Heart for Uganda

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Lessons from our Large Family

Posted on November 17, 2010 at 6:30 AM

I have never been a member of a large family…let alone the head of one. Growing up it was only my younger brother and me within our household with either my mom or dad. We enjoyed our separate rooms and reveled in our lone activities. In college, I did not live in the dormitories or pledge a sorority, so I did not experience communal living like so many others. As an adult, I lived with a couple of roommate, but we always had our individual space. Before leaving for Uganda, Antwain and I resided in a quiet home in Kansas City.


I have always been fascinated by the workings of large families, marveling at the patience and organization of parents of large families. The relationships that are formed within large families are intriguing to me.


Now bring here in Uganda, our family may be non-traditional, but we are a family nonetheless. Our daily household contains myself, Antwain, 15 Big Boys, and at least 4-10 SMK kids at any given time within our house.


The following are some of the little tidbits and observations that I have gleaned from our household. With only 3 months of living together, this list makes me smile. I am eager to see what else I can add at 6 months, 1 year, and beyond together:

  • Laughter is contagious!
  • 4 hands are better than 2, 8 hands are better than 4…and 40 hands can accomplish anything.
  • Everyone has their own place or way to contribute. It helps our household run.
  • Nothing beats a home-cooked meal at the end of the day, especially when cooked together.
  • Micromanagement will equal insanity.
  • No two relationships are the same…everyone has a special place within our family and with each other. Each has a special place within my heart!
  • Only put out about 1/3 of the food that you have bought at any one time.
  • Music, football, and soap operas are common joiners… everyone will come together when either is present. It just can’t be helped!
  • Fighting muddy feet prints on the floors and finger prints on the wall is a losing battle!
  • Celebrate the small successes and rejoice in the simple moments.
  • Must let go of the daily mess…it will be cleaned eventually.
  • Every talent should be recognized equally…we have scholars, athletes, artists, dancers, musicians, handymen, electrician, chefs, technicians.
  • Always expect the unexpected.

When The Lights Go Out

Posted on October 7, 2010 at 6:00 AM

I have spoken several times about occasions when the electricity has gone out unexpectedly here in Kajjansi. It is almost a daily occurrence. The times during the day and the duration of the black out varies. It is impossible to predict. Power is just poof, gone. There is relatively little that can be done but enjoy each other until the lights decide to return.


With a small flashlight or some burning candles, there are very few games that can not be played…cards, mancala, checkers, chess. Our new favorite high energy game is 4 corners played in our larger sitting room. A popular activity with the kids is either dancing (to a small battery powered radio Antwain brought) or modeling. Modeling entails one person who will strut as if a runway model while others sing a song, “The girl is like a real model, a real model, a real model. The girl is like a real model. Model, model, model. Statue. Statue, statue, statue…” (Really quite liberating and fun.) Finally some of the best story-tellers I have ever met live here at SMK. Children can take turns telling old folktales, recount storybooks, retell plots of movies, or share about their family’s lives in the villages.


Definitely never a shortage of options.


The following pics are from our recent weekend without power…no particular reason for no power, just none. We enjoyed each other anyways!



 Funny faces.                                                                           Kitchen modeling.



Acrobatics.                                                                               Dancing.



Mancala.                                                                                Chess.



Tickle game.                                                                           More modeling.

Proud New Owner

Posted on October 3, 2010 at 10:30 AM

I am the proud owner of 2 hens now. 

The converstation went as follows:

Henry:  I have a surprise for you.

Me:  Really?  What?

Henry:  I have gotten you 2 new hens.  After all, you are in Uganda now. 

Me:  What does one do with hens?

Henry:  (he starts laughing)  I will show you, but trust me, it is a good thing.  You will enjoy the hens. 

Okay, trusting.  Maybe Uganda will teach this city girl a few things...




Note of Appreciation

Posted on September 25, 2010 at 7:30 AM

And a great day just got better by a note from one of my Big Boys.  Can you feel my smile??


Dear Mamy Melissa,


Hi.  Melissa, how are you doing these days?  For me on my side, I am very, very okay because of the love and care your showing (giving) us.  Please let me take this opportunity to appreciate you for waht you have done for us.


Ever since you came into our lies, all things are going well.


May the good Lord continue protecting you.




(age 16 years old)



Our New Home Revealed

Posted on September 19, 2010 at 6:30 PM

Okay, after a long wait...here are finally photos of our new home in Kajjansi.  There are still some fine details of decoration to occur over time (like more wall hangings), but it is a home that I love.  I have never had anything created specifically for me before, so this home will always hold more significance to me than any other place I have ever lived.  The Kavulus really did an exceptional job with overseeing the renovations and construction, and I will forever be grateful for their generosity and support during our transition.   


For anyone interested in visiting Uganda, you are always most welcome at our home. 

The front door to our home.  Entrance is into the kitchen.

Shoes are taken off at the door to prevent lots of

muddy feet prints.  Door to the left will be the space

for my office area.  (Still under construction.)



Kitchen has become to heart of our home.               Sitting Room is filled with children watching TV or

There is always someone here being                       playing games.  I have added a table/chairs for

welcomed.  Stove (or "cooker") has electric              having meals.  Also serves as a good work space

and gas options.  Curtains were made by my          for myself and boys completing homework in the

sister (a little touch from home).                                  evening.  Artwork from SMK decorate our walls.


