. One of Egan’s projects was teaching the children a few songs and some dancing. We asked her to share her journal. This segment covers her first four days after arriving on the African continent.


- Arthur Gonick


Monday: 2/10/14 Day 1

Today was the first full day in the compound (that is what it is called) where we will be staying for the next 17 days. This complex is located in Bugembe, Uganda.  Last night, our bus pulled in and all of the children who live outside the compound were joyously shouting and waving.  


This was the first moment that I realized the exceptional quality of life that I have in Saratoga Springs.  Everyone in Bugembe is welcoming even though they are living in extreme poverty.  They smile when you smile, they wave when you wave, and they welcome you with open arms like a close relative.  In Saratoga Springs you don’t have to sit on the street and sell products to feed and support your family, we have options. We are able to turn the shower on have CLEAN, hot water at our disposal, there is no thought of having contaminated water coming out of the faucet. What a different world!  


We went to several private schools that we in close proximity to us today. Hundreds of children were singing and rejoicing for what they have, which is very minimal. They are all so grateful that we are there to help them. One of the most precious moments I saw today were three small children playing with three baby goats. We watched them from the bus as we drove to the dormitories we were scheduled to paint. The painting project took approximately 4 hours because it was a large dorm, housing 150 boys. Once the paint dries, they will line the walls with bunk beds.


My schedule for tomorrow is working in the mobile clinic, which means I will be traveling around to different towns and assisting people with various medical needs.


Tuesday: 2/11/14 - Day 2 

My adventure in the mobile clinic today was in a more remote and extremely rural part of Africa. It was only about 15 minutes from our compound.  We worked all day doing various medical tasks.  I documented medical information in the patient records while the patients were being tested for HIV. Over 180 people were tested and only about 10 tested positive for HIV. Everyone was grateful that we were there to provide him or her with some medical attention.


Our group brought over some green tennis balls for the children to play with. I enjoyed my time today playing with all the children. The ground in and around the play area is dirt and dried mud, so by the time we were done with our games, the tennis balls were orange and brown. Through the entire time of playing, we were taking pictures and they all greatly enjoyed seeing themselves on the digital camera screen.


Tomorrow’s agenda consists of teaching the children at the elementary school a song from a performance I was in. I am looking forward to it.


Wednesday: 2/12/14 - Day 3

Today was a busy day. We went to Rehoboth Primary School and I taught a class of 40 children a song and dance all by myself. The children are all so talented here and very eager to learn. They have natural rhythm and beautiful voices. I worked with the third grade class and there was a mix of ages. They all enjoyed the song.  When I taught the song and dance work, I read a book to them from Dr. Seuss titled “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think.” 


I enjoyed interacting with the children during the song and dance work and afterwards playing with them in the yard. We played a variety of different games. They seem to enjoy singing and moving games. The children really enjoy anything so just running around is fun for them. Tomorrow I am going back to the class to add in musical instruments such as shakers and clappers for the kids to use during the song. I’m so excited!


Thursday: 2/13/14 - Day 4


Today was so much fun! We went back to the primary school. I went to the classroom where I taught the children yesterday. They all stood up and clapped and laughed. They were so excited.  I added musical instruments to the song today and handed out shakers and clappers to all the children. They loved making music and they all loved doing the song again. 



At the end of the class we asked the teacher how many children there were in the class today and she said 63 children. That is 23 more than yesterday! I am going back tomorrow to do the song again with them. We will be practicing for the show will be doing.  They are going to have to show the older children the song and dance they learned. In the afternoon we worked on a shoe project – handing out shoes to children who did not have any or those who need new ones. We handed out hundreds of shoes to smiling children who were very happy and thankful. 

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