Published: July 16th 2013June 23rd 2013
Tarpaulin trouble en route to Kampala
The dodgy road edges can come in useful.
We’d had a busy 10 days in Uganda so far with Hugh and Becky and their North Uganda Outreach Project (http://outreachuganda.blogspot.co.uk/
)... delivering 79 Sawyer water filters (http://www.sawyer.com/sawyersaves/
)..., 485 AFRIpads sanitation pads (http://afripads.com/
)... and 80 pairs of Flip Flops in the Pader and Agago Districts, and visiting with St Jude’s and Gulu Youth Football Club in Gulu. And now we were leaving Gulu (and George which I was very sad about) for Kabale and our friends at KIHEFO (http://www.kihefo.org/
) (which I was very happy about J) Tuesday 18th June 2013 – Gulu to Kampala
We had a long drive back to Kampala so were up early again. I was first down for breakfast so had a good chat with George which I enjoyed, as always, because I always learn so much from him. Once we’d checked out our first stop was the garage to sort out our wheels... we had a nervous few minutes there. I don’t know much about tyre pressure but I’m pretty sure putting 120psi in a car tyre isn’t right?!!! Luckily, that wasn’t our tyre... but we were parked next to it. Once out of Gulu we had the usual ‘fun’ of driving the
terrible bit of road between Gulu and Karuma Bridge... with its massive potholes, deep ravines at the edge of the road and huge buses speeding towards us at a dodgy angle. The very interesting thing about the drive is seeing what’s on offer for sale along the different sections of road. This time I noticed the chickens section... people stood, on the side of the road, holding a live chicken out to tempt you...! As we were nearing Karuma Bridge there were loads of baboons and monkeys on the road, but because we didn’t know how close we were to the bridge we decided it wasn’t a good idea to take photos. We passed back over the beautiful River Nile and it’s waterfalls that surround Karuma Bridge and just stared – they’re stunning, one of the best sights ever. It was then back to people watching as we drove along – people washing fantastic classic motorcycles in the rivers; men and women carrying all sorts on their bicycles or heads, the sellers at trading posts who surround every bus or Mutatu (mini bus taxi) with their wares. We knew we were approaching Kampala when the roadwork’s started and the dust
got everywhere – it wasn’t very pleasant. As we entered the city we came across an absolutely massive hole with random road signs piled on the mound of dirt next to it, I’d love to know what that was about.
We made our way through the Kampala traffic to the Irish Embassy where Hugh and Becky went to pick up a delivery of a proto-type water filter from some Irish contacts, before slowly making our way back to George’s. Drew had to talk to the street sellers (he can’t resist a bargain), who were running between the cars with all various items on offer (you can buy pretty much ANYTHING on the street from your car), and ended up buying some sunglasses after the poor guy had run alongside us around a roundabout. At George’s we had a quick turnaround and change before heading back out into the Kampala night to take back the old truck tyres to the hire company and meet our friend Moses for dinner. The traffic was absolutely shocking, it took so long to go a little way and it was hot and there were mosquitoes everywhere. But there was a nice vibe and I
didn’t feel as threatened as I thought I would, considering our bad experience last year (if you’re interested... read last year’s ‘Leaving Uganda...’ blog. I really don’t know how Hugh manages that traffic, I find it stressful and am not driving, but he does it brilliantly. We dropped off the tyres and took a short drive to Sa Coma (a nice Italian restaurant) to meet Moses. Hugh and Becky have known Moses for years and last year Drew and I met him and spent a very memorable few days with him visiting Kidepo Valley National Park. That trip has given me some of my best travel stories and most brilliant memories and it was great to catch up as a group and reminisce. The dinner was really nice too; I’d been fancying pizza for days. We didn’t leave it too late to drive back to George’s; we had the longest of all drives to do tomorrow and were all conscious that late at night was a more risky time to travel through the city. We’d been reading in the papers about a spate of robberies in Kampala along roads we had to use, although they were targeting people in the
From Birdnest Resort.
