Monday 6 December
It was good to be home and very good to
feel cold! My Jeckyll and Hyde way of life slipped into action again and soon I
was back to the old
Now it’s down to the fund raising for my next trip. I have to thank everyone who continues to support these children and, still, cheques keep arriving. Thank you all so much!
I shall endeavor to keep up with any news in my diary, a promise I made last year but failed to keep.
Happy Christmas to all!
Sunday 5 December
Rebecca, Matthias’ wife, was
celebrating her birthday so, for a treat, we went to Speke Resort, a very smart
hotel complex in
Back home, Monopoly was the order of the day until it was time to leave for the airport. More farewells and then I was off wondering if the inclement European weather was going to interrupt my smooth passage. All went well to Amsterdam and then there were a few hitches like de-icing the plane, the runway and then an aborted take off which wasn’t as mind-blowing as the drive from Kumi so we landed to be greeted by huge piles of snow everywhere.
Saturday 4 December
Up with the cock’s crow was necessary as final packing had to be achieved by 8.00 and, guess what, my first visitor arrived before 7.00 and the last left after my hired car arrived. It’s so difficult to keep accepting so many gifts but accept I must otherwise I would offend the donors who have so little.
I had hired a car as I chickened out of travelling by public means and thank God I did as I witnessed a bus involved in a dreadful accident soon after it happened and the road was littered in dead bodies and wounded adults and children. There but by the grace of God I could well have been one of them.
I had hired Moses’ car a day or two ago
and had commented about the lack of tread on the tyres and how the vehicle
leaned severely to port. I was reassured that new tyres had been fitted and the
car fully serviced for my peace of mind. I said my final sad farewells and left
with Moses (the uncle and guardian of Gabriel, Brenda and Leah) driving, Alex
whose annual leave was over and Brenda, Moses’ 14 year old niece who had never
been out of Kumi and came for the ride. I couldn’t believe that anyone would go
Friday 3 December
I don’t know what was sung this morning as, on my way, the chain came off my bike and I had to roll it back and walk. Packing is the order of the day and I had a bag full of bits and pieces to hand out. One’s last day here always entails going to the front of the hall and saying good bye. Unfortunately in some ways, the Hospital Administrator knows what I have been up to more than ever before as he has to be consulted from every angle (a very good improvement, I hasten to add) so my secrets were out. I went round the departments to say my farewells and found the leprosy patients all assembled to greet me and to sing to me. Their cooking shelter is a building site and I didn’t realize it was such an involved construction. The physios were analyzing yesterday’s outreach clinic which would have been better if the Presidential campaign hadn’t also arrived there and, as he is handing out lots of 3,000/=’s, can you blame the people for wanting to see the great man himself. If that’s not bribery, well, I don’t know what is! The work shop was busy making standing frames and, all in all, it was good for me to see so much activity going on compared to when I arrived and little was happening. There is much happening in the future; new staff are arriving, small salaries are being given out and I hope and pray that the hospital is going to end up in a new glory rather than its former glory.
With much to do, I returned to the Guest House and I sat with Anna outside watching her make chapattis on the charcoal stove for the farm men but leaving one for me plus “the last born”, the smallest of anything made from the remaining scraps, a phrase I shall remember. Then the visitors started and hardly stopped until I left the following morning! Tubs of ground nut paste, bags of groundnuts, honey, calabashes, popcorn, simsim balls, mandazi, letters for friends back here in UK, Christmas cards all forming a queue outside! A live chicken was found a home as were very many other gifts as it would have been impossible (and I would have been arrested for bringing forbidden items into the UK) to pack everything.
A locum doctor was staying for the weekend to cover for Dr Ruth and he was immediately called out to cope with an emergency but he returned in time for supper and I enjoyed his company before retiring for my last night in Kumi in 2010.
Thursday 2 December
Too many early visitors, Simon Peter
with more groundnuts, Katy with letters for someone she met and who had a
Joy to the World filled the hospital compound today!
The outreach team was prepared to go to
Armuria, a region where the Internally Displaced Camps still exist and they
left me behind to continue with finishing off my projects. I started with a
convivial meeting with the Hospital Administrator so that we could discuss what
had been done and what we hoped could be done in the future regarding my
programme. I met Hellen who has a produce stall and who was sick. We shook
hands in true African fashion and then she told me that her malaria test was
negative but she had typhoid. It seems there is quite a lot about this year. In
Back home, washed and changed and back
on a picki picki to go for supper to North East Villas, my favourite eating
place this year, with Consolata, John and 2 of their children, Clare and Maria.
It was a pleasant evening sitting outside under the stars and talking about the
Wednesday 1 December
Silent Night was today’s hymn! Tom strummed on the guitar and the music and singing was so loud. More plans were in force and things were going well. Today
I was to go to Soroti with Harriet and
Alex and we traveled in a private car I hired rather than go by public means.
First we were to meet
Then our next mission was to open a bank account in Harriet and my names at Centenary Bank where Pius (one of my graduates) works and needs 150 new accounts to get through his probationary period and have a permanent contract. It wasn’t such a good idea as my details were somewhat far from the norm but all was accomplished in the end but we were so hot and bothered. We paid school fees for Leah and Betty and then took the receipt for Betty to Madrea School for the Blind for a receipt from Sr Mary Kevin, a chubby, cheerful Fransciscan nun. Now we had achieved all and we were back in Kumi just in time for me to attend the Rotary Club meeting where we sat outsie to conduct the business and to listen to an in-house speaker. By the time we had dropped everyone off and members had done their shopping in Kumi Town where the shops stay open until people go to bed as there is little else to do it was time for me to go to bed. The atmosphere in town is most lively with music being played incredibly loudly and much bustle and hustle, cows competing with motor bikes and children and people trading all and sundry.
Tuesday 30 November
Once in Royal David’s City was the hymn sung at Morning Assembly. It seems strange singing a carol in this heat but then I realize that December starts tomorrow. I’m taking a day off or that was the idea until I step into the hospital compound to find that many issues need to be decided before Friday. The outdoor cooking ban requires alternative arrangements to be available and these need organizing before the signs we have had made are erected. A cooking shelter is to be built outside the leprosy ward as there is no alternative for the patients but to walk too far to the nearest cooking shed. Their disabilities would be enough for them to make excuses for not using the stoves.
George was to take the Land Cruiser to
be serviced today as one was long overdue. My expenses funds have come in most
useful for such needs. Harriet would travel to Mbale with him to purchase
29 November A sad start to the day as
Joy, my chicken, died. She didn’t come out of the kitchen cupboard as usual and
so I carried her and gently laid her in her blue bowl in the porch where she
lays my eggs. Her nostrils were well and
truly bunged up and I diagnosed bird flu and then realized the implications of
maybe bringing an unwelcome virus into the
Four visitors before 7.30 am! Ketty who
had taken her O levels and was returning her text books, bringing a letter for
me to take back to Mavis and reporting that her mother was very sick. Her
mother is HIV+ and may not pull through. Her father is also but none of the
children are +ve.
The Outreach team meeting took place with the Hospital Administrator and we agreed to a plan to continue with the weekly clinics to help the children with disabilities, increase the patient numbers and to give the staff something to do. It requires much motivation and loyalty on their part as they will not be getting much remuneration but they reached agreement and I think they were happy. We continued into town where 7 of us enjoyed lunch together in the Arise Restaurant. I had called into the Post Office where I had 2 letters and a parcel from Peter which contained pictures drawn by the nursery children of Happy Days in Dalkeith. You have to pay to collect a parcel but of course it is so exciting to receive one that payment is no problem. Amos was with us for lunch so he was able to take the drawings, bouncy balls, pens and colouring books with him to deliver to the nursery benefiting from Happy Days’ most generous donation. Timing couldn’t have been better and I left Amos to take the drawings, pens, colouring books and bouncy balls to HOW nursery.
The rest of us went off west to deliver some more shoe making materials for my tricycle man, funds for new school uniform and a new tricycle to Alfred who will now be able to ride to school independently once his eye infection is cleared, a refurbished wheelchair for Serbervare, the 16 year old CP boy who had been squashed into a tiny CP chair and then to deliver an adult refurbished wheelchair to Paul, the Huntingdon’s Chorea young man. The day couldn’t continue being so good and now we found that the chair was slightly wider than the door. Problems solve themselves with thinking and we trekked off to find a joiner who was to widen the door and to make a slope into the hut for ease of access. Paul’s brothers were struggling to walk and Joseph tried the chair but shook his head at being asked if he liked it. I was surprised until he mimed that he would like a tricycle! I had bought Paul a radio and it was so humbling to see the joy on his face. Martin thought he would like Christian music while I thought he would prefer BBC World Service. I was right for once! On saying goodbye, I entered the dark hut and found Paul working the radio dials with his mouth. The brothers now wanted a radio also so I am leaving my set for the when I leave. We had bought water melons from an ancient lady sitting under a mango tree on the road side for 20p each so we gave Agatha one and her face beamed with delight.
The evening passed with the arrival of many visitors tying up lots of loose ends in my last week.
Sunday 28 November
A day of rest it was not! Church prayers were followed by a request to visit 2 poor families in Kachaboi and so Okerenyang called with a picki picki to ride to their homes but I had decided to decline the request. It would not be right for a muzungu to appear just a week before departure as the family would immediately expect a lot. Also, my families are all selected by the CBR hospital workers who already know their outstanding issues and I value their judgement. Instead, I asked him to accompany me to see the school cow shelter and to reiterate my concerns as to the strength and suitability of the structure. I stressed that, if repairs needed to be done, I wanted no excuses about parents not forking out and it was up to the Cow Committee as they assured me that all was well. Time will tell!
We returned via the school where I wanted to check if the bottles in the 6 crates of sodas from Sports Day were all present and correct before George, the driver, collected them. Many were missing so I stood firm until there were no gaps in the crates. All present but not all correct as I later discovered as they had replaced bottles from another drinks company. My learning curve will never reduce!
Now I was late for my day at Aigestio Women’s HIV Group and I had promised the PAG church I would call in after their service to encourage people to use fuel saving stoves. A quick, downhill cycle to the church and I found the service hadn’t finished. It was International Women’s Day and the ladies were adorned in their very best gomez’ looking so wonderfully beautiful whilst dancing and singing. I wished I’d gone sooner! Of course, a speech was necessary and, as usual, I had made an error which had to be corrected as I hadn’t introduced myself. At as an appropriate moment as was respectable, I took my leave and I checked on the stove with already boiling water and once again I advised them to use less wood to reduce the smoke output and to preserve the trees for future generations. The people can’t believe that only a couple of sticks are required to maintain the heat.
