Hospice Foundation

Thursday Morning
Thursday Morning
May 25, 2017

Last evening after work I went to my friends home to visit the child who was named after me – Roberta. She is growing and talking, and no longer afraid of me! She also has a little sister, Rowena who is approaching one year. It was a good evening and we all had a great time just visiting.

Today I took a break from the office to "organize" myself at home, walk around the village, and visit Saint Mary Kevin School one more time. In fact, someone just came to my door to invite me to come to visit with the children in the art room. I will leave shortly!

This morning I walked around the village and around the area where the road construction is taking place. One thing I have to say is that the construction has provided some huge rocks for people to chip away into making some gravel to sell. In a way, the road has provided some means of income for many. It is a long hard process to making the gravel!!!

I'm off to the school. Tomorrow is the District Meeting at PCAU. It will be a busy day – and my roll is the photographer!

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Rainy Tuesday!
May 23, 2017

Yesterday, Monday, I went with a driver to visit another school for a child in the Road to Hope Program with special needs. She has been in a school, but some concerns were raised and we thought it best to explore another option. I went to L'Arche Uganda. As many of you know, L'Arche, is an international organization whose focus is on individuals with disabilities. I talked with someone from admissions and toured the facility. They have three programs: outreach to home care, day programing, and boarding residents. Hopefully, Annet will be assessed before the end of the week by their staff in her current living situation. We are fortunate that she lives in their radius of service – and pray that she is accepted into the boarding school program!

It really rained this morning! Some of the staff started out for a meeting and had to turn back because parts of Entebbi Road, especially where I live by Kajjansi, were flooded. Cars that attempted to venture through the waters, were flooding over. Waters vanish fast around here so we are not anticipating any problems, except – you guessed it – the mud!

My days are moving along. The office at PCAU is always a busy place. Staff continue to work hard and have great leadership!

Have good days!

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Final Week!
Final Week!
May 22, 2017

The week end was busy! On Saturday I went into to Kampala. The PCAU driver dropped off  Dianah at one spot and me at another. He then headed off to have the vehicle repaired. Dianah and I met up a bit later and when we had completed our "business," we walked to get a public taxi transport. Along the way she negotiated a reasonable rate from a private-hire taxi for our trip home. It was a good decision because we hit some heavy traffic on Entebbe Road and it would have been hot and uncomfortable in a jammed public taxi. You have to experience them to really know what I'm talking about – the driver's goal is to squeeze as many people as possible into the taxi!

On Sunday we went to Stephen's celebration at his home in the village where he cared for his mother. Even though I couldn't understand the language, words are only a part of communication. I can honestly say it was a meaningful day for Stephen and for all in attendance. The number present was larger than anticipated and everyone had something wonderful to say about him – from childhood to adulthood! The villagers are so proud of his accomplishments!

The day began with a prayer service focused on Stephen and then came the speeches. YES, there were many! A Ugandan style celebration is NOT short on speeches! My words were translated by Rose to the local language so all could understand.

Mid way through serving lunch (in between the speeches) the rains came. We huddled under tents for about 20 minutes and then, all was clear, leaving behind red mud. At times I felt as though I was an inch or two taller from the mud at the bottom of my shoes, but, I was not alone! Since I took the pictures, I moved around a lot providing increased mud build up!

My major Ugandan experience came with lunch. Several of us who were considered "Stephen's family" were lead away from the larger group to a small brick structure that had an entrance door, but no windows. We sat on mats and banana leaves were place in front of us. We were all given our own small tied packet of banana leaves filled with juice, potatoes, and chicken. The leaves were folded back to create a bowl. We ate other traditional foods (matooke, sweet potatoes, rice, greens and g-nut sauce), with our fingers, from off the banana leaves in front of us. This type of meal is called luwombo. I even learned how to form a spoon out of a banana leaf to help with the sauce!

We were all tired when we arrived home, but we all agreed that it was a good day! Our continued prayer is that Stephen continues to grow as a person and in his professional life. He so wants to become a physician. The care of his mother has directed him to a life of caring for others!

I hope you all had a good week end too!

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Still Standing!
May 18, 2017

Once again, greetings from Uganda! It is always a pleasure to connect with you!

The week here at the office is moving along. Several people have taken turns being out ill – but so far, I'm still standing! I'm finalizing some reports, but getting feedback has been slow since people are out or at meetings. I still have next week.

Ritah, my neighbor and PCAU employee, had her birthday this past Tuesday. I had a small gathering for her at "my home." Since having a cake for events is so special, I decided to get her a birthday cake – without realizing she never had a birthday cake. She said. "This is the first time I will hold the knife to cut my own cake!" I really take so much for granted and thought about ALL the cakes I have had over these years! She was just so thrilled!

