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Hello!

A number of you have asked when I’m coming back to the UK. Well I actually came back last week. I’m sorry that I didn’t send and update from the airport as usual. I was busy on the phone and later on I was so tired I wasn’t convinced I could put a cohesive sentence together!

I spent the last week largely seeing old friends which caused me to reflect a lot on the journey I’ve been on these past three years. I’ve learned so much from university, life and church that I could never have learned in Uganda.

So here I am trying to figure out what God’s plan is for this season of my life. I haven’t got a teaching job like IĀ had planned but I feel like that’s for a reason, it would just be handy to know what that reason is! Although I still have a very strong focus on the longer-term plans. Almost every day at home there is a conversation about something related to moving to Uganda and it’s so exciting that it’s starting to feel so real!

Hope to see you guys around soon!

Travelling!

Well in true African style I’ve turned up at the Ssentongos house (the Ssentongos were my closest friends on my gap year) without making proper arrangements and so (not unreasonably) they’re not around. Therefore I thought I would take the opportunity to update about my recent adventures while sat on a verandah, wrapped in a blanket.

The last week or so in Kotido were quite busy but I managed to visit most of the places I wanted to.

One of them was a school owned by a European (I think German) lady, although she seems to no longer be particularly involved. I was hoping to see how another school might have combined principles of good teaching researched in the West with a sensitivity to the Karimojong culture. What I found was that they teach an American phonics curriculum alongside other subjects taught in a fairly typical Ugandan way. It’s not quite what I’ll be aiming for in my school but it was nice to start a relationship with a school that has a slightly broader outlook.

I also visited an ABEK (alternative basic education for Karamoja) centre run by Save the Children. Aside from being appalled at the contrast between the resources spent on administration and transport compared with the work making a difference on the ground, I have taken an interest in their curriculum as it combines English with Ngakarimojong (the first language of most of the children) which aligns well with the principles of the research. I want to cherry pick from it as my main focus will be on the main Ugandan national curriculum, the structure of it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to me and I think they introduce too much to early before the child had fully understood. However, it could be a very useful resource for Ngakarimojong teaching material (because who publishes schemes in such an obscure language??).

Perhaps my favourite visit was to the Primary Teachers College in Kotido (the Ssentongos have arrived now so I’m now sat more comfortably on a sofa). The college were very welcoming, despite the fact that we didn’t quite make it there until the evening. They have asked me to dialogue with the trainee teachers about the UK education system as part of their comparative education module and have said they will recommend their best students when I am looking for teachers to employ.

I left Kotido with Rainbow who was traveling to Kampala to pick his children up from school. We spent the weekend with Adrian in Ndi Bulungi (which means I’m fine in the local language, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of chucking at that). Always good to catch up with him, even if I still can’t remember how to navigate the farm (not a surprise when you know how confused I could be coming out a different door to usual at the campus I studied on for 3 years)! Shalom now has a restaurant as a fundraiser business with a target audience of bazungu travelling to Kidepo National Park and slightly upper class locals. We spent a day shopping for supplies for it in one of the big supermarkets in Kampala (it was weird, they even had Yorkshire pudding tins!). I’m staying in Wakiso for a few days to visit all my friends from my gap year, especially the Ssentongos.

Right, now that’s all said, I’m off to play with a gorgeous little girl called Abigail!

Malaria, ‘mericans and more…

Yesterday was time for my seemingly annual dose of malaria. This is my third time of catching it, all three from Karamoja. Yes, I probably should be more diligent about taking my prophelaxis tablets but I’m human, I forget and it’s often difficult to establish routines on these shorter trips. Yesterday I rested up (even though it was deadly boring and frustrating). Today I’ve been much better: able to potter about and very happy that the fog has lifted from my head. The treatment they have here for malaria is pretty rapid and effective. In fact, you’re better off having malaria than most things because the doctors recognise and treat it effectively, which can’t be said for all diseases! So no need to worry, I’m hoping to be back to normal by tomorrow.

Last week we had 2 Americans come to take pictures and videos to use in fundraising for an offering at their church. It was fun being able to use my admin and organisational skills to plan out the 4 days (even when the best laid plans of mice and men are scuppered by torrential rain!). After a day’s reprieve (hosting teams is actually quite hard work) we had another 2 Americans arrive. One of the ladies has experience running restaurants and has come to help at the Shalom restaurant that they are running to try and become more self-sustainable. The night after they arrived was the night I fell sick with malaria so now I think you have a brief update of life over here!

