Monthly Archives: June 2009

We’re in Amsterdam!

The first leg of our journey is over, thank God. We arrived safely in Amsterdam Schipol Airport and we’re having fun exploring the wonderful features of this airport: the “comfort chairs” (reclining lounge chairs w/ blankets), the meditation center (complete w/ a Koren tanakh and siddur) and a branch of the Rijks Museum. We’ll write more about our thoughts so far when we have more than 7 minutes left of internet time.


positive encouragement

this post is just to thank the many of you who have given us such positive encouragement.

amidst two sets of parents getting very worried, we got an email from a parent of a friend who told us that she was sure it would be a wonderful trip and how kind and brave we were to go.

amidst our own sneaking fears and our friends’ concern, we got emails from friends telling us they were proud.

every so often, we all get moments of self-doubt, and your emails are there for us to go back to to remind us why we wanted to do this in the first place, and to remind us of the faith you have shown in us.

so we just wanted to express our gratitude and appreciation for the support you have shown in so many ways.  keep it up because when we’re exhausted and haven’t showered in a week or done laundry in two and we reach those moments where our lessons haven’t yet picked up and we’ve been too wiped out to digest, we are certainly going to need it!

fun facts about uganda

as you know from beruria’s post, we’ve been doing lots of researching, reading and talking to various people in anticipation of our trip.  i especially love my new best friend, the lonely planet for east africa. it’s my favorite purchase for this trip aside from our cool water purifier bottles

here are some fun/random facts that i’ve learned from my reading:

  • winston churchill called uganda the “pearl of africa.”  i’m so excited for the stunning scenery.
  • uganda is the source of the Nile.  so it has some of the best white-water rafting in the world.  hopefully we’ll have time to hit that up.
  • it is also home to the highest mountain range in africa, the Rwenzoris, or Mountains of the Moon.
  • don’t be fooled by uganda’s dark past.  it is currently a very stable country with a friendly population–“truly some of the finest folk in Africa,” according to my trusty bible (i.e. the lonely planet)
  • putti village is 15 km from mbale, which is in the extreme east of uganda, near the kenyan border.  mbale is located at the base of Mt. Elgon, which is 4321 m high
  • we’ll be flying into entebbe international airport, which is famous for the 1976 israeli air raid to free israeli hostages.  however, the current airport is located in a new building, so we won’t be in the same  building made famous in the classic film Operation Thunderbolt
  • muggers in Kampala (not so common) are stripped naked as punishment
  • the equator passes thru Uganda.  and so the climate while we’re there will be dry and pleasantly warm

Welcome to our newest teammate!

We’re so excited to have Aryeh Falk on board for our trip!  As of a few hours ago, Aryeh’s participation is official.  He just dropped off his passport at the Ugandan Embassy for his visa.  He noticed this sign in lobby: “October first 1975 laid down by his excellency al hadji field marshal idi amin dada (name defaced) v.c., dso, mc president of the republic of uganda and chairman of the organization of african unity 1975 and 1976.  Welcome to all who enter uganda house in the spirit of friendship. For god and for our country.”

Aryeh graduated from Columbia two years ago and is finishing his job at Citigroup on Monday so that he can join us in Putti.  He will be starting law school in the fall.  We know that he will add so much to our trip.  Welcome!

in anticipation

yes, we are aware that our blog–thus far–is boring.  this should all change once the actual adventure begins, but preparation has been informative and eye opening as well.  here are some things we have learned, done, and ways in which our eyes have already been opened:

  • an extraordinary trip to target in which many dollars were well-spent.  among the purchases: a mosquito net, premethrin for spraying said net, a head lamp (don’t worry, mindy already owns one of each of the above), several cans (and kinds) of DEET bug spray (oy), tuna packets, many many granola bars of different varieties, peanut butter, and more.
  • a dinner date at which we discussed lesson plans, what else we need to bring, and all sorts of trip tips.
  • travel insurance bought (let’s not discuss what said insurance covers; suffice it to say that it covers all sorts of things we have never even thought about and lie somewhere between gruesome and brutal)
  • learned how to eat vegetables abroad (i.e. don’t.  kidding, we can cook them.  preferably in bottled water.)
  • one minor parent freakout about chickens and salmonella (this was not specific to africa)
  • embassy registrations
  • one lonely planet bought, much learned.*
  • trips to the post office for each of us (at least one of which was painful and made customer feel exceptionally stupid.  unclear if this is because much is required to acquire a visa for the trip or because she is actually incompetent.  hopefully the former.)
  • two phone calls to uganda.  have any of you ever used a country code that starts with a 2?  get used to it.  skype is a crazy tool.
  • two yellow fever shots, two polio shots, one hepA shot, one typhoid shot, one set of typhoid pills, two sets of malarone (which we have learned that we must take every day at the same time for proper coverage), two sets of backup antibios.  because you wanted to know.

we still need:

  • to buy a copy of the kitzu”sh or a small copy of the mishna berura (feel free to donate this to our cause!)
  • to choose paperback books to read that will keep us busy on long plane rides and under our mosquito nets with our head lamps
  • some school supplies.  if anyone wants to donate small whiteboards, roll up whiteboards, white board markers, poster board, pens/pencils, let us know.
  • to decide what sefarim to take with(other than the lamed tet melachot book, which is all around excellent).
  • to figure out the frequency at which laundry will be done.

we’re getting so excited to go, and each of us getting the opportunity to talk to rabbi enosh only concretized this trip and our excitement.

i get the feeling that the more we know and the more we prepare, the more we realize how much we don’t know and how unprepared we are.  looking forward.

meanwhile, you should get excited for polaroid pictures and tales of travels and torah that will ensue.

*much learned–the first thing the lonely planet website has to say about uganda is that “Uganda is Africa condensed, with the best of everything the continent has to offer packed into one small but stunning destination.”  YAY!

we bought our tickets!

Iron and Wine sing it so right in “Peng! 33”:

Curiosity was far greater than our fear
It felt so simple and so prodigious at the same time
Incredible things are happening in the world
Magical things are happening in this world


And so we bought our tickets.

Uganda, here we come!

Fundraising Campaign

We have gotten requests for a breakdown of our costs, so here they are–this is, at best, a somewhat guided estimate:


Transportation to/from airport in Africa–$400

Medical and evacuation insurance–$250

Educational resources (books, posters, markers, other school supplies)–$400

Food, iodine tablets for water purification–$300

Mosquito nets–$30

Medicine (not including our very expensive shots, which we pray insurance will decide to cover)–$50

Phones for emergency purposes–$200 (this is a total guess)


Estimated Total:  $5830

A sincere thank you to everyone who has donated thus far.  Keep up the good work!  We have a ways to go.