Reaching Soroti

After driving over 7 hours over the Nile River and into eastern Uganda, we have safely reached our final destination of Soroti. It took 7 hours…and we skipped the Kampala jam! We were greeted by 701 girls (of the +1,100) who board here. They sang for us and greeted us with open arms. Lunch was prepared by Carol, Mirriam, and Sr. Rose, which tasted amazing! The heat hit us all like a pile of bricks, so we all unpacked and rested for a while. A tour of St. Ann’s Primary School followed. Starting around 5:30pm, the deputy of the school took us around and showed us the campus. It was a shock to many, as we learned and saw the living conditions for the girls. We learned that the electricity is down, which is causing the water pumps not to work. There is also scarcity among boarding because of the high number of girls living there. Some teachers have over 100 students per class (average is about 85 per class) that are taught in small classrooms. We learned that some parents are just sending their children to school because there is no room for them at home. We also toured the girls’ dormitories. Some girls sleep in bunk beds stacked up to three. They were hot and have no circulation…we could only imagine what it would feel like during a hot day with over 90 girls. Some of the windows are broken, allowing for mosquitos to enter. In addition, not all of the girls have safe mosquito nets. There are about 8-10 girls who go to the nurse each day to get treated for malaria -a fatal disease if not treated for children. It is the highest killer of children in Uganda, said one of the nurses. Many of the girls who get malaria miss class and sometimes have to get transferred to the medical clinic in town. Because the water pumps are breaking, deliveries of water have been arriving at the school. The other day, 3 trucks full of water (the amount that a firetruck can carry) delivered water and the girls had to carry it in buckets. Some of these problems can be avoided by making what seem to be simple repairs. The problems seem to only be growing. We are all reminded by the brave work of Mama Kevina and Mother Teresa, remembering that it is just as important to feed one person if you cannot feed 100 people. Each of the missionaries met poverty face-to-face today. We concluded the tour with a small pow-wow before dinner. Everyone feels overwhelmed, especially since we had a 7 hour bus ride on bumpy, dusty roads. Despite this feeling of overwhelming poverty and problems, the joy of the girls and people of Uganda have made us feel welcome. Some found their work cut out for the week, while others have been brainstorming and just taking it all in. Keep in mind, we have to visit our 2 other partner schools tomorrow (St. Francis Primary and Secondary School). It is going to be a busy week. All attitudes are positive and we are all open to see where God is calling each of us this week at Madera. Keep sending prayers and support. We will celebrate mass tomorrow morning at 7:30am with the community of Madera. Good night and God Bless,Ben

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