I'm in an internet cafe in kasese town. It's a stall like a storage locker at home, with bubbled linoleum on the floor, a fan, a calendar with a beautiful girl and some netting covering the corrugated tin walls. Open to the dusty street, which cannot be good for the computers. It's extremely fancy for kasese, and the only place in town that has reasonably paced and reliable internet. The cafe part is a misnomer, though -- this is not an espresso bar. Coffee in general is scarce as ice here.
The Aunties and I went to the clothing market yesterday. A field spread with tarps, a few stalls with fancier hanging clothes, unsorted piles everywhere. This is where the clothing goes that Value Village cannot sell. Buying clothes here is hard work -- pawing through the piles in the beating sun, pulling out items one at a time. These flowered pants -- for Madam? This shirt -- for Phiona? These shorts -- for Baba? I see a honolulu marathon tshirt, a Calgary Herald shirt, a ridiculous frilly black lacy teddy with red satin bows with the Value Village tag still on. I spot a Toronto Maple Leaf shirt for Moses, the smallest one. He is the only one in the program with no relatives, no guardian -- he was found in a plastic bag. The shirt is way overpriced -- the equivalent of $2.50. Instead I buy him a blue floral hawaiian shirt.
We buy a new outfit for every single kid, including dress up shirts for the boys and church skirts for the girls -- $90. The parade around in them, modeling. The boys are so handsome.
We have been interviewing them -- doing a little video of each of them, making a profile. Their stories break our hearts. They love football. They like the color green. They say how grateful they are for "the balanced diet." Angela wants a guitar, and Docas longs to play the piano. Abdu draws a picture with a note about how our help has made him who he is. I ask who that is. He says "I did not have clothes. I did not have food. I never thought I could learn english, could go to school."
Last night they sang for us again, practicing for our special visitors tonight. We've invited some of the local officials to a concert. They taught us the chorus of Our Motherland Uganda... Full of peace and full of joy... Outside, Abdu tells me that the president, Musceveni, has eliminated the subjects of politics and government from schools, to keep the people ignorant. He is a dictator, he says. Abdu will be a leader some day.
Today, we herded all 50 kids up the hill to half-finished fancy hotel. We paid for the pool, and for lunch. I was a monkey puzzle tree, with Alex hanging off me for an hour, Deheli spinning around, Brian on my back. Angela trying so hard to be my friend. She wrote me a love letter and drew me a picture last night.
We gave them a feast -- sodas and chips and chicken and cookies. Then we gave them chips and chicken and sodas and cookies before. They are sated -- the canadians bring sugar and plastic. And love.
Tomorrow is our last day here. I can't bear it.