Mutatu’s. Hugh got us home safely and we settled in for the night. Wednesday 19th June 2013 – Kampala to Kabale
We had a bit of drama in the night. Last year I didn’t sleep well in Uganda, I was unsettled most nights because I was stressed out and worrying about all sorts of potential threats. This year I’d been doing quite well, I’d actually been sleeping quite happily. But even thought I felt safest at George’s, at 2am I woke up and heard a noise I couldn’t explain. I listened in the silence for several minutes before I heard another noise. So I had to go and wake up Drew who rather than telling me to get a grip said he could hear it too and looked a bit worried. We spent a good 5 minutes trying to figure out what it was until I couldn’t take it anymore and threatened to go and investigate myself... which made Drew decide he had to. And all was well, not that we really thought it wouldn’t be, but at 2am you don’t think straight! I didn’t sleep properly after that, mainly because it was far too hot in
Hugh and Bex in Kabale...
...about to start the days activities.
Kampala that night!
We were up at 5.30am, with Hugh and Becky non-the-wiser, and Drew not speaking to me because I’d woke him up... and got on our way at 6.15am. It was disappointing that even at that time the traffic was very heavy but it could have been worse. We eventually got out of the city at 7am and started on the road to Kabale... we had a rough idea of where we were heading (Drew and I had done the journey a couple of times, and Becky and Hugh seem to have a sixth sense about direction in Uganda) but I got the map out anyway.
As soon as we left Kampala, travelling to the west, the scenery changed and became lush, green, hilly and swampy. A contrast to the scenery as you head out of Kampala to the north (which is mainly brown and dry). There were differences in the types of buildings (more mosques and square brick houses, instead of round huts) and the wares on offer at the side of the road (it’s all fish as you near Lake Victoria). The roads were good over the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere, through Masaka
Recognised by the Good Life Network for their great work.
and to Mbarara and we made good time. We stopped off for a drink at the same rest stop we always stopped at with KIHEFO and then carried on our way. The road after Mbarara wasn’t great – again there were pot holes everywhere and whilst they were making a lot of improvements, the roadwork’s caused problems – mainly because of the dust (which was terrible and I started to worry about my asthma) and the lack of signposting (we had an embarrassing but amusing moment when Hugh drove on fresh tarmac... and left a tyre mark!). The roadwork’s were fascinating though – we were convinced some of the machines were snow ploughs and the ‘humps’ signs looked like a pair of ‘you know what with the word ‘humps’ written underneath. And halfway through miles of roadwork’s you’d see a sign saying ‘Roadwork’s Ahead’?! We had a slightly intimidating moment when driving through a trading centre because a group of about 30 young men, wearing no tops and waving big sticks about came towards us – our first thought was that they might be a lynch mob... even though they didn’t look too angry, but we later found out they’d
be more likely taking part in some forces training.
The closer we got to Kabale the hillier it got and the more often we got stuck behind lorries going veeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyy slow. We passed one cattle type lorry carrying people in the back – that isn’t a non-typical sight but it was jam packed, am not sure how the people in the middle breathed, was awful! The road was very very familiar and because we were a bit early, and were not sure if we’d get to go another time, we headed for the beautiful Lake Bunyonyi as Hugh had never seen it. Drew and I thought we knew where we were going but we realised as the road got rougher, steeper, narrower and windier that we’d better make sure. So we found somewhere to turn round (not easy on a single track road with a steep drop off one side) and headed back to Kabale so we could ask for directions at the backpackers, whilst Hugh and Becky gave our remaining food to a very disabled young guy who was in real need of it. The backpackers set us right and as soon as we turned onto the right
road we recognised it. It was a nice drive over the hill to the lake. But that road holds one of the most miserable and depressing sights I’ve ever seen. Drew and I had seen it last year, and hoped it wasn’t the same this year, but unfortunately it was. This road leads to a major tourist destination and takes you past some incredible views, and a quarry which is built into either side of the cliffs. The quarry is worked by hand. Men, women and children break off rock from the cliff face, sometimes climbing vertically and standing on narrow ledges with no ropes. They then sit on the ground breaking it into stones. All day long. They’re completely covered in dust and it’s heartbreaking when the children turn to you to smile and wave. It’s like something from a sci-fi movie and very very sad. Our friends in Kabale later told us the work is very dangerous for the people involved, but they’ll do it to earn good money (well, what’s good to them). It’s so sad that those children, maybe even their parents, know no different.
