written by Michelle J on July 24
Friday was the mark of a full work week here in Uganda. However it feels anything but that. Each day in Uganda feels like a week, and if you told me i have been here for 5-6 weeks i would believe you. Not that its a bad thing, its just a different pace here. I never check a clock here, because to be honest it doesnt really matter what time it is. In Uganda there is a very very slow pace. This start when they start and they end when we are done. You can be waiting to hours for a Mutatu and thats just the way it is. Coming from New York I thought this pace would kill me. Waiting for people to move from the subway steps or realize that the light is green and to walk would drive me into a frenzy at home. That constant need to MOVE AND GO!! i havent seen that once from anyone here. I’ve embraced the pace in life, knowing that i am only here for a short time. i think any longer and i might start to have the “okay lets meet on time and actually end on time” mental “Eileen subway freak out. It’s been relaxing but im sure that is the reason for the week long days.
Friday Michelle, Jamie, Sam (a Ugandan film intern and translator who has been spending everyday with us),Becky, Rita (another translator with probably one of the most amazing stories of strength and overcoming i have heard here, maybe i’ll tell it later) and myself headed to Care and Share. Today the children were there! Some of the most adorable kids i have seen yet. And a bit more reserved than the rest, no running up and embracing us hugs from these kids. In fact Michelle and I had to show them a hug and then with a bit of pressure urge 2 or 3 to hug us. They giggled and covered their faces in embarrassment. Eventually they lossened up. It was pretty amazing to not have children curious about my camera or wanting to see it, that was a first. The children started school running around singing songs that mimic the teacher. They appeared very smart and were speaking very good english with ages ranging from about 3-8 and what appeared to be mostly boys. While Michelle and Becky continued their education and P.E. lessons I was able to go with Robert, the leader of Care and Share to visit some of the homes of the 104 members of the group.
Care and Share is both a school and vocational training program. All of the woman in this group are widows due to death by motor accident, AIDS, or being left by their husband so he can marry numerous woman at a time (fairly common here). Some of these woman are single parents while others have adopted. Often members of a family will die and a Sister or Aunt will take in the orphaned children. Care and share is currently working with nursery to P2 students and not any higher. Robert wishes to continue to build and fund the school so that the children can continue to study. They dont have the resources to teach them any higher nor the money. Often these children dont go to school once they reach this point. Robert is hoping to change this. I;ve noticed how most of the what appears to be loving and stable families here want to keep their family together. I envy the sense of community here. Within these villages and groups the people watch out for each others. Everyone greats everyone and they give what they have. I am amazed at the strength of some of these woman.
We walked throughout Lawnda (the most beautiful little town nestled on what appears to be a mountain of exotic plants and trees filled with sugar cane and corn.) You can see mountain in the distantance, and it’s GORGEOUS. We visit about 10-15 homes,( I lost count) and each woman welcomed us and told us they felt blessed to have us in their homes. It is an honor to be invited and for them to have a guest. Robert said other woman would be upset we werent able to come see their homes. This adventure was a lot to take it. Generally in America if we have a messy home we dont want people over, let alone if we lived in a hut made of sticks and mud, we would never invite company. That is not the case in Africa. Some houses were made of brick, though had their many flaws and often no roofs. While others were complete mud huts. These were pretty incredible. The husbands build the house, but often for the case of some of these woman, their husbands die before they are able to finish. This leave the woman alone with her 5-9 children and unfinished home. Generally the men provide the income here, and without them the woman are a bit lost. Well, some. These woman i am meeting are making an effort to change their lives and the lives of their children both naturally and adopted. They are taking sewing, knitting and baking classes to learn a skill and make money at the markets. They all seem really excited about what they are doing and eager to learn. That is a great trait and attitude to see. The homes were small. Most of the woman have bed bugs and living in a one room hut with 5-9 people. Sometimes one bed for them all, or at the most from what i saw, 3 beds. and by bed, i dont always mean frame and matress. I mean blanket on the dirt. There are no bathrooms here, you just go out and be one with nature to put it nicely. there was often a small room that held their kitchen supplies and water jugs. Most of the homes had a seperate hut where the woman would cook. Chickens , cats, cows, goats, etc. were all over these huts and like everything i have experienced in Uganda.
I will definitely be taking away a new respect for the sanitation we have in our lives. I wont go into detail about the things i have seen and experienced about this subject. It’s both unappetizing and disturbing. Fount is working to educate people on this matter though, and the people seem very excited to learn and talk about there health concerns.
Today we are heading out to Bujagali Falls and then off to our “girls camp” a.k.a. puberty class for the young woman of MOHM. another organization Fount partners with.
Lots of love from Uganda,