Etihad Flight Number … 

I’m writing this in Entebbe airport waiting for my plane and enjoying the free WiFi (which I haven’t seen in a while). I have a mixture of feelings in my heart: I’m devastated to be leaving again, slightly confused at what time the plane is actually taking off (but prepared for anything!) but overall feeling at peace about the journey back. 

Its been an amazing two months: connecting and reconnecting with people, helping where possible and just being back home again. Karamoja (the area I’ve just come back from and where I’m going to live permanently) has been awesome, I felt so settled there already! I loved getting to know the project better, visiting the manyattas (Karamojong villages) and making friends in town. 

So I’ll see you guys soon! (though not too soon cos on Friday I’m off to Pool for a week)

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Masaka

Last week and the week before, I’ve been with the team from church in Mukoko, Masaka. 

The team have done many great things with the children; children from all walks of life and backgrounds. However, they’re going to share all about it at church and in don’t want to steal their thunder! Moreover, what has always stood out to me about the place is the people who run it. The highlight of the whole trip has been reconnecting with people here from a different upbringing and culture, yet bridging that gap and finding a common humanity. 

One of the things which stands out when you visit Uganda is the hospitality of the people. Food plays a huge role in Ugandan culture and guests are given the best food the host can possibility afford. Hosts will actively say how happy they are to receive the visitor. 

However, if Ugandans are hospitable, the folk at Masaka are Ugandans of Ugandans! (Though funnily enough in other ways they are quite westernised!). From the welcome of the children dancing their traditional dance to providing flush toilets just for the visitors, I don’t think there is anything more that the family could do more to bless anyone who visits them, especially those from abroad. 

Sometimes such hospitality can have a hidden motive of wanting something from the muzungu. However, the people there never ask for money and sometimes even refuse when you try to pay for things! 

This heart that they have is really unique as far in Uganda. Projects and charities are many but so many are not done with a pure heart. I’m very grateful to have been connected with such people! 

On Monday I’m setting off for Karamoja which is my last trip out of Wakiso this summer 😥😥. Karamoja is area I intend to live when I move here long-term. My brother (from another mother) and his family are also coming which is exciting as we start to make plans. 

Packwach/Nebbi

The bus horn is playing its tunes as we race back from Nebbi (now called Packwach) – the location of Hannahs Foundation. 

After a frustratingly slow start to the trip, these days have been busy! I’ve been meeting with the executive several times and I hope we will have some positive long term outcomes from the decisions that were made. We had 7 teachers, only 3 classes (which are only taught for half a day) and many titles which were surplus to requirements.  So we’ve had a restructure of the administration, created a voluntary role and very sorrowfully let go of one of the teaching staff – now we are paying 5 teachers not 7. We will still have enough staff for when we open a new class in February and hopefully the books will now balance! 

An accountant has also got involved in the project to improve the book keeping which is fantastic as she is doing it voluntarily to support the project. 

I was  also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the teaching at the project, what I was seeing was better than what I had seen in Wakiso and, on the whole, schools in Wakiso are better than  in rural areas. The teaching quality was also reflected in the exam results. I’ve given the staff some pointers for improving the teaching (the biggest one being time consciousness – African time has a habit of creeping into schools!) And hope this will push the results even higher, especially at the bottom end. 

Yesterday I met with some of the parents and handed out some clothes we had been given and some of my soft toy animals. It was lovely to see children smiling as they got their first teddy bear, which more than made up for the fact that I will miss them!! 

I’ll be in Wakiso for a few days visiting friends, then I’m off to Mukoko, Masaka to prepare for the team of young people from church. Time is going way too fast!! Ill be about half way through the trip when they arrive!! 

Kabale (Except it isn’t technically) 

So these days I’ve been in the mountains/hills near the border of Rwanda in a place known as Kabale, even though it is no longer part of Kabale district. Its a stunning location and quite different to the rest of the country. I can only describe it as the Yorkshire Dales meets Uganda with the rugged, farmed hills of the dales combined with the African roads, crops and houses. The hills make understanding directions even  harder for me than it already is as you have to wind your way around to get anywhere! I wasn’t too sad about this though – there are few things I enjoy more than riding round rural Uganda on the back of a motorcycle! 

