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Monday, Aug 27, 2018 Fun-raiser for Uganda


In addition to being a Param Yogi, Kerry Morris is enthusiastic about plants, birding, and mountain gorillas, which led her to visit Uganda in 2015 to experience them up close. While there, she made friends with some locals and discovered that one of their most pressing needs was school supplies for the children. In the years since, she has focused her energies on raising money to send school supplies to Uganda by gathering items on her travels to sell and holding fundraisers at Param Yoga. Many of you donated money and purchased items that Kerry sold at the studio to benefit the cause.

She returned to Uganda recently and wrote the following letter to describe her experience and thank the members of our community for their generosity:


Dear Marydale, Kirsten & Param Yoga community,

Thank you for the amazing support you have given to provide school supplies for children in Bwindi.

For my journey, I traveled to Uganda with two suitcases to check: one, extra large, filled with pencils, crayons, sharpeners, notepads, paper and 24 deflated soccer balls, 24 pumps and extra needles.

Our first mission was to track down some boys that I had photographed on the banks of Lake Victoria near the Mubamba Swamp in 2015. The boys were collecting water in huge plastic containers, then putting them on their bicycles and walking back to their homes. They paused for a bit of soccer with a ball made of rags and twine. At the time, that image burned into my memory bank, as I couldn’t believe these kids didn’t even have a soccer ball. Livingstone and I drove right to the spot and saw a young boy walking his bicycle up a hill. We showed him the photo of the boys and asked if he knew them. “Yes!” he said. He said two were brothers, and he described to us where the brothers lived in the nearby village. We drove there and found the house. The boys were in school, but we met their mother. We showed her the photo and she smiled. Yes, two of the boys are hers. We explained that we wanted to give them each a soccer ball, pump and extra needles and why. We also gave her several photos, including extras for the third boy that was a friend. We gave her a soccer ball, pump and extra needles for the friend, and also gave a bag with ball, pump and needles to the young boy we met near the lake, who directed us to the boys’ mother, because by this time he had joined us at the house. We chatted, took some photos, and left. 

Driving North on day two, my dear friend Livingstone and I passed a school where children were playing soccer with balls made of rags tied with string. He turned to me and said, “Let’s turn around and go to that school and give some soccer balls!”

He quickly did a U-turn and we went back. We turned onto the school road and headed towards the main school buildings. Activity stopped as all eyes watched to see what we strangers were doing there. We quickly found some teachers and explained that we wanted to give some soccer balls to the school!!! In no time at all, the children surrounded us! We took some photos, shook hands, and then had to leave—the school bell rang and it was time for the kids to get to class! We didn’t get a chance to see them use the balls, but we left with the biggest smiles and our hearts full of love—it was the best feeling in the world! As we continued our drive north, we high-fived each other and the joy we felt was incredible.

1. This photo is from my first trip. It got me thinking about kids not having a soccer ball!
2. This is the mother of two of the boys we saw by the lake on my first trip. Standing next to her is the young man who ID’d them in our photo. Her kids were at school when we stopped by to deliver our gifts.
3. This is the first school we stopped at. As noted in my story, we drove by and saw the kids on the field playing with rag soccer “balls,” did a U-turn and gave them some balls. We left with the BIGGEST smiles on our faces! The experience was way better for us than the kids!

Each and every day brought lush scenery of varying types, lots of great bird watching and many, many animals. Oh, did I mention the people? Uganda is a beautiful country and the people living there are every bit as beautiful. Extreme poverty has not diminished their inquisitive, polite and giving nature. Daily life in Uganda is not easy, especially when you have no running water, no electricity and no vehicle. If you’re lucky, you have a bicycle. When villagers in Uganda need water, they or their children have to walk for miles, most often barefoot, to a well. Carrying the familiar, large, pale yellow, plastic containers of water—that must weigh at least 50 pounds—is hard work, especially in the intense Ugandan heat and monsoon-like downpours. Often, we met people who were kind and sometimes went out of their way to help us.

We traveled through vast African savannas dotted with elephant, giraffe, lion, hippopotamus, Nile crocodile, hyena, Ugandan kob, oribe, hartebeest, eland, impala, mongoose, jackal and African buffalo. At one park, we even saw a rainbow one evening!

Turning south, we stopped in a large town and, using funds raised through sales and donations at Param Yoga, we purchased boxes of school workbooks, paper and math kits to add to our stockpile.

We birded along the way, often just along the side of the road. We stopped at a school in a very poor village in the mountains. Although it was a holiday week and kids were enjoying their time off at home, we found the headmaster and a few teachers there. We explained that we had some supplies and soccer balls for the school. He didn’t need to tell us the supplies were sorely needed: we could tell when we entered the school grounds. Again, we drove away from that school with the biggest smiles!

We arrived in Buhoma, the village at the entrance to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Sweet memories flooded my heart and mind as we drove towards our lodge. I was so happy to be back—my eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t stop smiling. I remembered the rough road, the rustic shops, the homes and the village.

At the new Park Headquarters the next day, I saw my friend Omax, who is a gorilla guide in Bwindi. What a great reunion! He didn’t know the dates of my arrival and was thrilled when Livingstone told him, “Kerry is here!” I also saw other people at the Park Headquarters that I had met 3 years ago. That night, Omax, Livingstone and I happily organized our treasures and decided to visit two schools the next day and deliver the supplies.

1. This is the first school in Bwindi. The sign shows the school’s goals.
2. Omax, Livingston, and the school principal taking some school supplies and soccer balls from us.
3, 4, 5, and 6. Classroom, kitchen, and school bell at Bwindi Ebeneezer School.

Our first stop was Bwindi Plus Nursery and Primary School. The motto of the school is “Laying a Strong Foundation for a Better Education.” Nursery School is 3 years and Primary School is another 10. The school headmistress, Elizabeth, is very driven and goal-oriented. There are several buildings, with dirt floors and chalkboards in each one. There are benches to sit on. Some had colorful decorations made by the children hanging from string, but the rooms had no books, no papers, no pencils, and nothing on the walls as we see in U.S. schools. Almost 3 years ago when I sent boxes of supplies to my friend Omax to distribute in Bwindi, he came to this school and it was simply a brick building. It was amazing to see what’s been done in 3 years. This school has a lot of donors from church groups in Sweden. Elizabeth was thankful to receive our supplies and assured us the children would make good use of them!

The second stop was about 15 minutes from the main village of Buhoma. We drove up a small hill within view of the village and below the main mountains in Buhoma. This was Bwindi Ebenezer Nursery and Primary School. The headmaster told us that he opened this school so children wouldn’t have to walk four or five miles to get to school. This school also had a few buildings, but they were not at the same level as the previous school. These buildings looked like former stables for animals. They were not made of mud, but of wood, and had uneven dirt floors inside. There were no windows with glass. It was dark inside and no electricity. There was a chalkboard and some benches for sitting. Nothing else.

Words can’t properly explain the feeling of happiness in giving these items to those who need them so desperately. With encouragement and loving support from Marydale, Kirsten and all of you at Param Yoga, we made a huge positive impact on the lives of so many.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Kerry Morris