Yesterday was a public holiday here so Ronald and I took the opportunity to go and visit his old great aunty who he calls Grandmother. Ronals mum died when he was so young that he doesn't remember her. He had no clue of how she died and he knew he had a younger brother who died as a baby shortly after the mum died. He knew his mum was buried in a field but that they were growing crops over her grave. He doesn't know who his dad is/was but understands that he is also dead. Not good for a boy here as he has no entitlement to land. So there were questions to be asked. I also wanted to go and talk to his mum at her grave to say thank you for letting me have her son, to promise her my care and love for him as my own for my life and to give her some lavender from my garden. It was a very hot day, we took a small car to the trading centre and then walked about 4 miles deep in the bush. My poor skin was sizzling but I made it. I met an uncle who told me he had been in Erute prison for 17 months for domestic violence on wife No 2. Another daughter sat nursing a bruised eye, done by a stick in her husbands hand. Both due to alcohol. We found the mums grave, and I spent 10 mins alone there feeling so emotional. Lovely to leave a gift from my garden but there was no cement on the grave.They said it was under the soil but it wasn't my place to scratch around.... next time. We also saw the grave of the baby but the greatest part was that an aunty had a photo of the whole family at his mum Sarahs burial. The baby was there in Aunty Agnes arms and his grandmother who he remembers vaguely. We brought it home and I will copy it and buy him a frame. An amazing day of revelation. The relatives said another aunty may know the dads family so a visit planned there in the next few weeks. Reached home to one of our girls, who has a husband and a baby, who sadly revealed that her husband had brought another woman to her bed. So counseling, chatting, hugging and giving food was the order of the evening. In a better place today but such is the vulnerabilty of women at the hands of men in this country.
Thursday, 22 January 2015
I am pleased to say that the power came back on today and now the water is off. A digger was repairing a small bridge and dug through the water pipes and it happens EVERY TIME. So thinking about the effects of no water.
1 No flush toilet so I am outside at the latrine in the dark.
2 Walking to the well to collect water in convoy. I only managed a 10 litre jerri can as it is uphill on the way home.
3 Washing in a plastic basin with limited water
It is all in a days work in Uganda here
Ronald and Peter have carried bags and bags of bricks to make a higher path on the road outside the front gate. We have problems with rain water coming into the compound under the gate and eroding the soil.
I have bought shears so tomorrow is trimming the bushes ready for our Family Day on Thursday.
A few more jobs around and I will post photos of the improvements.
Monday, 19 January 2015
It is now past midnight and I am being bombarded by some flying almost pre-historic creature. Can't stop though as I need to get to bed. I have a stressful day ahead investigating an issue on training for one boy and doing some detective work to gain the truth. Had a relaxing day waking at 9am and missing church. Did some washing, a bit of gardening in scorchio heat then sat for bread, peanut paste, pineapple and pau pau from the garden. Ronald, my boy, washed up and then put the beans on the charcoal fire. He cooked lunch telling me, you relax mum, I am cooking for us today. It is great having a working fridge as we cook for 2 days at a time. Today yellow beans with rice. I have persuaded him not to fry the onions and tomatoes until they are 'dead' so tasted lovely. Been a bit spoiled today but actually he has a bit of a conscience going on. Went to visit one of our old boys who trained as a carpenter. He has planted his land with sugar cane which he will have to sell around Easter. Good boy. Called to see a couple of friends and sat with my neighbour in her shop discussing the world over a bottle of cold water. Got home to find the grass in the plot opposite on fire. I saw what a bush fire is really like, It creeps along at floor level and when it finds something dry it bursts into 20 ft flames roaring so loud and throwing out unbearable heat. Very scarey. Some passion fruit almost ready in our garden so looking forward to that helping towards my 5 a day.
