Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On a visit to Uganda...

For those of you who have not YET visited Uganda, I figured I would give you a taste of what life here is like and what you could expect to find as a visitor to this country.
Wherever you go people will say, 'You are welcome'! As in, 'you are welcome to our country', 'you are welcome to my home', etc...
Gorgeous chocolate children everywhere!
The people are friendly and hospitable when you visit their homes; you will be served both food and drink, whatever they have they will provide for their honored guest
Hair Salons here are called Saloons
You can buy a large pineapple for about a dollar in the market
Most electronics sold here are cheaply made and not of good quality, and the quality ones, rare as they are, will cost you a fortune
While sitting in a taxi or a bus you can buy a variety of items from street vendors through the windows; water, fruit, chapatis (fried bread), jewelry, bedsheets, shoes, and the list goes on...
Everywhere you go people tell you Gyebale (pronounced Jebalay) - meaning, 'well done'. You may be just walking out of your house in the morning and already people are telling you 'well done' before you've even accomplished anything!
Everywhere you go, as a white person, you hear people calling out 'Muzungu' - Swahili for white person. When you're in the more rural areas, kids will get so excited to see your light skin and jump up and down screaming 'Muzungu'. If you give them attention, you'll make their week!
On the streets or by the roadside you can buy a multitude of things roasted; roasted bananas, roasted casava, roasted maise
Driving in Uganda feels much like playing a video game, with all the obstacles to avoid; people walking, potholes everywhere, motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic
The steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car and you drive on the opposite side of the road (from Canada) - something to get used to!
Speed bumps are called 'Humps'
There are no stop lights or stop signs in Jinja and no speed limit - basically no rules on the road!
It isn't a rare sight to see chickens in (or on) a taxi. Yesterday I saw about 6 chickens tied to the top of a taxi (taxis are vans that are supposed to fit about 12 people but usually are jam packed with about 15 or 16 people instead)
Most people don't wear deoderant (imagine this with the last point - 15 people in a taxi on a hot day!)
Boda Boda's are everywhere - motorcycle or bicycles that you pay for to get a ride on the back
Almost anything and everything is carried on a boda boda - a few years ago i even saw someone carrying a COUCH that way!
Leopard is pronouced LEE O PARD
Men like their women with big hips and bums here - in fact, people feel sorry for someone who has no hips or bum and most men are proud to have women with this type of figure . There are even pills that 'supposedly' help a person to develop this type of figure. When you see clothes on display on the streets they are on frames with HUGE hips. For the first time in my life I'm grateful for the hips I've been given. Ha ha...
99 percent of the movies and music you can buy here are pirated - some of which are the ones that were filmed right in the movie theatre
The main languages spoken here are Luganda and English, however there are many other tribal languages spoken in each district
The land here is FERTILE; mangoes, bananas, pineapple, matooke, casava, cabbage, dodo, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes/potatoes, avocados, beans etc... basically whatever you put in the ground will grow...
Posho and beans is the staple food here... posho is ground maise that is boiled into a thick porridge-like substance that people eat with their hands, it has no taste, it is basically a filler food to eat with beans
Their peanuts are slightly different and called G-nuts (ground nuts)
Music - you'll mostly hear hip hop - some Ugandan, some North American and other very random music artists such as Dolly Parton, Celine Dione and Boney M Christmas songs
Ugandan music videos - all hip hop and rap music with the camera constantly zooming in on girls shaking their booty. Something to note is that the girls in the music videos are all shapes and sizes, there are thinner yet curvy girls as well as round, full figured women... a good realistic picture of real people!
That is but a taste of Uganda and a few things you might see or experience here...
Let me know if you're planning to visit! I promise you, you'll love it here!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Guess what?! I went to church with 8 of the babies from Sonrise today and 3 other people and the babies got Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes after the service!!! I was SOOOO excited for them! I have seen many people in different parts of the world receive shoeboxes but it was something special to be able to experience it with these babies whom I adore! I love Samaritan's Purse, and their special shoeboxes packed with love! Thanks for sending these sweet kids love wrapped in a box!!!
Much love,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in Uganda...

Christmas was a little different this year. This was my first time spending Christmas away from my family in Saskatchewan. There was no snow, but heat and rain instead. All of December did not feel like Christmas was coming at all, except that there is a lot more theft in the area, ironic isn't it?! Until two days before there was no sign of it... rarely would you see a sign in a shop window announcing the holiday to come, no decorations in the street, and to buy a Christmas tree you needed to wait until just a couple days before.
I did buy a cut tree to decorate (for about two dollars) and spent the evening of the 23rd decorating it with Joel, (the one everyone refers to as my son, though he is 19 - because I sponsored him for many years). We popped popcorn and strung it together on dental floss and i bought a few other decorations for the tree as well.
Christmas was nice... i had a few people over for a huge meal that Francis and I prepared and we had a small gift exchange game (something they had never done before), and then I went to another Christmas gathering in the evening.
Not much new to report for now... Life is good and I'm looking forward to my mom visiting in just 2 weeks time!!! I and others are so anxious for her to come!

I have wanted to update my blog for days now... but the internet at times is sooo slow. I sat in the internet cafe the other day for 25 minutes and couldn't even get my inbox on facebook to open... one of the challenges of life in Africa! I'm praying for another laptop so i could do email from home with a mobile internet stick. Please also pray with me for this. It was quite a discouragement to have mine stolen and to be limited with my contact with people from home.

Well, thanks for reading and keeping up with my life.
Love always,

Friday, December 11, 2009

9 little pairs of shoes...