Stephen's celebration is this Sunday. I know I have mentioned it. He stopped by yesterday to pick up some of the money staff collected for him to help cover costs. He is working hard toward this event. It will take place where he lived and cared for his mother. He said it could not be held anywhere else, because being there was also honoring his mother. Stephen is pursuing medical school and has his first interview next week. Say some prayers for his success!

The road/highway is progressing in/through the village! Rose describes it as chaos! I will take some pictures before I leave. There is traffic moving on parts of the road and there are large cement barriers dividing the highway for a good distance. The only thing is, traffic moves in both directions on both sides of the barrier – cars, trucks, boda-bodas, bicycles and people! Rose said she believes they will have "rules" once the road is "really finished." In the mean time, children love playing in the red dirt and climbing up and down the inclines.

Take care and thank you for your continued support of me.

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Half Way Point!
May 15, 2017

It is hard to believe I am half way through my visit. I will be on my way home in two weeks!

This  past Saturday I went into Kampala with Rose and Dianah. We did some shopping for Stephen's upcoming event next Saturday which we are all looking forward to. The staff are assisting with some of the costs, especially since Stephen sees PCAU as "his family." 

After our shopping we went to a birthday celebration for Dr. Ann Merriman, founder of hospice in Uganda. She turned 82 and is proud of her age! She lives, "on the other side," as a Ugandan would say and has a view of Lake Victoria from the back of her home. Her home is large and she has filled it with her adopted Ugandan family of all ages – from babies who call her Jaja to adults who call her mother. Very often she has guests spending time with her doing volunteer work.
The group of people in attendance was small (according to Ugandan party standards!) so it was easy to circular to meet people.

Attending church on Sunday is always a joyful experience and uplifting. It wasn't as crowded as in the past because the school children who are boarding students at the various schools are on break, but the church was still very full. I guess what I mean is that I didn't have too push to hard to get in the door to get a seat!

I spent time in the afternoon walking to Entebbe Road to get some extended air time, visiting friends in the village and starting some reports for PCAU. The evening I relaxed at home with Dianah and my neighbors.

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
End of the Work Week!
End of the Work Week!
May 12, 2017

Who does not like Friday's?! Everyone here is looking forward to the weekend and some free time. Last weekend almost ALL of the staff had some kind of involvement at the camp – and Monday came all to fast!

The past two days I have been busy at the office organizing the charts/materials of the Road to Hope children. Some have very incomplete information and some materials were placed in other various folders/binders. I believe Zaitun will have a easier time picking up on the children with all their information in one place.

She is a busy woman. Besides picking up the duties of the Coordinator of the Road to Hope Program – who left suddenly – she is also doing her job of receptionist and has a role in much of the publicity/planning for the upcoming conference in August. She has been with PCAU for several years and everyone appreciates her dedication. She also has a good sense of humor which may be essential to her coping.

Rose and I – and I imagine Dianah – will go into Kampala tomorrow to pick up some gifts for Stephen's celebration next weekend. From there we will go to Dr, Ann's home (founder of Hospice Africa Uganda and Rose's first boss!) to help celebrate her birthday. I hope to find some time to begin some reports – but there is next week!

Have an enjoyable weekend!

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Mid Week!
May 10, 2017

There is always so much to say that it is difficult to know where to begin.

I was going to e-mail last night but the power was still off and using the computer by candle light is difficult at the end of a day. I sat outside with my neighbors, visited and listened to the children play. It's amazing how patient people can be! Just talking and sitting with others is a normal picture of village life, many not having TV's, computers, toys, etc. Someone attempted to climb one of the electrical polls behind our homes "to fix the problem" and we heard a loud pop over head followed by numerous flying sparks. I my glad no one was hurt! – but needless to say, I feared when the power ever did go on we'd still be left the dark. I was relieved around 10:30 when I did have some lights!

Today I remained in the village. Rose had several meetings and I wanted to see my friend Joel and had a visit scheduled at Saint Mary Kevin School across the road from where I stay. For as often as I have been here I have not seen much of the inside of the school. Tom made some connections last year during his visit and I was following up on his contact.

Joel and I – along with a "troop" of other children – made our way out of the village across Entebbe Road to an area around the market. He needed to get his bicycle repaired and I usually get him a pair of school shoes from the used shoes sold at many of the road side stands. His family lives poorly! We arrived back at his home with some sodas and snacks for everyone. His mother had just returned from their garden after digging sweet potatoes for sale. We had an enjoyable visit.