Back on the bike and returning uphill, I reached the home of Chairperson, Akurut, and the welcome I received was of greater volume than all the PAG congregation put together! Such wild singing and dancing! It was a beautiful, hot day but I was ushered into the hut which had almost collapsed during one of the storms and I sat alone stewing under the iron sheeting roof. I managed to use insect repellent but I couldn’t disguise the strange odour which must have emanated from the walls or floors as otherwise the room was bare. Akurut joined me and, in spite of her swollen cheek due to toothache, she was bearing up well. I have been plying her with my reserve painkillers which I haven’t needed but she will have to attend the hospital as soon as possible as an infection for an AIDS person is very serious and requires immediate medical care.
After lunch, we emerged from the hut
and sat down to enjoy the drama, a play
depicting how drink especially the local brew, ajon, leads to drunkenness,
promiscuity and the transmission of AIDS. If there had been aisles, we’d have
been falling about in them with laughter and it was quite ironic when all but
me were HIV+ or with AIDS. The two members dressed as old men had us in
stitches and the whole event was so well presented for a load of amateurs. They
had even hired a music centre (paid for by me, I was told! 3 pounds!) and a
young man played CD’s of thumping African music which must have been heard for
miles around. The children played with the balloons I’d taken when they weren’t
dancing to the rhythm of the music with toddlers of about 1 year old wiggling
their bottoms with gay abandon.
Tremendous! The sweat poured down all the faces and I wondered how they
could have such energy when they are sick. They did drop out one by one until
we came to the business side of the meeting where the money was shared out to
the members. Even I received 44,000/=! All the remaining money was loaned out
and had to be returned in a month with interest. It’s difficult to understand
their system but it works! Finally I could take my leave. The host always rolls
the bike to the roadside and then says farewell. Today this task was taken over
by 2 of the members who reminded me that I had promised to visit their homes.
It is humbling to see how they live and to listen to their stories of how they
came to end up living in such squalid conditions. They can be spotless in appearance and in
their minute home but their total worldly belongings barely exist. Outside, the
pigs wallow in the dust, chickens strut everywhere, fires burn all round with
mandazi frying in oil, millet is cooked to produce waragi, a form of distilled
spirit which is the downfall of so many men.
The children roll old tyres and ride adult bicycles with one leg under
the cross bar to reach the opposite pedal, cows and goats pass through but this
isn’t like the city slums which are a hundred times worse. One mother was
telling me about her life with her two children and how it had been improved
with belonging to this group. You would never believe how grateful they are.
She has two beds, pots and pans and all through being a member. In the corner,
she had 4 sacks of groundnuts which she had bought from borrowing from the
group and she was to sell them as the price rises around Christmas time and she
will make a good profit. Of course, as it is there custom, you have to sit down
and eat and drink when invited into a house so she had rushed out to buy a
chapatti and a soda which I had to partake of but I did persuade her to share
with her children. By now I was late for my supper date so I politely left
after she had rolled my bike to the road and I sped home, past the school and
over the airfield to rush to
Saturday 27 November
If I get this written, I’m up to date with my diary and it’s a shock to see that I have written 58 pages! I know my stay is about to come to an end as I have started my final strip of anti-malarial prophylaxis pills. Washing day and I will be happy to be home to use a washing machine as it is tiresome to rub the clothes in 3 bowls of washing powder in an attempt to remover the murram. The colour of the water continues to amaze me each week. I hung them out dripping wet at 6.30 am and brought them in bone dry before 11 am! Washing clothes and hair is usually a combined operation as it saves on water consumption. With these 2 procedures completed and still before 7 am, I then had my first surprise visitor of the day; Ann Margaret, secretary of the HIV group where I am to go tomorrow. She was in a state of great excitement as they are planning a surprise for me and they are rehearsing continuously. It is going to be a full day’s event and I am to arrive early. I will go after I have been to prayers, ridden on a motor bike to a family with a child with a disability and checked on the fuel saving stove production at the PAG church. Yesterday the group shared out their profit over the year and each one received 44,000/= (13 pounds) as did I as I am a fully paid up member! Each one had contributed 1,000/= to pay for the food for my lunch which I will eat alone, no doubt! I was not asked to contribute! It’s great to see them managing as they are and with such enthusiasm. Their sickness is no longer in the forefront of their minds all the time and they are well-motivated. Some are weak and they find it difficult to keep up with the other’s hard work but careful consideration must be given to these ladies.
After she left, I had time to start on sorting out
my financial situation in preparation for leaving before my next visitor,
Agnes, arrived as planned. We needed to sort out the future for the bakery,
portable stove production and large school ovens. It had been a reasonably
costly project and above budget but Chris had told me that a cheque had arrived
for exactly the right amount from the Major from the British Army who was here
last week. He also told me that there is snow at home which is difficult to
comprehend when living under such a hot sun. He also cheered me up by informing
me that our central heating boiler was malfunctioning so I am definitely not
looking forward to touchdown in
The morning was fruitful and I was feeling much more relaxed and in control than yesterday. Florence and her 2 offspring, Pius and Martha, arrived on picki pickis and we rode into town for lunch at North East Villa, this year’s top of the list venue for me. We had a lovely lunch (their chips are perfect) and spent much time talking about this and that. Pius has a girlfriend who is pregnant which is great news and I hope to meet her. Martha continues to enjoy school and she is maturing into a lovely young woman. I always feel part of the family and we have spent many happy times together over the years.
Back home with nothing planned for the rest of the day that is until Andrew, the teacher, came to discuss his plans for a nursery. This does not come within my criteria but I can listen and advise.
Now I’m up to date! Good night!
PS A flying insect has just crashed into the door with great force. It will be a very large beetle which will now be lying on its back waving its legs in the air. I shall not check as this happens frequently but it is with quite a force and it will still be there tomorrow.
Friday 26 November
Sports Day at
I started the day at 7am with Moses, the uncle of
the 3 orphans in my new family, who gave me details for fees for Leah’s school.
Gabriel, her brother, is 14 and I still had my “reduced to 3 pound
I was to take the morning off but, after Morning Assembly, one thing led to another until the morning had gone. I had a few things to talk over with the Hospital Administrator which ended up in a fruitful discussion. My visit this year has been so different from the norm as the situation at present is unique and my funds have been distributed still with the children with disabilities in mind but from a different approach.
In the end, I was late for the official start of the sports but I needn’t have worried as they finally kicked off 2.5 hours late. The head was even more infuriating than usual and he seemed to think the whole matter was amusing until I informed him that I thought otherwise. They even brought me an omelette, tomatoes and onion to appease me and it was welcome but more so by the little girl who had inched onto the bench next to me. She managed to eat most of it and I enjoyed sharing it with her as I’m sure her need was greater than mine. I refused to sit in the Guest of Honour seat which I handed over to Wilson, an old friend of mine and chief of the overall clan. The children were a delight and played netball, volleyball and football with both skill and enthusiasm. Having started late, the sun had set, junior volleyball had to be omitted, very short speeches were given and then I left to cycle back as my friend from St Charles Borromeo Orphanage had called to see me and it was high time these little children set off to walk the many kilometers home. I felt too tense and then all was revealed when the thunder and lightening arrived in full force. I opened the curtains to enjoy the sight of the fork lightening swishing its way to earth and then to hear the overhead crashes of the thunder as they shook, not only the house, but my very bones. There was nothing else to do but to retire to bed and enjoy the spectacle.
Thursday 25 November
A month today will be Christmas Day. An email alerted me of extreme weather conditions at home so I was urged to check even further on line to find that we had a couple of inches of snow and it could last until next week. I think I would enjoy looking out onto a white garden just at this moment!
Visitors started before 7 am. Betty, the teacher, wanted to recharge her phone and George came to collect the radio for the boy in Armuria for whom we had promised one. The PTA meeting I thought was at 8am on Saturday turned out to be today so 10 members turned up to discuss the cow project. We had a heated discussion between the members who are dissatisfied with the leadership of the school. Let’s hope that, by the end of the meeting, progress had been achieved and that school relationships would improve. It seems that these muzunguz certainly put the cat among the pigeons when needed!
I had a brief meeting with Charles, Administrator, and then Paul, physio coordinator, who has completed his University studies but still has a research project to do.
The fieldworkers had gone for an outreach clinic far away without me to see how viable it will be to continue with the programme. I looked forward to their return and their evaluation of the day.
I decided to take the rest of the afternoon off and I cycled back to the GH and then realized that I was completely exhausted. I lay down on my bed and felt terrible. Perhaps I dozed until I heard a small voice repeatedly calling “Hello, hello!” which I ignored until I decided to get up nearly keeling over in the process! There was Peter who, ages ago, had asked me for a football and I told him to make one out of caveras (black poly bags) and there he was standing proudly with his home-made one to show me. I suppose I should be flattered that he asked me to join him for a game but all I could reply was that I was ill! I returned to my sick bed until it was time for me to shower and to visit God’s Grace Group. All I needed was a shower to cool me down to make me feel fine again. The group was there in full capacity all bringing their kids produced by the goats they bought last year, pulling them along by the tethering rope tied round the ankle or carried across the shoulders like a scarf! They were to sell them and then use the total for a loan system. I really am impressed with the progress these groups are making and their enthusiasm when they have achieved a goal on their own. Following the last meeting, Stella had completed her basket after I had taken the materials to show them how to weave but they already had the skill. The start was my work and so weak compared to where she had taken over. I bought it for 5,000/= but said that any future ones of that size would probably only make 3,000/=. I know I would be prepared to buy a set of table mats. They have no access to get the raffia in spite of having so many fibres rowing so I must remember to buy some skeins when I get home. The sisal is here in abundance and the only other requirement is a needle.
Photocalls over and I was to have supper at
Margaret’s, a sister in the hospital, with her sister and my good friend,
Wednesday 24 November
Morning Assembly and Barbara went to the front of the hall to explain to the staff of her frustration, anger and disappointment with Moses, the dentist. She spoke powerfully and got her message across to a silent and surprised staff. You could have heard a pin drop! Afterwards she and the Hospital Administrator had a meeting whilst I met with the rehab staff to start preparing for the continuation of fieldwork after I have left. It will not be easy to arrange the budget but, if we do not continue with what we have started, all will be to no avail. We have arranged a meeting for Monday when the Hospital Administrator will also be present. My last week will fly by in arranging all the projects and funding we have started.
Back at the Guest House, Barbara met with Martin, CBR worker, to instruct him in the Oral Hygiene programme so that he can include this in his fieldwork programme and then I discussed with him the future of his home visits, our groups and some of my students. Barbara’s pick up arrived, the bicycle she had generously given to Moses and later confiscated was put in the back and I was sorry to see her leave; all alone again except for Joy, the hen, who is laying eggs for me regularly in the blue bowl lined with grass in the porch. Barbara phoned me later to say that she had also collected the dental chair she had lent to Moses on the condition that the use of it was complementary to his dental practice within the hospital. He had seriously failed in that respect.
