Time in Uganda

Let's Get Started

OK. I think it is about time to populate this blog with accounts of the 2010 Onalaska Church of Christ / Good Shepherd Lutheran Church mission trip to Uganda. I have access to two journals and will create posts from these.

To start with, there will be day-by-day entries following the intinerary published below. Whenever I add the posts for a particular day, I'll change the color of the text in the list from gray to green. So, you'll know how far along we are.

With that, it is time to post... Updated May 15, 2010

The 2010 Trip - Day by Day

Day 1 ~ Thursday False start due to weather in La Crosse and Chicago

Day 2 ~ Friday La Crosse to Chicago and on the way to Brussels

Day 3 ~ Saturday Brussels to Kigali, Rwanda and on to Entebbe Arrive in Uganda at about 10:30 p.m.

Day 4 ~ Sunday Drive to Tororo; church service in the afternoon

Day 5 ~ Monday Bike repair service project at church and school; Visit to Aturukuku Primary School

Day 6 ~ Tuesday Visit Patewo Primary School; Lunch at Sam's mom's home; Attend service at Butaleja church

Day 7 ~ Wednesday Visit the Mbale Mission; Attend service at Kachumbala church

Day 8 ~ Thursday Visit prison near Tororo with Fabian; Women's program at Milca's

Day 9 ~ Friday Follow-up meeting at Aturukuku; Drive to Kampala

Days 10, 11, 12 ~ Saturday through Monday Visit Murchison Falls National Park and the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary; return to Kampala

Day 13 ~ Tuesday Shopping in Kampala; Depart for Brussels at 11:40 p.m.

Day 14 ~ Wednesday Brussels to Chicago to La Crosse; Home!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Necessary Repairs

Entry from Jack's journal
Entry from Eileen's journal follows

Monday, Monday...
Monday, January 11
Monday morning has us visiting a number of bicycle shops in Tororo town to purchase supplies for the service project at the church.

We buy a collection of parts that includes tires (they come in front-rear pairs), tubes, ball bearings and spokes. A lot of spokes. And grease. We bought so much that Samuel observed, “We are causing inflation.” The church has arranged for 5 mechanics to be at the building at 9 a. m. Neighbors are invited to bring their bicycles in to be fixed up as needed, this a gift from the church. Many have come and a number of the bikes are in bad shape. There is one lady with problems with her legs who comes in a hand-pedaled, three-wheeled special. We are glad she has this opportunity to get much needed repairs.

Mechanic working on the three-wheeled special bike

In the afternoon we go to Aturukuku where, among other things, the bike repair program is repeated for teachers, parents and students. It appears to be just as much of a success as it was at the church. School is not in session, so the whole program is different than I’ve experienced in previous visits. Even though we wanted to have more focused time with the teachers and parents, there was still the “ceremony.” The mayor and other politicians were not there this time, but a representative of the western school district was, as was the local Imam, who has come to welcome us back.

There were plenty of students for the letter writing project and some of the parents and teachers wrote letters as well. We had purchased paper and pens at a local stationer - a lesson learned: purchase some of what you need from local shops. I think of the lady in the Kampala Post Office in 2008 who thanked me for spending money in Uganda after I bought less than $10 worth of stamps. A lot of the people in the room were not writing letters, but they waited patiently. When the letters were finished, it was decided we would be better off outside and the meeting moved to the shade of the wonderful tree in front of the school.

Auditorium at Aturukuku: a broad-limbed shade tree.

We eventually hand over the bags with the gifts for the teachers. They were quite moved. Some pens, a calculator, stapler, ruler, pencil bag - six of which were donated by Kelly and daughters Katie, Olivia and Taylor. So little, yet one teacher was moved to tears. It's hard to grasp having so very little, even when you see it. We also give the Imam one of the gift bags Eileen prepared and later got one to Israel, who was busy with the bicycle project. Two of the soccer balls that Jay and Holli donated went to the boys; the girls got a netball we purchased in town. As we met under the tree, Shaban and Adrian recounted past projects, mostly for the sake of the parents, and offered suggestions - requests, actually - for future projects. Three young girls are introduced - the first three students to have had the new computer class, taught by a volunteer teacher. They are very proud. It seems a good, positive step for the school.

We head for Kenya to have lunch and buy gas (it is cheaper there), but mostly so we can just say we were in Kenya. However, the border crossing process has changed and Samuel does not have the necessary papers. We drive back to town in a brief but intense rain storm. When we get to Milca’s late in the afternoon, tea is ready. Not too much later we have a big dinner. There is no water in the house tonight, so bathing with the camp washcloths I brought will have to do.