We arrived at Lake Bunyonyi and were brightened by the
Rooms still looking fresh
at the Kigonzi Clinic and Nursing Home, re-painted by Drew and Hannah last year.
site of it. It’s so beautiful. We stopped at the Birdnest Resort for lunch and it was so lovely there, a really peaceful haven with fantastic views of the lake and a nice swimming pool. We had relaxed for a while and decided we’d probably go back there to stay one year. If anyone ever wants to come with us in future we can make sure you get time to relax... it’s good to balance out the hard work and heart break.
After a late lunch we drove back to Kabale and straight up to KIHEFO’s founder, Dr Geoffrey’s, house. We couldn’t see anyone about so were about to call our friend Ronald when he appeared!!! It was so great to see him J Drew and I were ridiculously happy! And then Patricia the lovely housekeeper (who looks after guests so well) arrived with her warm smile. And then the very special Lillian came through the gates (she’s got good timing!). They all helped us carry our stuff into the house, where we met Trina, a Canadian volunteer who is supporting KIHEFO with various projects (Trina writes a very interesting blog http://www.thebeantree.org/
). Patricia had made us a lovely dinner
and Max (who I worked with last year) and little Favour (Dr Geoffrey’s daughter, who had grown so much!) popped up to see us. Dr Geoffrey came to say hello so we had a catch up with him on what’s been going on over the last year and he told us all about plans for the next couple of days. Bex and I had an amazing chat with Ronald – he really is amazing and told us about his plans, KIHEFOs plans and how much it means to people that we are here. We often think we’re not doing enough, and leave every time wishing we could do more. Ronald told us never to think like that because just by being here we’re doing enough because the people don’t think they matter to the world, so the biggest thing we can do is give them hope that they do and that something better is coming for them in the future. I’ve not done Ronald’s words justice, but he certainly leaves you feeling touched and inspired.
Drew, Hugh and Ronald settled down to the Confederations Cup whilst Bex and I went to bed because we were more tired and sensible!
Some books for Dr Allan
In his office at the Kigonzi Clinic and Nursing Home.
And I really missed Hannah that evening; KIHEFO is her Ugandan home too. Thursday 20th June 2013 –Kabale with KIHEFO
After a nice breakfast (I love the chapatti’s that Patricia and Sharon, who helps Patricia in the kitchen makes) Drew introduced Dr Geoffrey to the Sawyer water filters (we’d do a proper demonstration later). We all then set out for Kabale town with Ronald and Lillian. It felt very familiar; it’d been our home for 3 weeks last year. Our first stop was the KIHEFO Clinic, which focuses on HIV/AIDs care, family planning and antenatal care. It’d been freshly painted by the Good Life Network, who’d recognised KIHEFO for their successful work, and looked very smart. We said hello to the team, including Margaret who we met last year and spent a day with on a HIV/AIDs outreach clinic in a rural community. Margaret told us that KIHEFO’s clinic now looked after over 1000 patients, 800 of which are on Antiretroviral treatment to suppress the HIV virus. Next stop was the Kigonzi Clinic/Nursing Home which was very familiar because we’d spent so much time there last year, especially Drew and Hannah who had re-painted all of the
rooms, the windows and doors. It was great to see it still looking so good. We saw the new electro-cardiogram machine and Dr Alan - our friend from last year! He was very busy so we handed over some books that Hugh and Becky had brought over from the UK and said we’d see him later. We met the Canadian and Ugandan students who were currently with KIHEFO on a placement, and learned a bit about everything they were doing.