Friday, 16 January 2015
Still not sorted with a camera but at least the straps are on the camera and case. WELL!!!! It is a start. Been a busy one again. Rebecca visited us with her new family. She lost her mum a few weeks ago to cancer and now she and her 3 siblings are separated. Dad took 2, 1 stayed with aunty they were with originally and Rebecca is with an uncle. She is 6 years old and was a little lost soul. She came and chose her school shoes, got measured for school uniform, given a mosquito net and school exercise books pens etc. She told us she had nowhere to sleep and shared a mat on the floor with another cousin. Thanks to her sponsor Becky we will be able to visit and provide her with her own sheet. Sue bought an African doll from one of our sales and asked me to give it to a little girl who would enjoy it. Well Sue it found its home and it made a sad little girl very happy. Sara called with her 9 month old baby Jessica. Marjorie supported Sara through school and then a catering course. Sara had been with the father of the child and as Ugandan culture requires had moved to live at his place with the in laws. The mother in law was hostile from the beginning and told her she didn't want any grandchildren from Lira in her house and went on to make her life unbearable. The mother lied to the husband and he chased her away. Sara came to an uncle who gave her a hut to live in but she had nothing for food. A neighbour was feeding her once a day and her aunt would feed them if the uncle was there but if not... well she just went hungry even though she is still breast feeding. She is a very mild mannered girl and she was so desperately unhappy. She believes her husband loves her but his mum was so spiteful and he doesn't stand up to her. After conversation, hugs, a cuppa and a piece of our cake it was agreed with the uncle he would go back to the husband with Sara and talk to the family. My purse is a bit dizzy at the moment and she now has money for food for the week, the cost of the transport for her and uncle, a mosquito net, and baby Jessica went off with balloons tied to her jacket and a big smile. Prayers for a successful trip for Sarah and Uncle. Today we had a security light fitted at the rear of our property and so feel safer. Ronald just cooked our supper, fresh peas with cabbage and posho. Nice to be waited on for a change. Then filling the fridge with water to get cold and all electrical items plugged in to charge as we have been advised over the radio that there will be no electricity for 2 days. Tomorrow we are gardening and then I am off to do a healing for someone who is on the verge of a breakdown, a bit of relaxation has got to be beneficial. Off to sleep now as it has just clicked past midnight. Nigh night all.
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
Yesterday I managed the journey arriving tired but happy to be at my second home. I was met at the bus park by Ronald, Isaac and Morris 3 great young men and driven by Isaac our project manager. Bags packed in the car, along with 29 bananas for £1 and 16 oranges also for £1. On arrival the chatting began. I had cold water from the fridge and the power has made so much difference to working life here. No more cycling to town to find somewhere to work from. Isac has just sat his O levels and needs to make a decision about whether he takes A levels or moves to do a certificate in a specific subject. After long discussions he decided to do a 2 year certificate in the medical line, then a year diploma followed by a year to achieve his degree. Great decision for a boy who had nothing. Thanks to his sponsor Wendy who supports him.
We then went out to get some food. After 6 mouthfuls I felt sick and had to leave the place only to find myself in peoples compounds. Help where can vomit??? I always carry a scarf here and today it found yet another purpose. Everything was contained within as the crowds gathered to watch a wretching 'mono' woman. Once my task was completed with rolled scarf in hand I said '''' you see we even vomit the same.'' I carried the scarf home in a carrier bag and all was well. Aron visited in the evening, he had an operation for an infection on his foot, his family had been fighting because of alcohol, one boy had beaten Arons wife and he had sold his phone to pay transport to sent her back to the village for some peace. Because of all the problems he had not eaten for 2 days and was in pain. I gave him painkillers for 2 days, bread, banana and tea. Ronald gets money for lunch and supper and had eaten with me and I spoke to him about Arons condition of no feeding. He gave Aron money to go and get a meal. That's how families should be.
Today I woke up to the use of a kettle and a toaster so breakfast was hot tea and toast with banana.
Isaac was called to a meeting over some land we are selling and our visitors began.
Meeting with Ronald about his future. His past trainer came and gave him his certificate for completion of his motor cycle training, so a big day.for him. Thanks to Janette for supporting him through these 2 years. Photo to be posted later.
Then Bonny arrived at the office, he had been beaten by his dad in the village and he had told the boy to leave home because he was not his biological child. He had come to and now lives on the street. He had not eaten and he was very dirty. As I hugged him I could smell the glue that street children here sniff. He bathed and took tea and bananas then we began chatting to him. He said he felt sad that his mother did nothing to stop the beating. She often gets beaten by that man and so we asked him not to be harsh on the mother and we will visit the home. I discussed the issue of glue and he does it because everyone else does it so we asked if he was a sheep following the crowd?? He has said he will use his money on food now instead of glue but it is yet to be seen if he can manage.
Teddy came and announced we should not call her that any more because her name is now Sandra. She has joined a football team at No 4 and tae kwondo, she demonstrated her ability to kick her leg above her head.
I am preparing some paperwork for tomorrows trustee meeting in England which will be hosted by the lovely Keighly with Viv and Richard attending as virgin trustees. Welcome to them. They will also welcome Lynn as a visitor to the meeting and who is interested in becoming more involved. Great days!!! It is now 2pm here so we don't know what the afternoon/evening will bring.
Sunday, 11 January 2015
Today was a full on day and I have just squeezed everything into 2 bags. I forgot to bring a handbag so hit the market and got a second hand leather one of 75p. A young lad I met here 4 years ago came to visit me at the guest house and he looked terrible, thin and ill. He is a boy who was left with his dad when the mother was chased away form home but when the dad re-married, as is common here the step mum chased him away and he was alone. He has done well and works in hotels, he cooks, drives, does the garden etc in fact a good all rounder but being a quiet and kind boy he does get taken advantage of. After 12 years he decided at Christmas to trace his mum and found her. He was so welcomed by her and his siblings and spent Christmas with them. Sadly he became ill with malaria and was admitted to hospital for a week. On coming back to work he is employed in a local hotel but has to sleep in the company car to be near the gate and when guests need the car he just stands outside. All staff are given 1 meal a day and he is paid just under £40 a month.
