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The Long Road Home

It has taken us some time to write this update as there has been so much to process; putting it down on paper seemed so all-encompassing that it was put on the do-it-later shelf! I’m not a natural writer; I have to get in the zone to express life on paper. I am more of a visual person that could probably make a movie rather than write a book, blog or newsletter! Here is my attempt to bring an update from us to you!

In January 2020, prompted by health issues and the kids’ education situation needing to change, our family began to prepare to transition to Australia permanently, thinking that our time in Uganda was coming to an end, at least for a period of time.

Little did we know that our planning was futile, and the world was about to be turned upside down. Just before the pandemic was announced and the whole world went into lockdown, we had a week to work out whether to stay in Uganda or try to get out and head to Australia. This was a difficult choice with so many variables to navigate and decisions to make. But at the end of the day the peace came in the decision to stay in Uganda.

We are glad that we stayed and were able to see so many wins in the Tamarind projects and personally. In a lot of ways, it was a great place to be for lockdowns and we were able to have the space and time to finish projects and start new ones, both for Tamarind and personally. It was not all smooth sailing, however, as the whole world had its challenges. Restrictions of all kinds made life difficult and even though they were different to the restrictions on the other side of the world, there was comfort knowing the whole world was in the same situation. And we never ran out of toilet paper!

For many people, Covid is a distant memory, but the effects still linger on in the lives of many others. For Tamarind, the impact has not been extremely dramatic; however, the ripple effects do still hit us from time to time. While Covid dragged on, as workers and missionaries in a developing country we were longing to return to Australia to see family, friends and supporters.

Once the world opened up again, we decided to start planning a trip to Australia, not to transition at this stage; just to reconnect with family, friends and supporters that we had not seen in over 3 ½ years.  My eldest nephew was getting married in November 2022! That was the push to get our travelling spirit in gear. Our dream of being physically reunited with family, friends and supporters was about to become a reality!  

Paperwork for visas for Chris and Lillie was put into process and Zach’s Australian passport was renewed - not an easy task from Uganda! These are the challenges of a blended family: we’re from different cultures, and country of birth, along with the legalities connected with having an adopted child. The cost of five airfares at an extremely elevated price post-Covid was not in our budget, but we were gifted the flights by a very generous supporter and old school friend. So, the road was clear to travel once again.

The journey back to Australia was full of potholes and detours, taking five days with canceled flights and layovers for days in airports along the way. Not the welcome back to travel we had hoped for, but so worth it to be embraced by friends and family in the land of Oz! We were feeling a little like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, landing after being in a whirlwind bumpy ride home. Our just under three months at home was packed with activities, including catching up with friends and family, a fundraising event, public speaking engagements and private one-on-one catch ups.  Chris did landscaping for donations and we squeezed in a quick trip to Victoria to visit friends, supporters, and farms!

After returning to Uganda earlier this year from our visit to Australia, we began to look ahead to Tamarind’s future.  With a firm foundation now in place for Tamarind and a maintainable structure on top of it, as Tamarind’s founders we believe that it is the right time to transition Tamarind to its next stage of growth. We have always been a community-based organization that values longevity – building for a future generation; building something that lasts, and that can eventually stand by itself.   We are excited to say that after 12 years of hard work we are able to leave the project in the hands of a great team of Ugandans. 

This means some exciting changes for us as a family and for Tamarind! Our family is planning to move to Australia in November this year where we will have a year of transition, evaluation and then begin work on developing Tamarind Australia as a supporting organization for Tamarind Uganda.  Meanwhile, we have an amazing team on the ground in Uganda that will continue to RESTORE > REBUILD > RESOURCE communities to break the poverty cycle in Northern Uganda. Under the leadership of this local Ugandan team, Tamarind Uganda will continue to grow and develop, and projects will continue to run. They will not be alone as we will continue to support them from Australia.   

This is not the end but rather the beginning of the next chapter. It’s not the end of the road but rather the next destination. It is both exciting and sad; filled with hope and grief. Hope for the new opportunities and challenges that lie ahead and grief as we say goodbye to friends and family on this side of the world, not forever, but just to the daily hellos and life. Goodbye to the highs and lows that we share with so many, not just on a superficial level but in a deep relationship. Connections that run deeper than words and experiences; relationships and lives changed for eternity, changed to be dignified and able to stand and provide for themselves living their lives to the full.   

We are excited for the next chapters of Tamarind and how they will unfold, some planned and some to wait and see, like waiting to turn the page of a good novel or waiting to see the next episode of an endearing series. One thing is sure: as we continue on the journey, both personally and organizationally, the saying “home is where the heart is” rings true for us. With an eclectic, blended family, and nomadic residing in two countries, you work out what home means in a totally different perspective.   

Thank you to all of you, new and old, who have joined us on the Tamarind journey so far; we hope and pray you will continue to journey with us onto the next chapters or episodes! 

As you can imagine we have little time left before the transition and a lot to get done! If you are able to help support us financially to get ready for the next chapter of Tamarind, we would really appreciate it! All donations are tax deductible.

We would love financial support for the following:  

  • Renovate Storage container - $7,000 

  • Expenses and costs to get to Kampala before flying out - $850

  • Fence posts for Laliya 50 fence posts- $1000

  • Fence posts for Pagak 12 fence posts - $300


Out of Africa with love!

Yours sincerely,

Chris and Sarah Ochaya 

Founders of Tamarind Australia

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