This was the first of two meetings at Aturukuku and we will discover some issues that we will have to work through as we continue.

Entry from Eileen's Journal
Monday, January 11, 2010
We are staying at Milca’s. Hot and humid. I’ve brought bathwipes but we can also “bathe” in the dishpans provided. I get to use the bathroom Genevieve and Milca, Sylvia’s sister and mother, are using. The men use another. Genevieve served us a breakfast of hard boiled eggs, pineapple, bananas, toast, groundnut [a type of peanut] butter, and tea. This was a nice home once. Sylvia’s dad was agricultural minister and killed by Idi Amin because he was too successful and popular in that role. Milca tries to get by with her dairy cows. George and Ronnie have been hired to help care for us.

Fabian, Sylvia’s brother, eats breakfast with us. He is clearly upset about things that have happened in the past at the church. Something to deal with later. His 5-year-old son, Enoch [pronounced E-no], is here, there, and everywhere. Jack gives him a foam ball.

We purchase bike tires and bike repair supplies, and also hire 5 mechanics so that the church can host a “clinic” for the community surrounding the building. One woman who is handicapped waits on her hand-cranked 3-wheel bike. It desperately needs repair. There are many bicycles and lots of children. I give one of the larger kids a package of balloons to pass out and give another boy packages of Smarties before we head for Aturukuku School where we are to meet with students, parents, and teachers.

School is not in session right now but there is a fair number of people crammed inside the school. Jack, our spokesman, has brought [75] letters written by students at Harry Spence School. The teachers see that the students who can read get the letters. We provide paper and pens. John will photograph each student here that writes a letter in response. I mingle, doing “goodwill” with the parents, Bill and Gordy meet with the PTA chairman, Samuel runs errands. One baby screamed in fright when I tried to show my photos to her mother. Jack is happy he is not the only mazungu who has frightened a small child. I brought photos of snow, fall, and summer. Also my grandchildren. People were fascinated with Vera running – girls only wear dresses in Uganda and they don’t compete in track. They didn’t understand Ben being in a baseball uniform. They were amazed to see a little girl from China, my Jianhong. They marveled at Skylar’s long hair – almost all the women and girls in the rural areas had short, short hair. They puzzled over Lydia’s glasses. I only saw three people wearing glasses on my whole trip: the computer teacher, Milca, and Sicola from the church.

There will be ceremony under the large acacia tree rather than in the building we are told. Good – too many sweaty bodies in the school room. Lots of speeches: Adrian, the headmaster, Shaban, the politician, the PTA president, the volunteer computer teacher with his 3 “gifted” students who finished their computer classes. Last year John brought computers which has attracted attention of other parents who want their children at the school. And . . . here come the challenges, I said to myself! Shaban went on and on at length: the staff needs housing, the area needs fencing, the library needs windows and shelves, the land needs a title, the school needs internet service, students need uniforms and supplies. “The crawling of the ball is running faster,” he said. Also, “Mothers want you to cry because they send their children to school minus the food.” This was directed to me. We gave the teachers gift bags we’d assembled using Jack’s Trane Co. bags, also “footballs” [soccer] and “netballs” [volley]. The children started playing with them immediately.

One 3-year-old boy, the son of a teacher, begged and begged for one of the toy cars he’d spotted in our van. Samuel said no, not to reward bad behavior. We later gave a car to his mother.

The mechanics arrived to fix the teachers’ bikes we bought four years ago. Somehow 6 of the 13 are missing??? We discussed this and the other issues at length later, almost as long a discussion as the ceremony! Something[s] is not right with the school situation. We’d like to meet with the teachers minus Adrian, Shaban, and the other higher ups. At Milca’s we are served tea and roasted groundnuts. We thought it was dinner!

Fabian tells us [why he was not at the church Sunday?] Israel, the minister, appoints elders and then “fires” them whenever he wants. Also, Israel controls all the money. Something to ask the men in Mbale about how to deal with. Fabian goes to two prisons and works with the inmates. They sleep on the floor with no mattresses, have no soap to clean up with, and no clothing when finally released. Fabian has no Bibles to give the prisoners either. We promise him soap and Bibles. Dinner was at 8 p.m. I was surprised I’d gone 12 hours and not been hungry, but then again it is HOT, HOT, HOT. There was no running water this evening, a reminder to be grateful that we have running water at home.

No comments:

Post a Comment