Martha Teresa

by martha on August 1, 2011

go ahead. make some assumptions.

With the children, at the Kirinda schools training & distribution in Uganda.

Look at these pictures. Really look at them. I’m angelic, aren’t I? I appear positively saintly.

As she travels among the crowd of children

The digital camera is a source of endless amusement to the kids.

I know how it looks. There I am, appearing to minister to the needy, surrounded by darling, photogenic children dressed in glorious African color, all clamoring to have their pictures taken, hoping to be included in a silly game we’re playing, interested in talking to and touching the mizungu.

You’re really impressed, aren’t you?

Kirinda guest book and scarf

At every school, you're asked to sign their guest book.

They were adorable, these precious, witty, silly children. Most of them didn’t speak any English, but that didn’t stop them from playfully mimicking me and mocking me. We communicated with a combination of my useless English, body language, hand signals, mime and smiles.

We laughed a lot. We repeated phrases that cracked them up. I was in heaven. It was so much fun.

This was the day we rode almost four hours each way with Sylvia to bring clean water to the schools surrounding her village. The yard was filled with some of the most well-behaved and obedient kids I’d ever seen.  They sat so patiently, even as we drove up to the school in full view and spilled out of the car with all our gear and cameras.

They were so obedient and wonderfully well behaved.

The Kirinda-area pupils sat quietly & paid attention to their teachers even as we walked around taking pictures.

When we conduct a training and distribution at a school, the whole event is more than a little disruptive. The pupils can’t help but be curious. Yet, there they sat quietly, under the enormous tree, responding only when addressed directly by Sylvia or their teachers.

Then, they were released to play with the soccer balls we’d brought. At last, we got to have our up-close and personal encounters and enjoy the sounds of their play and their laughter.


Martha Teresa

Marthalina Jolie

Princess Marthana


We’ve had a lot fun with all of it in the days since. I was committed to behaving appropriately and avoiding making anyone more uncomfortable than necessary, 5’ 8” laughing, loud, inquisitive blonde that I am.

I’d only been in the country for 48 hours, so I was looking to others for cues about when I was permitted to wear pants, when I needed to switch to a dress, when I should (try to) be quiet, when it isn’t proper to ask a lot of questions, and when I should cover my head.

Officially, Uganda is a Muslim country, though you’d be hard-pressed to believe it, with all the Christians milling about and all the churches and outreach missions. With that in mind, I was prepared to wear my scarf when necessary.

The other reason to wear a scarf, besides modesty and respect, is to keep the diesel fumes or red clay from choking you or getting embedded in your hair. So, with the last part of the journey mostly on dusty, bumpy roads with the car windows open, all three of us had our scarves up as we pulled into the school.

Road trip

Road trip!

Before we climbed out of the car, I consulted Sylvia on whether I needed to keep it on. She affirmed that I should, so I did.

It was HOT. Sweat was dripping down my neck and I soon noticed that Sylvia and Noeline were no longer wearing their scarves. There was no way I was going to second-guess her or give the impression that I objected to the convention, so I kept it on, even as it got hotter and I lost control of how it was arranged on my head. (Note: Kids around the world apparently like to yank on scarves to be funny. It is universally amusing.)


keep that scarf on

Keep that scarf on!

Hours later, as we ate dinner back in Entebbe, Sylvia said something surprising that made me turn to her and ask (nervously) why it had been necessary for me to wear the scarf when only one of the other women there had her head covered.


visiting Sylvia's family

A visit with Sylvia's family.

Was it because of the one Muslim school that was there?

Was it because I was blonde?

Was it because I was a mizungu?

Sylvia’s answer makes these pictures even funnier. Keep reading and then, I implore you, check the photos out again. If this makes you laugh even half as hard as we have, it makes all the sweat and delayed embarrassment worth it.

Sylvia said, “You asked me if you could take your scarf off and I said you could. I wasn’t sure why you kept it on, but I wasn’t going to say anything to you if that’s what you wanted.”


If you’re wondering, “What the heck is crazy Martha doing in Africa?” please visit the Raincatcher blog to learn why we’re here and what we hope to accomplish. If you’d like to help us save lives, please visit my donation page. Clean-water systems delivered through RainCatcher save a life for just $1. How many lives would you like to save today?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabrina Lamberson August 3, 2011 at 10:12 am

Martha, I am so touched by what you are doing in Africa and I am really enjoying reading your blog posts! You look beautiful in the pictures and your sense of humor cracks me up! You are living a dream I have that I would like to do when my children are grown. For now, I live vicariously through you! Keep up the amazing work that you are doing, and know that you are affecting lives in an incredible way!

martha August 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Thank you Sabrina. You played a part in this trip with your donation and YES kids already grown make it possible to go do these things. I can’t WAIT to watch you when you do. 🙂

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