The Month of May

Update from Bukesa

Hello from the boys at the Bukesa home in Kampala, Uganda and happy belated Mother’s Day!
Otua, a 12-year old boy in Bukesa home wrote a very nice poem honoring mothers on their special day and HALO would love to share it with you:
Mother’s Day
What can I say about a mother on this day?
Where do I begin and where do I end?
The more I talk the less I mean.
The less I talk the more I mean.
I mean to say that I am her flesh and blood.
Her desire, her ambitions, her all wishes come true.

I am what I am because of her
and I am not all that which she did not want.
Then I am not all her reflection, her replica, herself.
I am her creation, her dream and the best.

And on this day as I reminiscent the past
I reflect on her care, the warmth and the bond.
Those unconditional love that she showered on me.
Those long patient hours that she spent on me.
I thank the Almighty for giving me her.
And I am sure she would thank you for giving her me.

This heartwarming poem is even more touching within the context of Otua’s background.  Otua never had a relationship with his mother.  His father died when he was two and his auntie took him away from his mother after she tried to kill him because she could no longer care for Otua after his father passed away.  Seeing that Otua’s heart knows deep down how great a mother can be despite knowing these cold facts about his own mother is a testament to this boy and to the care that he receives in our home.
The Bukesa boys joined other homes in Kampala to clean the streets around a university for a community service project earlier this month.  They enjoyed sodas and chapatis, thick tortilla-like snacks, and joined a discussion on the importance of service in the community.
After a three-week break, the boys are just returning to school for their second term of the year.  Many of the boys who went to visit their remaining family returned to the home and everything is getting back to normal.  To get them started in their new term, a group of 9 students from Lipscomb University came to spend time with the boys and establish a relationship with the Bukesa home.
The boys are doing very well and are all in good health.  They had a fumigator visit the homes to help with lessening the prevalence of mosquitos, which will also lessen the cases of malaria in the home.
Update from Portland… 

This month, we were able to partner with Southeast Works to provide an art therapy project for their youth program.  
Southeast works is an amazing organization that provides employment resources, education completion, and resume building to the southeast Portland community. 
Their youth programs helps 16-20 year old’s finish their GED, build their resume, and find employment. 
Together, with one of their groups, we found a big work area outside and laid out a 8×16 ft canvas for spray paint art, and 2×3 ft canvass to make a collage. 
Chalk, spray paint, hundreds of magazines, glue sticks, scissors, and poster boards were available, and everyone spread out to different work stations.  It took awhile to decide on a theme everyone could focus on, but eventually the group decided on creating art that would focus on what they wanted in the future.  
Some used chalk to create big sidewalk murals.   Others drew and cut out stencils from poster board to create the words DREAM for the canvas.  A picnic table provided a good place for collage work, and many of the kids spent the morning canvassing through magazines to find words and pictures expressing what they were ready to leave behind, and progressed to cutting out images to show what they dreamed of for their futures.  
It was a warm, sunny morning and the perfect weather for outdoor art.  
As we worked, some of the kids shared their stories.  Although each of their backgrounds included difficult experiences (some having spent 5+ years in Juvenile hall) all of them were hopeful.  Through Southeast works they volunteer in community organizations for work experience, practice interviews, apply to colleges and work on lessons towards completing their GED.  Many of their records will be expunged when they turn 18, allowing them to start over with clean slates.  Better than clean slates, because everyday through Southeast Works, they have been developing the experience necessary to find good jobs, enter the military, or be accepted to college.  These were the elements of the group canvasses; the directions and plans they were moving towards.     
While we spoke and worked, the hours ticked away and suddenly we were out of time. Everyone wanted both canvasses to look really appealing so they could hang on the walls for years to come, and by the time we were scheduled to stop, there was still a lot of work to do.  
None of us were too bummed though.  It just meant we would need to return soon to continue this work, and see everyone again. And not just once.  Both we, and the case workers agreed this would be a great monthly activity!

