Hakuna Matata!

Jade_1 Posted by Jade Irwin on Tue, 23 Feb 2016 | 3 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook


It was truly an amazing experience. I kept singing ‘Hakuna Matata’ and felt like I was starring in The Lion King! We even saw lions, which was incredible. I got to sit on top of the roof of the jeep and giggled the whole time thinking about how that could never happen at home, with all of our health and safety regulations!

We camped beside the River Nile and even went on a boat trip down the river…it took my breath away. As well as safari, I also went to the rhino sanctuary which was wonderful, so it has been an animal-packed couple of weeks! It has served as a great reminder that I am actually in Africa… not that I could forget considering I feel like I am living INSIDE a cooker!

So much has happened over the past couple of weeks…

I will start with the HIV clinic. It is an incredible service here in Kiwoko and I have the privilege of being involved with the children’s clinics and the youth clinics while I am here, running activities and drop-ins, and occasionally helping measure weights and heights. I have been really moved and impacted by the care of the staff there, and the stories of the children and young people I have met.

The children’s clinics are great fun, with the kids being so willing to get involved in the games and activities. They are full of love, constantly wanting cuddles and responding so well to positive affirmation. It is obvious that they see Kiwoko, and more specifically the staff at HIV clinic, to be a safe space.

The teenage clinic was somewhat more challenging. The struggles they are facing are more more clear, and complex. A number of them are not trusting of adults, and some have heartbreaking stories for why that is. They are therefore not as willing to get involved in the activities. Three young women really stood out in my mind.

One of them was covered head to toe in boils and scars (literally covered, no exaggeration) and she was very weak. She had a great attitude and although she wasn’t physically able to be involved in the games where we were moving around, she participated in all the seated activities. She smiled and laughed with me, and to see a young girl in such a difficult position experiencing any level of joy was heartwarming.

The second young woman was dressed in rather provocative clothing (which would be very unusual and even frowned upon in Uganda) and was trying everything (from boisterous dance moves to shouting controversial things) to have attention focused upon her. It became clear later that this is because she feels untouchable and unloveable.

Finally, another girl would not engage with me at all. She would not answer when I spoke to her, or engage with me in the games at all. I remembered her from the summer. She is honestly one of the best children’s workers I have ever met, going on the bus to pick all the kids up and make sure they get home, playing with them, singing with them and doing everything to make them happy. When she was on her own however, she seemed like a totally different person.

Without going into too much detail, she has seen and experienced things that no young person (or any person!) should ever have to, and is now living with a virus serving as a reminder of those things every day. I was teaching some optional martial arts moves after the clinic and she decided to stay behind. I was explaining about the nature of defence and how these moves should never initiate violence but can be useful if we were ever in danger, and sadly this was the only time I could see her connecting. Not the most positive of reasons to connect, but I was glad to see her have fun learning the moves and I hope and pray that she never has to use them in real life.

I thought I would finish this blog with some news on teaching Gideon. He is SO smart!

The curriculum asked that he would count forward in 3s to 30, and he said “Eh, why would we only go to 30? Let’s go to 100!” so he managed to count forward in 3s to 102!! When I told some of my adult friends, even they said they would struggle to do this, and Gideon is 5 years old!

He really likes my colouring pencils, and said today, “If I am a good boy and do my work well like you always ask, do you think I should be rewarded before we go back to Ireland by you giving me those colouring pencils?” – such a little chancer!! And so good at negotiating. When he has a colouring in task he often says to me, “Let’s both get to work, ey! Don’t just sit there!”

I will be coming home with wrinkled at all the laughs I get. On a serious note, he is getting on very well in school. He completes all of his work activities in well under the guideline time, but is getting almost everything correct so is not being careless at all.

It is so hard to get all the stories in, but hopefully you are getting more of a sense of what has been happening here, and what a special place Kiwoko is. What I feel God has asked me to focus on is seeing the individuals amongst the crowds of people. Sitting down with one person or a small group of people at a time, hearing their stories, affirming their personhood and sharing with them how dearly loved they are.

Thank you for your continuing support and kindness.



Sandra johbston said Wed, 24 Feb 2016 04:38PM
Hi Jadey ! This is just you such a positive loving and Giving person . A real true woman of God ! I know without A shadow of a doubt that u r impacting every single person u meet . Ur updates are so vivid I can almost see it all and I so wish I was there . God Bless u and by the way Gideon u should Defo have those pencils :)) Lots of luv n looking forward to hearing it all n seeing many pics . Sandra xxx
Elaine jeffrey said Fri, 26 Feb 2016 10:51AM
Hello lovely Jade , it sounds so uplifting and sad at the same time , I'm so glad God has sent u there , I know everyone u come into contact with know of ur love and kindness . I think I know the girl ur talking about from summer , I really hope I have a break through with her . I think young Gidien could teach I a thing or two buy the sound of it . Take care and enjoy the time have there , it's will go by sooo quick Love from me and Laura , ur so lucky ur away while she's off caffeine for 6 weeks lol
rachel cooke said Thu, 10 Mar 2016 03:47PM
I love this :) xo

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