How it all began...
Happy 2016 everyone! A bit delayed but then again I was in amazing Uganda for most of January...what an adventurous, emotional and eye-opening trip, I was blessed to be a part of!
My journey with NOTDEC began when I saw Janet Johnston, at a Sunday church service in 2014 talking about their mission to Uganda, which I took interest in and asked her questions about. I gave her my number, took hers and thought nothing more of it until March 2015.
I was evaluating life and where I was going, I felt a sense of doing something more meaningful, than what I was already doing in my day-to-day job. I remembered Janet and gave her a call on my lunch break. Janet laughed when I said I wanted to go for 3 months! She mentioned that they tend to go out for 3 weeks in January and were making their next trip in 2016, but only had one space left, so without any hesitation, I asked her if I could take that last place.
I am so glad I made that decision!
I started a sponsorship page for my trip on 6th October 2015, thinking I would never raise my target of £1300. I was wrong. God had an amazing plan for me and has blessed me with fabulous family, friends and church family. I raised well over my target in just 5½ days! The sponsorship continued to come in right up until 27th December 2015. In total I had raised over £2,000, which meant I could give extra to NOTDEC Uganda for any needs they had whilst I was out there.
Going to Uganda was really important for me, as my roots are from Uganda. My mother and most of her siblings were born in Jinja and left as refugees in the 1970’s, when Idi Amin kicked Asians out of Uganda.
Our journey to NOTDEC began 4th January 2015 with an overnight flight to Nairobi, and then an interconnecting flight to Entebbe. We stayed for one night in Kampala. My first experience of Uganda had hit me, bustling streets, crazy driving with picturesque views from our guest house (and a cockroach!). The following morning, Yassin our driver picked us up and we travelled to Kasese – a 7 hour drive away. There we collected our hire car and we headed for Kagando, which was the base for the rest of our stay. We were in the poorest area of Uganda, and that was evident from the surroundings. A beautiful place with beautiful people and smiling nevertheless.
7th January we went to NOTDEC, the children ran towards us, and were so welcoming. Although, me being not quite white or black, may have confused them a little!
The whole experience for me was eye-opening and emotional in a positive way.
Throughout the two and a half weeks, I had spent a lot of time with the NOTDEC office staff, training them up on Microsoft Office. I created daily, weekly and monthly house checklists for the House manager, so she felt more confident in building a deeper rapport with the house mothers. I re-introduced weekly meetings, re-created a children’s book and I spent the best part of two afternoons, jewellery making with the older girls, which was great as we really bonded over music.
The most memorable event for me was the first ever BIG NOTDEC family meal. With only 16 chickens, 4 tins of tomato paste, 6 onions, 4 chillies and 20 aubergines, we cooked for over 140 people, this included children, office and construction staff, people in hospital and anyone extra. We cooked a chicken curry and aubergine curry, along with chapattis and rice. They were all treated to pop as well—which was a lovely treat for them all. The house mothers were delighted that they didn’t have to cook and felt really appreciated. It was like feeding the 5,000: everyone LOVED it! On the last day I wanted to give them a final treat, so along with some of the older boys we handed out mangoes and pineapples, again they deeply appreciated it.
You can’t help but fall in love with the children and so I have decided to sponsor little Sumaya (top left). I’m genuinely blessed that I could make this trip and it won’t be the last. I absolutely adore the children and have a lot of respect for all those who keep NOTDEC going.
Thank you again to all my sponsors!
Bhav Joshi x