Because it is at altitude it is very cold! Last time I was here I spent the whole week being cold. This time I have been better prepared with my winter woollies which has made it much more pleasant! Though pleasant is relative – our main light source was a candle and sleeping in a church building is all very well and good until people decide to come and pray and praise very loudly in the night! (I thought the most noise would come from the chicken that was being kept where we were sleeping – until we ate it – but I was wrong!). 

It was this church that was the main reason for visiting this area. I was part of a team involved in planting it last year and so was interested in how they were getting on. The answer is well: the church has some amazing people in it, though it is smaller than when we left. There was a witch doctor who gave his life to Christ who is now the chief usher (like chief steward) in the church and I found out that the pastor walks the 20 mile round trip from where he lives to the church at least twice a week (understandably he spends a night in the church when he comes!).

The church has faced opposition from the local council (though there is nothing illegal about it, Uganda doesn’t follow its laws to the letter and some people try to wield more power than they have) and from the Anglican and Catholic churches around. The local council tried to stop the landlord from renting them the building they use but the landlord went to them secretly and said he was happy to keep renting it out to them as he made the building to be a business and they are paying the rent well. However, they have bought some land and are looking to have a building on it by December – partly so they don’t have the ongoing burden of rent and partly to establish themselves better in the community. 

I went with my pastor from my gap year (Pr Justus) because he is from the area and so it was his vision to plant the church. It was great to catch up with him and wonderfully we managed to understand each other! His English isn’t great so I used to take a translator if I needed to speak with him about anything important to make sure he understood well. This time however, he ended up translating for me because very few people speak any English at all there. They only know their own language: Luchiga/Lukiga (I’m not sure which the correct spelling is!) which has a few words the same as Luganda but the accent is totally different. Sadly, this did make communication with the locals rather difficult. 

The low levels of English come with the low levels of literacy found there. Most people are subsistence farmers so have very little cash to buy school supplies and few children desire to go to school. The coldness makes bathing and washing clothes in cold water very unattractive so most people are dirty from the dust and from digging which together gets them the reputation for being a backwards community. 

Very few, if any, Westerners make it to such a remote place so peoples reactions were quite entertaining at times: as we went past on the motorcycle, people would stare at us with open mouths (almost in disbelief), others his because they were scared, others shouted. 

We also had the obligatory visit to Pr Justus’s parents who are very welcoming and hospitable people, like most Ugandans.

Today I spent 4 hours on the back of a motorcycle to reach the village of another pastor whose church I will visit tomorrow. I met him last year – he has followed the call of God to leave the good job he had in Kampala to come back to his home village to pastor here. This interests me because it is very counter-cultural and he asked last year if I would visit him so here I am! 

By the way, have I told you I love this country? 

Its so good to be back home!! 

Thankyou so much to all of you who prayed for my journey, everything ran smoothly and I arrived in Uganda on time on Wednesday. However, I only got internet connection yesterday because of various technical issues (welcome to Africa!), apologies for any worry this has caused anyone! 

I’ve been staying in Wakiso (near the project I was living at last time) with a family I call my own. Its been great to catch up with them, play with the daughter Abigail who is now 2 years old and see my other friends in the area. I’m so happy to be back home and settled again quickly. 

Tomorrow I’m going to Kabale which is a very cold, mountainous area; near the border with Rwanda. The church I was part of did a mission there last year so I’m going with the pastor here to meet with those in the church we planted and to see another church I’m interested in. It takes a long time to get anywhere in Uganda because of the poor roads – we estimate the journey will take around 12 hours. In Kabale there is hardly any phone signal and no internet at all so I will be unreachable in that time. I’m always happy to recieve your messages but it may take some time for me to reply! 

Going back home again!!!

The day has finally arrived!! Today I’m jetting back off to Uganda for the next 2 months. I’ll be travelling about all over the country, seeing lots of friends of mine!! I’ll be posting more about it on here (when I have internet and charge and …. hehehe)

Starting to say goodbye 

My time here in Uganda is coming to a close. Mum and Dad arrive on Wednesday to tour around and take me back. In less than 3 weeks I’ll be on British turf again. Days are busy doing all sorts of jobs I have to do before I go back. 

Thursday was my last day of teaching so I bought sodas for my class and put some music on to dance to.  

 
Yesterday marked a year since I set off for Uganda and I took some people I want to appreciate out for a meal to say thankyou and goodbye. 

It’s beginning to sink in that I’m really actually going back but I’m still not totally there. Having said that I don’t even know I’ll be totally there when I’m boarding the plane!