After the medical centre we made a quick stop at the pharmacy and then onto the Kihefo Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre, where I’d done office work and where we’d met Vanessa and Purity, the young twins who’d been taken in after being found severely malnourished. During our three weeks with KIHEFO last year we saw them gradually improve and they really touched our hearts. I remember being deeply affected by the hope and determination in their eyes and Hannah, her amazing late mother-in-law Maria and I decided to sponsor them. So since last year we’ve been setting aside money each month and sending it over every 3-6 months (although that’s not always gone smoothly for various bank reasons...!). KIHEFO had
kept us updated on their progress and I’d asked if we could see them whilst here, so KIHEFO had organised for us to meet them at the Nutritional Centre with their foster mother Angela. I was really looking forward to seeing them, and thought it might be a bit emotional, but I wasn’t expecting to feel as emotional as I felt when I did see them.
I’m quite an emotional person, and as a result Drew has often wondered why I don’t get more visibly upset at what we see in Uganda, but I can also be very tough when I want to be and if I decide to, I can put on a brave face. I know that if I allow myself to get upset, I’ll get very very upset, which will be embarrassing for everyone! But seeing Vanessa and Purity that day was overwhelming, simply because they looked so so well and so so happy. It was a strange feeling knowing we’d all done something, even just a little something, to help them. The adults at the Nutritional Centre expressed so much gratitude at me and I didn’t think I deserved it; we’d all do SOMETHING to
help if we could, wouldn’t we? Vanessa was always the biggest (she still is) and more confident and was very happy to run to anyone for a hug so I got a good cuddle off of her. Purity was more reserved and wouldn’t go to anyone outside of her foster family, which was ok, I just sat next to her quietly. But she was calm and watchful and when I looked into her eyes I saw the same thing as last year, hope and a fierce determination. We stayed with them for as long as we could, talking to KIHEFOs Nutrition Centre staff and Angela, who we’d met last year and was temporarily looking after the twins before deciding to take them on full time, in addition to all of her other children. I was really grateful for Lillian being there, she’s such an amazing lady and she spent time talking me through my emotions, such a calming presence. We gave the other half of my friend Louise’s donated clothes for children who come into the Nutritional Centre and met Diana who was 1 year and 3 months and very underweight. She was with her mother and being well taken
The twins Vannessa and Purity with their foster mother Angela
Now 1 year and 3 months old, what a difference from last year (see my 'Kampala & Kabale with KIHEFO Week 1/2' blog).
care of. We spent a while looking at a big shipment of a special nutritional mix that the Canadians brought over with them, it smelled good!
We left the twins (would see them later) and visited Ronald’s new venture – the KIHEFO Youth Media Centre. This will provide opportunities for the youth to learn new skills and be involved in the community and at present Ronald is gathering all of the materials needed to set it up (Drew and I have personally donated a printer). Whilst he’s doing so Ronald has stocked the shop with clothes and shoes to pay the rent. It’s such a positive thing to do and I’m looking forward to seeing it all set up next time! After collecting the truck from the house we went visit Hope Africa Children’s Home (where Vanessa and Purity live with Angela); this is a fantastic organisation supported by Compassion International and Hope Africa (linked to a fantastic Canadian organisation of the same name that I have just researched and contacted, is good to learn from the experiences of others...). The children’s home is next to a school that looks very basic but as the project supervisor Geralds told
us, it’s the best primary school in Kabale because the primary focus is the pupil’s education. The children were in class when we arrived so we passed on through to the children’s home to see where the children lived and whilst it was basic, it felt like a very happy place. The Canadian organisation raised funds to build the new building, which was originally a mud hut. Geralds was fantastic, and didn’t take enough credit for the great work he did. I asked why there were so many more boys than girls in the home and found that the boys are mainly off the streets; boys are braver about leaving a bad situation at home and more able to fend for themselves than girls.
