Thursday, July 8, 2010

First Day

By Carly Voigt (Fount of Mercy volunteer, educational development, focus: music)
The day was so long yesterday and SO much to take in, that I opted not to try to put anything into words. Today, after eight hours of sleep, I feel like I can speak a full sentence again.

Their are so many beautiful moments from yesterday- and also some extremely trying moments. The transit was the most challenging. We take what is called a Mutatu from Jinja to Ingaga, and then take the boda taxi to the countryside where our first organization, MOHM, or Message Of Hope Ministry, is located. Waiting in the Matatu can take 10 minutes, or an hour, but the drivers wont head out to our destination until every seat is full (often with more than one body), so it took us two hours to arrive at MOHM on our first day.
When we arrived at MOHM, in an effort to keep from disturbing the children's school, we walked up to the sleeping quarters for the children- Complete with full bedding and mosquito netting for each bunk. They have acquired enough funding to build a well to access their own water! It's been three days into the digging and the men are nearly 80 ft. down by this point. They tell me they have a week and a half left of digging to do before they hit water.
By this point, the children know that we 'Mazungas', or white people, have arrived and they stream from their modest school house to sing us their welcome song-
'Our Home, This is our good home
Our Home, This is our good hope!'

They sing it again and again until they have successfully hugged me, Michelle, and Kelly. Although the other two girls have been to MOHM many other times, this is my first- and I am simply overwhelmed. The joy that spills from these tiny children as they sing to us and flood us with hugs is touching in a way I have never felt before.

Our first lesson is a combination of me learning how to use my assigned translator, Julius, and the children learning quarter notes (I'm teaching music). These kids are SO SMART! They pick up not only the note value of each eighth note, quarter note, half note, and whole note, but they also understand that it is the 'Mathematics of Music' and can clap and keep the beat of each note line that I give them! Julius is a huge part of the success of the lessons, however, as in their culture, he is slightly uncomfortable with translating my praise to the children. As I catch on, I tell the class: 'You sound wonderful' and ' I am so proud of how quickly you pick up on this!' and then I turn to Julius and wait as he nervously rubs one eye or scratches his nose while he translates my enthusiastic remark with the excitement of a peanut.
Still, I love Julius, which is good because he'll be working with me as my translator for the duration of the teachings. I asked him his story, casually on my first Mutatu ride to the school, fully expecting to hear how he became a translator. Instead I felt like I was socked in the stomach when he tells me of his parents death at the age of twelve.
I have so much more to learn, and so much more to find out- explore-see, and I cannot wait. I already am wondering if what I teach these kids will even compare what they teach me.

More soon
With love, Carly

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