Friday, December 12, 2008

One year ago, I had just recently returned to Uganda to rebuild St. Kizito Primary School. Upon arrival, I was greeted by 12 children and 2 volunteers. The kids in their excitement, pushed through the crowds awaiting the arrival of their friends and family members, ran around the luggage bearing, exhausted travellers, and swarmed me with my many bags. We temporarily stopped the exiting traffic and I was torn between pushing the kids along to allow the others to embrace their loved ones and wanting to give each one the biggest, longest hug ever. We settled for a large group hug and found some open space. After two days of travel, I couldn't have asked for a better reception. It was the picture perfect arrival.

Friday, December 5, 2008

There are now 4 walls surrounding our quaint little office in the basement of my parents' house! What better place could there be than this to run the marathon of events coming up, to plan for the many upcoming projects in Uganda, and to coordinate the array of programs already in place?

Just four simple walls and I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Here is a brief clip from my life in Uganda...

When leaving the construction site for the day, Tom and I had these beautiful children to escort us!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I have spent a total of 11 months in Uganda... 11 months in the past two years... two years and 11 days to be exact. Two years and 11 days ago I arrived in Uganda for the first time. Two years and 10 days ago, I saw St. Kizito Primary School for the very first time. Two years and 10 days ago, the founding ideas of BULA were ignited by the sight of that structure.

Now, here I am, looking for my third flight to Uganda. I can't say that when I flew out of JFK, November 1, 2006, I predicted that I would make a third trip to the same village just over two years later to a new school built by my community and theirs...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thanks to the hard work of Andie and all those contributing their favorite recipes, we now have another great cookbook to offer. The shipment of this second edition arrived last week! We are so excited about it. As we stacked all 38 boxes into the garage, I thought about the same large shipment from last year and how those stacks have entirely disappeared. We sold over 1100 cookbooks! That's a lot cookbooks...

Cookbook parties are scheduled in Camp Hill, PA and in Blue Point, NY so check our web site for the details!

Friday, November 7, 2008

On Tuesday evening, while watching this significant and historic moment for both the US and the world, I was truly moved. As I watched the faces of those present during the acceptance speech, I began to draw on what I imagined would be the faces I have seen in my travels when they heard the news. I shuddered as the President Elect called to the world listening in and as he spoke to "those who are huddled around radios in those forgotten corners of the world."

Images of the children, of our workers, and of the many friends made were conjured up and I saw them, as I saw them every day in Uganda, huddled around radios to hear news of the world. I could picture their excitement and glee over this day. The next day's text and email messages confirmed this as my Ugandan friends sent me congratulatory and rejoiceful greetings.

The whole world has their eyes on us, looking to us with admiration and hope and with renewed faith in our country. In one evening, everything changed.

Sunday, November 2, 2008



We have lots of them! Our garage is now full of so many textbooks thanks to the generosity of the Elementary schools of Sachem School District.

I can't wait to see them put to good use over in Uganda!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It is now approaching the end of October; the leaves have changed; it's gorgeous; and I love the fall season! However, the chilling weather is shocking for me. I have now spent two winters in Uganda and I'm finding it harder and harder to adjust to the brisk air. For one of the few periods in the past two years, I am wearing a sweatshirt because it is cold out not because I like them. This is a strange transition. What will I do when it snows?

Well... I will go back to Uganda.

Not because of the snow, but because we will be starting our next project. In January, we will return to Uganda to build St. Kizito Primary School a kitchen; we will take over a construction project to add classrooms to a Secondary School nearby to St. Kizito; and we will begin to plan for our next potential project: the construction of an orphanage and school also in the surrounding area.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the many events we have planned for the next two months and also to sharing the entire holiday season with my family and friends for the first time since 2005.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


BULA's investment in Education is manifesting itself in so many ways here in the States. This month has been and continues to be a very real reflection of that. This morning, we will be meeting with former teachers in the community in order to develop after school programs for the children at St. Kizito. We will be asking ourselves many questions such as:

How do you develop a lesson that is creative, exciting, and effective without any materials at your disposal?

This question may be somewhat irrevelant in the near future much to our good fortune and more so to the incredible generosity of our supporters! Several Teachers and School Districts have graciously offered us their expired materials. Among many offerings, we have a classroom full of books and teaching tools. We have been approached on various occassions for the donation of even more. We will be arriving to Uganda in the coming months with full sets of text books, counters, math games, reading programs, letter blocks and more!

To close the month and begin the next, BULA will be guest speaking at the NYS United Teachers Suffolk and Nassau Leadership Conferences. We look forward to sharing our experiences of education in Uganda with those committed to the education of children right here on Long Island! This should be an exciting opportunity to forge even stronger bonds with the surrounding school communities!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Simple Desk

The other day, Andie and I had a meeting with a woman named Terri from Camp Hill, PA. She has done amazing work in Kenya particularly with women and children of the Masai Tribe. It was fascinating to hear about her work and learn more about the region. In conversation, exchanging stories from our work and our travels, Terry alluded to the appreciation of the children for the work we had done. She specifically brought up the various aspects of the construction, noting the concrete floors, the spacious rooms, the bright colors, and… the desks.

This brought back a whirlwind of images and memories of the children carrying benches from the church to the school and back again, to the kids hunched over in the classroom vigorously completing their assignment. I realized that these images have veered far off into the reserves of my memory and it's only when prompted do I see them. Instead, I see the children’s glowing and beaming faces against the backdrop of vibrant blue, green and pink walls sitting at their very own desks!

I thought of our hardworking carpenter making those desks all day, nonstop, for over a week in order to ensure the kids could sit comfortably and happily on their first day. I recalled him attempting different desk sizes to fit the varying ages and sizes and how I selected a few children of drastically different heights to test them out. I remember how comical it was watching as a young 9-year-old girl tested out the desk proposed for her size. The bench and the desk (connected by design) had a gap I knew would be far too large for her. She sat there reaching from the edge of the bench to lean on the desk that was not only too far away but also nearly at her eye level. She looked up at me with such contentment I could do nothing but laugh as I told her it didn’t quite fit. To her, it was perfect.