As we were being shown around the home school classes finished and the children started playing drums and singing in the playground. It was just incredible, I’m not sure what word to use to describe it – Drew and I desperately wanted to go and watch but they finished all too soon. The children wanted lots of photos, and whilst I started off in Uganda feeling bad about taking so many photos of the people
Lillian with Diana
Diana is 15 months old.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I should, because these people exist. We moved past the Church which is next to the school and then onto Radio Hope, which had recently been built next door to the school by a Romanian organisation. It broadcasts across a wide area and imparts a lot of knowledge, including a KIHEFO show on health and nutrition. We said a reluctant bye to the children, many of whom were fascinated by Becky’s hair and Drew’s tattoos (they were trying to wipe them off!) and headed to Lillian’s library. And idea that Lillian had discussed at length with Hannah last year, so it was great to see it become a reality.
After lunch we headed to the beautiful Muyumbu village. We’d visited it last year and visited a family and community (that’d inspired me to try and arrange them a water supply...have not found the money yet – they’re expensive but the Sawyer water filters may be a good option for them...) and the youth football team (that touched and wowed us so much with their sense of community and the speech they gave us) and had collected some football kit and other items for
them (thank you Sonny Smith, Adam Bradley, Katie Wolton and Gemma Hancock for making it happen). The road to the village was the dustiest road I’ve ever been on in my life (my asthma has been terrible since getting home and I think it was that road that did it!). Robert, KIHEFOs community co-ordinator, asked us if we’d like to take a football to a school near to the football pitch so we said yes. The school was surrounded by beautiful scenery and, once we were out of the dust, fresh air! We went in to meet the head teacher and he said he’d gather the children... we tried to protest and say it’s ok... we can just give the football to you... but he insisted and when we walked outside we were faced with several hundred children! Wow. The head teacher introduced us and all of the children clapped in time, several times by way of greeting. It was an incredible noise! Ronald was fantastic with the children and asked us to introduce ourselves - as we said our name Robert asked the children to repeat it and then asked if there was anyone there with the same name...
It started off well - we had a few Rebecca’s, a few Andrew’s and a Rachel. And then we got to Hugh. As the children were asked to repeat Hugh they repeated with a chorus of ‘shoe’ (bless Hugh!) and not surprisingly there were no ‘shoes’ in the audience. LOL. The head teacher told them we had something special for them (I think we all really wished we had more than ONE football at that point!) but they were ecstatic with it. As we said our byes the children followed us out to the car and as I was doing some filming I realised that Bex had been completely mobbed by children touching her hair (she’s blonde, and her hair was down!). I didn’t know whether to save her or laugh... so I took a photo! We said later how this must be the only place where normal people are treated like celebrities, and celebrities are treated like normal people.
We got back into the car and headed up the hill into Nyakiju village to the house and family we’d visited last year. KIHEFO supports them and they do a lot in their community. The Canadian sand Ugandans (from
Fantastic school children...
...always after a photo! As soon as it's taken, they run around behind you to see it on the screen.
Mbarara University) had just finished giving a nutritional talk at the house (we just missed it!) (f you want to read about them... take a look at the KIHEFO blog http://kihefoblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/kihefo-signs-mou-with-mbarara-university/
). We were introduced to everyone and it was great to see the house that had recently been renovated, with a tapped water source installed, by the American family of a long-term KIHEFO volunteer. This is a great example of the work KIHEFO does and the opportunity it gives people to provide support in whatever way they’d like to. You can read about the American family’s story in the KIHEFO ‘Family to Family’ blog update: http://kihefoblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/family-to-family-home-construction-water-installation-in-nyakiju/
. I’d heard about this family from Ann at BuyAYear (http://www.buyayear.org/
) , the organisation who supports and collects donations for KIHEFO in the USA so it was good to join up the dots.
