Friday, September 23, 2011

Big days keep coming

Today has been a big day in all sorts of ways. Being a Friday there was no school. While I waited for Lucy to arrive, I wrote up the start of a document to send to people who have supported the orphanage we visit. Then, off to the village to give a hand to the team. I met a friend on the way, as you do here, another teacher from schook. It was great to hear that she was a lot better as had been a passenger in a boda accident and had nasty wounds to her legs (thanks to the keyboard that nearly said kegs which would have been very rude). She invited me in to her house to bless it. It seemed such a lovely place, it is a real encouragement to see that a widow here is able to manage with her children. It included some nice design features in the part I saw too. We had a pleasant chat, I discovered that a gift from her school at the end of the year might be a punja (matchete) or a hoe or bedsheets! Then, on to do some work with the team once I had changed. Of course I changed into work shorts and tshirt. I was amazed to hear that I looked smart! It even continued into how young I looked. Believe it or not I still looked smart when I was covered in dirt and got back to the house! Let me go back to the work on the house. It has been great to have this team come and ‘fix up’ the two houses. It is not a glamorous job in that they will not go home and say we built a house but it is invaluable and not very pretty work. It is exciting for us though because the houses will be really ready for the new mothers and children which should be coming in a few weeks! The team has taken up the challenge to make them look good and I am looking forward to the results – I have not managed to get back to help them unfortunately but hope to make it again.

Lunchtime, David arrived and was already packed ready to go off to university. This might seem strange for me to talk about but it is life changing. His mother has struggled to educate her children but has been successful and this last born child completed Senior 6 last year. He received his results and achieved recently a place in a diploma course in Clinical medicine and community health but due to finances was not able to take it up. Tuesday, today was the deadline but it did not look good. However, one of the team hearing about his plight, despite his age and limited resources decided to pay his fees, using extra money he has earned by having a gap year. Thank you God for your timing, a young man is now helping another young man. So, in less than 24 hours David’s life has been turned around and he is now in western Uganda making his way at university.

Then, off for a visit with the lovely Gladice, to the orphanage that we have had a bit to do with that is not related to Hopebuilders who we are mainly working with. Well, first a stop at the bank and purchasing the food stuffs. It was a reasonably uneventful visit though I was not that excited by the fact that it had rained and so the roads were very slippery. I continue to be thankful that Ron (and I) were prepared for this adventure with 4-wheel drive experience – Ron in driving, me as a passenger! The children were so excited to see us. A couple of the older girls instantly whisk me away. Then, just want to hold my hand – so special and such a responsibility. One said how she had prayed that we would come – they needed school fees paid which thanks to Australian generosity we were able to do. They also needed school jumpers, we might think it an extravagance but people here really feel the cold. It was so good to be able to facilitate this as well. It was a short lived visit though as we needed to be back in town.

We got back in time to meet the team at the lovely Gately restaurant (only naming for those who know the place). The grounds are so relaxing and then we had a great meal. The beauty of going with a team is you get to see a variety of meals and learn other things to order on future visits. (I have to make the most of the opportunities as we do go out here but only rarely in Australia.) The evening was very pleasant though the Australian who is looking after the place was a bit ‘interesting’. Then, home at last. Due to the darkness and us being more local we drove both the vehicles. Hence, for the second time in a week I drove in the dark here in Jinja. I think God must send angels to clear the way for me as it was not too bad at all. It can be quite terrible driving in the dark as you have to look out for constant pedestrians, cyclists without any lighting, bodas coming at you on the wrong side of the road and then of course there is the normal taxis and cars and then extra trucks parked for the night on the side of the road. But, home safe and sound, just another day in Uganda.

