Here we will report again what our team has experienced on our trip from 07 November to 06 December 2022, what tasks we had locally and how your donations were used. Also this year, the diary will not only be written by one person, but each traveler will tell once from his perspective. We hope you enjoy reading it.
I have about 24 hours of travel ahead of me, but I am full of anticipation to finally see all the children and caregivers of Sonrise Ministries again. The day already starts great. The cab driver who takes me to the airport is so interested in the project that he gives me cash right away and tells me to use it on site. The flights leave on time and Richard is already waiting for me at the airport. Tired, I go to bed around 2 a.m. local time.
I am allowed to sleep a little longer today to recover a little from the journey. Around noon, I meet with all the directors of Sonrise Ministries as well as some managers for a very tasty lunch. The time without the team gives me the opportunity to discuss some organizational details with them again in peace. Afterwards, we go shopping with Aisha and Joanne at the market. It is always a very special experience to watch the colorful hustle and bustle. And I always discover fruits that I have never seen in my life, let alone ever eaten, such as the crocodile fruit or rose apple.
Today I went with Damali to the new Baby Home. There I was able to meet all the new employees of Sonrise Ministries. As the project grows, so does the number of employees. It is wonderful to see that we are not only giving children a safe home, but also offering jobs to people from the surrounding communities. And with a lot of love everyone contributes to make the home a beautiful and peaceful place.
In the afternoon we hiked down to the Nile with the bigger babies and Damali gave them some swimming lessons. It was wonderful to see the children playing so carefree in the water. Our namesake Auntie Peace is also feeling very comfortable in her new home.
This is also part of having a non-profit. The verification to use the donations as well as completing the accounting. An annoying part, but it is part of it if you want to change something.
In the afternoon we went to the Mirembe Cottage. Some of the older girls from the Baby Home are now also housed there and bring a lot of life into the house. Above all, Gabi is a real little whirlwind, laughing all the time, as she always was at the Baby Home. Gloria taught me how to make a Christmas decoration for the tree out of palm leaves and a bag out of mango leaves. She is a good teacher.
Today we visited the families that we were able to reunite with a baby. Sonrise’s first goal is always to reunite families wherever possible. In the morning we went to the market to buy posho, sugar, rice and soap as well as soda, cookies and candies as host gifts. This is an important support for the families, as many live at the subsistence level. The first way led us to Tracey. The baby, which is also on our Peace’s Hope e.V. logo. Afterwards we visited Xervier, Musa, Prince Arthur and Lydia. We took notes of what is most needed here, such as shoes, new clothes, etc. We can use this information for Christmas shopping. Because these babies are also still in our care and will receive a Christmas present thanks to our dear sponsors in Germany. This will be a joy for the holidays.
In the morning we went to town with three very long shopping lists. Today we had to buy medicines to replenish the supplies of the three homes. This is always a lengthy process, picking out all the medications at the pharmacy and then adjusting the quantity so that it fits right into our budget. Then everything is packed and loaded into the vehicle. In the late afternoon we went back to the guesthouse. But we literally bought a truckload of medicine. And there were even some packages missing, which will be delivered on Monday. Many thanks to all the donors who made this purchase possible ❤️
Fun Fact for our readers (less for us). During the night a rat died inside the car, which we couldn’t find in the morning yet. You can imagine how the car smelled all day. But in Uganda there is a solution for everything and in the evening the rat could be removed successfully.
In the morning we went to church near the old Baby Home. The old Baby Home is now a quarantine station for new arrivals or for sick babies. There they are also much closer to a hospital. Wabirongo, where the new Baby Home is now located, does not have a hospital in close proximity. This is one reason why the Sonrise Baby Home is planning to build a clinic there.
In the afternoon we visited the older girls of Mirembe Cottage. Unfortunately, the government stipulates that orphans over the age of 18 must be separated from the younger ones. Therefore, the Mirembe Cottage has rented a house near the former Children’s Home. First, the girls beautifully designed and wrote the first thank-you letters to their donors for Christmas gifts. After that, we did one of my favorite puzzles together. Wasgij. A puzzle where you don’t know exactly what motif to puzzle. It was unusual for everyone and was a lot of fun. A nice afternoon with the girls.
Damali showed me some hospitals in Uganda today. Sonrise’s biggest project so far is the construction of a clinic in Wabirongo near the new Baby Home. The public hospitals are quite overcrowded, so there is an increasing need for private clinics.