Next stop was the football pitch so we could drop off our donated kit for the team we visited last year - they’d asked us not to forget them and we hoped this would show them we hadn’t. As we pulled up we realised it was going to be quite a big event... the team had been happily practising by
themselves but as the pitch was next to the school the children had decided they wanted more of the excitement... so the next thing we knew hundreds of children were piling down the hill past us onto the pitch. It was a little daunting and Drew and I got that nervous laughter, the type you get when you’re unexpectedly about to face hundreds of people...! We knew we’d have to do a speech (over to you Drew...!). Thankfully, Robert gathered the players on the pitch and made the children stand well back so we didn’t have an immediate massive audience. We were introduced and did all the usual speeches, explaining who we were, why we were there and how much we’d enjoyed meeting them last year. We handed out the kit and they were so so happy with it. I was impressed with how well organised and willing to share they were - they all had great respect for each other. The shin pads and gloves went down especially well for the goalies! We posed for some photos and then the team leader invited Drew, Hugh and the Canadian and Ugandan students to a friendly game. I think it was
Wow, such a welcome...
...from Muyumba village Primary School
the biggest crowd any of the boys (Drew and Hugh included!) had played in front of! It was nice to watch, there was a good atmosphere, the crowd laughed every time Drew got the ball (I didn’t think he was THAT bad?!) and Hugh was upset that neither Bex nor I saw his goal, let alone captured it on film...! Behind us the student girls and Lillian were playing netball and there were a few other games of sorts going on. It felt like a real community event. There were even cows wondering over the pitch and getting involved. And the scene was set off by some lovely singing. At the end of the game (not really sure who won...) we gathered for some more speeches from the team and community leader who said some very touching and profound words.
And then as it was starting to get dark we had to leave (it was bad enough to see in the light through the dust, the hedges were brown!). We stopped in town to collect some beers (the students planned to come round later to watch the Confederations Cup) and then had the delicious dinner that Patricia and Sharon
had prepared for us. Dr Geoffrey came up for a chat and to say bye as he was heading on the night bus to Kampala (too short a time with him) as did Dr Alan and Grant. Drew and I gave them the gifts we’d brought from the UK for their families. As the football was starting Bex and I thought we’d attempt to have a wash. There was no water (the power had gone off earlier and even though the power was back on the water wasn’t back on) so it would be a challenge. The wonderful Patricia got us jerry cans of water which she wouldn’t let us help with despite our protests (I now understand why, will explain in a minute) and then boiled the kettle several times so we could have hot water. Patricia asked if I wanted her to mix the hot and cold water for me and I said “No, I’ll be fine...” and she said “Are you sure? It’s heavy” and I was like “No honestly Patricia, you’ve done so much for us already” so she left me to it. 10 minutes later she found me still faffing around and said “Do you
need help Rachel?” so I asked for some advice on how best to approach the hair washing... she found me a cup and explained all about it (she was amused ;) )and again asked if I needed some help mixing the water. I was determined so I said brightly “No, I’ll crack on, will shout if I need help”. So I got myself locked in the bathroom, laid everything out, and pondered over the best way to approach it. Could I wash myself, get dressed, and then wash my hair? Or vice versa? In the end I decided to get everything off and just go for it. So I did that and then realised my predicament, because I could not lift the Jerry Can. At all. (That’s why I’d have been no help to Patricia when she was bringing it up). These women are amazing, they carry them on their head and I can’t even lift it (Patricia told us later that the women have to have help lifting them onto the heads). It was a pickle. I was starkers, in the cold, on my own. I couldn’t shout for anyone’s help without alerting everyone else to my predicament. To
My favourite photo!
Fascinated by Bex's hair!
cut a long (boring!) story short it took me 15 minutes (I’m not exaggerating) and every ounce of my strength to mix enough cold into the hot to make it bearable. And by then I was so exhausted I didn’t get round to washing all the soap out of my hair so it didn’t feel clean even when dry. The whole process took me nearly an hour and I was not impressed with myself! What a wimp!
After I was nice and dry and wrapped up I joined everyone in the living room to watch the football. Two of the students were there – Adam a Canadian and the Ugandan trainee pharmacist who was really nice but I couldn’t remember his name... It was a nice evening with a nice group of people. The Tahitians tried but they were no match for Spain. Again, Bex and I headed to bed early and the boys stayed up far too late J Friday 21st June 2013 – Kabale with KIHEFO
We were up and ready by 9 after another lovely breakfast. Lillian came to say bye because she had to go and visit family and again we wished
New tapped water supply!