Monday, September 19, 2011

We are back

There is a long time between drinks as the expression goes but it is with the best of intentions. It became impossible to do the blog each day and in some ways I found so much of what I would write simply to be a travel diary. I suppose that would have been all right but not sure that I wanted to think too much about what we were doing. So, here we are back home in Uganda. Yes, it is home. In England I really felt that we did have two lives and it is up to us to appreciate both of them.
The trip back was reasonably uneventful but long. We arrived at Dubai airport a bit late, long taxi in, bus trip to terminal,and then about a 2 km walk/run from one end to the other of the airport in order to catch our plane. Unfortunately, due to the heat and the effort carrying stuff, I managed to get a headache which...tends to have a poor effect on my too many bumps and yes I was sick. Then, not such a good trip home, poor Richard (the driver).
Anyway, that is all in the past. We have come back and of course plenty to do. The house had been well looked after by Robert and Rachel. A little brighter than when we left, I will try and add a photo of the bright painted exterior. There were quite a number of people ready for our return. The economics of life for people here have only got worse which makes the need even greater. It is amazing to hear today "Sugar is only for rich people!" We are so blessed and there is a bit of a sense of guilt about having such a lovely holiday in England.
The break must have been good for us. I was told I don't know how many times how I had changed. The children even thought it wasn't really Aunt Anne when we arrived. Though it did not of course take long. One friend said to me, "You have got fat, you are huge, you must be 80 kg!" Great diplomacy here! Ron was even told he had put on weight by the bank manager. Some were nicer, you look so much younger, it shows how much you work when you are here.
Last week already seems so long ago. There was a long staff meeting to deal with, chasing up of things and catching up with friends. One big disappointment recently has been that a friend is trying to do a Christian counselling course with YWAM in Perth and has been refused a Visa. Again tonight she rang to say it had been rejected a second time. Her wonderings about why and the expense she has incurred in applying. Her email said it all, I am praying for Australia! Why do they think I would not come back? So hard. We are so welcome here and yet it is not possible for her to train in Australia. Yes, I know the problems with illegals etc.

I wonder when I will make it to post this, so it might be no photos tonight but get it done. It was so wonderful to be welcomed back by the children, it nearly made me cry when they sang a song to us about how welcome we were. They are so special. It is such an awesome privilege to be part of their lives but also such a responsibility. Even if we do not come back for extended times, I know that we will always be concerned for their well being. It was good to be home.
After a busy week of settling back on Saturday morning we rushed into town to pick up things we had not had a chance to get, back to the house to go pick up our next team. Pity things neve happen as you expect. The bus did not arrive, and the driver seems to have taken a trip to Kampala early, so another bus and driver were arranged. Where would we be without Robert? However, the journey was not quite as quick as it should have been with a whole lot of 'jams'. So, we finally managed ti pick up the team, very late and had the long trip home. Better than my trip earlier in the week. The lovely Lucy had made some beautiful frittata and zucchini slice for us to enjoy and so, without lunch Ron and I certainky appreciated it. It was too late for the team to see the children so they went up to the cillage in the morning and took the children to church. The team was extra big with six extras. It was lovely to have the Vanderzags and an honour to be there with them. Casey had been part of the first team and then died far too young with cancer but Uganda and the village was such an important part of his life. Sue his wife made this trip with other family members. It was hard for them as they could recognise so much of what meant so much to him and they miss him so much. Again for me, it is a case of how fortunate I am. Ron too came and this place captured his heart and yet the future was and continues to be so different for us. We all shared in a lovely memorial type service at the rock. This was particularly poignant as stories were told of his time there and the impact he had. Amazingly, or more in line with God's timing and connectedness, Casey was responsible for paying for Robert Tumwesigye fees to complete his course at YWAM. Now, the dream that Casey had is so much in Robert's hands as he manages the village. This is will something special always to have been able to be there for.
The Vanderzags left on Tuesday morning early and the team has been working on getting houses 5 and 6 ready. The rest of the team consists of a family of four, another older couple, a young guy and the lovely Gladice from our church. She is a real blessing and great to have her here. Not only does she bring love and news from home but a very bright spark in just who she is. They are doing well and managing the idiosyncracies of life here with power and water intermittently going off. I have not been very involved with their activities at the village with my own commitments here and managing the house stuff. Tomorrow I am hoping to get down and do some work with them.
Other things continue to happen. The needs here have only increased with prices not reducing. It is so hard to hear that sugar is now something only for the rich. Fortunately we are in the position to assist people but that is so much about being in the place of much and other so little, what a responsibility.
I wrote more last night but on concluding something went wrong and it did not post so I am posting this and will start a new blog post soon.