Nebbi šŸš›šŸššŸš Kotido

After an almost sleepless night on the plane, two rather short nights and busy days and an 8 hour journey I arrived in Packwach feeling somewhat sleep deprived!

After a 12 hour sleep, a day spent at the leisurely pace of African villages and a delicious fish supper were commenced work sorting out the land. We finalised some of the paperwork that was outstanding from buying the land and cleared the balance associated with it (it was great fun hurtling around the Ugandan countryside on the back of a slightly dodgy motorbike). I’ve asked Robert and Harryson (Robert’s brother) to work together to find a buyer for it. Robert because he it’s on the ground and Harryson because I trust him more. Things came to a natural end when the Robert’s family were all traveling to another village for a burial. Burials in Uganda can be lengthy affairs, sometimes taking 2 or 3 days and anyone who had a connection with that person (however tenuous) is expected to attend at least part of it. Therefore, is not unusual to hear people say they are going for a burial somewhere, especially since the death rate in Uganda is higher. I’m hoping that a buyer will be found while I’m in Uganda so that I can go across to supervise the transaction.

I took Rainbow (my friend from Karamoja) and Harryson with me and it was really good to have their support throughout. When things went pear-shaped at Hannah’s Foundation, Harryson was much more supportive of me, while Robert seemed to be more busy saving face. I was asked a few times to start a project there but I know it’s not right. It was a bit tempting but I want to be in the centre of God’s will and leaving frees me up to focus more on the school-to-be in Karamoja. As I look back, I see how much quicker and deeper Karamoja has sunk into my heart than Nebbi ever did.

The journey to Kotido, Karamoja was interesting! Moving to and from Kampala is always much easier than going across to anywhere else! We caught a slow-moving truck (the only time it got above 50kmph (approx 36mph) was going downhill and we had around a 200km journey to make. On the way we saw 2 accidents, both of which seemed to be drivers that had simply lost concentration and run off the road. There’s not the laws here to protect truck drivers from driving too long an there’s always the risk if you do park up to have a snooze, someone else will come along who’s not concentrating and smash into the back of you. It seems to be a particular issue on that road because it is straight, tarmac with few vehicles using it. After departing from the truck we caught a taxi (taxis work more like minibuses, they travel along specific routes, collect many people and each person pays their own fare) to Lira (one of the bigger towns in the north of Uganda). By the time we arrived at Lira, we were fortunate that there was still a taxi going to Kotido which we hopped on. The taxis have 14 seats in them so most taxis set off once they have got 14 passengers. If they find anyone on the way, they will pick them up and exceed the number of seats but they usually set off with the right number. However, this taxi going to Kotido didn’t want to go until he had at least 19 passengers squeezed into a Toyota Hiace van. It was quite funny that Rainbow complained far more about it than I did, despite growing up with such things! After entering the Karamoja region, we found a place were the Jie Karimojongs were trying to extend their borders by fighting the Karimojongs in Abim with stones (since they thankfully no longer have guns). After dodging the big stones in the road, the exhaust of the van fell off and we drove over it, so wet spent the last 90 mins of the journey driving without an exhaust! All in all the journey took around 12 hours but it’s so good to be back in Kotido!

Today, after running a couple of errands, I went to Shalom (children’s home project that Rainbow runs that I will be partnering with when I build the school) and saw my turkeys! There are 7 and one is sitting on eggs! It was also good to see the fence that has been constructed to include the part of the new land which directly borders the existing Shalom plot. The land is much bigger than I had realised – I half-jokingly told Rainbow I could get lost in it now.

I’m aware that I talk about lots of different places and it easy to forget which place name matches each significance – there might even be place names in this post that you are not sure where or what they are! As I type this, a permanent page is uploading that can be used to easily refer back to of an explanation of the different places I talk about, each with a link to where it is on Google maps. You can find it on the navigation bar at the top of the blog site. As always though, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to either comment on here or message me directly!

I’m going in an aeroplane!!

Having been through security the quickest I ever have at Manchester, I have time to stoke up the fires of the blog, can you hear it squealing and grinding into action …

First of all I want to thank you all for the love and support you’ve shown over the three years of my degree and for all those who came to my graduation celebrations, it really does mean a great deal to me!

This year I have felt sooooooooo last minute with the preparations. It’s been quite a week with my theory test, graduation, graduation party and suddenly boarding a flight to my favourite place on earth! But I’m here, raring to go and contemplating the vast sense of peace that I’ve felt despite the nightmare with the tickets and the number of things to do in a short space of time!

