Children of Uganda Contestance


Grove Library Project

I've been back for some time now and getting used to the American lifestyle, and missing Uganda every waking moment.   I have not posted since my return because I am no longer 'Sarah-in-Africa' but I figured because my heart is still there, I would start posting again.  

The elementary school I am working with in Illinois did a book drive for the children at Sabina and raised so many books to send. Enough for each child at our school in Uganda to have their own book to keep.  Below are some pictures of the books being passed out to the children.  It was an incredibly successful project on both ends.  


Mweraba, bambi mweraba

Two years ago, I packed my bags full of items I thought I would need for my peace corps adventure. The things I carried with me included my oboe, laptop, music, clothes and random necessities I though I would need. I packed unknowing what was in store for my life. Two days ago, I packed again but this time I stuffed my bags full of gifts received from the amazing people I have grown to love in what now seems to be a very short time. Over the past 2 weeks friends, coworkers, students and parents of students have given me 2 suitcases full of beautiful hats, painting skirts ect. to “remember Uganda.” As if I could forget! In addition, the Sabina staff threw me a surprise-going-away party which included so much food made by all of the aunties and dancing until I though my feet would fall off. They even prepared luwombo, a dish only used on the most special of occasions. Yesterday, as the kids sang and said their goodbyes, I wept with them as they were into their 4th song only a few kids were still able to sing as the rest had succumbed to sobbing. Before moving to Ssanje, Uganda, I have never before felt such acceptance into a community of people despite being such an obvious outsider (white skin?). The people of Sabina and Ssanje have warmly welcomed me into their homes through hospitality unmatched anywhere in the world. I know it is time to come home but I will miss Uganda forever. The constant perfect 80 degree weather, the abundance of fresh fruit, the monkeys and the beautiful people will of course be missed as I walk through Chicago in freezing weather. As Jon Kabat-Zinn sad, “Where you go is where you are,” and I will be happy where I will be living with my old roommates from college, living near my family and friends, being around for important events, but I’m still not sure if I will ever be able to readjust to the cold. Freezing is possibly one of my worst fears now. If freezing is the worst, then I guess I’ll be okay. I just might wear 3 coats at the same time for a while. It’s been a hard two years, although ‘hard’ does not begin to describe the challenges I have faced here, but I guess what they say is true, Peace Corps is “the toughest job you’ll ever love!”

Before I come home, my friend Hannah and I are stopping to tour Egypt, Jordan and Israel for a month and will arrive state side for Christmas and Becca and Jason’s wedding. I do still hope it’s okay with them if I wear a parka over my bridesmaid dress. This will probably will be my last blog from Uganda so I will leave you with some more pictures. Thanks again for all of your wonderful support through this crazy adventure.

Nkwagala nnyo!

One last hike to Katanjovu, a local hill/mountain with some of the students (i'm the white girl)

Machue and Teddy reading in the library.

Peter, our librarian teaching students in the library.

Playing volleyball at my going away party with some Sabina staff members.

Dancing the night away at my party with Sabina teachers.


A trip to the Library!

Here are a couple of pictures of the now fully completed library. The walls are painted, the 5000+ books are all labeled, categorized and catalogued, and the building is ready for learning. The grand opening will happen tomorrow and we are excitedly getting ready. We have invited district officials, teachers from Sabina and the other schools in the area and some community members to the opening to make them aware of the library and present the programs we will be offering to them. Our committee for the library has now met 5 times and all of the members are so enthusiastic about the library and creating great programs for the students here as well as the community. Their enthusiasm and dedication have made me so sure that the library will be put to the best use possible. If I do have to leave (and I do) it’s so good to know that the library will be in great hands. Also, Amy, our new Peace Corps Volunteer who is replacing me, is already passionate about starting programs for the community.

The final countdown to my departure has begun; I’m only left with 13 days which is harder to believe than anything. I can’t believe that I have made it all the way to the end! I’m trying to take time to say good bye to everyone before I go. Yesterday, one of my women’s groups I have been working with organized a goodbye party for me. They sang and danced for 3 hours and I was tearful the entire time. They kept thanking me for everything I have done for them, but I couldn’t make them realize that it was I that should be grateful for what they have done for me.

Hope you are all well, and I’ll see you soon!


Everybodys goin' surfin!

I’m typing this entry from Ssanje village inside the library and I will post it within minutes because we now have internet access. Yes folks, internet in the village. Because COU is an international organization we are in constant communication with the head office in Kampala as well as the COU headquarters in the states. This means we were having to go to Kyotera (25km crowded car ride away) to try to find internet. I say try because after you cram your self into a tiny car with approximately 10 other people you most often times arrive when the power is off or the internet is not working. If it does work, you have to pay so much money to use the very slow internet. This resulted in much money, time and energy being spent in traveling back and forth all the time. The solution was to bring the net here! Currently it is just for COU employees but further along we will be able to offer it at a rate to community members along with the potential for computer classes. For now it is saving us so much time and even money! This new development is so exciting for all involved, especially the kids who love to look up information through good search or on wikipedia. The world wide web has just become even wider. All the way to the village.

The library with solar power and a very long antenna for recieving internet!


Mikwano gyaffe

tarzan, swining on a rubber band!

Becca E. and me at the nile...at least we are not in de-nile!

Becca Evans came to visit what seems like just days ago, but as I am writing this blog I am now realising that she has actually been gone for a long time. She was able to come visit for 3 weeks at the begining of August and we had so much fun enjoying spending time with the amazing Children of Uganda students, running around Uganda seeing warthogs, swinging on vines, climbing trees, sleeping next to hippos....the list could go on for 5 pages! Her time here was so much fun and really reminded me yet again how incredibly blessed I have been to have so many wonderful family and friends, or friends and family or just family as my friends are my family and my family are my friends. :-) To have my family and two Beccas come visit has meant more than I can possibly even begin to describe. All my other "support staff" sending letters and packages have been equally brilliant and absolutely wonderful. I know maybe I have said it before, but I love you all so much! Thanks for everything!



We have been so busy these days at COU with all the new projects. One of the most exciting things for me is that we are very close to being ready to open the Library, or the Ssanje Community Resource Center which is the official name. The solar system is running beautifully and the children are studying every night in the space. The shipment of books arrived in Ssanje last week and we have been sorting, catologuing and shelving all of the books. The books were donated by a wonderful church in Washington DC. Most books were novels, but they also sent so many valuable reference books. With the money we have left over from the budget of building the library we are going to buy books printed in Luganda and Swahili so the children can read in their original languages.

I have been painting the walls with educational and fun murals with the help of some older students.

A semi-to-scale map of the solar system behind the massive amount of books we now have:
A giant map of the world:

"The giving tree" the leaves are names of people and organizations that gave to the library, zoon in and try to find your name!

Sash, another PCV's creation inspired by one of my favorite books:

When we were finished, we had a lot of paint left so we decided to redo some very old dirty paintings on the walls of Sabina and make fresh new paintings which represented COUs missions

AIDS awarness and care, a design colaboration between staff and visitors: This one is designed by Mugalula, a COU seconday student, and is his representation of the importance of protecting our environment: We also put up a few fun pictures. The one below depicting the Ugandan Crane was done by visitors to COU. The gates to the home:
Thats all I have time for today. Love you all!

Enjoy the day!