Getting to Uganda

After a long journey I finally made it to Uganda! I am so excited to be here, and I am thankful I made it safe and sound with all my luggage. The journey was not the smoothest though. Here is my story of getting to Uganda starting in St. Louis: Last Friday I left St. Louis with a sad goodbye …

Getting to Uganda

After a long journey I finally made it to Uganda! I am so excited to be here, and I am thankful I made it safe and sound with all my luggage. The journey was not the smoothest though. Here is my story of getting to Uganda starting in St. Louis:
Last Friday I left St. Louis with a sad goodbye to my friends and family but with excitement for the journey to come. I landed in New York with no problems and was greeted by my dearest friend Rachel. Rachel and I took off for a weekend of fun in the big city!  
Together again!
We were so fortunate to have amazing accommodations right smack in the middle of Manhattan next to Central Park provided to us by Rachel’s Aunt who was out of town for the weekend. Even though Rachel’s parents were also out of town they treated us to an excellent sushi dinner. That night we went out with some of Rachel’s friends and had a blast. 
The crew we went out with minus Rachel
The next day we started off with breakfast at one of Rachel’s favorite places – Grey Dog. Breakfast was delicious. Next we went to the High Line which is a park made out of old railroad tracks. The park was really fun and we enjoyed some people watching. After High Line we wandered the streets window shopping. 
High Line Park
 Then we hit up Washington Square Park for more people watching and street performances. The street performers included a hula hoop dancer, a band, a man playing piano, and a guy dressed like a wizard but I could never tell what his trick was.
 Later that night I enjoyed every bite of a giant piece of New York pizza. After dinner we meet up with one of Rachel’s good friends for drinks. After chatting for a while we meet up with more of Rachel’s friends and headed out for the night. We didn’t stay out too late because I had to be at the airport early. All in all my short time in New York was fantastic. The city is never ending and always interesting. I had a blast with Rachel and all her friends. Thanks so much for showing me a good time! I cannot wait for my next long layover in NYC. 
Next stop – Johannesburg, South Africa.
I made it through the 14 hour and 30 minute flight to South Africa. My seat was not great but they had some good movies. Overall I probably got about 2 hours of sleep. Needless to say when we finally landed I was very tired, very out of it, and so happy to be on land. We landed in South Africa around 8am. I had 6 hours to kill. I walked around the terminal, looked in some of the shops, had a snack and then I made the worst decision I’ve made so far….I laid down. Lying down would not have been the worst idea if I hadn’t slept right through my flight. I had about 3 hours until boarding started and I never for one second thought I was going to fall asleep much less fall asleep for that long. The worst part for me was the fact that I woke up less than 5 minutes after the flight departed. I cried. I verified with an airport worker that the flight had left and I asked him what I should do. He pointed me in the right direction and so began the beginning of my additional 24 hours spent in the airport. The next flight was at the same time the next day. I was told I would have to pay $250 which made me cry again. The manager told me I could talk to the supervisor in the morning and she might be able to help me with the fee. 
They were nice enough to let me call my parents. I absolutely hated having to tell them I missed my flight because I fell asleep. It was so embarrassing and such a stupid thing to do. However, I am mad at all the people on that flight and the people doing the boarding because I was asleep at the gate. I wasn’t asleep in some other random place around the airport. I was at the gate and no one thought to wake me up. I will never ever pass by someone sleeping at a gate in the airport without waking them to make sure that is not their flight and also making sure they have an alarm set if their flight is later.  I just don’t understand how I didn’t hear all the commotion going on around me and the loud announcements. 
I ate dinner in the terminal and then return to the ticketing area to make my bed for the night. It was only 9pm but I was tired and bored. I slept for about 4 hours and woke up hoping it was morning but it was only 1:30. I was pretty awake and not happy about it. I tried to sleep more but couldn’t. I fell asleep for a few more hours in the early morning.
My accommodations…
I got up for the day around 7am and talked to the supervisor but she just told me I had to wait until 8 so she could talk to the manager about the fee. Finally I found out I would have to pay the $250. I tried to pay with my debit card but they only accepted credit cards and cash. This meant I had to go out to the main airport which involved going through customs. I was so nervous I was going to miss my flight again even though I had six hours to figure everything out. I waited in line at customs which only took about 20 minutes to get through even thought it looked like a two hour long line. They were very efficient and I really appreciated that. 
Entertaining myself with Bananagrams sitting in front of the boarding area.
My first stop was to make sure the airport knew where my bags were and where they need to go. Surprisingly they already knew exactly where my bags were and they had already sent them on their way to be loaded on my flight. That was some very welcomed good news. Next I found the right desk where I could pay my fine with a debit card. I was mentally preparing myself to spend $250 when the lady told me it would only be $50! I cannot tell you how relieved I was. Then I gathered my boarding pass and went back to my favorite terminal to wait some more. I had six hours to kill just like my original layover. This time I drank coffee. When I finally went to my gate to wait for the flight I sat right in front of the desk so if I happened to fall asleep again people would have to step over me to board the plane. I thought that was a good plan. I also had alarms set, but I did not fall asleep again
Finally I board the plane! It felt great to be on my way again. The plane ride was easy and really short compared to the previous one. I landed, went through customs, gathered my luggage (which I was completely convinced was not going to be there), and then I found Dani and Eric who graciously came to pick me up.
This is the end of my second day and I am still adjusting to the time difference and jet lag. I was going to include my first day activities and thoughts so far but I think I’ll save those for next time. I’ll do a week update in a few days with more pictures. I hope you enjoyed my story and I can’t wait to share more in the future.

