Our kids are separated from their biological families (with the exception of the two sets of siblings we have here). We don't want Ddembe to become an institution where they are raised, but rather a family to which they belong. Moses and I have been talking a lot this week about the differences between an orphanage and a foster home model in Uganda. Foster home does not really mean the same thing it does in the U.S. Foster homes here are homes with one mother or a couple who raise 5-8 orphans like a family. That's more of the feel we are going for at Ddembe, even though we are a "children's home".
Last night the younger children were SO DONE studying. We tried to read books and play, but there was some pent up energy! Everything became funny, and the entire place was full of giggles while they continued to pretend to work. Mommy Esther came into the room, and, since she's getting married in October, there will be an introduction ceremony in August. The kids are so excited for her, and Rogers began to imitate how she would walk in high heels (lots of falling!). Most of the girls began to try walking on their tiptoes, and some tied quits around themselves like fancy dresses. They said, "Mommy! You will dance like this!" And danced in silly ways. Esther joined in, showing them a very exaggerated way in which she would dance! At this point, most of the room was up dancing, Yonna was keeping a rhythm by beating the table, and the poor P7 kids gave up trying to study and joined in the fun for a bit! Then the girls pushed end tables together in the sitting room and put a quilt over it like a table cloth. They pulled up two chairs, and announced that it was "The Hotel of Uganda," and that they had dining! I said I wanted to visit and had to ask Yonna, who was stationed at the door, what they were serving. They told me "mzungu food like macaroni and cheeses!" ;-) I came in to sit down, and Resty put my sunglasses on me so I looked like a "diner," while Magdalene and Vicky fell all over each other setting my place (and giggling!). Patricia took my order, and I everyone laughed when I pretended to enjoy my meal! When we finally closed the fancy hotel, the kids headed to the kitchen to eat whatever leftovers were out or in the fridge. This is how a family works, I thought.
Over the past several days, we have visited the families of each of our Ddembe children. We consider them our extended family, and are reaching out in love to them. Most of them cannot believe that we take care of their child(ren) and also bring them gifts and check on and pray with them. This is also how a family works. It is our prayer that as Ddembe moves forward, we would continue to be able to do more and more for these precious families, and even for their extended families and communities!