In the afternoon I toured and visited the school. They are a primary school, but also have older children who return there on school break. They are orphaned and had been in the primary school prior to going on the next level. For them it is "returning home" for school break. They also have a number of orphaned younger children. The challenge is to keep these children busy during the breaks from school and they do a good job. The older boys are making cement bricks to use to pave some areas around the school (and also teaching them a skill) while the older girls do bead work. They have some cooking instructions worked in and all the girls can make banana leaf dolls.They have a teacher who was once a student who teaches dance and the children preformed for me. There last "special dance" was to the song, Save The Children. I can attest to their small marching band and drumming group, because I can hear them practice. They also have a small garden to grow greens to supplement their diet and a piggery with 77 pigs/piglets. Much of what they do is their effort to generate some income. It was a good visit and they gave me what I refer to as a "usual friendly Ugandan welcome."

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Camp has Ended
May 8, 2017

Camp has ended with dropping off the last child here in the village for pick up early this afternoon. We are most thankful it didn't rain yesterday during the day.

Friday arrivals went into the evening and some arrived in poor health. Today we were already talking about working in a "health check" for the children upon arrival next year. That is just one thing to plan toward! There is always room for improvement and change.

I will have more to say about the camp, but I am a bit tired this afternoon. I cooked something to eat and have laundry soaking in a bucket. I don't look forward to doing it. Later this afternoon I will go with Rose to shovel manure for starting a compost pile at her home. Practical "Village activities!" She said where we have to go is "up and over there" – which means someplace in the village – where there are cows?!

My friend, Joel, stopped by but I told him since he is out of school on break I would send time with him on another day. We walked down the road to get some bread and I got him some sugar and rice to take to his family. He is getting big, but has maintained his big smile and genuine spirit!

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Road to Hope Camp
Road to Hope Camp
May 5, 2017

Today is the day the children arrive for camp. We are at the Conference Center where they will spend their nights. We anticipated that many would be here by now, but delays in getting the money for transportation slowed down some of their journeys! .As well as traffic, especially at this time of the day. They will arrive late in the afternoon into the evening hours. We will adjust. The staff's day will indeed be long!

Tomorrow we will be here by 6:30 A.M. for breakfast and aim to be on the buses by 7:15. Please pray that the day is clear of rain and that all goes well.

I met some of my other neighbors last evening  from Saint Mary Kevin School across the road from where I live. I was out getting something from one of the small village shops. They remembered me from last year when Tom visited. He had spent time at the school and made some contacts that have continued since our return home. They invited me to the school and want to have the children who stay there year round perform some dances for me. I was also told that the girls have some "projects" underway. I can hear their drumming group every evening when they practice, but look forward to some personal contact – maybe next week. The day students are now on a school break beginning today until the end of the month.

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Day at the Office
May 2, 2017

It was good to go to the office today to greet my co-workers at PCAU! As most of you will remember, here in Uganda, every work day begins with prayer and song. I look forward to this gathering of individuals of all religions, and it made for a wonderful beginning to this day. 

PCAU has a new staff member, Cynthia, who's responsible for IT and the M-Health Program. She has been here for three months and is a great professional asset to the office. I look forward to getting to know her better.

There was another new addition today with Lillian, a PCAU volunteer. These "volunteer positions" come with some pay, so it's a different understanding of the word "volunteer." She is being orientated and I'll spend some time with her tomorrow to explain our partnership with the Center for Hospice Care.

Rashida, the staff person responsible for the Road to Hope Program, relocated to England without notice, creating a bit of stress on the team. However, PCAU deals with stress with a positive attitude. Zitune, from the front desk, picked up her responsibilities. This wasn't easy, especially with the up coming camp. She has demonstrated flexibility in the past and has been an active part of the team over the years. I hope to support her in any way and to encourage her in her new role.

The camp is this coming weekend. There is much to be done and today is full of meetings as well as "catching up" from yesterday's holiday. Tomorrow, Zitune and I will meet and take care of a lot of "particle matters" concerning the camp. The children arrive throughout the day and evening on Friday. I join the team in trusting ALL will fall in place by Friday evening!!!

Being at the office gives me an internet connection, so I'm pleased. I haven't worked out getting the phone registered to give me a connection from home, but everything takes time in Uganda, where the pace is slower. People are used to not having everything at their finger tips – and internet connection is sometimes at the bottom of priorities when it comes to other "essentials!" I'm reminded of this at every visit!

The days have been cooler due to the rains and the mud continues to cover my sandals! The roads are slick, to say the least. It's difficult to describe how the cars, trucks, and boda-bodas get through the roads, but MOST of them do, including Rose! It's an experience to ride with her. Actually it's more like being in a ride in an amusement park! I do walk the roads in the village – .carefully! They too remain challenging.

