Uganda Blogs: Erin Barret
This past winter break, 7 of our members had the opportunity to travel to an orphanage in Entebbe, Uganda. Now over a month since their return, they reflect on how this experience impacted them.
As a freshman, I am extremely grateful to Empower Orphans to have had the opportunity to travel to Entebbe and spend a week at the Malayaka House this past Christmas break. Simply put, Malayaka House is a place of pure joy and love. Never before have I felt more welcomed or loved by group of people. The moment we arrived, we were greeted by each of the children with hugs, enthusiasm and anticipation for what the next ten days had in store. From the day we arrived to the moment we departed, every waking moment was spent playing, interacting and bonding with the children. Whether we were competing in a fierce game of knockout, reading Dogman in the library, playing soccer, or being challenged to a game of Ugandan Uno, there was certainly no shortage of activity and adventure.
Each child who lives at Malayaka House is special and unique in his or her own way, and without each and every one of them, Malayaka House would not be complete. In the short time I spent there, I slowly fell in love with each one of the children; it’s almost impossible not to. Each morning, I was bombarded with screams of excitement and hugs, and every night ended with countless kisses on the check and multiple goodnight messages. The boys and girls, along with the aunties and volunteers, are a family in every sense of the word.
While there were so many special moments during our stay, the most memorable evening was perhaps the New Year’s Eve party. At around 2 a.m., after the music quieted and the fireworks subsided, many of the children were losing steam and heading off to bed. Ishmat, a sweet 10-year old with a contagious smile and a big heart, was the last child at the party. Before leading him back to his room, he and I spent a few minutes sitting at a picnic table quietly looking up at the stars. As we gazed overhead, Ishmat gasped and, pointing upward, exclaimed, “Look Auntie Erin, a wishing star!” I suggested that he close his eyes and make a wish. Deciding that this was a very good idea, he closed eyes tightly and silently made his wish, a huge smile forming across his face. A few days later, while Ishmat and I were reading together, I asked him what he had wished for when he saw the “wishing star”. He came close to me and whispered warmly in my ear: “I wished that you and the others will come back next year to be with us again.”
I am eternally grateful to Empower Orphans in affording me the opportunity to travel to Uganda and visit Malayaka House. I am equally grateful to the children and Aunties for welcoming me and my fellow classmates into their home, sharing their lives with us, and making us part of their family. I, for one, will cherish it forever. I look forward to the day that I am able to return to Malayaka house and reunite with the children. When I do return, my first order of business will be to give Ishmat a great big hug, and tell him, “See wishes sometimes do come true.”