Along the under-prepared theme, my schedule is somewhat hazy, however, the first job is to sort out the land left from the closure of Hannah’s Foundation (see https://moleinuganda.wordpress.com/2018/06/09/a-painful-pruning/) as it needs to be either rented out sold, then onto as much time as possible in Kotido, Karamoja – where I’ll be living in a couple of year’s time – to continue laying the groundwork and making connections for the long-term vision.

Also, just a little note, I really love receiving emails, WhatsApp messages and comments, however, I’m having a bit of an issue with my Ugandan sim cards, which means I may be cut off from telecommunications for a while, so don’t be alarmed or offended if I take a while to reply (but don’t let that put you off!! See you all in 5 weeks!!

And back …

Just to let you all know that I made it back safely yesterday to Manchester. I was very proud of myself for not getting lost in any of the airports (though I did nearly leave my passport, oops!) and I’m sure many of you will be relieved to know that my English has switched back to Yorkshire! Though my timekeeping is still rather African …

As I said before, I’ll back back in Bradford in about 10 days time.

Thank you for all your prayers, love and support this trip and always!

Final Week!

It’s crazy to think that in a week I’ll have traversed the 4000 miles back to Manchester, although the weather yesterday was reminding me of the UK’s distant shores – it was absolutely freezing and I ended up sitting inside with my walking socks on and a blanket wrapped around my legs!

When I turned up here at Mother Janet, I found that they had just broken up for the holidays (holidays seem to be rather unpredictable in Uganda and can change at any time). Everybody was here, there and everywhere so there wasn’t a tremendous amount I could get involved with. Thus I started this final stage of my journey with a couple of days rest (which I probably needed more than I’d like to admit). It also gave me opportunity to start analysing the nursery and primary curricula and how I might start implementing them in future (and also how frustrating they can be!).

After that, I’ve been doing odd jobs, I’ve done some admin work which was frustrating for two reasons: 1) at least part of it was unnecessary bureaucracy demanded by the government and 2) most of it could be performed much more efficiently on a computer with the right database software. I also helped with part of the processing of the maize to turn it into porsho. Although porsho may not be my favourite food, it gave me a newfound appreciation for it as I have seen how much work goes into it! First of all you have to plant and grow the maize, secondly each stick of corn needs removing by hand (sometimes the plants are stubborn and don’t let go easily) and the leaves removed (what the team helped with last year), then it is placed in the sun to dry out. After drying it out, it is put into sacks and beaten with a big stick (like shepherd’s crook-size stick) to start removing the individual corns from the cob. This is successful for about a half or a third, the others must be removed by hand (which is harder than you think it is, as the blister on my thumb will testify). After being removed the corns are left to dry again and then are milled into flour. Finally, the actual cooking of the porsho is a great skill (water is booked and the flour is added to the water so you have to get your amount of water accurate without measuring equipment and then find all the lumps and get rid of them). Stirring it is also hard work as it becomes fairly solid – most school cooks are male as they have the strength to do it! I find it weird that it’s the cheapest way of feeding school children when there’s so much effort involved!

After helping remove the maize corns I was asked to mark some English exam papers which I was more than happy to find something that better matches my skill set! Though I hadn’t quite realised that there would be 40 scripts with 12 pages each! They came with some humorous answers involving shopkeepers selling themselves, tape cutting the guest of honour (instead of the guest of honour cutting the tape) and a variety of creative answers to a question that wasn’t actually possible. There were also answers that were frustrating as I thought the pupil had understood the text but couldn’t be sure as their word order was all mixed up so it was like trying to understand a confused Yoda. I also learned a lot from it about the understanding children have of English here. English has a double importance as all subjects are taught and examined in it, though it is a second language to all the pupils, as well as being a subject in itself. I’ve seen very many times when pupils have lost marks in other subjects because of their English. I’ll be going through the paper with the pupils soon.

One of the big shocks when I arrived was to realise that babies I remember being born are no longer babies and are now walking and talking! I had a lovely time playing with them this morning, even if it did mean sacrificing a peaceful breakfast!

So you’re all up to date again! What am I doing this last week? I have no idea. This is Africa and nobody plans that far in advance! I guess I’ll tell you all when I get back! A side note on that: although I land in Manchester on the 4th, I won’t be back in Bradford for about another 10 days from there as I’m taking some time away with Mum and Dad and some close friends. So I’ll see you all sometime after then!