To get an idea of what Sonrise is planning, we looked at both some private and public hospitals and learned about all the things we need to think about during construction. It’s going to be a challenge for all of us. But one that’s absolutely worth investing time and money in. In Wabirongo, the population usually has long distances of up to 150 km to the nearest hospital. Since HIV is also a big problem in this area, there is a need for a local counseling and treatment center. I was particularly impressed by a private clinic especially for children and an orthopedic clinic, which is financed by a Canadian organization. The children’s clinic really does everything to make the stay of their little patients easier with a beautiful wall decoration and funny disguises of the doctors and nurses.
In the late afternoon I drive with Richard to the airport in Entebbe to pick up Hans. Hans is the only fellow traveler this year. Everyone is looking forward to seeing him.
Last night I arrived in Uganda. And after all the visa formalities were finally done, I was already picked up very warmly by Gabi and Richard at the airport. This morning I had a long sleep and after we had sorted all donations, I could make my first acquaintance with the “Mirembe Cottage of Street Girls”. After a short drive we were also very warmly welcomed here and I was impressed what has been created here in recent years. In the afternoon we were then taken over by the “kiddies”. Afterwards we continued with great zeal with the making of the Christmas cards to the donors. With many impressions and dead tired we went back to the guesthouse in the evening where we let my first day come to an end.
In the late morning we drove to the Baby Home. Hans was joyfully welcomed by the men and invited to a little dance. Afterwards Damali showed him each house and explained the special features. Holding little Annaliese in his arms reminded Hans very much of the time when his children were so small. Annaliese felt very well taken care of by him. Afterwards Damali showed him the whole area around the home as well as his future construction site and colleagues. We are planning to build a new pasture fence with feeding stalls for the cows and Hans has already promised his active help as soon as we are back from Kamuli. We were also able to distribute some of the donations in kind for the Baby Home. The clothes are more than urgently needed. And to the last photo….. No, Richard is not small, Hans is just very big 😉
Thursday 17.11, the third day in Uganda took us today to Kamuli to the Children Home, where we will stay the next days. After a 2-hour drive and a short detour to the guesthouse, we went directly to the kids. After the obligatory welcome dance, we got an incredibly impressive welcome show from the kids. 30-40 kids danced and sang fantastically under the rhythm of the drums, which cannot be described in any way with words and pictures (which Gabi fortunately took). Afterwards there was an artistry interlude – without a net and with a lot of trust in God. After lunch there was some work waiting for us. Washing plates, work in the “Garden of Eden” and already a tour of the work that awaits us tomorrow. At the end there was a long walk with the children (looking at pigs and chickens) and the “Journey to Jerusalem” is probably a very international game. The children played this in “African style”. Then back to the guesthouse, dinner and curiosity what awaits us tomorrow.
Today started with shopping at the market in Kamuli for Mwzee Stefan. We have already visited Mwzee Stefan last year. He is an elderly blind man who has no relatives left to take care of him. Therefore Sonrise provides him with the most important food and helps with the housework. Today we brought something very special for Mwzee Stefan. A chicken, which we bought from Joseph – a child of Sonrise – before. The children slaughtered the chicken and prepared it fresh for him. Mwzee Stefan was very happy about our visit and the much needed food.
In the afternoon Hans and I helped out on the construction site of the Nursery School. Today we had to prepare the painting work for tomorrow. So we were busy cleaning the doors and windows with sandpaper from the wall primer and other discolorations. Everyone is working diligently so that the Nursery School can finally be up and running for the new school year at the end of January/beginning of February 2023.
Today was all about family visits. The older children, Philips the nurse Gloria ,Dennis and we first went shopping at the local market and then visited children and their families who had big health problems due to their poverty and who were enabled by Sonrise to have expensive operations. The first child was a child who had suffered severe burns to the body, the second two siblings who were left alone by their parents and as a result were malnourished, slept among rats and were attacked by them at night. In this case, your aunt was located, assisted to take the children after their recovery. The purpose of today’s visit was to continue to support these families with food. Unfortunately, the little boy was sick when we arrived and we took him to the nearest town to a hospital together with his aunt. According to the first diagnosis he has malaria, worms and malnutrition.
After going to church with the children in Kamuli in the morning, Hans and I were divided between two homes for lunch. I was allowed to dine with Auntie Anna. It was nice to have lunch together with the children. Afterwards we painted and wrote some thank-you cards for the donors in Germany. It is always nice to see the eagerness and joy of the children. After that it was time to play. Hans tried his hand at soccer with some of the children and caregivers, and I tried my hand at hide-and-seek with the younger residents. It was wonderful to spend some more free time with the children, since they are still in school during the week.
