A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I find that absolutely true on my vacations and especially on my journeys to Africa. In fact, so many times I will find myself thinking, oh- you missed a good shot there, Vicky. Images tell a story and help us to picture the real deal. Take my visit to the Buindi Impenetrable Forest to see gorillas living in the wild. What do you see in this image? 

I felt the curiosity of that baby gorilla as he or she peered through the leaves to see who these visitors to their forest were. I saw a timid creature, waiting for an okay from parents to know things were safe. The same can be said about the following image. In many schools across Northern Uganda outside of Lira, I was the first white person some of these children had ever seen. Some ran away in fear. Others pointed and laughed. I began to feel a bit like the mustached lady in the circus... a bit of a freak of nature. 
As we talked and the kids began to see respect from their teachers and no sign of fear, their smiles returned and they began to enjoy my presence. Life in the schools we help is difficult. Teachers are not always paid. Children often go without lunch. They miss school to help sell produce at the market.  Parents struggle to pay school fees, buy a uniform, and even come up with enough shillings for a pencil or notebook. Those who can't afford the shillings for their children to attend school end up having their kids tend goats, watch babies, or work at whatever job they can find. Here is one young man selling pineapples instead of learning in school. Everywhere you look you see the struggle just to survive another day. 
I was in Uganda to celebrate supporting our 200th school to receive textbooks. Who would have thought this would have been possible when we first discussed how to help these people in 2010? Bit by bit people have heard our story and stepped up to partner with us and make a difference. Just before I left for Uganda I received a grant from Unite to Light for 140 solar lights! I knew these would be like bringing gold to these teachers as electricity is unreliable in the region. So I smashed 100 lights into one suitcase, 40 into the other one leaving just a bit of space for clothes and medicine. People were overjoyed to receive the lights! 
Once I had driven to the remote schools for a few days, I ran out of lights. What to do now? I could have passed out thousands. I asked my contact if there was a nursery nearby in Lira and purchased seedlings of fruit trees, oranges, mangoes, jackfruit, avocado, and a new one to me- soursop, which they say is useful in treating cancer. I don't know anything about that, but I do know kids are hungry and in a few years there will be free food for the students to enjoy at school. 
All in all we journeyed 450 kilometers (about 280 miles) on the muddy country roads to visit these schools and even though the journey is not easy, it is worth it to see the appreciation for Turn the Page Uganda! I have so many stories I could tell, but I hope my images have resonated with you if you have continued to read our blog. You are helping some of the most needy people on the planet to gain an education. To become literate so they have a chance to improve their circumstances. They can read directions for pesticides they might use in their farming, or read direction on medication. They can be more aware of their government and understand who they are voting for. They asked me to tell you how much they appreciate you! We couldn't help them without your support- and we are grateful!


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