By Isabel Joseph
This morning, I got to build library. I am extremely fond of reading and much prefer it to watching TV, so I was very happy to see that the orphans were being given the opportunity to read. We had brought out many books with us, both this year and last, and Megan and I were given the task of categorising them so that the children can easily find a level appropriate book when choosing one to read. We had got two nice wooden bookcases made, and whilst we were busy with this task, a couple of others in the team were sanding down and varnishing the eventual home for these books.
As I was going through the books I thought back to the first night of reading with the kids. I was reading with little Joan, who can barely read. Without The Peace Centre these orphans would never have even dreamed of being able to have so many books in their own home, and yet here I was sorting through a bunch. A lot of the books I recognised as ones I had enjoyed when I was younger and it warmed my heart to know that these kids also have the opportunity to enjoy the same books that have kept me company late at night. As I was flipping through the books covers I noticed some messages, for example from a grandmother to a grandchild. It is so amazing to see books that are not only being passed on from generation to generation but also from country to country.
After lunch I decided to do some more weaving with Megan. I have been weaving in the afternoon for the past four days. It is quite relaxing as we are able to weave and chat with the kids mingling around us trying their hand at it, however, it can also get quite repetitive. Not something I think I'd enjoy to do for a living. Today was the day I finished my bag, I had to finish sewing the zipper and the sling. I felt a feeling of great achievement when the bag was done as it had taken so much effort and time. I cannot even begin to imagine how people do this for a lifetime. A local man had been coming to help us make the bags and I got to thinking about how much he earns per bag, and it's not very much at all. When you consider that just these small Palm tree woven purses take a few hours each to make, you have to ask how much this makes his time worth. Again, not very much at all. All that time and effort and creativity to earn so little. It makes me sad to think that people have many skills that are not appreciated simply because they are living in a different environment and do not have the opportunities to better themselves.
In order to better understand the predicament that the children here find themselves in, and so that we can continue to build The Peace Centre to suit their needs best, for our night activity today we helped the kids answer some questions about their lives prior and post joining TPC. I was helping Fortunate, a 13 year old girl, answer the questions. The first question was about what their lives were like before they came to live here. It was emotional when Fortunate was trying to answer the question, as she was getting quite sad and upset as she thought back to those days. She wrote, "Before I came to The Peace Centre I had to wake up at 5am and go to bed at 11pm and do heavy work all the time in between. Every day I will be digging in the fields. Now I have enough time to sleep. That is, we now sleep at 10 and wake at 5:30. Before I came to The Peace Centre I was suffering and I saw a future of suffering. Now I want to be a Doctor." Fortunate's own words say it all. How exciting it is to be with these kids and to see the difference TPC is making in their lives.
One other thing that Fortunate wrote was that one of the best things about The Peace Centre was that it allowed for leisure time, which meant she could play, sing and read. It bought a smile to my face to know how much this small, humble library we have built, will be treasured by children thousands of miles from where these books were first treasured by others; and that they'll bring laughter and joy to where it is needed.
Who are we?
A team working alongside Golden Magezi in Bukinda, Uganda, running an orphanage that provides kids with love, family and an education.