Black Belt Focus

HALO’s Life Skill for this month is Focus. Our staff, youth, and volunteers are encouraged to concentrate on how they might improve this life skill in their lives. One fascinating example of this is the keen focus of our volunteers. Their focus helped us surpass our $150,000 goal at the KC HALO Artreach Auction a few weeks back. This will will give hundreds of children in need the ability to dream. 
I asked Brian Davidson, my Martial Arts instructor of 15 years, to be a guest blogger today and teach us a bit about the focus of a black belt. Such a treat:
FOCUS  is the necessary ingredient for success.  Without FOCUS, getting to a goal is an accident or a lucky break.  FOCUS does have a teammate, however.  His name is DISCIPLINE. The two teammates work hand-in-hand to achieve goals.  DISCIPLINE requires FOCUS and FOCUS requires DISCIPLINE.  To become successful at anything in life we have to repeat it over and over. 

In my sport of martial arts, I have to punch and kick every day.  And each day I have to approach the punch or kick as if I’m not good at it yet,  as if I have so much more to learn about the punch or kick. Even as a Master my kick will always have room to improve.  I must use FOCUS to continue to enjoy kicking and punching.  I must FOCUS on the image I have in my mind of what the kick is supposed to look like.  I will continue that FOCUS until it matches my mental image. 

This analogy is applicable in all areas of life.  FOCUS forces us to settle down and concentrate on a task. But at the same time it forces us to move forward as we get closer to achieving our goal.

A Drill to Practice:

Make a Major Goal.  Set up 3 small goals that will help you reach the Major Goal. FOCUS on the first small goal, the second, and then the finally the third.  You will find yourself reaching more goals using this format. 

Exercise to Simulate:

Major Goal: 75 pushups.  1st small goal: 25 push ups. 2nd small goal: 2nd set of 25 pushups. 3rd small goal: 3rd set 25 pushups.  Once you are able to do 3 sets of 25 push-ups, you have completed your Major Goal.  Congratulations. 

Brian Davidson

6th Degree Black Belt

Master Instructor, Multiple World Champion

Professional Mixed Martial Artist

The privilege to dream

March 2006, upon arriving in Kenya I was preparing to spend the day in a small wooden building that was our orphanage. This is memorable to me for a number of reasons: it was the first time I would do artwork with the HALO supported youth in this …


It has been over a month since my first post so I think it is time for some progress updates. Two major events have occurred:1) I bought my plane ticket.2) I got my visa.I’m all set! Well, almost. Next week is my last week working at Enterprise. Then it is off to Indiana for the weekend to have one last college …