A Quick Trip to the North

On August 6th, I followed Babra Namutosi, Assistant Programs Coordinator, onto a packed night bus. We’d be traveling to Agago in search of Blessing Marion’s family.

This is one of the programs Wells of Hope Ministries offers: Family Tracing. WOHM believes in the importance of developing familial bonds to help a child grow and find a sense of belonging. To accomplish this goal, WOHM visits the children’s families, assesses the living conditions and situation, and facilitates a connection between the two parties.

In the case of Blessing Marion, she was born in prison, attended a daycare in Luzira, and arrived at Wells of Hope when she turned four years old. We had a contact for her, so, we packed our backpacks, hopped on the bus, drove up to the northern part of Uganda. Bags were pushed into my face, feet crept slowly into my space, and the seat got more and more uncomfortable. The bus ride was not my favorite part, but it was all worth meeting Blessing Marion’s family.

Upon arriving to Agago, Blessing’s grandfather, Uncle Francis, offered us a ride to one of his houses. Blessing’s grandmother welcomed us into her home. The house was comprised of three barren rooms – one for cooking and two for sleeping.

Slowly, we began uncovering the pieces of Blessing’s family. She has three grandfathers, one grandmother, three uncles, two siblings, and nine cousins waiting for her. They were very excited to see pictures of Blessing, as none of them have met Blessing before. They want to teach her the local language, introduce her to her family, and ensure that she is provided for. Her grandfather shared their economic struggles with Babra and me, confiding in us that they cannot provide for the eleven kids living in the household. The grandmother does most of the work, relying on farming for sustenance. Regardless of their circumstance, they look forward to meeting Blessing, asking that they get to spend time with her.

After finishing our visit in Agago, we left for Gulu. It took us about four hours and multiple modes of transportation, but, we somehow managed to make it work. In Gulu, we met another Wells of Hope student and attempted to reconcile him with his aunt and mother. Our second visit was not as successful as the first, but I enjoyed meeting the family, even though they could not understand my English.

Overall, I experienced so many firsts during my trip Family Tracing. I got to laugh and smile a lot and help Blessing be reunited with her family. I’m beyond thankful for this opportunity.

Written by Anooshka Gupta, intern from University of Michigan, USA

A Weekend in Semuto

Last weekend, I sat around a campfire, sipping sweet ginger tea and listening to different riddles proposed by students at Wells of Hope. We danced, ate roasted maize and chapattis, and shared stories with each other. The Head Office at Wells of Hope let Esther (Intern from Kyambogo University, Kampala) and I spend a weekend with the children, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

As someone from the West, I have not spent much time in village settings. I struggled with squat toilets, eating meals of posho and beans (as my stomach does not handle this well), and remembering to drink enough water. These things did not stop me though, as I was determined to spend as much time as possible with the children.

On Friday, we set off to Wells of Hope High School, intending to host a campfire for the high schoolers. Unfortunately, we were only able to spend a few hours with the High School students, but we spent that time to the fullest. They taught me how to dance, invited me to play games with me, and showed me so much love and compassion. Once the fire began dwindling down, Esther, Babra (Assistant Programs Coordinator), and I set off for the Wells of Hope Junior School.

Before breakfast, I spent some time with the younger girls at Wells of Hope Junior School. I’m not sure how well they were able to understand my English, but I think this was a good start for the rest of the weekend. They showed me how to cool down my porridge when it got too hot and laughed at me as I continued to burn my tongue. Quite on brand for me – I only discovered the sugar at the end of my meal.

The children then broke off into groups to practice singing for Camp David. I was not very good at these, but I loved hearing all of the pupils sing together. Some of them have really wonderful voices! At this point, some of the younger children broke off from the group, so I played with them on the playground. They are beyond adventurous, and, as I learned that day, I am no longer great on seesaws. Some of them walked us over to see the farms as well! I developed a little following of a few of the younger girls. They pointed out different places on the school grounds and pointed out the piglets and goats.

We then proceeded to lunch, where I had my first meal of posho and beans. My stomach struggled afterwards, but I joined the children in their next practice session. Afterwards, we watched some Tom and Jerry together and watched some of the older boys play football against the village kids. We won the game and celebrated with a little dance party! As always, the children at Wells of Hope give me a run for my money – I am nowhere near as great as they are.

After dinner, we prepared for a second campfire. I held two children in my lap. They proceeded to speak to me in Luganda and laugh when I could not understand what they were saying. I loved it. We finished the trip the same way we started: laughing and sharing good memories by the fire.

I love the children at Wells of Hope. They have taught me more than I could’ve possibly imagined, and I will never forget my time with them. Thank you to Wells of Hope Head Office for giving me this opportunity.

Written by Anooshka Gupta, intern from the University of Michigan, USA