The night's nourishment and yesterday's rain have made the hills and valleys of Uganda more shades of green than Crayola could ever imagine. By 6:30 am the sun was already making it's way to the sky and the breeze is an 80 degrees tropical cool. As we make our way to my final teaching day with the MOHM children, I feel already a sense of separation anxiety to be leaving my first students in Uganda. They have been my first experience so naturally they will always hold such a special place in my heart. For me, the challenge is in that communication of that feeling. Saying 'You are so special to me and thank you for letting me be with you this week', doesn't quite translate, but saying 'May God watch over you and bring you happiness and blessings' does. On our commute out to the kids this morning I think about how I will mix the two translations...perhaps with no words at all.
When we arrive in Iganga, we purchase big bags of beans and corn (or Poshu....it's like grits but a finer grain and without all the dressings-instead you put onion and salted red beans on top to soak into the corn grain...YUM!). We will give the bags to the orphanage as a way of replenishing the lunch they have been giving to us each day. The director of the orphanage, Isaac, said to us on the first day: "When someone says 'Thank you for cooking for us', we say 'Thank you for eating what we are cooking'". It has been such a sweet gesture to cook for them to provide each day, and I am so thankful and humbled, and yet, the feeling is mixed. In part, we have worked up an appetite from an already eight hour day of traveling and teaching, and on the other part, I want to call over the children I have just made such a strong connection to and feed them instead. Eating here has changed me. It's hard for me to justify putting food into my mouth at any point by the end of this week, let alone while these frail children can see.
I try not to focus on this and rather I think about my daily work with the kids. As every day is a small review (which they always remember!!!) on our last day, I wanted to make it special. I want to let them decide what their favorite thing from our classes this week was, and then we'll build on it together.
The nursery class chose to do the dancing so we review our 'Swing Dance!' in an eight beat count. Then we build on that by adding the counts out loud. So we'll count out loud 'One, Two, Three, Four, Clap!' as we swing to the right, then switch, counting 'One, Two, Three, Four, Clap!' as we swing to the right. The kids love this! Then when my Primary 1 and 2 groups also pick the dancing I incorporate a different rhythm in addition. We say 'One, and, Two, and, Clap!'. I tell them this is the "Eighth note way to swing!" and then go back to the 'One, Two, Three, Four, Clap!' and I tell them this is the "Quarter note way to swing!". The best feeling in the world is when they actually understand and can do it two at a time in front of the rest of the class!?! These kids are amazing!
There are so many emotions that went into today that to try to sum them all into a page of literature is impossible. I will tell you briefly that once we presented our beans and poshu gift for the organization, the eldest girls ran to get colorful towels to tie around their waists and dance for us as a formal goodbye ceremony. They sang a song 'We so appreciate you. Thank you for your gifts. Thank you, thank you, thank you.' They were shaking their hips and swinging their arms and I just kept thinking...and I have nothing to teach them about dance...they are amazing!
While we waited for the boda bodas to come drive us back into Iganga, the kids wanted to write their names on my hands "So that I wont forget them" they said ....(exhaaallleee). Then we did rhythmic clapping games to each incredible name: "Nakato Peace" and "Nanijya Mildrine". Believe me, I will never forget these names. Never.