Having just returned from the GLO just under a week ago, now is a good time to write a small piece about our experience before the memory starts to go – those of you of a certain age will know exactly what I am talking about!!
This was to be my third trip to the GLO in as many years. Emma, Bridget and myself had been among the first volunteers to stay at the orphanage in 2009 when it was in its infancy. Auntie Janet has taken to calling us her “first born” and rightly so as Bridget and I are most likely among the oldest!! Sadly Emma was unable to come with us this year as she had work commitments so my “roomy” for this trip was to be Bridget (or Mama B as the children call her) who had been part of the original trip.
But first to the business of some serious fundraising. Earlier in the year we did a “car boot” sale (why are they always so early in the morning!!) and then in October, two weeks before our trip, we held our main fundraiser in the form of a Ceilidh. It was a wonderful evening. Lots of dancing, drinking and relieving people of their cash!! The display boards arranged in the foyer showed everyone what their money had been spent on at GLO last year and how the project had progressed and developed, including the opening of the new school. As always people were very generous in their donations of raffle prizes, money and their time and ultimately we were able to take £1400 out to GLO, to be divided equally between GLO and the Feeding Station
Jane, Emma & Bridget
Feeding Station
Bridget and I set off on the 28 October 11, very excited about returning to the GLO and seeing all the children, Mamas and Aunties again. I must say that it was just like going to see old friends again. What a wonderful reception we got when we arrived at GLO with some expert drumming, dancing and singing. Mercy, the current Manager took us on a little tour and showed us how much things had progressed since out last visit.
Mama B & Mama Jane
Due to work commitments this was to be a short visit and we spent a mere eight days at GLO but every day was a highlight!! What progress had been made since my last visit a year ago. The school was fully opened and functioning and Mama B and I spent some time in classes and were very impressed with both the teachers and the eagerness of the children to learn. The school is not only for the benefit of GLO children but also the children from the surrounding areas who would not have otherwise received any form of education.
Mama B and I had taken some craft supplies and held two “embroidery/stitching” classes. To our surprise this was really popular and we had to have one hour sessions as we did not have enough needles to go around. Well done to the boys who attacked the task with some precision and produced some really good work. We also did some knitting tuition and Mama Lucy is going to carry on the craft sessions as part of the educational play sessions on a Saturday afternoon
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Another wonderful memory of ours will be when the new minibus was driven into the compound by David. There was much dancing and singing in celebration with the children (and Mamas!!) clambering over the bus to explore every nook and cranny.
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Our visit to GLO was made even more lovely by the arrival of Nuala (a volunteer whom I had met the previous year) and her sister Maria. The children loved having them there and it was good to have some younger volunteers on board, leaving Mama B and I to take a more “stately” approach
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Having said that either Mama B or myself helped Auntie Janet with the washing every day. Whilst it was hard going it was also a great place to “chat while you work” with Janet herself and the other Mamas and Aunties who were in the same areas preparing and cooking the food. What a privilege to be able to talk to other women first-hand about their lives and experiences.
Life became harder for everyone when at the beginning of our stay the transformer was stolen from the generator sited outside the orphanage grounds leaving the whole area without electricity for three and a half days. What this meant was that the water could not be pumped to the houses and everyone had to work even harder filling buckets from a hosepipe which came from a supplied tap on the GLO farm. Undeterred the Mamas and Aunties continued to cook meals for the children and Janet carried on washing the clothes!! Hats off to you all I thought as I put my clothes in the automatic washing machine and walked away on my return to England. Although those three and a half days were not very pleasant what it did show was the dedication and determination that the management and the staff at GLO have in ensuring that the children are well cared for despite any number of “spanners” that can be thrown in the works!!!
After “normal service” had been resumed Mary and Kevin suggested to us that the money we raised should be spent on a generator for the GLO. Mama B and I thought that was a wonderful idea and something practical which would help life at the GLO to be a little easier!!
Jane & Bridget getting stuck in
Our eight days sped by and before we knew it we were heading off again and saying some very tearful goodbyes. (Good job we had our sunglasses on!!). Although it was sad to leave, it was so reassuring to know that we were saying goodbye to children who, thanks to Mary, Kevin, Mercy and the Mamas and Aunties, are well cared for in a loving environment where they are being given the opportunity to fulfil their individual potential.
Mama Jane and Mama B