That saves a LONG walk every day.
we were staying longer, we wanted more time with our friends! This morning we were learning about the rabbit breeding project KIHEFO is supporting to experiment with breeding rabbits as a food source. The KIHEFO ‘Construction Underway for Rabbit Breeding & Training Centre’ blog updates tells you more (http://kihefoblog.wordpress.com/category/agriculture-micro-credit-program/
). It was a little difficult for some of us to handle... mainly Drew who has grown up with pet rabbits and we all know he’s a bit soft... but it was an interesting venture and has done very well elsewhere. I’d asked Trina about some concerns the previous evening that were based on my experience of rabbits in the UK and Australia (damage to crops and the landscape if the rabbits are let out into the wild, and certain diseases) and she knew these had been considered. Our first stop was the site of the breeding and training centre which is under construction and will also grow its own rabbit foot. Adam (one of the Canadians ) is a student vet so was able to advise on some aspects. We then headed up into the hills behind Kabale (a beautiful drive) to visit a farmer who was raising rabbits and was
An unexpected crowd...
...gathering at the football pitch.
a model for sustainable farming practices. We had fresh Guava off the tree, saw tree tomatoes and all sorts of other lovely things including artichokes (that look like vine tomatoes), plantain, cabbages, and green pepper. They were a really nice family but I broke my Flip Flops (Havaianas are supposed to be reliable, but I suppose they’d lasted a whole year of travel) so wasn’t very happy (I couldn’t walk around much) until Drew fixed them temporarily with my hair band.
We headed back into town, dropped Drew and Ronald off to get some stuff (including new Flip Flops for me...) whilst Hugh, Bex and I went back to the house to collect our stuff to go back to Lake Bunyonyi for the afternoon. Patricia gave Hugh and Becky a tour of KIHEFOs volunteer apartments (where bigger groups of volunteers stay). We picked up Drew in town; first he’d lost Ronald (who was going to come with us but had some work to do)... and second he hadn’t got my Flip Flops!!! We passed the quarry again and it looked even worse this time; not much more I can say about that.
We spent the afternoon at the
Birdnest Resort again to relax on our final afternoon in Uganda. It’s so peaceful and relaxing and we were really able to reflect on the last two weeks. Back at the house we had dinner and felt really sad, we had to say bye that night and our time with KIHEFO had been so short. Dr Allan came to say bye, as did Robert who we will definitely be in contact with about the possibility of distributing the Sawyer water filters and AFRIpads sanitation pads in Kabale’s rural communities. Patricia took me to see her lovely crafts and I bought some off her which I said I’d try to sell on at home (we need to find a market for them, and see if we can make it a more regular thing... so if you have any ideas...) and we demonstrated the Sawyer water filters and AFRIpads sanitation pads to Robert, Ronald and Trina. Favour came up to see us and we taught her to say ‘oooopps a daisy’ and I think there might have been more football on. We were quite late to bed, after a few red wines, which wasn’t great because we had a LONG drive the
...handing out football kit...
...to show them we hadn't forgotten them.
