Priyanka and I finished off the elephant measuring chart we had painted by the bathrooms and we can't wait to see the children's faces when they see it! We were guessing that they will be measuring their heights every single day, to see if they had grown at all in the night without getting sick of it.
Another thing that needed doing was finishing painting the base of the walls outside. The paint was not as runny as I wished it was, and it would take ages to spread out! Before starting the activity, I predicted it will maybe take an hour or two but it turned out to take the whole afternoon. Other students finished off organising our little library; painting and labelling our world maps; adding the names of TPC children to our 'family trees'; creating a birthday balloon chart, and a couple even got to go on a home visit to help the Social Worker assess the eligibility of a child who had applied for a place in TPC.
To finish the successful trip off, we had a small farewell party to thank everyone for their endless efforts in supporting us, and welcoming us as part of their community and family. We had all bought some gifts for different people in the community and all the staff received the lovely hoodies that we have. I think they will look very smart wearing them and it was an evening of broad smiles as people received gifts. Peace and Golden had arranged for everyone in our team to receive a beautiful hand woven wicker basket, all personalised with our names on them. I am not sure yet what I will keep in mine, but I know it will take pride of place in my home and will always bring back wonderful memories of this amazing trip. Although it was promised that no tears will be shed today (they were supposed to be stored up for tomorrow!) after only about a minute of the ceremony, a teardrop dropped onto my cheeks. Just the thought of not seeing all my Ugandan friends and families for a while triggered so many tears, and I had no choice but to let them fall.
Although the teardrops were mainly from sadness, I would also say that they were tears of joy. I am so glad and grateful that I was able to come to Uganda for the second time, to spend time with these beautiful children and to become a part of their lives. It was great to see The Peace Centre complete, which was only a construction site when we left last year. I feel really blessed about having been part of the team both this year and last year, in improving the children's lives, and in - unintentionally - improving my own in the process. It is impossible for me to imagine my life without Uganda, Bukinda and The Peace Centre. They have all become so linked with my own life and I know I am a lot richer as a result.
The highlight of the day, and perhaps even the whole trip, would have to be the triumphant dancing after the ceremony. Now it truly was a celebration! Most of us had shied away from the dancing at the beginning, feeling a little self conscious I think, but then soon after, we all joined in to be part of it! Surprisingly, I had immense fun dancing up and down in bakiga style although it was incredibly tiring... The dance is a crazy mixture of jumping, stamping, arms flailing all about, but yet it is all so rhythmic and harmonised. The joyous drum beat created by the chidren (even the small 6 years olds have amazing rhythm!), the energetic dance by everyone, the resonating shrieks and calls by the adults, and lastly the triumphant singing all combined to create the cheerful, ecstatic atmosphere. I was quickly taken up into a trance by this hypnotic ritual and was crazily dancing - I probably danced more this evening than the whole of my life!
The last night in Uganda was not so sad but rather exciting, with the incredible music surrounding us and drifting upwards into the twinkling night sky. It was great to see everyone enjoying their time, and our last evening in Bukinda would have to be one of the best of my life. This truly was a happy celebration of love and friendship that will last a lifetime full of smiles and joy. The tears will have to wait for tomorrow.