I was to be collected by a driver to take me to Pastor John’s home in Kobwin at 2.00 pm. By 3, I was very happy to be still in the compound reading my book and so, when I heard the pick up arrive, it was with a little disappointment but I always enjoy an afternoon with John in his home each year. This time, I decided to take a wood-saving stove as a gift and, although they are supposedly portable, they are very weighty. We drove into Kumi where we sat for over an hour waiting for the Pastor to emerge from his meeting and then a further hour while he was in the local radio station. The “On Air” sign was illuminated so, no doubt, he was involved with a broadcast. A cockerel followed by a hen strutted in but soon got bored and exited to enjoy the bright daylight. Being about the time it should be when I left his place, we set off into the sunset, arrived, sat under a mango tree while the wife and family prepared the meal, ate the meal and then returned home late. The roads are incredibly dusty at present so visibility is much reduced especially when using headlights.
Tuesday 23 November
Neither of us slept well and in the morning she decided to tell all to the Hospital Administrator. The next few hours would have been perfect soap opera material but we would rather have not had to go through with it.
Fortunately, I had arranged home visits and we set
off to distract us from all this. The road-side post polio paralysis shoe
repairer was to be given the leather he had requested and, once again, another
grinning smile emerged as I handed it over through the vehicle window. Next
call was to
Back home, I was to finalise arrangements with Sam for the Sports Day, food for the players, sodas and water, ‘engraving” the shield etc. Then Barbara and I spent a quiet evening with an omelette for supper followed by showers and bed.
Monday 22 November
A new week and I was to welcome Barbara Koffman
from the dental team who had come hopefully to revitalize the hospital dental
clinic and to get things moving in the right direction. On her arrival, we
partook of samosas and chapatti with egg and tomatoes inside and African tea
cooked on a 3-stone fire (bad news for fuel saving) in the canteen based in a
discarded 40 foot container . I was looking forward to
hear a person speaking English without a Ugandan accent! Things don’t happen
singly here and, no sooner had Barbara arrived, when a further two ladies
arrived from Hampshire. They were frequent visitors to the Teso region of
Sunday 21 November
One has to see to believe the experience of the beauty of the full moon light! It is quite incredible being more silver than grey with the trees silhouetted and 2-dimensional. In bed, the big round ball shines as bright as a 150 Watt bulb through the window illuminating the mosquito net and casting strange shadows around.
I listen to the BBC World Service and I am waiting
to hear the news which must be headlines in
Sunday morning and it’s off to prayers again for my
penultimate Sunday in
After an evening of many visitors, I was able to relax and enjoy a shower and retire to bed.
I had visited Akello Elizabeth, a totally blind
girl, a few weeks back. Since then, I’ve been to
We can’t help them all and Ejulo Isaac was one of these. He is 10 years old, blind and sits twisted in a chair with the blankest of looks on his face just because he has nothing to think about and that is how he will spend his entire life. It is heart breaking and totally unimaginable. He is dirty and probably hungry. His hands are clawed so he has to wait to be fed. They found a spoon so we encouraged his mother to let him feed himself. He has, on top of everything else, gluteal fibrosis which can’t be operated on as it would probably make his overall problems worse. This is a further factor hindering his sitting posture. What could we do? I suggested to Amos that he arranges for parallel bars to be made to help the boy get onto his feet. We went into his hut where he sleeps on a reed mat with no mosquito net so we will get him a mattress and net and some sheets. I will leave behind my radio for him and we will buy him a goat so that he owns just something in this world and hopefully it will multiply. I can’t remember what was said but I will never forget his smile, the only change of facial expression I saw and he is such a fine looking boy.
And here am I complaining about the sand in my eyes, my sore, chapped lips and 2 painful toes!
Now for the highs! Coming back through Soroti, George took me to a supermarket with trolleys and a choice of food on the shelves. I took a trolley and then put it back as I thought it must be for a child. It was almost of a good design but not quite as two couldn’t pass in the aisle without lifting one over the other. What fun I had, I bought sweets and balloons for the children, two rolls of soft toilet tissue, small cartons of UHT milk, BROWN bread, Blue Band and HONEY (local) and two cans of cooking oil to take out to my guests this weekend. These will be more welcome than a bottle of wine which was also on the shelf. I couldn’t wait for supper...and breakfast and the following supper! We were back late and what did I find? Joy, my pet chicken, had laid her first egg on the front porch and was waiting there to proudly present it to me! She must have been disappointed that I was so late as she should have been tucked up to roost in the kitchen cupboard at dusk. She entered the house through the front door and turned right into my room thinking I would upgrade her for her good work. Finding it to be less interesting than she expected and with some encouragement from me, she was shooed into the kitchen where she felt more at home. I cooked the egg in a kettle on a paraffin stove and enjoyed bread and honey and Blue Band but I didn’t want the milk.
Time for sleep and to wait for Thursday which should prove to be different yet again.
But I’ve forgotten another piece of news! Happy Days, the cow, was mentioned on the local radio this week, not quite BBC World News but she has hit the headlines!
Tuesday 16 November
A house pet to keep me company!
I’m alone in this house which is quite large and with many strange noises at night so I’m happy to have Joy, my pet chicken to keep me company. She sleeps in the kitchen cupboard and each morning I let her out of the big, metal back door for her to wander freely with the cockerels and hens. At night, I open the door for her to come in to snuggle down on the somewhat smelly piece of cardboard. One night last week, I forgot to open the door and I heard a peck, pecking at the mosquito mesh just near where I was sitting and there she was sitting on the window ledge telling me it was her bedtime!
Long before 7 am, my first visitor was Obwongo wearing the floppiest of hats and smothered with bundles of thatching grass attached to his bike. It took a while to find him amongst it all. He was delivering my acungo (thumb piano) which he has kindly made for Chris. I managed to refuse his persistent request once more to go to photograph his pit latrine and appeased him instead by taking a photo of him and his laden bike. Next visitor, Agnes, who had come to collect 10,000/= notes to hand to the mothers for making stoves for the hospital. Then Gerard Moses, the blind boy, with Simon Peter who was coming with me for the clinic and all these visitors before 7.30 am! There is never a dull moment!
We were off to Arapai for a clinic whilst the bus and Land Cruiser continued north to collect the patients we screened last week. As this is my project to get things moving in the hospital, it was my painful task to fuel both vehicles. I went with the bus which dropped me off at the fuel station to wait in the garage forecourt where there was little shade and it was so very hot. Waiting is a part of life here and, with my book, it isn’t a hardship. Pastor John passed by and we made a date for me to visit his home before I leave. The clinic went well with about 15 children to attend for treatment or surgery. Waiting for George to return at the end of the clinic was more tedious now as we were tired, hot and dirty but Ruth had a basket of food from her mother so we partook of a picnic in the Health Clinic’s compound. Baked bananas, groundnuts, very warm water. Not too bad and great when you are hungry! Coming back, the vehicle was packed with ancient eye patients coming for surgery with all their belongings and 3 bags of charcoal on the roof. The rest of the journey was slow as the roof rack had broken and everything clanked on the roof every time we went over a pothole. The charcoal was delivered (I’ve said before how incredibly heavy a sack is and the heavier the better as that is how to judge the quality) to grateful friends and I managed a quiet evening reading. The Internet connection failed as I had had a serious intrusion blocked and this took me around 24 hours before I managed to sort out the cause.
Monday 15 November
I have decided that I am, after all, an OAP and it’s time I took life a little more easily. I’m pacing myself more easily from now on in the hope that my energy levels will last out for the final weeks.
Today could have started better as I have become too complacent about the rats and I left my entire food stock out of the cupboard only to find that I had been visited in the night and my pawpaw was nibbled as was the one and only mandazi (like a doughnut!). I was hungry so, after cycling to the hospital and the Morning Assembly, I took breakfast in Agnes’ canteen, as basic as one could find but very friendly and cheap. I bought a flask of African tea (weak, sweet and made with hot milk) and the most delicious chapatti made with egg, tomato and onion all for 33 pence!
Tricycles and wheelchairs were checked and all will be prepared in time for dispatch. I have also asked for metal tripods to be made for some children. Simon Peter was eager to show me all the items he had bought on Saturday in Mbale as this is how I am paying for materials used. I am replenishing their stock and he also bought some leather hides for my post polio man who repairs shoes on the roadside in Nyero.
A meeting followed with Agnes and Samson who are the chief co-ordinators for the fuel saving stoves. They are continuing with installing large stoves for schools and are now being approached by hospital managements. There will soon be around 50 stoves for the attendants to cook inside sheds and not in the hospital compound. I’m hoping to eliminate outside cooking before I leave. Thursday we will be having a demonstration of the stoves to disseminate the knowledge learnt by the new trainers and to prove that food cooks much faster. We will be boiling water and handing out cups of dry tea (tea made with water as opposed to hot milk) and bread buns which are being baked in the bread oven by the thousands and sold at a profit. After doing my ironing on a physiotherapy plinth, I returned home to wait for a boda boda to take me to Bishop Maraka Secondary School for me to pay school fees for Brenda and Gabriel whose mother died of AIDS earlier this year leaving them orphans. The driver forgot to come so I enjoyed reading the last few chapters of The Poisonwood Bible whilst sitting outside in the shade. I was almost disappointed when he finally turned up an hour and a half late and I had to leave the last few pages for later. School fees paid, we returned and he dropped me off at Modesta’s, my dear friend whose home leaves much to be desired. As usual, I got a warm welcome and was given a litre bottle of Sprite and glucose biscuits. I took a low seat outside where she was repairing her jerry cans and plastic bowls. She had found an old black plastic bag which she was heating in the hot embers outside her house (room for 12 to live and sleep) and then scraping the melted plastic into the cracks with a metal tool, ingenious and it works. Her 5 year old son, Emma, (a boy’s name here and short for Emmanuel) was making what we call at home, I think, a “whizzer” out of a flattened crown cork pierced twice to take a length of twine rescued from an old maize bag and knotted. The disc is rotated and then the ends of the twine pulled and relaxed to produce a spinning action. How different from our children with so much choice in the shops and they can get hours of amusement out of scrap. I walked home and enjoyed an evening with no visitors for once.