After yesterday’s soccer game, it was back to work today! After preparing the windows on Saturday, we got to paint the windows in night black today. Before that, we had already primed the walls in another classroom. Working here is a bit more flexible and not always according to a strict prefabricated plan 🙂 . In the afternoon we got a visit from “our” kids. Their favorite toy is then always my I-Phone. I can then in the evening all artistic works (photos, videos especially popular are slow-motion videos) marvel and always hope that no important data were deleted.
In God (and the Children) we trust.
Today we continued working in the classroom from yesterday. The ceiling was painted white, the walls in a dull yellow, the door painted black. Tomorrow another layer of paint has to be applied. But this, unfortunately, our hardworking helpers from the construction site will have to do without us. Today was our last day at Sonrise Children’s Home. After the work on the construction site some of the children sold us their self-made baskets. A small part of the money is used for food, but the children are allowed to keep the main part for themselves. Some of them have already bought animals from it, which they then sell on again. For example, Joseph sold us one of his chickens for Mwzee Stefan. Then it was time to say goodbye with a heavy heart. This is always a difficult moment for me. The children have grown so close to my heart. But it is good to know that I have already coordinated the dates for the trip in 2023 with Sonrise Ministries. So I can already look forward to seeing them again.
After we said goodbye to the kids in Kamuli last night, today was a rather uneventful day: Packing suitcases, breakfast and early morning with Denis back to Jinja. There we picked up three older children from the high school. Today was the last day before the long vacations and they will go back to Kamuli to the Childrens home until February. But before that we had looked at two other schools together and before the return trip we went with the three, as well as Dennis and his little daughter still nice for lunch 🍟 🍔. Gabi and I then did a few errands in Jinja (bank, shopping) and now let the day end in the guesthouse.
Today we spent the whole day at the Sonrise Baby Home. Hans helped the farmers to build a shelter with a feeding station for the cows. Already today they have come very far. The cows have also had a sweet addition in the past week. All the more urgent is the extension of the pasture area. While Hans has been busy hammering, I have been taking new photos of the babies. It was a wild mess.
Today we went to the girls at mirembe cottage for a change. After a long greeting and some playing we helped to fill sugar for the Christmas baskets for the parents of the community children and to distribute it into the bowls. Afterwards we had to go back early because we were invited to a Thanksgiving dinner with Melissa and the Sonrise founding siblings. Over a good American/Ugandan Thanksgiving dinner, we watched a bit of World Cup soccer. With the unfortunately unfulfilled hope of the return of the power (after 24 h) we went home 🏠.
Today we had to get up very early because of the shopping for the children’s Christmas presents. We are rewarded for getting up early with a beautiful sunrise. The whole day we are on the way in Kampala to find the right present for every child. On the way back we have “chicken on a stick” as a reward. Tired, but satisfied, we arrive back at the guesthouse late in the evening.
Today, on the Lord’s Day, we went to church, this time in Jinja nearby. Afterwards we took a short walk back to the guesthouse, where Gabi took the opportunity to show me the former Babyhome. At that time it was bursting at the seams and it is hard to imagine how up to 45 babies and toddlers were accommodated in the few rooms. Now the house is used as a quarantine station, i.e. new arrivals are first housed here to protect the other children until they have cured their diseases such as tuberculosis. Later in the afternoon we made a small boat trip to the source of the Nile with 3 local Sonrise staff members where we could admire the local flora and fauna like some monkeys, reptiles and various bird species. Finally we went with the three Sonrise girls to a nice restaurant on the riverbank for dinner.
On Sunday we learned that a part of the protective wall around the former Baby Home has collapsed. The old home is used as a quarantine station for new arrivals, as many of them have contagious diseases. This way we can prevent these diseases from spreading among all the babies. Today we were able to see the full extent of the collapse and were horrified. The wall must be urgently renewed, otherwise the babies will have no protection. Currently, two night watchmen are deployed at night to have a minimum of protection.
During the morning we went to the new Baby Home in Wabirongo. There we split up. Hans went on with Richard and Catherine to the vicinity of Kalagala Falls to buy local Christmas trees for the children. Richard and Catherine then also showed him the waterfalls. During this time I took foot or finger prints of the babies for the thank you cards for our dear donor.
In the afternoon it was time to wrap up all the Christmas presents the babies had bought. We were all very busy with that. But I can’t wait now to see the first pictures of Christmas when the children open the packages ❤️
After the Childrens Home in Kamuli last week, the Baby Home in Wabirongo yesterday, today it was time for me to say goodbye to the girls in Mirembe Cottage. A last time together playing, singing and dancing. Afterwards a small photo shooting, for which the girls got dressed up again. At the end Gabi had her hair styled by the girls and then we went back to the guesthouse. For me it’s time to pack and relax a little, tomorrow is then a long all-day car ride. My last 3 days I will still look at the wildlife in the west of the country, before it finally goes Saturday night for me back home.
