Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Greetings from Uganda!

Finally an update about 10 days late! It’s hard to believe that I have been here for 2 weeks already, I started this blog last week and well time has slipped by.

A friend said to me “well two days in Uganda is like a week in the States”. I will say this morning when I realized I had arrived to the US exactly two weeks ago, I was surprised myself as it feels like I’ve been here a month already.

I will post a blog for gulleysadventures.blogspot.com detailing an overall view of what the past 2 weeks have been like on a personal level, but now an update specifically for The Bernie Project.

Currently the school is on holiday break and the kids will return to school on February 1st. The Ugandan government highly stresses that kids go back “home” during holidays, home could be their parents, grandparents, uncle/aunt’s house or even some distant relative. However at the Wakiso School of Hope there will typically be 60-80 kids left behind because they have nowhere to go or there is some other reason they did not go back to the village during this time.

The second day I was on the ground I learned that the school would have no food the next day, so we purchased a 50 kilo bag of posho and a 50 kilo bag of beans so that the kids would have food through the weekend that would cover the school until I could sit down with the staff and discuss what our first “test” menu was going to consist of and make those purchases.

Last Monday we purchased rice, posho, beans, cabbage, dried fish, pineapple, tomatoes, and onions. We also added eggs for two days with bread for breakfast and meat for lunch on Sunday. After we purchased the food we went back to the school where we met with a sales representative from Feed a Million Mouths- Uganda. Which is the African version of Feed My Starving Children, but the food is produced on the continent and not shipped across the world to get here, which I like because it’s stimulating the economy within country opposed to the food being shipped thousands of miles from the US. They supply a Meal in One porridge that provides the same nutrients as 4 slices of bread, 2 eggs, 2 large portions of Fruit and Vegetables and 8 oz of milk in one serving. The contents have a low glycemic index and it is made with all natural ingredients. The rep brought a sample for us to try, I must say I was skeptical at first, but it was really quite good. We then called some of the kids over to give it a try and it was a big “thumbs up”.

Seems perfect, right? It’s a bit expensive so I need to do some budgeting to see if that is something we can continue throughout the year.

On Wednesday of last week, I spent the day at the school observing and participating in the cooking for the kids, I stirred the porridge…the stick is taller than me and being 4’11 that’s not saying much, but seriously when was the last time you cooked with a spoon that big? I also helped cut the cabbage for lunch…there are no cutting boards and Ugandans are much more savvy wielding knives freestyle than I am, so I was using my leg as the cutting board with a dull knife I fully expected to leave with a deep gash in my leg…well I cut myself indeed but it was more of a nick to the thumb than my quad thankfully!

The first week of the improved menu was a big hit! There were many smiles on the faces of the kids and many of them saying they were now looking forward to meals.

Yesterday, we took inventory of the remaining balance of food from last week and made plans for this week. We have created Menu A and Menu B where we plan on alternating each week so the kids have some variety in the meals that are prepared.

I’m also in the process of identifying and meeting with schools that have meal plans, food suppliers, built out kitchens and ways to track usage of food and waste of food.

On behalf of all of the kids at the Wakiso School of Hope thank you so much for your support!

Here are a few photos that highlight the past two weeks: