Dear all, sponsors, friends, beloveds and followers

Uganda update Bulamu Foundation, February 16th 2013


Time flies, when you’re having fun. 7 Weeks have passed already, since Elizabeth and René left their family and friends in the Netherlands. It was heart-breaking how much love we shared and the amount of tears we cried out of joy of the friendship we embarked on the plane to Uganda.


We intended to take a break in the first weeks in Uganda, to give our bodies rest from the hard labour of the last weeks in the Netherlands. Emptying the house, cleaning the surroundings and saying goodbye to memories out of 25 years of marriage took a lot of effort and some emotional encouragement, by means that we knew that our steps were already settled by God on a path that lead for us to Africa. Reality was somehow different from planning, by the way, this is the life we embrace as well, knowing that we live today, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

The first month we settled in the ICU guesthouse of Sander and Sarah, in Rubaga, Kampala. This was a hassle-free and friendly surrounding to meet many of the people we left behind almost a year ago already. Christopher, Alex, Moses, Happy, Rembo, Marjon and many others came along for a bottle of soda and a nice chat. The first projects started here as well, supporting Alex in his Bukedde TV Video project, starting up Bagenda Poultry by Happy John and initialising the first rough schedule of micro finance business for Rembo Francis and Kato Brian. Meanwhile, we were able to learn some more Luganda with Bosco, James, Sarah and Alice, to network and chill with many Dutch Entrepreneurs and students and to give Baijo, our most beloved and looked-after dog, time enough to settle between 2 Ugandan Embwa (Dogs) in the tropical temperature atmospheres. Tropical it is but tropical it wasn’t. Even in Uganda the change of times is manifest. It has never been as wet as this year in eastern Africa and many days we had to drive through mud pools, not being able to see all pits in the clay roads.

Driving yes, because one of the first purchases we did was straightaway the biggest purchase we ever did in Uganda, we bought a 16 year old Nissan Patrol, our best friend up to now. What a beast, reliable, huge, strong and desirable. Last week we heard a man on a boda, following us, laughing out loud, telling us that whenever we are willing to sell, he wants to buy it. Such and old car as we are driving now is often seen in Uganda, however, this one was not imported but bought at Nissan Kampala and thus carrying original 16 year old license plates. Sometimes we make fun of it, we already had ideas to put a red cross on top driving as an ambulance or putting UN on the sides, seeing Abazungu (white people) in such an old car with a little sheep (Baijo our poodle) in the back is triple reason to look at us, mouths wide open. It is even a reason to be held by traffic police many a times, but OK, we take it as grace, smile friendly, tell them again that it is a dog in the back and not a towel and drive away slowly and smoothly again.

The second week we started getting familiar with the surroundings and the traffic. Slowly, slowly we drove more into the heart of Kampala and by mistake we arrived twice in the epicentre of this amazing town. Downtown, where about 500.000 pedestrians try to find their way to the multiple shops, restaurants, boda’s(taxi-motorcycles) and taxi’s, not taking care of someone around and overflowing the roads like ants in a termite mountain. The only thing you can do is smile, keep your peace and try to use your gas and brake for each millimetre you can achieve. If there is any place in the world where you can learn how to drive a car, it will be Kampala. Boy, am I happy with our Patrol.

We are rather familiar in many districts of Kampala now and in week three we set of for the surroundings of Matuga, Kawempe and Bombo. We visit Bulamu Children’s village a couple of times, to encourage them in the tough times they are going through. The first weeks there were practically no children around because they all left during the holidays to the relatives that are known, some of them very far away in the villages. In the last week of January we were able to see all of them returning “Home” and celebrated with them the start of a new school year. Due to the absence of funds Bulamu Children’s Village changed into Bulamu Children’s school, where fortunately the not-finished houses can be used as a private primary school. A new beginning.

These weeks, no day off for Elizabeth and René as well. Jolanda changed her name in Uganda into her name given by birth - Elizabeth, which means worshipper, and that’s what she is. We start getting busy. By grace we received again a donation of a church in De Bilt, just before leaving to Uganda, to support Beth Elishah, the house where Auntie Beatrice raises 9 children. In 2011 we were able to move them from a 1 roomed house to a two roomed house in Matuga, near to a good primary school, the funds were at that time just enough to pay for the housing, schooling and some food and by additional sponsoring of a church in Tinte, now we are able to settle a life for the 9 children and Beatrice and to coach them to change their lives forever. Each week we visit Matuga, paid the house rent up to march, went to the HIV clinic (one of the children suffers from birth with HIV) and go to the market to buy food for a week. Early February we went to the school, buying all necessary school books and accessories and, thanks be to God, last week, February 13, we met a wonderful lady from the united states, that is going to sponsor the four children from one family. This together with 2 sponsors from the Netherlands, guarantees the weekly food demand, the hospital and transport costs, housing and school fees. Nevertheless we believe in another 3 sponsors for the remaining 3 children and a sponsor for Auntie Beatrice as well. For now we can even tell our sponsors that we already discussed and visited a nearby house, that we can rent for almost the same amount of money and that provides the family with 3 bedrooms and a garden. This is one of the goals of Stichting Bulamu, to support self-employment and support. By means of the garden, Beatrice will be able to grow food for Beth Elishah and to sell food to gain an income.

