After three attempts and even seeking publicity to get Happy Mbabazi, our close friend from Uganda, a visa to enable him to travel to the Netherlands, we could finally welcome him in our home in the Netherlands last week. After he had recovered from the long trip, we have shown him around in our environment, we went shopping and we started sorting the many bracelets that he brought on types and colors. Happy was introduced to a lot of food that was completely new for him, but which he just loved eating. Especially, he loved eating our Dutch and Belgian cookie-like kind of confectionery, called ‘pepernoten’. They are traditionally associated with the early December ‘Sinterklaas’ holiday in the Netherlands and Belgium. Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) looks a bit like Santa Claus but is a very Dutch character who is loved both by children and adults, because he brings presents to everyone. Sinterklaas has many helpers who are called ‘Zwarte Pieten’ (literally ‘Black Peters’) and Happy so clearly enjoyed seeing our daughter, Helena, in the role of such a Zwarte Piet.
Yet, besides enjoying our time together, we also started working on Happy’s purpose for coming to the Netherlands, which is especially promoting his activities in Uganda and hoping to find many new friends who are willing to join him in building a great and successful future for my children. We introduced him to a reporter who wrote a beautiful article about him and the goals of his trip to the Netherlands that was posted in a regional newspaper, and following which he soon received the first soccer items.
Starting this week, more and more activities that will help to promote Happy’s activities will be scheduled. Earlier this week, we visited ROC de Leijgraaf for the first time to be introduced to several teachers and to look around at one of their locations, where we will be spending quite some time in the upcoming period. In the weeks leading up to Christmas Happy will most of all be presenting his activities to the students of many classes. Starting in January, he will also start taking part in several workshops where he will be given opportunities to learn skills that in the end not only he, but also other people in Uganda will be benefitting from once he will have returned in Uganda.
We are looking forward to get started!