No employment law to support. He went off with razors, soap, deoderant, biscuits, paracetamol, money for food and a haircut and a massive hug. tonight I received a message from him thanking me and telling me he loved me. I then went to visit some friends I made several years ago Kalim is a fisherman who lives in a shack with his wife and 3 children. They have had a lot of challenges and live on the fish he catches on the day. He struggles to send his children to school but the love within the family is beautiful. They were so grateful as I took a cabbage, got to have your veggies, sugar, salt and tea leaves. It was as if I had given the world. He said ''Sandra I don't know why you always come to see us people from so far when we are so poor. He actually said I love you. Thats 2 men in 1 day come on you UK chaps, I don't get that from you.
I went then to the beach and it was heaving, music playing with such a beat that it almost vibrated the dna. The happiness was so evident it could be felt and it all moved with the beat. 50 strangers in the water played with 1 ball and the laughter was catching, a group of teenagers all removed their trunks under water and waved then around whooping with enjoyment. food, alcohol, sweets, people walking, swimming, burying family members and real whole family fun. Reflecting I cannot recall hearing any children crying, no parents were shouting at theie youngsters and no child asking for anything. It just was as it was and it was good enough. Up at 4.30am for a 7 hour journey up country.. AND I LOVE YOU X
Saturday, 10 January 2015
Today I didn't get going until 1pm.
Washing, shower, breakfast in the garden and 40 pages of a book I have become engrossed in. Chat to staff about the developments of this guest house. I stayed here before when it was Green Valley and it is nor Gorilla Guest house. Rightly so as the reception is painted like a jungle and guess what else?? Yes gorillas everywhere. One must smile.
French omlette toast sausages with pineapple, melon and African tea.
Internet catch up and a rest before heading off to Kampala on the local taxi bus. I jumped out at a local market to experience real Ugandan life them back on another and completed the 38km journey in 2 hours, stop start in scorching sun. Nothing to do except breathe, read, sip warm water and chat to those who join at stops as we go along. On arrival I experienced the rush and clatter of traffic, businesses, items being transported across town and eyes need to be down for potholes and broken pavings on the pavements and roads, up to avoid, boxes, pipes, mattresses and more being carried on heads and midway hanging onto to bags to prevent theft.
I bought icing sugar, jelly, padlocks, notebooks and an electric 2 hob stove. Yes carried it home on the same transport and will take it on 7 hours local bus to Lira. We cook on charcoal stove but have a gas 2 ring cooker for the evening running on cylinder gas. This is not available in Lira at the moment and no one knows when the next supply will arrive. So now I think all options covered .... I may eat. I have researched cooking cakes using a large and small saucepan and half a bag of sand. It will be my birthday, Ronalds, Salim and Isaac while I am here so we will be enjoying cake of all sorts... Prayers for success.
At 3.30pm I realised that I had not eaten any lunch so hunted for something local. Loads of McDonald type places with chips which everyone thinks us 'Musungus ' want at every meal Found a nice place who told me she only had Mataka remaining. Matoke, (savoury banana), small pieces of beef and green vegetables Boa. Milky coffee included for 7,000 UGX equal to about £1.75. Still full up at this time. Just topped up with a tonic water and waiting for a friend to arrive. Tomorrow it has to be beach again. Thanks everyone for your comments it is great to feel close. x
I have finally arrived. Journey was ok and as I had only 40 mins to change flights in Dubai it was a speedy run across the airport and how huge is it???? I knew I had arrived in Uganda with 2 huge flights arriving from Ethiopia, Kenya amd UK within minutes of each other.
The queue for immigration was hundreds deep. We had all completed our ebola questionnaire and the safety was 1 official with a spray container of antiseptic catching us physically to clean out hands. People who tried to sneak past were shouted at and ordered back in line. Then we filed past 2 people dressed as nurses with masks and plastic gloves who took out temperature.
I passed all tests and was permitted entry to find the taxi was not waiting for me so it was hunting for my Ugandan phone. I eventually arrived at guest house to a warm welcome and sleep and more sleep. Yesterday I slept again, this time on the shores of Lake Victoria under palm trees and on soft white sand.
I swam in warm water and was greeted by a huge stork who left me bathing in the coolness of the wind created by its great and powerful wings. Sadly when God gave out beauty the stork was definitely at the back of the queue. I am off to Lira and my Ugandan family on Monday leaving here at 5.45am for my 7 hours on a local bus.