Sunday 14 November
That’s today! Allelujah! Is it possible I’m up to
date before bed time. An empty diary
with nothing to do? No! First Sam called to proudly show me the sports
equipment he had bought in Mbale yesterday. Outfits for 2 teams for football,
volley ball and netball, balls, whistles, javelins, discuses (disci?) skipping
ropes and a track suit for himself which he had asked if he could have. Then
Last night I had accepted the invitation to attend the PAG service and so I cycled along at a suitably late hour to join the very happy-clappy, Masai-like dancing, etc worshippers. Quite an experience which lasted 3 hours and I will never need to attend a Gospel Choir concert again as this one fulfilled a lifetime’s desire. People at home would have paid high prices to hear such singing. I had to introduce myself as usual and so I apologized for the English person’s reticence when it comes to joining in. I didn’t realize that lunch was part of the deal so it was back to Betty’s where I ate lunch outside and in solitary confinement as is the custom but more so than usual. Two tables were set out; one for me and one for the 3 men who joined in lively conversation whilst I sat isolated and lonely. My solitude was interrupted by a phone call from Chris back home who wanted to know if I was free to talk. It could have been bad manners but I was happy to stay on the phone. The thunder started rolling and the skies blackened but they assured me there would be no rain. I decided to take my leave and cycle home so here I am with hopefully no more interruptions before bedtime. Good night!
Saturday 12 November
My day to myself but, before 7am, Sam, the sports teacher, had arrived on his way to Mbale to buy the sports kit for Adesso School and the sports day scheduled for a week on Friday. Janet soon followed to keep me up to date with the collapse of her son’s house in the storm on Monday and then I had a chance to do something for myself until Paul called to collect funds to buy materials for the Workshop. I haven’t cleaned my teeth and I have handed over 4 million shillings! At last I managed to update my diary from 6 to 11 November and now I’m almost catching up.
I have just looked out of my front door to be greeted by 3 huge, long-horned cows and 2 cockerels. Now I am seated and outside the window I see my chicken, Joy, pecking the grubs from the ground and joined by a rather splendidly plumed cockerel. Surely she is laying eggs somewhere by now but I wouldn’t know where to start to look. I’ve opened the big, metal clanking back door in readiness for her to come and roost in the kitchen cupboard for the night.
To continue with Saturday and my next visitor was
Alex, the driver from
Friday 12 November
left at 6.30am for
I walked back past the men digging out aggregate, the newly born kids, the frogs starting their evening chorus and, with dusk looming, I was pleased when Silver passed and picked me up on his motor bike. No sooner was I home than Stella, a teacher from Adesso, called to return the money I had lent her. We shared my omelette and had a convivial evening together until she left allowing me to bathe and fall into bed to reflect on the week’s events.
Thursday 11 November
An outreach clinic in Acowa, Armuria today. (IT is
possible to Google Earth these places if you feel so inclined!). We piled into
the vehicle, bought chapatti, samosas, bananas and water en route and set off
for Armuria. It is far and, on arrival, we found many people waiting to be
seen. One by one, we assessed the children and on Tuesday George, the driver,
will go in the hospital bus to collect 27 children plus attendants, food etc.
Michael saw over 100 eye patients and 15 wil be collected for surgery so with
the 200 dental patients also seen toay, we are certainly putting
Someone tapped me on the shoulder and, on turning, I saw an old lady, Adengo Amelenia who had her cleft palette repaired by Mr Viva last November. I never saw her smile last year as her lip was still swollen before she was discharged but today she was so happy. She says she is no longer labeled “the disabled woman” and she helps escort mothers in labour to the local clinics.
We saw many disabilities, a boy with an amputated leg following cancer who will come for a prosthesis, cases of osteomyelitis, post injection paralysis, gluteal fibrosis, a cleft palette, club feet to name a few.
On our return we bought 7 bags of charcoal which weighed the vehicle down at the rear too much so that all oncoming vehicles flashed us due to our bright lights. Lorries, stacked high with potatoes and people, struggled with the potholes and one ahead of us finally got stuck with his wheels far embedded into the mud. We had to wait while many people tried to push it out and finally they succeeded thankfully without injury to themselves. At last, we reached the tarmac where we could put our foot down and we were doing well. A vehicle came at great speed and seemingly out of control. I shut my eyes as there was a big ditch on the left so we could not take evasive action but it was only the wing mirror which was hit but without damage. George thought that the driver must have dozed off!
was 8.30pm before we arrived home and we were all tired and dirty. I shared a
late supper with Jan who was to leave for
Wednesday 10 November
pleased to be going out by Land Cruiser today as my buttocks are still bruised
from yesterday on the bike. We had a few preparations to do before we
left. I needed to check on the ovens the mothers were making and I found them
busy with the mud throwing exercise. They wanted paying for making the stoves
and were not happy with my proposals so a riot ensued. I had to ask them to put
down their pangas as they were flying dangerously above their heads and we
negotiated until they quietened down a little. It’s difficult to realize that
there is a point where these people change from being angry to being happy and
I have yet to grasp the difference! Then to the Workshop where I have many
issues; new tricycles to prepare, wheelchairs to be refurbished from scrap, CP
chairs to make, the list is long. Ann Margaret, the girl with the broken
prosthesis (artificial leg) had come and the leg was repaired but needed paying
for. She has the sewing machine donated by a
Finall y, we set off to see some sad cases, Serverbare (is there a saint of that name?) who who was 18 years and in need of a wheelchair so that his mother could manage him better. The mother also needed a push start so she was grateful to receive some funds to start an IGP (Income Generating Project). Akol Jesca, a PPP 35 year old, could no longer ride her tricycle as it was in need of repair. On lifting it into the vehicle, we found it to be in a seriously unsafe state so she will get a new one. After visitng some more homes, we ended up at Max Okenyekure to give him his new tricycle. He couldn’t stop grinning and also his grandmother who was also too happy! The site of his new house is under way and bricks are being made out of termite hill mud. I shan’t be revisiting him till next year when I ope he is established with his bicycle repair business from his new house by the roadside. He presented me with one of his few chickens which brought tears to my eyes. It’s a big, heavy one and full of eggs about to be laid, I’m sure. I can’t have 2 chickens living in the kitchen cupboard so this one is on loan to Modesta, my friend here. Next year I know this hen will have turned into a goat! So it was home again and the above is only a very small account of the day’s events. If only I could write in detail there would be pages! Thank God, I hear you cry that I have to be brief!
Supper with the dentists and they continue to be happy and are exceeding all expectations in patient numbers. I shall miss them when they leave!
Tuesday 9 November
As daylight broke, the peasants could be seen gathering the branches from last night’s storm like a trail of ants arriving to remove the crumbs. There was no shortage of timber for the early birds and, by the time I left for the hospital at 7.45am, the ground was clear!
The dental team joined us for Morning Assembly , prayer and traditional introduction which new visitors receive on their arrival.
I often think that some days are the best of all but today is the best of them
all…so far! Martin and Is et off on his motor bike for
home visits. We visited many poor homes with CP children. Seeing has to be
believed; one mother who belongs to one of the groups was very sick with pus in
her stools and with no means of paying for treatment. She had 5 children, the
eldest unable to attend primary school as he had no school uniform. It was good
to be able to help her. aWe continued to the home of
Opesen Lawrance, a spina bifida of 8 years, a delightful child who could walk
with his broken walking frame supplied by the hospital. His upper half of his
body was strong and he could use a pencil well so could he go to school? We
joined the dental team for supper which we ate outside and we discussed their
day when they saw almost 200 patients! They seem to be finding the whole
experience most ehilatrating! I explained to the boda boda boy that the moon we
could see was the same as the one you see in
Monday 8 November
will this week bring, I wonder! Today the dental team
was to attend the Rotary Meeting and, after a wash and change, I was ready for
the boda boda who came promptly and just as rain drops started to fall. What
followed was a sight to be seen. The heavens opened and visibility was zero due
to horizontal and deafening rain and hail stones the size of peas thwacking the
windows and roof. Continuous lightening flashed across the sky and only the
thunder cracks immediately above could be heard above the hail. I have
not experienced a hurricane force wind and I would think this came into that
category. The boda boda boy (man called Silver) sheltered until the worst was
over but I decided to find a vehicle with four wheels rather than slide through
the actual rivers flowing from the rain. I was really scared as I know that the
rafters in the house are almost completely destroyed by termites. Once calm
resumes and it is a thing of the past, fears settle and this night I went to town
and joined Rotary Club somewhat late to find the guest was a Past District
Sunday 7 November
my hair washed and after a short visit to
church for prayers as I arrived late and left early, I settled down to a stream
of visitors. Modesta and her family called followed by Robert, the teacher, and
then the boda boda boy who took me off to Kodukol where I was going for my
annual visit to the blind boy’s family. I have finally succumbed to my
advancing years and I decided to go by motor bike rather than a pedal
bike which is a long, tedious ride resulting in scratched legs and
an exceedingly numb bum. Using motor means took a fraction of the time and effort
so it could well be the end of using sweated labour for me in the future. It’s
always a pleasure to visit this village and to catch up with the family news,
to see more babies who have been conceived and born since my last visit, the
youngsters growing up and the old ladies looking 10 years older each time. The
hours passed swiftly and it was time to return home as I was expecting Andrew,
teacher from Adesso. Andrew wanted to tell me about his dream to develop a
private nursery school in the nearby PAG church which is only used on Sundays.
Children nearby go to nurseries in Kumi Town which entails a boda boda ride for
some or a school bus ride for a good school outside the town. Occasionally the
transport fails and the tiny tots have to walk the 9km alone back home. Parents
see education as the only way forward for their children and those who attend
nursery school get more than one foot on the ladder of success. At 10 pounds
Saturday 6 November
A whole day ahead of me with nothing planned. I turned down the invitation to a wedding in the PAG church as they are very long and it’s a case of been there, done it and got the tee shirt and I didn’t know the happy couple!
Land Cruiser left for Kampala with Steffie, Timme, her baby, and friemds and
all was quiet except that Jan, the photographer, has stayed behind until
Thursday so I’m not alone. Time to catch up on things; my diary was up to date,
my room clean and the washing on the line when I suddenly realized that my modem
which allows me access to the Internet expired at 2.18 this very day. If I
missed today, the next opportunity would be next week so I hired a boda boda
and we rode into town passing bikes carrying pigs, goats, one with a bed and
mattress and bowl tied behind, roof thatching, 5 on a motor bike and you name
it and you will see it! By the roadside, the men were drinking the local brew
through tubes, children ran after the bike calling “How are you?” with a
definite emphasis on the “you”. “I am fine,” I reply a hundred times a
day. Some men were turning sisal leaves into ropes for tethering animals,
many women were hoeing in the fields, the frogs were ribbeting in merry chorus
and life continued as it does day after day, indeed decade after decade. I
dismounted the bike and went into the MTN shop with my modem. The girl had gone
to Soroti to do some shopping and would be back, I was told,
but this could be too much to hope for so I left my phone number
and asked her to call. So back on the boda boda to return
home. Ah well, this is
Friday 5 November
Guy Fawkes night at home
but we have our own shooting stars and fire flies to keep us illuminated. Today
I was out delivering the CP chair and visiting Okenyekure Moses to make plans
for the building of his house/shop. Before
we left, there were many issues to be checked and I took African tea (made with
hot milk) and samosas in the driver’s canteen. The mothers were throwing mud
with gusto to make their stoves, Agnes was off to order polo shirts and caps
for the stoves team, tricycles were being restored and there was much activity
in the hospital through my projects. En route to Ngora, I stopped to greet the
paraplegic who I gave a tricycle to last year. It was in good order but he was needing some leather to continue his shoe repair
business. This request is not too easy to fulfill as leather is bought in
Jinja, many miles away but I shall do my best. His daughter was sick so I
didn’t see her. (His wife died giving birth to the little girl a couple of
years ago and that was how I got to know him.)