Yesterday another girl, Olivia, and I took 9 of the Sonrise kids for a walk. Two adults for 9 children is NOT enough!!! This one wandering this way, this one with his pants down peeing on the ground, this one climbing on big rocks, another one sitting on the ground because his shoe fell off. Ha ha ha! We were quite a sight I'm sure. We had to sing children's songs to keep the kids focused as we attempted our walk.
I'm enjoying each day here... life is different, to be sure. Today i spent 2 hours washing my clothes by hand and then felt constrained to my house waiting for them to dry on the clothes line... you don't dare leave them outside when you leave your house because there's a good chance you will not have any clothes when you return!
Tomorrow I'm going to Masindi, a province in the far Western part of Uganda. I have never been there before but a boy i've known for years from the orphanage (Bob) has family that lives in the village there and I am going with him to meet them, and to surprise his younger brother who i have not yet seen here. I'm sure it will be an incredible time!
As for Rays of Hope, Francis went to Kaberamaido yesterday and today is looking at pieces of land for the ministry. Already, by text he has told me that the first piece he saw looked perfect, but he is still continuing to look. Please pray that the Lord leads him to the right place and that all the details will fall into place. It is a tricky thing here, buying land!
My address...
For those of you who wanted to know... You can send me mail to Francis' mailbox which is as follows.
Karen Hulowski (c/o Francis Okullo)
Box 1033, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa
That is all you need! Be sure that if you send anything that you send it via AIRMAIL otherwise, i can guarantee you that i will never see it!
Well, love you all, thanks for reading and keeping up with my life out here, half a world away!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chickens, chickens, chickens!!!

So every morning (Kev, you would understand this), i wake up to chickens squawking outside my window... and then yesterday went in my kitchen and looked out my window to see chickens tearing apart my garbage! Ha ha ha, dogs and raccoons aren't the problem here, it is chickens!!!
And then this morning, i walk in my living room and low and behold, what do i find between my couches, a chicken!!! Ha ha ha... it had crawled through the bars on my door and got in, so i had to shoo it out.
Life is different to be sure...
Just wanted to bring a smile and a laugh to anyone who happened to read this post.
Have a blessed day my friends!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dear friends,

Wow, so much to tell you, i don't even know where to begin...

My first two weeks in Uganda have been a mixture of emotions...

On first arriving in this country, I immediately felt at home and at peace to be here once again. You know that feeling you get when everything just feels right, those are the emotions that overwhelmed me even as i arrived.

My little house, being new, was getting the finishing touches done on it my first few days here so I had to stay in a guesthouse for the first week, but now I am finally all moved in and feeling comfortable and at home. My friend Francis did such an amazing job finding me this house and getting me a few things to furnish it. We both believe that it was God-directed that he was led to this little house. It is in a quieter area of Jinja town and hidden behind another big house so, from the road, you would never really know it was there. I am thankful for this place i can call home for the next 10 months at least...

I have visited Caring Place Ministry a couple of times so far (the home for Street kids my friend Francis manages), but have spent more of my time at Sonrise Babies Home that my friend Damali has started. From even the first few days i have just felt privileged to know the people i know here and to be able to serve alongside my Ugandan brothers and sisters. I really feel like i hit the jackpot when it comes to knowing amazing people in Uganda. God has blessed me with many special visits from old friends, my sponsor kid and other loved ones and still there are many people i have yet to see!

And I feel privileged as well just to be able to work right alongside the Ugandan people, this also brings me great joy, i believe that they know better how to care for their own people than someone from North America ever could understand. Damali said it well one night when she mentioned to me that these babies that they are caring for are just as much like their little brothers and sisters as their children, as her and most of the volunteers at the home all grew up in the orphanage I volunteered at previously. Compassion and understanding truly is born out of personal experience and struggle.

All has not been easy, even in this short time i have already been here... there have been some challenges and struggles even to this point, one of which was my laptop being stolen out of my friend's house, along with his laptop... and on the very day that i was moving into my house!!! The sad and disappointing thing is that we are suspecting that someone who knows him may have been involved with it... someone who would know that we were planning to be out of the house at exactly that time. I guess it is a wake-up call that this is Africa... sometimes you never know what to expect. Francis has since moved out of that house with his brothers and into another place.

Tomorrow Francis is going up to the Kaberamaido district to look at some pieces of land to purchase for Rays of Hope. Pray for him that God would direct him to the right piece that He has chosen for this ministry.
Please also pray for protection from the enemy... i have seen the results of the enemy trying to discourage even in this past week... there have been many things happening and I need strength to move forward and to have guidance with all that God would have me do here.

Please pray for my car to sell in Canada so i can get rid of my remaining debt. My friend Sarah has graciously offered to sell it for me but still it has not sold.

Please pray for finances for me. Prices have increased dramatically since i was last here and my money right now is very tight. Pray that God would supply for my needs each month that i am here and so i can also help to supply for the needs of others as well.

I thank each of you for your friendship, and please continue to keep in touch letting me know all that is happening in your lives.
I love you all so dearly.
Karen Hulowski

For those who would like to begin donating money for me please send a cheque written out to 'Rays of Hope for Uganda' to my mom Joanna Hulowski. On a separate piece of paper mention that it is designated for me.
(RR5 site 23 box 165, Prince Albert, SK, S6V 5R3) Tax receipts will be issued for any amount given.
Thank you again for being interested in my life. I will try to keep you up-to-date more regularly from here on in.