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Leaving Kenya

International travel always has unexpected twists and turns as our last night in Dago, Kenya proved. As we watched the TV with our host family, the headlines flashed the news of a bomb explosion on a bus that was part of the Kampala Coach line. This was the same bus which we were all supposed to board in just a few short days. This incident sparked off a discussion among us and we were contemplating if we should even make the journey to the Uganda.

On the road to Uganda

After much deliberation, we decided to take a private shuttle instead of the Kampala Coach and continue our journey to Uganda. At the border, we were presented with an unexpected three hour delay, providing an opportunity to collect our thoughts and connect with others. During those three hours, I was engaged in a discussion with a nine year old boy who was selling bananas. In the process of our conversation, the young boy told me that he was working to save money to buy a football. The little boy was a curious young fellow who asked me different questions about what I do and where I was from. Our conversation drifted from politics to sports and to physics. I must admit that these varied subjects of conversation did surprise me. I was amazed the knowledge he had and our little chat was definitely one of my best on the trip.

Arriving at Children of Uganda

On Christmas Eve, we arrived at Kampala, Uganda to spend time with one of the Jolkona partners – Children of Uganda. The kids welcomed us with drums, dance and various other local instruments. This was the best welcome ever!

We were all excited about celebrating Christmas with these kids. We spent most of the day with them doing various activities – drawing, photo frame designing and crafts followed by lunch, cake and, who can forget, some basketball! It was such a pleasure to experience the kids interacting with us all, displaying who they were and expressing themselves in such a creative and innovative way.

The day ended with a grand performance from the kids with various instruments and an amazing dance. Later they tried teaching us some dance moves and how to play some of the musical instruments. This will surely remain as one of the best Christmas I’ve ever experienced and hopefully the same was felt by the many others who were with me.

Deciding to take the risk and proceed with our plan to go to Uganda was probably one of the best decisions the team made. We all got to see the impact Jolkona has made with this project, and spending Christmas with these kids was truly an amazing experience.

How you can help

For as little as $25 you can provide meals for 5 children for a week. Every donation goes a long way in supporting the kids at Children of Uganda.

Pavan Kumar Potaraju spends his days at Microsoft and volunteers with Jolkona on the Events team and with the Microsoft Giving Campaign. In April, he was our featured volunteer, you can read more about Pavan, here. This story is part of a series of blog posts from the Jolkona team’s trip to East Africa in late-December 2010.

We receive special letters from our children in Uganda all the time – children who have been touched by our donors’ generosity.  One recent letter from Stella broke my heart – and I wanted to share it with you.  Stella is in her 7th year of primary school and she is the only child in her family receiving an education.  She spent a portion of her recent Spring Break with her mother and 3 siblings.  Stella shared these experiences about her time at home:

“I was so happy to see my dear mother.  I also got to see my brothers and sister. I felt so sad that my mother is only able to eat once a day.  The food costs are so high and my mother has no income.  I am worried about my brothers and sister, too.  They only have a little to eat and told me they were often hungry…Thank you for that good heart you have…I eat 3 meals a day and I am not hungry.  Our school motto is ‘Education for a bright future.’  So I promise you I will study hard so that I can one day help my family the way you have helped me.”

Stella’s experience with her beloved family is not an isolated story.  People all throughout Africa are eating just one meal a day – sometimes none at all!  Uganda has been experiencing record-high food prices and most recently dire food shortages.  We are on the ground doing all we can but the only way we can ensure our children continue to receive 3 nutritious meals a day is by receiving more resources immediately.

Over the last year, we have made tremendous strides in our sustainable food and water security program.  In fact, our children now enjoy twice-weekly meals with vegetables.  By the end of 2009, that amount will be increased to five meals per week with homegrown fruits and vegetables.

But right now, basic food requirements (the foods eaten daily by the children) remain a significant cost to us.  In some cases, we are paying 50-80% more than we were just a year ago.  Can you help us today with a donation of $25?  There is a serious food shortage in Uganda.  Your gift of $25 will feed 5 children for ONE WEEK! Just click on this badge to give now.

Children of Uganda serves nearly 600 children.  We provide each child education, shelter, clothing and food.  Our mission is to support and empower these vulnerable young people who (in most cases) have no parents or support system to care for them.

Providing them adequate and nutritious food is critical to help develop their young minds and bodies.  Can we count on your special gift today to help us meet the growing financial demand of food costs?  Your tax-deductible donation will go to work immediately and will have a life-saving impact on a vulnerable child just like Stella.

Your gift will also send a strong message of hope to our children – that even in these challenging times our dedicated friends and supporters have not forgotten them.

By making a contribution right away, you will help ensure that our children will not be hungry during this food crisis.

Thank you Jolkona Foundation for your extraordinary vision and for choosing Children of Uganda to be a part of your incredible work.  We are deeply grateful.

Kindest regards,
Pamela

Pamela Brannon
Executive Director
Children of Uganda
www.childrenofuganda.org

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