Antwain's bedroom.  Faces the dormitories to the      My bedroom.  Love the bed.  Blanket was chosen

Big Boys.  Bunk bed frames should be coming this   by Henry.  Mosquito net able to be brought down

week.  Great place for Antwain and the boys to            at night.  Storage for luggage under my bed. 

wrestle.                                                                                 Shelf about the keep special reminders of home.



Toliet Room.  Tile is really beautiful!                              Shower Room.  Either shower or basin bath. 

                                                                                               Also a place to do our wash. 


Photo of compound.  Totally enclosed.  To the          Door to our home at the left, and then photo of

left are new classrooms for vocational training,        Maize Mill to the right on the green building.  Blue

my office, and doorway to the house.  (The                building is SMK's Medical clinic.

vocational classrooms and my office are still

under construction.)


On the other side of the blue building is this                 A typical scene outside of the Mosher home

wall and gate.  Front gate secured at night, and           in the evening!  A parade of brightly colored

also patrolled by Calvin.  Compound area to be          sandals (or "slippers").  We enjoy the laughter

smoothed out, and I envision some large tables         within our household daily!!

outside, too.  The roofs of the buildings seen over

the fence are within SMK.  There is a narrow dirt

road the separates the gate from a side gate of the



Greater Appreciation

Posted on September 7, 2010 at 7:00 PM

As Antwain and I begin to settle into our new lives in Uganda, I am struck by the numbers of times each day that I smile/chuckle/shake my head at the differences between Uganda and America. (And I figure such moments will continue for the rest of my days in Uganda). My Ugandan sister, Joan Faith, will often jokingly remind me “TIA” (This Is Africa).


Presently, we are settling into our new home in Kajjansi, which is a small village outside of Kampala. Kampala is about 6 kilometers from Kajjansi, and it is the capital city of Uganda. There are several sections or homes within Kampala that would have relatively similar conveniences of American homes (perhaps minus the dishwasher and washer/dryer). We even visited one of 2 shopping malls in Kampala (where there is a wealthier international population) that looked like it was plucked from anywhere in America. However, mostly Kampala has open markets, specialty shops, or small stalls for businesses.


In comparison, Kajjansi has one open market and then small shops (for food and basic necessities) along the roads. All of the roads are soil, and the only form of transportation within Kajjansi are boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis). Our new home in Kajjansi is modest with a sitting room, toilet room, shower room, 2 bedrooms, and kitchen. There are many amenities within our home that other homes do not necessarily have; however there are differences from our home in America. I have not reached the stage where I have missed or minded any of the differences, but they are many.


Electricity… Most places in Kajjansi have basic electricity (although not always working). Yesterday we had electricity for no more than 1 hour, which is a common occurrence. Our home has electricity in every room, which I understand is not always common in most homes in Kajjansi. You must turn outlets on/off as there are some power surges that could destroy things continuously plugged into an outlet. There are no street lights in Kajjansi, so when it is dark, it is dark (especially when there is no electricity).


Water… The majority of Kajjansi gets their water from bore holes (water pumpers) or from ground wells. People fill up their jerry cans (yellow plastic containers that can hold from 1-5 gallons of water). They use the water from the jerry cans to bath, cook, boil to drink, clean, wash clothes throughout the day. Typically it is the chore of the children to fetch that water for the family. Fortunately our home has indoor plumbing (however no hot water). We must “cook” our water before drinking. However, water is not always a given either, as we awoke today to now water (and don’t know when it will return).


Bathing… Most people in Kajjansi bath in a round basin. The art of basin bathing is one that takes some practice to master. Essentially you get wet, soap up, and then rinse off using hands or cup to wash yourself. For me, washing my hair is the trickiest. There are some homes (such as ours) that has a shower room (essentially a small room that is tiled and contains a drain); however few would have hot water. Hot water requires a separate small tank to be installed, which you must turn on before your shower to receive that hotter water.


Food… There is a variety of food in Uganda. Most are non-processed, so the shelf life on eating it is short. However the eating is much healthier! Lots of banana, potato, rice, beans, vegetables as the staple for cooking. Most homes in Kajjansi do not have refridgeration; however, our home has the option. People typically cook what their family will eat within a day’s time. Most homes will cook their food on a small grill cover over a charcoal filled clay pot. Fast food restaurants have not inhabited Uganda, so eating out is done in small cafes or roadside stands.


Laundry…All laundry is washed by hand. There is a 3 step process to washing clothes, and it is more difficult than it initially looks. The kids at SMK have taught me the basics of washing, and only practice will enhance my skills. Clothes air dry in the sun on clothes lines or in the grass, whichever is more available. The people in Uganda are fascinated with the washing machine and dryer. However, only large hotels, businesses, or some boarding schools use machines for washing.


Transportation… In Uganda there is no such thing as a “quick trip” anywhere. Since we do not have a car here, we either walk or take a taxi (which is a mid-sized van which can hold over 20 people). The taxis (much like a bus system) will take you to various locations along a particular road. However, traffic in Kampala is very congested, and although there must be some traffic laws, I have still failed to understand them. Banks do not have drive up teller windows. Food can not be purchased through fast food windows. Very few parking lots can be found in the area, and no parking in front of businesses.


Last night Antwain said he liked our new home, which is the grandest compliment it could have received. We have recognized that there are certain provisions that we must make here in Uganda to remain happy, so we will continue to make them.