Phone calls started with regard to the tricycle being collected by
Edward, the hydrocephalus boy, in
Thursday 4 November
Agnes and I made another trip to the schools in
Wednesday 3 November
Today a field trip was arranged with Steffie, her
year old daughter, Timme, 2 friends and Jan, the photographer. We were off to
Serere to see Amos who had arranged home visits where Steffie has had some
input so it was really a day off for me. However we did call in to collect
drawings from the
We arrived home after 8.00 pm, very dirty, hungry and tired!
Tuesday 2 November
I promise to make today’s entry shorter! Two visitors before 7 am – Obwong with lemons and the offer to sell
me a chicken and then Gerard Moses, the blind boy, who accompanied me to the
hospital. A mother brought her child to have her CP chair repaired but
she needed a larger one which we would take on our next visit. There is no
Plaster of Paris in the physiotherapy department so I sent Harriet on a mission
to Mbale to buy all 3 sizes so that the club foot children will be treated on
Wednesday instead of being returned home after a futile trip. The Rotary fuel
saving oven project in schools is going better than I could expect and Agnes is
putting every ounce of her efforts into the exercise. We went by boda boda to
visit the 2 schools and found much activity and mud-throwing in progress. I was expecting Cordelia and Eileen from
Monday 1 November
Another interesting date 01.11.10. Some hospital duties were called for and I
arranged for the refurbishment of a child’s wheelchair for Opelai Charles, the
arthrogryposis boy, who we were to visit today. The energy saving oven is
Martin and I set out to revisit 3 of our families who had formed a group. We started in town where we bought 3 tyres, inner tubes, ball bearings, grease, a spanner etc to repair the broken tricycle which we identified last week. Opelai Peter is a bright 10 year old boy with arthrogryposis, a disabling disease with the joints bending in all the wrong directions. His little sister, the same size, managed to walk him so that they resembled a Come Dancing couple as they stepped in unison across the compound. He will have the wheelchair which is to be adapted to cater for his bending-in-the-wrong-direction knees and then he will be able to attend the local primary school. The cow presented to the Group they belong to and started last week was brought, a fine light tan beast with curly horns. Martin had brought the medicines required to treat cows and he showed the man how to inject a treatment with a syringe and needle. He also de-wormed the animal and sprayed it to remove the tics of which there were many. I never realized that CBR workers’ training included farm management and the holistic approach of the family of a child with a disability to this extent which I find to be most encouraging. We have no pressure on us to complete a certain number of home visits so we decided to extend our visit to show the mother how to make a compost heap in order to prepare for the orange trees being grafted. Both parents started to collect green and dry materials together with cow dung and soon the heap was a good 2 feet high and waiting for about 10 jerry cans of water poured over the top. I would think this to be the most arduous task as water has to be brought from the bore hole which could have been far away and 10 jerry cans is about the total amount of water required each day for a family so it would mean twice as many trips. The compost will be turned after 21 days and will have turned into perfect compost in 28 days when it will be used to fill the hole dug out for the lemon tree seedling. Once this is established, a shoot of an improved orange tree will be grafted on and then oranges the size of grapefruits will grow instead of the local oranges the size of limes. Children learn at school how to make compost but most of the peasants have dropped out of primary school long before they reach this stage due to sickness and death of parents and then the necessity to work the land for survival. A boy with a lump over his eye visited and we booked him in for plastic surgery for February. Lets hope he attends! To continue, we called by at the local school to request that the Head Master accept Opelai Peter for primary education. He was willing and also pleased as new classrooms were under construction and a pit latrine for a child with disabilities had been included. So it was straight home or sow e thought as the bike had a puncture! Not funny! We had to walk to where I didn’t know and it was hot and dry. Finally, a man came and offered to cycle to the nearest trading centre to send another man to mend the puncture. We finally sat under a tree to await his arrival until I found I was covered with ants even though I had checked there was no termite hill nearby. Our saviour finally arrived and it took him an hour to remove the inner tube and patch the hole using an old maize cob to roughen the rubber. All mended, we completed our day very satisfied with what we had achieved.
Saturday 28 October 2010
Now I’m starting with Wednesday which will be confusing for you! This was a disorganized day due to my plan being disrupted by the CBR worker who really gets up my nose. I know he won’t read my diary but we just don’t get on. There’s always one, isn’t there? He decided the vehicle had to go to Soroti via Serere causing a delay of around 3 hours. We were to return the Gluteal Fibrosis kids back home although Saturday would have been just as convenient. Anyway that’s the way it was and it was good to drop the children off and reinforce their exercises with the parents.
up Ruth in Soroti and started our day around 1 pm by visiting Anthony at
The Pamba Centre which is run by Franciscan sisters is teeming with youngster with all kinds of disabilities. I called to visit Ann Margaret to whom I gave a hand sewing machine a couple of years ago. She is busy with her tailoring but her prosthesis (artificial leg) needs repairing and I shall bring her to the hospital workshop to get it seen to. We ran out of time so we had to leave before I had an opportunity to meet the Mother Superior but, as we drove along the bumpy road, she stormed up driving her pick up and we had a moment to slam on the brakes and exchange greetings.
usual, we drove back to Kumi at breakneck speed so that I could attend a Kumi
Rotary meeting as I have joined up with them with the energy saving stove
project for schools. The meeting was being held outside and it was cool, the
sky was lit with lightening from far away and the meeting was in progress. The
project was discussed and all is going well. The timekeeper stopped the meeting
promptly which was good as I was aware that my visitor waiting in the car park.
He is Soenke from CBM
It had been a fulfilling day but too rushed to feel it went very well.
Thursday - was a better day! Alex, “my man in
Was it a peaceful evening? No! I had three sets of visitors wanting to report their progress on the school energy saving project, the Asio children and other money matters. The phone also never stops from morning to night and, without it, I often wonder how we would manage anything.
Fridays seem to come round very quickly and
they are welcome arrivals. Today I excused myself from Morning Assembly as
Martin and I were going to town on his bike to be collected by
Kumi, I wanted to check up on the oven making programme at
After we said goodbye to Ann and Apulemera, Martin and I took lunch at Home Again, a popular café in town. I had beans and rice but once again I couldn’t eat it all. A local man who I know is a little more than mad came asking me for money but I gave him my food remains which he poured into a dirty old black plastic bag but he still wanted money….for alcohol! My newly acquired chicken sat patiently next to my chair like a dog. The meal ended, groundnuts strapped to the back of the bike and with live chicken under my arm, I just couldn’t get astride the saddle because of the bag. One day I will make an utter fool of myself as I go head over apex but it is important to prove I can do these things. (Once on, it was far more difficult to get off and most unladylike!) The chicken had to be kept in the kitchen overnight so I unstrapped its legs from the banana fibre holding them together and set him down to enjoy a meal of bread and water which it accepted willingly. It’s no wonder we have rats! It slept overnight in a cupboard and I had to ensure in the morning that it exited the house from the back door as that would be where it would enter the following night. I usually give my chicken gifts away but this one from Apulemera is very special to me and it will soon start laying eggs. The chicken who gives me an egg most days under the chair at the front door has given me the cold shoulder and gone off in a huff.
The afternoon wasn’t over and it was a pleasant change to be back and to have time to sit in the garden and read. Fortunately, I wasn’t under my usual tree which was fortuitous as a very large black with white breast and collar bird resembling one from the crow family but called an eagle here landed on a branch of dead wood which crashed to the ground. I shall be more observant in future of what is above. Darkness fell but once again I had visitors until I retired late having tried my hair drier in the solar power plug. It worked which meant I could at least dry my hair anytime.
Saturday 30 October dawned and it was with glee that I
washed my hair plugged in the drier which only worked for a few2 seconds. My
plan was thwarted and I had to dry my hair in the sun; not a great hardship but
just a nuisance! Washing was hung on the line, the chicken let out, my room
tidied and I could take it easy until 10 am when I was going on a shopping
spree to Soroti with Janet and Margaret. We had hired a car which I fuelled and
I was concerned about the driver’s skill but all was OK. I asked if he liked
driving: “Soooooooooooo muuuuuuch!” was his reply. We left the driver as we
went shopping in the market, indoor or outdoor, I
couldn’t make up my mind as the stalls were covered in banana leaves making it
dark with a few sun rays seeping through the gaps. The noise and the smells
left much to be desired but the ladies were incredibly happy except they
thought I was Father Christmas and I was going to treat them to everything they
saw. They were mistaken but I did buy them a pair of shoes each (3 pounds) and
a flask. We took lunch at
The Dutch crowd arrived; Steffie with Timme, her 1 year old baby girl, a professional photographer and 2 friends who are here for a week. It’s a pleasant change to have some company but they don’t speak much English! Also sometimes I think my photos aren’t too bad but his are somewhat superior!
Wednesday 27 October 2010
Wednesday morning (early) and I was almost thinking of returning home on the next flight. The bat infestation continues but now George, my driver, is certain that rats are eating my food as bats eat upside down and couldn’t be eating my fruit because their wing span is wider than their legs are long and so they couldn’t take off. Maybe! So yesterday I went to market and bought 2 rat traps and a kebab of cooked cow which cost as much as the trap. Meat is very expensive. Last night I arrived back to find a bat in full flight so, that having been disposed of by the recommended method, it was down to the rat business. The traps were set on black polythene “because there would be blood”, the cracks under the doors were blocked off with material and a bible (a good book indeed for such a task and I was ready to dash under my mosquito net for safety. At 3 am, I bravely emerged from my room to see that the traps were still set so back to
bed and no sooner had I tucked in the net than I heard the trap go but I waited till morning to venture forth with rubber gloves on at the ready. There was a rat but it was not the monster I had imagined, rather sweet really with bushy tail. How it ate all that food, I can’t imagine!
