House of Two Sarahs

House of two SarahsSoft Power extended (an intro further down).

Sarah is out of hospital, until she is ready for the operation. Think we’ll now how and when on sunday. She is now in her new home outside Jinja, and everything turned out better than I ever hoped. Here Sarah also met Sarah (2), an orphant from the same area as herself – and also the same tribe: Bugosa. They share a similar background, and found each other immediately.

The Two SarahsI’ve bought material to fix up an old building for both Sarahs to live together, on the land of Hadjet. Sarah has got a couple of sponsors from Norway, that will provide some money for her every month, for medisins, food, school etc., but the house I had to pay for myself. I’m thinking about the possibility of raising a small building with more rooms, as it was very difficult find a good place for Sarah to stay. No one – either families or orphants homes, wanted to take teens. It’s a big need, as it is alot of young girls (and also young mothers) here that for various reasons are left alone.

House of Two Sarahs

With the two Sarahs in thoughts, I started mind drawing the concept House of Two Sarahs – a new and different ‘rooming’ that house and train teens (Soft Power extended). I’m looking at the possibility for intercultural exchange, where internationals can come and share their different skills in an artisan or ‘master-in-residence’ program, in exchange for food and accommodation. My plan is that the house will be raised by a relatively small group of financial supporters – who’ll have a close relational connection to the progress of it. In return, locals have to provide the land (which they’ve already done – same spot as the Soft Power building, in Malindi). The house should be economically self-sustaining within a given period.

The planning is in it’s first steps, and will need some time to mature.
Coming back to it!
Sharing some pics from the moving:

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There was a bit of beauty in my inbox today! Mako Veronica had painted a picture titled “Banga”, made a video of it, and wants to sell it to raise money for kids in Uganda. The money is intended kids that need help continuing school – through The Story Of Sleep Wells Scool fees program! I find it very beautiful! Mako is in Los Angeles, but could send it in a tube anywhere in the world.

Thank you Mako!!

‘The Story’ on Facebook

Facebook can be a powerful tool! Via Facebook the project has raised money for almost 50 mattresses, 8 kids get to go to school, including Innocent (supported mainly by myself) and Sarah – who’s got several supporters! Sarah and Ntuyo Rashid (pic.) gets also both medical treatment and operation, after a note on Facebook! Sarah has even got sponsors to start a new life, in a new place, and is starting Boarding School in February.

Soft Power

The consept Soft Power has got NOK 5000,- to build a knitting business for rural women in Malindi, East Uganda – and Walle, via Nordic Shelter AS writes (in Norwegian):

“Dette er det beste prosjektet jeg noen gang har sett for å hjelpe fattige i uland. Det beste er filosofien bak, som er enestående ved sin bærekraftighet og vet at den lar de involverte beholde sin verdighet. Prosjektet er lett å realisere, men er i første omgang eavhengig av innsats fra “ildsjelen”, i dette tilfelle Amina Bech. Nordic Shelter AS gir med glede 5000kr som en første innsats til etableringen av “Soft Power.”

Det setter jeg pris på!
Thanks! Amina

The Story Of Sleep Well has got a new Facebook fan page. Feel free to like it!

Rashid, The Story Of Sleep Well – extended

Sarah is improving

It’s quite amazing to see the big improvement of Sarahs disease, so the first part of the medication has shown out to be very successful! I’ve might have said it already, but it is so fun to be around Sarah now! She’s totally changed as a person. She is fun, makes a lot of jokes, loves the camera – and laugh all the time. Very pleasent!

Later this week we are going to see a new specialist, to see what the next step in the treatment should be. More to follow!

Pic.: Sarah and Innocent. – Sarah shows off with her 4000 Ugandan Shilling (about one dollar and 50 cent), a couple of meals at the hospital.Sarah, me and Innocent..

Pillow talk

Yesterday I got Innocent to make a drawing about his dreams on a pillow cover, to see if something like this could be used as a part of the exhibit content. Here’s the result! I think I will choose another way of approaching on the next try.. Innocent is probably a little “intoxiated” by the fact that he knows me to well, and want to go with me to Norway. Nice with the Ugandan flag on top of the air plane though!

Sarahs story

Today we had a really nice talk with Sarah outside the hospital. She doesn’t know english, but with Hadjet as an interpreter, it worked out just fine. Sarahs language is Lusoga, and she is from the tribe Basoga, eastern neighbors of the Baganda. I wanted to hear what Sarahs thoughts and wishes were. Luckily we were on the same wave, so she will start at a Boarding School in Feb 2012.Later we visited Sarahs old home town to get the signed paper work from LOC and her parents. We got them without any problems! Sarahs father had been scared when the LOC showed up, because he knows he ambanded her. Her mother however was happy, even she actually signed Sarah away from her.

Her Story

Sarahs parents moved away from eachother before Sarah was born. She lived alone with her mother the first years. Her father picked her up when she was 4, and placed her in the house of a distant relative. Sarahs mother was mentally ill, and her father had got a new wife that didn’t want Sarah to stay in their house. The realtive sent Sarah back to the father when she was 12. Her feets had then started to grow, an issues they couldn’t handle – as they thought it was something “unnatural” going on. She stayed with her father for one year, but his new wife never accepted this and finally sent her away. She found an old lady (by luck) that took her into her house, and she stayed there for about one and a half year. Then the old lady got sick, and was sent away by her relatives. Sarah stayed alone in her empty house for two month. In october ’11 an elderly neighbor moved Sarah into his house, were she funtioned as his “wife” (Sarahs words). The sad thing is that her parents knew, and lives pretty close to this man. Nobody cared! Sarah stayed with the man for two weeks, until the day me, Zakie and Happy found her (images here).