Very early Hans is picked up and it goes for him in the direction of the rainforest. Tomorrow the first highlight of his journey through the west of Uganda is waiting for him. The gorilla tracking. I have done this twice and it was always an incredibly great experience.
I myself am going into town with Joanne in the morning to do some shopping for a birthday party at Mirembe. Little Zion will be 7 tomorrow 🙂 Joanne and Nalongo have also been busy baking cakes for her today. Since the power went out again for a long time in the afternoon, the baking of the third cake will be postponed until tomorrow morning.
For me there was a lot of office work to do today. The final accounts are due before I travel back home on Monday. Many invoices have to be checked and entered, the remaining budgets have to be calculated. A much more boring occupation than doing something with the children. But with an official association, this is inevitably part of the job. And since transparency is extremely important to us, I’m still very happy to do it.
Joy and sorrow in one day…
On 19.11.2022 we had already reported about the little boy who was simply abandoned by his parents together with his sister. His aunt then took care of the two. When we visited him on November 19, his face as well as his belly was very swollen. First examinations showed malaria, a strong worm infestation and malnutrition. This morning I accompanied Dennis, Phillips, little Raistan and his aunt again to a clinic in Jinja. The malaria has subsided, but his face and abdomen are still very swollen. It must be urgently clarified whether his kidneys are still working normally. Please keep your fingers crossed for the little man. He has already had to endure so much suffering with his 6 years.
In the afternoon we went to Mirembe Cottage. Today was the birthday of Zion and Flavia. A birthday is always a small occasion to spoil the children with some sweets, which they usually don’t get. It was wonderful to see with how much joy the children ate all the delicacies. A few Schokobons from Germany were also there 😉
In the morning we went to the old Baby Home, where the collapsed wall is being rebuilt. Then we went on to the new Baby Home. The last Christmas packages still had to be wrapped. In addition, I was able to see the progress of the construction of the barn for the cows, which we financed. After that we went for a nice walk with the babies. It is always cute to see how the little ones run through the landscape seemingly without getting tired. Afterwards I had a little opportunity to talk to Auntie Peace, our namesake. Unfortunately, she currently has malaria, so she was not doing so well. With a heavy heart it was time to say goodbye to everyone. The last days in Uganda I will not have the chance to go to Wabirongo again. But it is comforting to know that the next trip is already being planned.
The end of my trip this year is near. Therefore, I am now almost every day busy with the topic of settlements. Nevertheless, there is still time for some leisure activities. So I could spend today’s noon with Richard and his sweet family. In the afternoon I visited Buffy. An American who lives in Uganda and with whom I stayed during my first trips. She is in the process of adopting “little” Abigail, who has been living with her for several years now. It is nice to see how much they have grown together as a family.
After saying goodbye to Gabi and Sonrise Homes on Wednesday morning, I spent a few more days exploring the country! I found gorillas, chimpanzees and leopards, but lions only chilling on the ground 🤣. Now it’s time for me to finally say goodbye to the country, wonderful people (especially small 🥰), and flora & fauna. In half an hour is boarding 😢. Maybe there will be a reunion sometime.
Today I spent once again with the girls of Mirembe Cottage. After Mass, some of the girls wrote letters to their sponsors. We also looked at photos of the past weeks together and created some new ones. The girls are crazy about photos. Then it was time to say goodbye. I was able to spend the late afternoon having some nice “girls time” with Nalongo, Joanne and Aisha. Also that must be sometimes 😉
The day of my departure has arrived. I go once again to the old Baby Home to see the progress of the new construction of the protective wall. Around noon, I leave with Aisha in the direction of Entebbe. Since we are there quite early, we have a nice dinner in a restaurant near the airport with a view of Lake Victoria. Then it is time to say goodbye again. Shortly before midnight my first flight leaves for Amsterdam. How fast the four weeks were over.
Around noon I arrive back home. It was a wonderful four weeks. Even though it was not a real team this year, but rather a duo. This gave me a lot of time to take care of the organizational things on site and I also had a lot of personal time with the supervisors. It all has its advantages and disadvantages The dates for 2023 are as good as set. As soon as the flight dates are available in January, we will report on this. Due to the night flight I am still a bit tired today, but I look back on a wonderful time with my dear children in Uganda And after the trip is before the next trip.