Friday, February 26, 2010

St. Mary Kevin Orphanage

Suzanne at the office of St. Mary Kevin OrphanageOur next stop on day 1 in Kampala was a refreshing dose of hope after our experience at Nsambya Babies Home. St. Mary Kevin Orphanage is a home and school for an older group of orphaned  children. In contrast to our experiences that morning, St. Mary  Kevin provided an atmosphere of love and nurturing to its children, along with encouragement to develop creative talents in art and music. Here, the children seemed more peaceful and happy.

An art and quote board at St. Mary Kevin

Everywhere, there were cues to remember the goodness of God, to respect others, to find joy and peace in the struggles of life… The main courtyard at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage. Notice the signs in the grass, reminding kids that "God is Great" and to "Respect Elders." :)My personal favorite – “Be silent, or say something better than silence.”

Children’s artwork adorned the walls and shelves, and we were treated to an amazing performance of music and dance by the students, including expressive musical storytelling, a band complete with brass and their traditional percussion instruments and colorful traditional costumes.

We were treated like royalty at St. Mary Kevin. The children put on an awesome performance for us!This girl was a great dancer and always had a big beautiful smile on her face.While the children performed for us, a small group of children came to the door of the pavilion to watch and listen. One small Chandyachild came at my bidding and sat with me. I thought it was a little boy I was holding on my lap. When I asked a caretaker his name, however, she said it was a girl and that her name was Chandya. She was a beautiful little girl. She was missing her front four teeth, so I’m guessing she was about 7 or 8 years old. She liked seeing the pictures I was taking of the performance in the display on my camera.

I was impressed by the opportunities for productivity provided     by St. Mary Kevin. Whether painting a well, caring for farm animals (pigs, chickens, goats and a cow) or making bricks, there were plenty of opportunities for the children to be responsible and develop skills that will serve them in being productive members of society and developing a sense of dignity and self respect.

I think more paint got on this boy's legs and face than on the well... He was all boy, and clearly having fun...St. Mary Kevin's calfThe pigs of St. Mary KevinAs they did everywhere, the kids here loved my sunglasses and my camera. Put the two together, and you get quite an exciting time!The kids loved my Oakleys!

After seeing conditions in the North, those at St. Mary Kevin are quite good. It is hot and dusty and not all of the children have mosquito nets over their beds. Still, it’s obvious that the operation is well-managed and that there are volunteers and Dorms at St. Mary Kevin sponsors who are aware of the need and contributing what they can. Even while we were visiting, in fact, there was a group of volunteers from Denver playing with the kids and working on the facilities – painting, building, etc.

Volunteers from the Denver area at St. Mary Kevin. Playing guitar for the kids All in all, the visit to St. Mary Kevin Orphanage was a positive experience. Although the plight of the orphaned children there The nurse at St. Mary Kevin with Suzywas sad, it was encouraging to feel the love and concern that the    staff obviously had for the children. I felt like they were being given a leg up in a really tough world, and I left feeling uplifted after a downer morning.

The head mother and another caretaker at St. Mary Kevin

Suzy and the head mother at St. Mary KevinNext stop, Reach Out Mbuya – a co-op of HIV+ women in Kampala from whom we bought our shipment of beaded jewelry in the fall.

Beads at Reach Out Mbuya


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