Schooling is a huge topic in January in Uganda. Everyone is busy to achieve the necessary school fees and money for the uniforms and shoes. Shoe sellers have problems with getting black shoes at reasonable prices, people are talking about school fees and nothing else and even the amount of traffic controls and stand stills increases a lot because many police officers try to get the school fees for their children out of corruption in traffic mistakes. For us, this is an intensive program as well. Buying school necessities has been a long time ago, now Taata and Maama are walking in the supermarkets again with hundreds of books, pens and lists of other things to buy. Some items are strange for us and we have to ask the employees of the shops what is mentioned by brooms and rasorblades for school. Inside or outside brooms? Children have to wipe the dust from the floors, boy or girl rasorblades? No idea but they seem to be used to sharpen the pencils ;-) Piles of soap, toiletpaper, reams of paper, you mention it, we bought it. Not only for the children of Beth Elishah, but even for Simon, who left Bulamu for a study at Mengo Secondary School in Kampala and for Jawii, sponsored by Wijnie, who left for boarding school. One day we told Jawii that we believed that there would be a sponsor for him, on which he replied that he already knew because God had sent him to us. There is a special story between his sponsor and him, Wijnie wanted to sponsor someone for a long period of time and we supplied her with all the stories and pictures of the children of Beth Elishah, which she returned telling us that her sponsor child was not within those files. She already was bond by Spirit to Jawii. We told Jawii that we would support him to his school on the first day, because for boarding school you need to have your own iron case, matrass etcetera. On the 4th of february at 9 am we left his house, car fully packed with utensils, his mother, his sister and us, ready to take off, thinking it was somewhere in Kampala. After one hour drive we arrived up north in a town called Bulamu, at a school called Bulamu Boarding School. Isn’t that amazing when you have a foundation called Bulamu, not knowing about this all.

After the first week of feb, almost all school related appointments were finished and in between the organisation of the first grace based conference of Feed My Lambs Uganda took place. Pastor Moses Mugalasi and his team arranged a first meeting at Umka’s in Kawaala early January, and many questions about the gospel of grace and the program of 2013 rose. Certainly something had to be settled out before starting the year program and the meeting decided to establish the structure first. The suggestion of retreating together somewhere to establish the foundation of FMLU during fellowshipping and training together was embraced rapidly and by a donation from the Netherlands a weekend was organized in Kavumba Recreation Centre Wakiso. This weekend took place last week and almost the complete foundation of the Gospel of Grace was taught, meanwhile discussing, raising and answering questions, having fun and even baptizing Jawii.

Finally, Elizabeth and René found a place to relax. It was decided last Sunday, not to leave Kavumba together with the group but to negotiate a price for a month. During the first weeks we were looking for a house, however, it didn’t seem to be Gods plan yet to offer us a house, although he showed us the surroundings of Naalya a couple of times yet, whilst we were looking in Nansena and Wakiso. We leave it up to Him and currently we are not living in the smog of Kampala anymore but moved our stuff on Tuesday to Wakiso, where we can see the huge amount of stars at night, enjoy the beautiful surroundings and mountains and even use the swimming pool to wash away the sweat of the sun, that is shining at least a couple of hours a day now. It is hot sometimes and yesterday we were sitting at the swimming pool when a couple of school classes arrived for swimming lessons. As a muzungu (white man) you can always take your righteous position and that’s what I did, helping a couple of kids in the water and giving them swimming lessons. During the 2 hours of being there both Elizabeth and I did not feel the sun upto the moment that we dressed again. Now we are no muzungu anymore but red all over our non-covered body parts.

Today we went up north, just to see some parts of Uganda that we never saw before. Something we have been talking about for three years now is what started today, sight-seeing Uganda. I believe that we are one of the few from outside Uganda that did not see any elephant, lion or crocodile yet. Safari or travelling has only taken place now during one of our conferences, but even today we mentioned where our hearts really are, driving up the highway, the landscape really changed into a mountain rural area, where I decided to leave the highway and drive inland. Straightaway we attained in the garden of Eden. Driving sluggishly on sunburst clay tracks,  enclosed by plantains, matoke and papaja trees, we embrace Africa again, terracotta sheds, people inactive in the shades, old and young as families gathering together, boys, fellowshipping and waiting for the afternoon temperature to fade down, old and young, interested in that huge vehicle coming along through the sun, lips opening for smiling teeth when they see us driving by, hands raising, voices increasing, joy all over. When we pass by a pool, where two women are doing the laundry, they wave so immense that I decide to drive back. Running towards us they tell us that they are so happy that we come along. Did we do something, no its simply Jesus in us and in all of them that makes our days. Such easy, such intense, such Africa.

I cannot change my life anymore, this is where my heart belongs and though my body, my life, my being. This night I realised that business is not my life anymore as well, besides Gods business. Trying to set up something for ourselves I realize that all works out of my hands are not the things that God planned for me. There will be a sponsor led by God to share his earthly money with us, so that we can be his or her ambassador in Africa. I started up ebay again and was rejected after the first sales, started ebid without getting mails, asked for a shop to rent but it was already rented, God has other plans with me, coaching others and living His life abundantly, hallelujah, we will see.

Sula Bulungi for now, sleep well my friends.

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