To get back to Monday; after my 5 days out last
week, I decided to stay within today but, as usual, a programme evolved and
Agnes from the training school and Sam, the electrician, both of whom are
Rotarians and trained in the making of the fuel saving ovens and I met to
discuss a joint project with Rotary to train schools in making the ovens. We
decided to start immediately so it ended up an “out” day with us visiting
In the evening, I had been invited to Dr and Consolata Opolot’s for supper in Town so I went by boda boda and hoped to return with George. There was an almighty storm raging the whole time I was there, power went but we managed a most convivial meal. George didn’t arrive to take me back, his phone has broken and he couldn’t inform us that the Land Cruiser was stuck in the mud. The poor man was stranded for 4 hours until he was pulled out by another driver who also picked me up! He was later called out to collect a mother who had been in labour for days to undergo a Caesarian Section. Unfortunately the baby died.
Tuesday - hardly before the day starts,Obwongo found me at last so I’ve had a short time of peace for which I must be grateful! Two pawpaws and 2 eggs from his wife, lemons from his tree and a determined request for me to take a photo of his latrine! The Guest House wouldn’t be the same without him so I must be grateful for his visit. He was swiftly followed by Gerard Moses, the young blind man, who wants to stand for Local Councillor representing the disabled but needing 20,000/= to register. He hadn’t been able to read all the requirements to apply but he was off to Town with the money to try his best.
Today we were off to Ngora
and, after shopping for the usual boxes of provisions for the homes, we first
went to the home of Moses Okenyekure, the TB spine boy who I have visited since
my first year here in 2002. He’s a delightful 25 (approx) old who lives with
his grandmother and sits no more than 2.5 feet due to his TB spine spends much of the day making fishing baskets. What a change in his conditions. His
grandmother announced that when I first went, she had everything to do for him
but now he is the “father” of the house and looks after her. His bicycle
business ticks over well and he replaces stock as necessary from his profits.
He continues selling his fishing baskets. Fishermen bring him the grass and he
is paid for his labour – 150/= (about 10p) otherwise he is paid 500/= per
basket. He can make 4 a day but it tires him and so he usually makes 3 but
supply exceeds demand. He grows potatoes, cassava, maize, tomatoes and he has
even planted canna lilies round his compound. He can weed the garden but
employs a man to do the digging. His first goat has now reached 5 with 2
stolen. So we needed to make a further plan
as he has a good friend in
It did! We called at
Next to Amuge Janet’s home. Sometimes things go wrong and 2 years ago I made a mistake of giving a CBR worker money to buy a goat which he kept. It took a year for me to find the mother and, after many lies, he had to admit his deceit. I took the matter to the Hospital Administrator who agreed to provide the mother with a cow from the hospital farm and to deduct salary from the CBR worker. As the staff haven’t been paid for 5 months, I’m not too sure what the present situation is but I leave that to them as my mother has the cow which has produced a calf in June. What a welcome she gave me and what a difference the milk has made to the cerebral palsy child! I didn’t recognise her! Instead of having the limbs of a stick insect, she is quite chubby. They were happy with the second box of provisions and I left knowing I had fulfilled my promise. The CBR worker is atypical, I hasten to add and the two I am working with this year are fully transparent in their input.
It really was a great day and ended with my return to the Guest House to find an egg in the porch and the rest of the day is recorded at the start of this entry.
Sunday 24 October 2010
Friday - and I have to TGIF as I’m quite exhausted
after every day out. At Morning
Assembly, the Hospital Administrator announced that
Then we set off down the main road this time to Bukedea where the Monday cattle market takes place. Our first home visit was to see an epileptic cerebral palsy girl, Apolot Anet, who had a most beautiful mother. She was carrying a plastic can filled with cassava on her head which she lowered to the ground. Before I asked her to place it on her head again for a photo call, I tried its weight and I couldn’t move it a millimeter so I refrained from asking her to do so. Two more mothers came with their children so we discussed the possibility to form yet another group. They were enthusiastic with the idea and, once again, they fancied growing orange trees. One of the ladies had learnt how to make compost at school so she was going to get them moving straightaway. All they need is a push start and they start a good community project.
I was priding myself on my endurance on the back of
the bike all week but today I think we must have ridden much further. As we
rode down the pot holed roads which became tracks and then no more than the
tyre’s width sometimes on a high ridge, sometimes with savanna grass either
side, I did seriously wonder when we would find the homes of the children or if
I would have to ask Martin to stop for a rest. A big improvement was wearing
socks necessitated by sun burnt toes from the last day out but they did save me
from many scratches from the bushes. My helmet seems to fit better this year which
means my head has grown! No longer does it slip down so that I can’t see out.
Returning home, we stopped at
Saturday - and a day to sort myself out. I
finished washing my clothes and you would have thought I had washed an entire
rugby 15 team’s kit as the water was utter sludge. Bed sheets changed, bathroom cleaned, papers
sorted and the floor swept and I was feeling on top of things once more. Paul
Burden (orthopaedic Workshop) and Michael Akileng (eye CBR worker) called to
discuss the tricycle repair project. They want to extend the programme by
increasing the potential number of tricycles from 10 to 20. I may agree to repair 15 but I am happy that
they have found the trial successful. I
changed into an African dress which I was given in
Storm clouds were looming so I said my farewells and started to cycle up the hill with the wind rising. I managed to be safely inside before the storm started and I was looking forward to a quiet evening but….Paul Ekellot called with his toddler, Solomon. Paul works in the physio department and is a cerebral palsy diplegic which means his legs are weak. I have always encouraged him to exercise and cycle and, sure enough, he has benefited from the nagging. He lives in the mud hut next to the Guest House with his young “wife” and baby which arrived last year while I was here. Paul is so proud with his son but he was advised not to have any children a they would be “cripples like him”. Solomon is as perfect as they come! Paul has managed to finish his University degree so he was bringing his paperwork for me to read. He has done well and I am very proud of him.
Sunday - and up for prayers followed by a reading
session under the tree but I had visitors! Peter aged 11 years, the son of my
very poor friend, Modesta, called to tell me that his mother was in town as her
brother had been arrested for stealing and was in prison (a place to avoid at
all costs). This poor family never gets a break and I feel so sorry for them.
Peter is turning out to be a good boy and I told him so. His English is
unusually understandable for someone of his age and he agreed that he is
polite! He had had no breakfast and had little hope of a meal so I offered him
a banana and gave him my precious packet of biscuits. “Give me a banana for Emma”
(his brother, Emmanuel) which is their polite way of asking for something so he
went home with a banana and 200/=. “What will you buy?” I asked. “A pen” he
told me so I gave him a pen and told him to buy a chapatti. No sooner had he
left than Moses Imangilat (brother of the late Margaret Asio) called as
arranged. I wanted to talk to him about Margaret’s children as he had been left
in charge of them. He now has 39 children to care for in his extended family
following the deaths of his brothers and Margaret. Two her children are to be
sponsored by a
Hot and tired, I went to lie down for half an hour
while I waited to be collected to go out for lunch. Off we went on a motor
bike, ate a nice lunch with a family and on the way back, we got a puncture. 17
minutes precisely before darkness arrived and I was stranded about 7 km from
home. Walking would have taken long and there are many snakes on that road. I
took the only option but to hale a motor bike and I was pleased when one
stopped and we agreed a price. It wasn’t
until we got going that I realized that the suffocating fumes were not from the
bike but from the man himself who must have been imbibing on local brew all day. Sometimes I wonder would it be easier to stay
at home in
Friday 20th October
Who has noticed today’s date? 20.10.2010 just after we have had 10.10.10.
I’m so far behind with my paperwork that I decided to forego Morning Assembly and I managed 4 solid hours trying to catch up before Martin called to whisk me away for fieldwork. He knows I don’t like being on a motor bike on the main road so he very considerately took me down the murram tracks which, after last night’s rains, were almost impassable. The potholes were full to the brim and the mud was very slithery. Even I suggested we return by the main road! His helmet is broken but I always (well, nearly always!) wear mine which meant that, instead of helmets clashing when traversing potholes, he was almost concussed. My feet and legs got very scratched by the thorny bush and I must consider gum boots so that I’m protected from top to toe. My toes are so burned from the sun that I know I will at least wear socks tomorrow.
Our first child was Amulen Elenor, a 5 year old Down’s Syndrome girl, who could almost get off all fours and onto her feet but not quite. We decided on more parallel bars so Martin and Elenor’s grandfather, a Reverend, disappeared to hack down the appropriate branches while I whiled away the time sitting in the semi-shade of a large tree and wondering where better on earth I could be. The panga was at work again but I was most fascinated at how they recycled old 6 inch nails from a redundant piece of wood with utmost patience. The bars were finished with precision and Elenor took to them like a duck to water, walking up and down and turning unaided at each end.
After Elenor, we met up with 3 families to start a new group which they decided to call Aipecitoi Disabled Group, the same name as Monday’s group very many miles away! The members are the mothers of Odeke Samuel, an acquired CP, the mother of Elwat Charles, a severe arthrogryposis child and Akol Tabitha, a lady of about 30 years who has congenitally absent lower legs and gets round on a tricycle which needs repair. They discussed their objectives and selected an orange tree growing programme which means that Martin is going to teach them how to make compost and then when it is ready they will plant lemon trees and graft orange shoots onto the trunk. They chose also “rearing” so on Monday Martin will buy another cow for them. The cow will rotate its lodgings between the 3 member’s homes.
The storm clouds were looming ever nearer so we
decided to call it a day so that we reached home dry. The electrician from
Thursday - was another good day! Field work with
First stop was at Kyere to deliver Happy Days, the cow, to the nursery school we visited on Monday to the children. As we entered the school compound, the children started chanting “Good Morning, Teacher” in unison followed by happy singing and dancing while 2 toddlers banged away at goat skin drums. It would have been impossible not to have a broad smile. I had to be patient and wait for the end before I could see the cow which is a beautiful tan colour with two large curved horns and, best of all, is pregnant. There was more singing and dancing and photos before we could make our getaway. The compound where the cow will live is also the children’s playground with locally made swings, roundabout and a slide. I am sure we will manage to develop a good relationship with the school.
Next stop was to visit my two dear friends, Mary and Goretti, about
2 feet tall and wonderful characters but their home was all locked up and as
spruce as ever. Their goat we bought
last year was ambling over the rocks with its remaining twin kid. It didn’t
take long for a neighbour to tell us that Goretti was sick and at the local
Health Clinic so we set off to see their tricycle parked by the clinic. There
was Goretti suffering from malaria and recovering from a horrible quinine
injection in her buttock. She climbed into the vehicle and took us to find Mary
Farewells made, we completed the day with 2 more home visits ; an 8 year old blind girl who was born normal but had a fever aged 2 which led to blindness. More next week about her, I hope, and Alupo Martha, a 1 year 9 month old cerebral palsy child.
