Peter, Joannie and I are walking down the ramp toward our flight back to Boston from Heathrow when I realize that I haven’t yet left Kampala. Jamillah’s presence is palpable, I feel the comfort of her hand in mine, see before me Esther’s expressive eyes and hear her melodic frequent reply, “Yes, please” or if she is slightly more aggressive on the road, “Sor-ry”. Of course the faces of each child – their increasingly bright eyes, wide smiles, absolute love and remarkable thirst for learning will stay with me regardless of geographical distance, as will Conso’s unexpected surprise at our last meal at Hotel Africana during her busy workday, Fatima’s warm embrace, Fatumah’s “safe journey” when we depart, Ivan’s energy and sense of purpose , Pius taking Peter and Joannie to the village school he attended as a young boy, Baker’s gentle guidance in connecting us to important contacts, and Iman’s beautiful bright clothes and headdress. I already feel the absence of the profound kindness, warmth, and full hearts that radiates from our many Ugandan friends.
While at the gate, Peter and I continued our ongoing conversation about ways to improve and grow the US operation of Clover as well as how exciting it was to see and be a part of the remarkable work already happening on the ground. Within hours of our arrival two weekes ago, we joined withour Uganda colleagues as one, engaged in the work, conversation and consensus building that seamlessly moved us forward in service of Clover's mission: to nurture the lives of the children at Clover so that each child can achieve what is within them and one day make this world a better place.
When we first met as a board and at our first visit to the Clover Foundation in Busega, we were in awe over what has been accomplished for the children in eight months, since Clover’s beginning. Teachers Mary and Millie are wonderful educators, the space and supplies are the best they could be given our limited finances at the present time, the systems and processes and connections Esther developed are very impressive, and everyone's communication, insights, company and care during our visit has made us feel “most welcome”.
We've learned a great deal during our time with our colleagues on the Clover board in UG, from the Clover teachers, from the children and their families and from and our many meetings with potential partners and technical advisors.
Salma, we are most grateful to you for bringing us together for the sake of the children. Above us the stars are aligned, and we know that the path we are traveling will indeed take us on a journey to make real positive and lasting change in the lives of the beautiful children we we are honored to embrace.