I'm sure you are waiting for me to mention the power/electricity. Nothing has changed! I guess I was thinking with some advancements – like the new fly-over, an additional Quality Market, developing programs, etc. –  there would also be an improvement in power. This has not happened! We've had several periods of time each day without power, usually at night. My torches are getting a workout and I'm thinking I should get some "stand-by" batteries on hand before I'm left entirely in the dark. 

My neighbors, Daniel and Dianah, and their two children, Danella and Drake, have moved away to a home of their own outside the village. I miss them and all the activity they brought to my home, but I am happy they finally have their own home. Things change with time!

However, I have some new "little feet" in my home with Ritah's child, Gabby (Gabriel), who is now 17 months old and walking. His cousin, Shadia, age 4, is living with them. She is a quiet child and very sweet. Over the weekend they both became "comfortable" with me and are now feeling at home in my home. When I get some pictures I will be sure to share them with you.

Enough for today!.....and I am off to town!

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Late Sunday Musings
April 30, 2017

My Sunday is coming to an end, but Robert has offered me his phone to get the internet, so of course I did not refuse his generosity!

I walked to church this morning for the usual time of service, but when I arrived there were signs announcing "Marathon Prayer Sunday" to raise money for a new church. There were large tents set up, people serving breakfast and a number of individuals setting up hundreds of chairs in a nearby open field. Needless to say, I did not understand what "marathon prayer service" would lead to so I left and returned home. As far as I know, they could still be praying!

Rose's church in the village was demolished with the construction of a highway going through the village that the locals call a "fly-over." This construction has been taking place for the past couple of years, but reached her church this year. They meet in a small community room on Sunday mornings, but they also meet once a month at a parishioner's home for prayers and songs. This evening it was at Rose's home so I attended. I did not understand much, but was welcomed, especially since I brought the "welcome home cake" Rose had baked for my arrival! I have no words to explain how special it is to receive a cake – something we take for granted and expect for all occasions. It is the highlight of an event and presented to the guests with song and thanks. The pieces are cut and quartered so everyone shares in this treat! At the end of the evening I was once again thanked by a member of the group and by individuals.

I would have to say that being in attendance, even when I could not understand the words spoken, left me feeling refreshed in spirit. The people are faithful and prayerful and thankful. They are a blessing to me and to each other!

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday that was a "first" for me, was when Rose and I went shopping on Entebbe Road to pick up some groceries and came upon some road barriers due to the construction. I jumped out the car and just moved the barriers and got back in and off we would go. I just could not imagine doing this and getting away with it – but we did! I couldn't run very fast due to the mud, but my natural instinct was to do it fast!

I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I'm anxious to get to the office on Tuesday to see the staff. Of course, everyone is thankful for the holiday!

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Arrived!
April 29, 2017

I have arrived safely in Uganda. What was to be a brief lay over in Rwanda turned into an extended layover due to engine problems – something no one wants to hear. I hoped and prayed the mechanics on duty were "experienced." After 2 hours we were on our way. 

Getting through immigration/customs took longer, but I kind of expected that!!! I avoided the final luggage check because someone asked who I was visiting and I told them about PCAU. They asked if it was connected to the Ministry of Health and that got me special passage through the exit area. It was so good to see Rose and Medie (friend) waiting for me!

It rained much of today and the roads have turned into slippery red mud. I don't know what is worse – ice or mud!?

I will keep this short, because I am using air time from a neighbor's cell phone. He is a "new neighbor," and yes, he is letting me use his phone for this e-mail. Who says that Ugandan's aren't friendly and helpful?!

YES, I have technology with me, but now all cell phones and communication lines have to be registered with the government. I will not be able to do that until Tuesday, because Monday is a public holiday – Uganda's Labor Day.

I will see what happens on Monday. Things have a way of working out, but if my communications are few, you know why! I will depend on others and try to be patient!

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Thinking of You
April 25, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

Time seems to pass very fast in retirement! I had hoped to get this note off to you sooner, but… so many other things have taken up my time.

I am leaving once again for Uganda. I feel like saying I am "returning home," but that may imply that I am staying a long time. However, I do have to admit, like I have in the past, that Uganda has become a "second home" to me mainly because of the wonderful friends I have made over the years. Acquiring friends in Uganda is easy because of their welcoming spirit and genuine hospitality.

I will fly out of O'Hare this coming Thursday and will return at the end of May. As always, I ask for your prayer for a safe and healthy trip. I know my days will be busy and I am open to whatever comes my way to assist the Palliative Care Association of Uganda and the Road to Hope Program.

Thanks much!

Read More
Yes
Comments (0)
Subscribe to Roberta's Blog