Back home to find light but nothing’s perfect and I found that the electricians had disturbed the bats in the roof. I HATE bats but I had little choice but to change my attitude and say to myself I DON”T MIND BATS which wasn’t easy! One settled on the broken mesh on the door and I managed to knock it outside whereupon others appeared swooping from one end of the house to the other, almost brushing my face each time. Grace told me next morning how to deal with them which entails waiting for them to settle, swiping them with a brush made of grasses, taking them outside and killing them by smashing them with a piece of wood. I decided to think they were birds like swallows and I was pleased that I have had my rabies jabs as they can be carriers. An early night under my mosquito (and bat) net was imperative and I had to ensure that one didn’t fly into my room so a sequence of lights on/off followed and I was in for a peaceful night or so I thought. But thunder and lightening kept me awake for hours. Closing the eyes didn’t stop the flashes and the crashing thunder was deafening. Sadly, by morning I found my bananas had been nibbled by the beastly bats.
Wednesday 18th October
An hour late for Sunday prayers is just the right time to arrive so I have got it right after 9 years! The congregation has increased considerably and the benches were packed with hoards of Christians. My neighbour was a girl around 7 years whose hand inched nearer to my hand until she was clutching mine and then her neighbour joined in until it was like happy families. The church was filled with rhythmic music and singing and the 2 hours passed by very pleasantly although I didn’t understand much of what was said. I did hear my name which was a prompt for me to stand and introduce myself as is the custom. On exiting, I spotted the man with diarrhea who had asked for some oranges in the hospital compound and I managed to rectify my refusal and tried to explain why I can’t give to one and not another in the hospital.
Home for a rest but, no, it was not to be. I
settled myself under the tree with my book and coffee when Frances Okerenyang
came to bring his wife, Grace, and to invite me to a wedding under a mango tree
on Tuesday but it is a working day. They left just in time for me to leave for
lunch where I was visiting the HIV/AIDS group. I was supposed to wear my
traditional gomaz but managed the excuse that I couldn’t put it on alone. I
shall include the Minutes of the meeting perhaps. I was given a splendid feast
once more which we ate in the hut and I listened to
many of the old customs which once abounded among the tribes. One was that the
child was put to the breast while the mother was eating as they thought that
the food went into their mouths and straight into the babies! The group needs a
few items so I suggested Chairperson, Secretary and I went to
I returned to find, guess what, my daily egg under the chair. I shall now be disappointed when/if my generous hen ceases to oblige. I called out Eyalama to show my gratitude!
I had received 3 phone calls while out and I made excuses for not being around but then Michael from Kumi Town called and saw me within so I had to admit defeat and sit outside. We didn’t have a conversation as his words flowed as though he was speaking in tongues and soon my eyes were closing so I said with fingers crossed that someone was waiting for me inside.
Peace at last and a very early night followed.
Monday - my first day of fieldwork. As the hospital has no money, it is up to me to fuel the vehicle and I was shocked to find that fuel prices have risen so high and 104,000/= was needed for the day. (3,000/- = 1 pound) (There must be a pound Sterling key somewhere on this keyboard). However, it is good to let the communities know that the hospital is still in existence and off we set to Soroti to pick up my very good friend, Ruth, who looked very well after so much mental illness. Finally we reached the home of Amos (CBR worker) where the AIPECITOI (struggling) Disabled Group had congregated. They had come to be presented with their 2 (pregnant) cows as I promised to provide one last year but I ran out of time. If they had been given one then now it would have been two so I thought it right and proper to give two which will soon be four!
The next port of call was to Kyere Early Child Development Centre, a long title for a nursery school for 3 to 6 year olds with disabilities. My son, Peter, sends his 2 baby girls, Laura and Isabel, to Happy Days Nursery in Dalkeith where the children took part in a sponsored Treasure Hunt and raised over 1,000 pounds sterling. They have asked for a cow named Happy Days and an energy saving project. I am very happy with the nursery and the Programme Manager, Etoli Samson, and so tomorrow (Thursday 21 October) I will take a cow which will be named Happy Days to be bought today by Amos to the school. I have known one of the children, Okirior Moses Emmanuel aged 5 years with a TB spine, for some time.
We bought maize and chapatti from the roadside which was manna from heaven. I once cracked a crown on a cob so I am very careful and I choose the softest. These are not like our sweetcorn but what we give our cattle!
On to Zacchariah’s (a post polio paralysis paraplegic) home where we found that he was now attending school having been given a tricycle. They collected him from school and brought him on the back of a bike to see us (it would have taken him well over an hour to cycle himself which he does there and back each day). He is better motivated and even manages to do some garden work (which is not easy even when you have 2 good legs). The goat we gave him a few years back has multiplied and now they have 3 goats and a beautiful brown pregnant cow.
I wasn’t sure why we continued to
Tuesday - and another day of fieldwork but very different
from yesterday! Martin and I left by motorbike to go to
On to Opus Ben, a 6 year old CP, who again has a wise father. The boy can barely stand so I suggested that the father make some parallel bars for standing and walking practice. No sooner had the words come out of my mouth, than he had a panga in his hand and he was chopping branches from a tree used for making the frame on mud huts. A swipe of the panga and the branches were severed from the tree making my blood curdle as these are the tools used to slash people to bits. Two long poles, 6 forked uprights inserted into holes in the murram later and the boy was standing well and would soon manage a few steps. Last year the man was given a cow which produced a male calf which he sold to buy iron sheeting for his house. He had made the bricks and now the house was complete with rooms for sleeping. It is remarkable what some men can do and it is rare that I give the men any money but today was an exception. I was so impressed that he can now buy another goat and we will see where he has reached next year.
Then to Aisa Daniel, a 6 year old bilateral CTEV
(club feet) who was first visited by
I’m very impressed with these men as you will have realised and perhaps the scene is changing and for the better.
I had done enough by now and my mind was
over=burdened with what we had achieved so we decided to call it a day and
return to base. Back on the motor bike and into a storm so we sheltered in a
very small shack/shop where we enjoyed a Coke and banana. Storm over we
Back at the Guest House, dark by now outside but light inside as there has been a solar panel installed on the roof. It’s like a miracle! My room will be wired in today so no more candles (which I like but I’ll not say no to power). So my last night of washing by candlelight and now all I will have to do is manage to get from the light switch to my bed in the dark. Great! Not enough power for ironing or boiling a kettle but one person can use a laptop or charge a phone! I am happy but then I think about little Peter in his conditions and all the others with leaking roofs and sleeping on the floor and no clean water etc etc.
Saturday 16 October
We’ll start with yesterday, Friday, which turned out to be an interesting day. At Morning Assembly, Dr Opolot who resigned earlier this year due to some interpersonal problems came to continue the hand over to Dr Ruth who is now Acting Medical Superintendent. He met me afterwards and seemed very subdued over everything but I hope to meet him and his wife Consolata while I am here.
I gave the pharmacist the money for 3 months supply of epilepsy drugs so there will be adequate supplies for Wednesday’s Epilepsy Clinic, checked up on the Gluteal Fibrosis kids who are doing well bar one and comforted a man who had severe diarrhea and infected ankle and explained why I couldn’t supply him with drugs.
Now I know how I can iron my clothes as I had tried putting them under my mattress but it didn’t seem to do any good. One of the physio rooms has an iron and, when the generator is on, then I can get down to some pressing business.
The morning passed and I had agreed to meet Francis Okerenyang at 2pm but then I was asked to attend the Closure of the Fuel Saving Training Course which took the rest of the afternoon. It started late with dry tea and chapatti under the tree and then we adjourned to the training school for a full agenda of prayer, speeches, drama, distribution of certificates and then closure. As Carol had left (and she should have been the Guest of Honour) I had to sit in her place and give a speech off the cuff. I managed to waffle on about energy saving factors in UK with walking and cycling being encouraged, turning off lights, tv’s etc, reducing central heating temperatures until I had said enough and could sit down. I don’t suppose they understood a word of it as they can understand pigeon English but not very well our native language!
No sooner was I home but Modesta, a dear friend with many home responsibilities, called with a 3 year old who wanted to see if I had got old since last year and announced that I was very old but I was relieved when she thought her mother was old also! Carol had left a pair of glasses so, as I could see Modesta was having a problem reading, I asked her to try these on and she jumped with joy tickled pink that the print was clear as crystal! So the glasses have a new home already.
I forgot to mention about the hen under my bed in the morning. I think it had come to welcome the new visitor because, by evening, there was an egg in the porch which I enjoyed for supper.
Francis Okerenyang followed and we discussed many issues including the school cows which are causing me a big headache. He left when it was well dark and with the sky lit by almost constant lightening.
Grace who looks after the GH wanted the generator
on so I enjoyed the light until she left having filled me 2 Thermos’ to last me
till Saturday evening. I started to prepare for bed which takes about an hour.
I have a few luxuries here which I brought from home; a pepper mill, many
toiletries and Andrex Wet Tissues. I brought far too many lotions but I enjoy
using each and every one of them by candlelight! Cleansers, toners, moisturizers,
soap I bought in
Saturday and already my 3rd Saturday in
Lunch was taken in Ann Mgt’s mud hut which had the floor newly cow dunged. I knew this as it was still wet round the edge of the hut and the odour reminded me of my Arkengarthdale summer holidays as a child. I did justice to the boiled rice, potatoes, pasta like spaghetti, cabbage and their home eggplants (aubergines) before going next door to visit the home of Mgt Asio’s family. She died this summer of AIDS following a severe stroke. She was a great friend of mine and it was tearful to see her home without her. Her eldest daughter, Priscilla, has given birth to her first child at the age of 17 so has had to delay her education. There are 6 children, all a credit to Mgt and now struggling to make ends meet. We walked to their family cemetery where we prayed. There were so many graves, tiny ones for babies who died at birth and going up in sizes to adult ones although Mgt must have been only a few kilos when she died. Then a polite time had come for me to take my leave and I walked home with the thunder rumbling. My washing was dry but the promise of a solar panel on the roof of the Guest House has not materialized so my hopes have been dashed!
Guess what! Another egg on my doorstep which will be hard boiled for breakfast. What a thoughtful hen!
Now I am completely up to date with my diary and I wonder what will happen next. Good night!
Thursday 14 October
Right! I think I’m sorted out now and a programme is forming so now I am feeling more settled and I return to Tuesday morning.
Morning Assembly: there’s no change and I got the usual African welcome. There is still much going on at the hospital and the staff are surprisingly cheerful considering they have had no salaries for 2 months. The physio department is very quiet apart from the club foot and epilepsy clinics and a trickle of children coming for treatment. The orthopaedic ward is closed but the rest are open. I walked through the children’s ward to find it more dilapidated than ever with the ceiling tiles falling off and dirty walls leaving the children and mothers to stay in such a dismal atmosphere which isn’t very stimulating. There are plans ahead for some improvement which I hope is soon.