Today she is totally different person, with a big smile!


By Siw Amina

Nov 11th – on the hospital: (pic.) Sarah is signing the documents that allows me to take care of her (until she is 18) basically economically, to secure her future. It’s not only me that is helping her though.. A lot of people in Norway is already engaged in this! The lady in red will be Sarahs contact while I’m outside Uganda, and Sarah will also have a room in their house to come to in holidays and so. The girl to the left is Sarahs friend, and she is also helping out! My plan is that Sarah will start on a Boarding School after Christmas – if everything is ok at that point. This is Sarahs wish as well! She has already lost 4 years/classes, so she wants to go back to school as soon as possible. In my opinion – when the situation is like it is, Boarding School is the best. Also because the main focus then is the school!

First money that came in for Sarah, was used to buy all equipment she needed at the hospital (here you have to bring it all, even a mattress to put on the bed – and all medisins!). I also bought some clothings, books, shoes and more. Next week we are going to speak with a specialist, that can advice us on the further steps on treatment. More to follow!

Btw.: If anyone have some suggestions on a way to keep the accounts transparent and simple, please contact me! I’m thinking about a fund, but I’m open for all opinions on this! It is necessary also to open an account in Uganda, which allows Sarahs contact to get out a certain amount each month. Have to pay a little for the room in her house as well, food and necessaries.. And maybe some pocket money? Wondering also if the fund can include the plan for the school in Malindi (read about the project), or if this should be separated. Maybe the fund could have separate posts? Share your opinion!

From the left: Happy (Sarahs friend), Hadijet and Sarah.Sarah looking at new clothes and books, given by support from Norway.

Establishing a fund


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By Siw Amina Bech

To create an easy and transparent system for the money that is coming into this story, I have now decided to establish a fund! The fund will take care of everything included in The Story Of Sleep Well – also Innocent and Sarah. In fact, it is all connected!

The mattresses: There’s no real way to help people understand the poverty we see around us in Africa, but even if the poorest may need some help with small things like a mattress, learning skills and commitment is the most important. That’s why each mattress comes with a “contract”: learning how to read and write – and thats why even a mattress is a big thing! The temporary school is slowly taking form, and we have started to raise money for the new one. Will update about this as the story progresses!

Funny though: I went to Uganda to do an art project about Trauma and Dreams – a trip that became so much more (and longer) than I thought.. and I know now: Everybody can do a little, and achieve a lot. Small stories is the next big thing!



By Siw Amina

In a house in a small village outside Jinja, we (me, Zakie and Happy) found Sarah. It’s the saddest face I’ve ever seen! She is suffering from Elephantiasis, and her parents had left her because of her illness. Two weeks before we arrived she had been taken from her house were she had lived alone the last month, by an elderly man. What we saw in his house was not good, and Sarah is only 15. She told us she functioned as his ‘wife’.

We took her to the hospital, because her feets were very infected and needed treatment. Hopefully she will have an operation by time. I’m trying to rise money for this to happen! Because of the situation, it is not safe for Sarah to go back to her village, so we have to find out how we can help her in the best way – with school and a new place to stay. I plan to establish a fund, that will take care of both Innocent, Sarah, and The Story Of Sleep Well – from mattresses to the new school (info will come up soon). It’s all connected! Will update about this as it progresses.

Sarah had only the dress she weared, so she got (among other things) the last facebook mattress from the early november effort. Elephantiasis (el-e-fan-TY-a-sis) is the result of a tropical worm infection called filariasis (fil-a-RY-a-sis). When infected mosquitoes transmit the parasitic worm Wuchereria bancrofti to people, the worm blocks the lymphatic system. The blockage causes swelling in the legs or other parts of the body, making these body parts appear large and puffy, or elephant-like. Elephantiasis is not “elephant man disease,” which is an inherited condition with completely different causes and symptoms.


By Siw A Bech

Innocent (8) has a special story. His mother was raped when she was 14. As a result of this she gave birth to a child when she was only 15. Her family had big problems accepting this, and sent her away. Early pregnancy is a shame in Africa, and rape is no exception. For years they’ve had a trouble life. Even Innocent is innocent (the solid reason why he was given the name), his mother is not always capable of taking care of her son.

When I came to Uganda, Innocent lived with a friend of his mother, a Pastor, partly because school fees was to high were she lives. I paid fees for the next year, bought the new school uniform, shoes, books, pencils and more – and brought Innocent back to his mother. They live in a house where expences is covered, together with other members of the house. They are all commited in taking care of him.

Innocent is totally changed after he was brought back, and even there are problems, bringing him to his mother still feels right. He is a jolly boy, singing, laughing, and talking, in the beginning he was whispering one-word answers only. I’m working on a video interview of Innocent and his mothers story, that will be used in an exhibit later on.

One of the facebook-mattresses went to him!