Monday, May 23, 2011

Home for the Holidays

These days we have a full, lively house at POH Bwaise. Nearly a month ago, seven of our girls finished their first term back in class, attending boarding schools around Kampala, and returned home for their holiday. Extraordinary courage was asked of them when they returned to school in February, seeing that it had been quite awhile since some of them had been in school and there was much catching up to do. Coming home also proved daunting; while they were away, four new sisters joined us and the boarding school girls were coming home to both the familiar and unfamiliar. Same house, new faces and new paint. Change is seldom easy.

Unsure of what to expect, we were grateful when they demonstrated grace and resilence. The new younger ones received their big sisters with warmth and hugs and the big sisters accepted the younger ones and within days of their return everybody had settled. Then one afternoon I stepped out onto the front porch to this scene:

The late afternoon breeze mingling the strains of rustling leaves overhead with the jaunty melody from a passing car, the girls had organized themselves into study groups in the shade of the house, determined to “read” (study) and not lose any ground during the month long break between terms. I couldn’t help but witness this scene with astonishment -- what children do you know prioritize studying during their holiday and take it upon themselves to begin?

Another evening while perched on the balcony with one of the aunties, the darkening sky settling the dusty sunset over Bwaise and the city beyond, we spied a moment of sweet camaraderie below. One of the older girls steadied a wooden ladder, branches secured with rope, against the compound wall beside an avocado tree, while a younger one scaled it, reaching for the rock hard fruit that perhaps was too enticing to allow for a few more days of ripening. Realizing they were caught, they giggled and the picker descended from the foliage, arms full of green.