The Gluteal Fibrosis children are doing well and I checked their progress and encouraged their stretching exercises where they are staying in the children’s village which is much quieter than usual. The trees which I saw planted a few years ago are huge and a cactus trails many feet with its prickly (leaves?) and flowers. There are 2 little children who have a syndrome in the form of tremor as has the father. Diagnosis has not been decided but I remember syphilis patients with similar gait.
I spent most of the day with Carol following the training of the fuel-saving ovens. It’s perfect timing for the staff as they are fully occupied and enthusiastic. An organization called GTZ has sent trainers up for the project and they are training some staff to be trainers also. It’s a good programme and the long term plans will bring much business to the hospital in the future. At least, that is the plan!
Carol and I got on a motor bike boda boda into
A storm was brewing as I sat in the physio
department and I thought I would make a run for it but, too late, the heavens
poured buckets of water down, the skies flashed and a cracker of a storm
started so I sheltered in the Eye Dept where they were watching TV. The Ugandan
Parliament was discussing the floods which are here. I haven’t experienced them
yet but Awoja bridge is blocked by floating islands
making the road to
A quiet evening followed and then early to bed as there is no power in the Guest House unless the generator is turned on but it is too noisy.
Wednesday and I was wondering what I was going to do. I was just about ready to take my sandals off and join the staff who were treading the termite mud and grass, as we would grapes, for the oven structure when I was saved by the hotel manager who had come to confirm my booking for the dental team. He is a very pleasant, obliging man and so I hope they will be comfortable there. I made provisional bookings for the plastic surgeons who may come later in November. A meeting with Moses, the dentist, followed and I delegated to him all the requests that I had been asked to do to prepare for the outreach clinics.
The epilepsy clinic was in full flow but the
hospital has run out of drugs and the doctor asked if I would be prepared to
pay for a new supply. I was given a list of drugs totaling over 1,500,000/= (450 pounds) for an
unknown time scale. Having heard at the UPMB Work Shop last week about
counterfeit and poor quality drugs for sale even in pharmacies, I decided to
investigate further. I have since checked with the Hospital Administrator and
this is for 3 months supply and he insists they are bought in Joint Medical
Big rustle at my feet as I write, a moderately sized lizard has just waddled past. Better than a rat!
I was to have a meeting with Amos and Martin (CBR Community Based Workers [I will write this out only once]) at the Guest House so we sat under the big tree where once an owl deposited a bolus of mouse bones and ghekko legs and tails in my lap, and we arranged the weeks ahead. Next week we will go out every day either in the Land Cruiser or by motor bike to my families and groups. My friend, Ruth, will join us for the first time for a couple of years as she has been dogged by serious depression for a long time. I shall fuel the vehicle and pay the CBR workers so I am very grateful to have been given funding for my expenses which I shall use this year for these means. Michael, the eye CBR worker, will join us and use the opportunity whenever he wishes so the days will not be wasted.
Charles (CBR worker) also called on his motor bike to greet me and to ask me what I was up to!
After they had all left, I had a brief moment to take a shower and change into appropriate clothes for a Kumi Rotary meeting before Robert, the teacher, called with his 2 children. He had plans for me which I limited to 2 only. I declined the invitation to the wedding of his cousin at the PAG church as I have already experienced it! Once was adequate!
The vehicle came to take me along with many others
to the Kumi Rotary Club meeting in Kumi Hotel. The Club was Chartered
on 25 September so it is brand new. It was an excellent meeting chaired by our
Hospital Administrator who was once a politician so he knows how to take a
meeting. There was a District Governor Elect from
So it was a busy day indeed with more, I am sure, to come. Carol and I shared our last evening’s meal together; half an avocado each, Matthias’ delicious bread, tomato, onion and pepper washd down with borehole water.
Thursday; Carol was leaving this morning and I shall miss her company as I shall be alone until Steffie and her contingency arrives for one week at the end of this month.
We continued with the oven training, the Gluteal Fibrosis exercises and, as there was little more to do, I took the useless Thermos back to the shop where the Indian owner changed it with no problems except I noticed it went back on the shelf with the others! I also bought Doom, toilet paper, a carton of milk and a packet of biscuits. The boda boda boy suggested I rode like a man (astride) not realizing that I’m well in control when sitting side saddle. I washed my hair which is not so easy at home under the shower and dried it in the sun. Still my second case remains unopened but I was so hot that I lay down on my bed and dozed for a while. Modesta called and told me her problems which are insurmountable but she has confidence that God will solve them all. I’m hoping she doesn’t think that God has sent me! Then Dr Ruth called by after her day’s work and we sat and chatted under the stars until dark. Grace who looks after the Guest House had kindly cooked me an omelette which spoilt my good intentions to eat little. I was looking forward to a slice of pawpaw but it was covered in mould as I haven’t seen the likes of before so that was past it’s use-by-date! Two candles and a reasonable Internet connection allowed me to stay up a while but I soon succumbed to a thorough wash and bed around 9 pm. The thunder and lightening continued until I fell asleep in spite of heat.
Monday 11 October
Sunday morning 6.30 I received a phone call from
Elizabeth (who lived with Sheilagh Williamson in Upsall Drive for a year or
two) to say she was free and could we meet. I joined Matthias and kids at the
German Protestant Service at the White Fathers and agreed to meet Elizabeth and
her two children, Marie and John, afterwards. However they turned up earlier
and, as I didn’t understand a word of the Harvest Festival, I sneaked out and,
as the four of us hadn’t a clue where we were, I suggested we walked downhill
as this seemed as though we may end up on a main road rather than going up. For
once, I was right and we were able to board a public taxi to town where we ate
lunch in a café in the old taxi park. Those of you who have never seen the old
taxi park have not missed a treat. It is an unbelievable sight with surely no
less than a thousand taxis all vying to
enter and leave with a dreadful cacophony of shouting destinations., people
selling all and sundry, smells galore (some quite nice like roast cassava) and
hoards of people squashed like a shoal of sardines all wanting to get through
the same narrow gap. We ate in a rather downtown establishment with the
children and Elizabeth enjoying huge plates of chicken and chips but then the
children wanted to go to the loo. There wasn’t one but a kind waitress let us
go through an iron gate which said strictly no one from the restaurant. We soon found out why as it was full of men
kneeling to Mecca although there was one who was out for the count in a supine
position so probably a little the worse for wear from drink. The smell of the
latrine surpassed the smell of the shoeless feet in sweaty socks and it was
just all too bad for the children to relieve themselves! Another taxi ride to
Monday was Kumi day so, with my heavy cases in the
boot of Matthias’ car, I went to CoRSU to await the departure of the
Saturday 9 October Independence Day
I shall return to Thursday morning when I left
Sam’s (the Professor) house. Christine, his wife, had already left for work
when I emerged from my room at 7 am and it was decided that Sam and I would go
with the driver , Gonzago, to see their
new venture. As Gonzago had agreed to take me to
The next part of the day was not pleasant; we were both tired and we got into an almighty traffic jam. Nothing moved, absolutely nothing and there we were outside Kabaki’s (the king) wall which extends maybe a mile whilst he was probably enjoying a local brew and with many servants seeing to his every need in his palace. I’ve said earlier that I quite enjoy watching the world go by as I sit in a traffic jam but not this time. Many vehicles did a u-turn so that the tanker I was watching did actually get nearer but neither of us had gone an inch, there were just less vehicles. Turning round became impossible as that traffic was also jammed in the other direction. Over 2 hours we sat impatiently, dusk fell and then darkness when we managed to inch forward little by little. Four lanes were squashed into what should have been a single, one-way street. It was hot in the vehicle but the fumes were overpowering making me feel sick so to open the windows or not was a problem. Motor bikes by the hundred accumulated all round us and all belching out black exhaust smoke. We reached a roundabout where the traffic was being controlled by the police incessantly blowing their whistles and deciding to let all traffic through but ours. Cars were squeezing through ridiculously narrow spaces and many times we collided gently with bikes and cars. Enough of that as we did finally make it back and I just had to wash my hair and scrub every inch of myself before falling into bed. On the bright side, we had achieved our objectives so it was, in fact, a productive day!
Friday was easier. I went to CoRSU with Matthias
dropping the children off at the
Saturday didn’t turn out as planned as Rebecca
(Matthias’ wife) had had a phone call to say her mother had had a heart attack
My base now is at Sam and Christine Luboga’s home
in Mpererwe where I am visiting St Stephen’s Hospital to write a report for the
Rope Trust. Gonzoga kindly picked me up
yesterday at Petrocity fuel station in Makynde Road in the hospital ambulance
and it took us half an hour to go no distance at all. I never find it a problem
sitting in a traffic jam as it is an education to watch what is going on. We
were stationery long enough for me to watch 6 women clean the tiles and fences
of the forecourt of the Hakuna Matata
Restaurant & Pork Joint and for a truck to deliver great trunks of
trees presumably to roast the pork joints over.
We were on our way to the Pope Paul Centre where I attended Day One of a
UPMB (Ugandan Protestant Medical Bureau) Hospital Management 2 day Workshop
with Cathy and Olivia, Managers of St Stephen’s. Who should be there but Emukol
and Dr Ruth from
I don’t know how many children they have as it is
all very confusing. I met Diana, their daughter-in-law, for the first time; she
Farewells made and a group photo taken and it was time to leave. Gonzago invited me to his home and I wondered what type of house he had. I was surprised to see he had a smart home with kitchen, living, dining and 2 bedrooms as well as a bathroom. This was a man of means as well as being a driver! He explained how he had been given a bicycle and now he owned 2 new cars and 2 trucks which he hired out and was in the beginnings of making a good business so I imagined him being the Duncan Bannatyne of Mpererwe. It was dark before I reached Sam’s and after he had returned from the hospital where he works, we sat and passed the time while a meal was prepared by his many “daughters” in their smoky outhouse. Everyone works so hard that it’s not difficult to politely retire to my room.
3 October 2010
I am starting my diary sitting on the balcony of
the house of Rebecca and Matthias in
It’s been a busy year with lots to do at home to prepare for my return visit.
Appeals as far afield as Harrow, Hereford, Hinkley
and Happy Days Nursery in Dalkeith have all produced much enthusiasm and
support as well as talks to church groups, Women’s Institutes, Soroptimists and
other organizations. We have packed bags in Sainsbury’s, served coffee after
Sunday Masses in
Many changes have occurred in Kumi and I will have
to wait until my arrival to give my account of the events but I know that the
In the meanwhile, I have almost 10 weeks ahead of me which seems to be more challenging than ever before. My plan is full and intense but time will tell all…
Last Thursday, I rose at 3 am and went to
My room awaited me and all I wanted was a good
night’s sleep. Waking late, I ate breakfast and was picked up to be taken to