The heavens finally opened, bringing thunderous rain tumbling from the sky and everyone is rejoicing. Since morning, the school has been a hive of activity with children and adults alike running around positioning strategic tubs, buckets and jerry cans to savour every magical drop. A river of muddy water is running through the school, bringing justification to the bridge that otherwise does nothing but span the dusty earth that takes me from my room to Dominic and Rose’s house.

The week since I last wrote has been a roller coaster of emotions, of highs of lows, of heartbreak and happiness. And above all, I have never felt so humbled in all my life. One of the main reasons I wanted to come back this year (other than the fact that these visits have turned into annual pilgrimages) was to visit all of the sponsor children as the first wave finished up their fourth year of secondary school and it’s time to start thinking about their futures. Many children leave secondary school after their fourth year to pursue more vocational courses which helps to speed up their education and get them out in the workforce earning money sooner so that they can support themselves or their families or both. The amazing thing about this year’s visits has been that because the school term has ended, I am visiting each of them at their homes in their villages, meeting their families, and consequentially feeling the full weight of their gratitude for the first time.

My first visit was with David, a boy whom we met in his final year of primary school in 2009. I’ve visited David several times at his secondary school and he is one of those boys who is always smiling, always upbeat and positive. I had no idea what to expect from meeting his family when Rose and I jumped on the back of a boda, the motorcycle taxis used for transport here. We rode over dirt roads for about half an hour before pulling up outside the crumbling mud hut that housed David and what remained of his family.

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Back in my village home

I’m sitting at my makeshift desk looking out the window at the children sweeping the dust and cleaning the compound, moving quickly as the skies have darkened and thunder is rolling in. After months of no rain with only a few scattered storms, everyone is desperate for the water that will quench the thirst of the dry fields and withered crops. I am back in a world where the weather gods dictate the fate of the people who rely so heavily on the land below. Worlds away from our society of overflowing supermarket shelves and produce imported year round so that we barely know what should be in season when. For a city girl, this was all new to me in 2009. Now I just feel an overwhelming sense of belonging being back in my village home.

I arrived to the waiting smile of Dominic and, as usual, the journey south to the village was colourful. We stopped by to visit Rotary John who welcomed me warmly and filled me in on the projects that had been going on in Kabira. Beehives, micro-finance projects, eucalyptus forests, poultry farms, pineapple plantations and piggeries have kept people busy and while the drought hinders such efforts, the determination of the people is strong. We left John in Kampala and continued our journey south, making our way along roads which have been steadily improved over the years but this doesn’t seem to decrease the length of the trip. I first thought that we lived a thousand miles from Kampala but in reality it is only around 300 kilometers.



This winding journey  is an appropriate way to adjust to African time. Dominic and I chatted about his trip to America and it was clear that he had been affected hugely by his time there. I didn’t think it possible for him to be even more motivated, even more determined, even more inspired than before but he has proven me wrong yet again. The trip opened his eyes to a world beyond his own and he made a huge number of friends from across the globe with his contagious enthusiasm and magnetic personality. Already some of these connections are starting to help KAASO and I feel incredibly proud that we could help facilitate these relationships.

At KAASO, I was welcomed by a mob of excited children who sang and danced and clapped as I entered the school gates. The first face I saw was that of Brenda, one of the little girls from my P1 class in 2009, now 11 years old and growing up fast. It is amazing to watch these children grow over the years and even though every year there are more and more new faces, the old ones take me back to the time when I called this place home. Continue reading

Uganda awaits

It feels like an eternity since I last wrote – the past months have been full to bursting. But now, sitting in yet another airport, it seemed like an appropriate time to sit down and reestablish contact with the world. Outside the light is fading over Amsterdam where I have been for the past 24 hours for a brief but amazing catch up with a long lost friend I met one afternoon in the Greek Islands on the eve of my very first departure for Uganda. And here I am now, four and a half years later preparing to board my flight southbound, back to the African continent.

This trip to Uganda is about getting grounded, reconnecting with the village and catching up on the past year and a half since I was last there. In that time, thanks to so many of your generous donations, Mark House was completed and I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes and to visit all the boys who now call our dormitory home – there will be pictures coming for sure! Also, thanks to the incredible kindness of a few and the outstanding organisational skills of Madam Kirsty, we brought Dominic to the USA in July this year to speak at an educational conference in LA and attend an educational workshop in Florida. I can’t wait to hear all about it and, in Dominic’s words, to ‘compare stories of being American!’ I’m not quite sure I consider myself American after a year and a half in the States but will be hilarious to compare notes all the same…

I’ll be in the village for one month, and during that time I also plan to visit all of the sponsor children at their respective high schools on my magical mystery tour around the country with Rose as my co-pilot, navigating my way across the pitted roads, past the fish-sellers and fruit-laiden roadside stalls. It will be almost Christmas by the time I leave so I’m looking forward to having some pre-Christmas celebrations with the children and to spending time with those who are back at KAASO for the holidays.

It’s hard to believe I left my Bondi home in Sydney nearly two years ago. Since then, it’s been an incredible adventure of ever-changing horizons followed by planting my feet in one place for over a year – a rare miracle in my world. I met so many amazing people in San Francisco and it’s a really special feeling to be able to take your world with you – this travelling circus of people that follow the America’s Cup around the globe are like one big family to me. While the past year was marked with ups and downs, I ultimately left with great memories of the foggy city.

It’s a strange feeling now, sitting in a brightly lit room full of people going about their business, music playing, suitcases wheeling, laptops tapping, TVs buzzing and glasses clinking, knowing that this time tomorrow I will be back in the village, sitting outside under a tree, strumming my guitar and surrounded by singing, swaying, grinning little faces. I close my eyes and try to picture it and it still feels like another world, so very far.

But it’s undeniable, Uganda is calling me back. That dusty road is stretching before me and I can’t wait for the cacophony of sound, the flying hugs and tangle of limbs that await me. It’s been a while, but it’s time to return to my Ugandan home.