next day and Drew and I were flying home the next night. Saturday 22nd June – Kampala to Kabale
Drew and I had a flight to catch at 7.45pm that night so we had to be up VERY VERY early (5.30am!) to make sure we made it. Despite our protests the night before Patricia and Sharon had got up to make us breakfast which was lovely and got on our way pretty much on time after several hugs with the KIHEFO staff. Drew slept for most of the journey; Hugh, Bex and I chatted and marvelled at all of the sights. The roadwork’s section was terrible but once we were at Mbarara it was plain sailing. We had a really random toilet stop... (think we might have gate crashed a wedding!) and it didn’t feel too long before we were crossing back over the Equator into the Northern Hemisphere and hitting the edge of Kampala, and of course the Kampala traffic...! We edged our way around the city to Entebbe , where the airport is and where we were hoping to stop at a Lake Victoria Hotel for a swim, some lunch and a shower (Drew and
I DESPERATELY needed one before our flight – we’d had no running water for a couple of days). The traffic on the airport road was really shocking and I was almost speechless (but not surprised!) when I saw some cows going around the roundabout... with the police directing the traffic around them! Have seen it all now. We did make it to the hotel in time and it was a little haven. We had a lovely swim and I had a refreshing shower before lunch and our final chat and trip round up! Before we knew it we were packing the truck up for the last time and driving the 5 minutes to the airport. Hugh and Bex walked us to the entrance; they were leaving on the Monday. I actually felt a little emotional. They’re an amazing couple who have inspired us so much and I consider them great friends so would miss spending so much time with them.
Drew and I checked in quickly and got through security. I’ve always thought of it as a relief getting through immigration out of countries like Uganda, after weeks of anxiety about safety... and I certainly felt like that last
time I left. But this time I felt sad because we’d had such a fantastic and rewarding few weeks. And we hadn’t got to say a proper thank you and bye to George, so had had to write him a note.
We didn’t have to wait long for our flight to Entebbe, which was a quick one and then it was a few hours wait in Nairobi (I really do not like that airport) before the long night flight back to the UK with Kenyan Airways. The pilot gave us the strangest pre-flight talk... all about how we were flying over South Sudan, Darfur, Libya (historic danger spots)... Our TV screens worked this time which was great but we were so tired. I don’t think I even put mine on and after dinner I got settled down for a sleep... We arrived at Heathrow very tired... had to get from Terminal 4 to the Central Bus Station then onto the bus home to Oxford. We did get some sleep on the bus and it didn’t seem long before Chris and Greg were picking us up (thank you!) from the bus station and we were home!
what a few weeks. We’d done so much but it still didn’t feel like enough. Ben estimated that we’d helped around 1500 people in the north... through the water filters, sanitation pads and Flip-Flops. We’d also done a little bit for St Jude’s and the people in Kabale including the football team who had some new kit and football balls.
There are so many people we are grateful to. Hugh and Becky, and George, of course. As always it’s an absolutely privilege to be working with them. They are such an inspiration and deserve all of the credit, for encouraging us to visit Uganda, generating all that support and funding from their family and friends to make all of this possible, and giving us the opportunity to be involved. I hope in the future that Believe in Better (the charitable trust Drew and I have established and are now trustees for), and Drew and I, can at some point contribute as much as they do. And I was a pleasure to meet and work with Ben, who I hope we can work with more in the future (all of the emails flying around since we’ve been home show good
And everyone at KIHEFO, especially Dr Geoffrey, Ronald, Lillian, Patricia, Robert and Angela, the twins foster mother (and Anouk, who we didn't see this time because he was away, but who we'll always remember for looking after us so well last time). You are all amazing and inspire us constantly and we wish we could spend more time with you. We will be in touch soon about next steps... And to all of the people who donated items – you know who you are. It might seem like such a simple thing but it’s the simple things that make such a huge difference – it shows people we care.
And to Drew – thank you. This isn’t easy, and I know I’m not easy to work with, but it’s nice to know we’re in this together. This goes to my friends and family too, thank you for listening, your words of encouragement and your ongoing support.
And last but not least, to you. Thank you for reading, and being interested. If you want to know what you can do to help. A quick and easy way to start is to ‘Like’ KIHEFOs Facebook pages and subscribe
Sustainable agriculture farm...
...full of all sorts of exotic and delicious items.
to Hugh and Becky’s ‘North Uganda Outreach Project’ blog (see instructions at the bottom of this email).
So what’s next?! We’ve got a lot to do, Dr Geoffrey is coming to visit the UK in September so we need to organise that, maybe some of you will get to meet him. And we need to drum up more support and look at how best we can fundraise to continue delivering the water filters, sanitation pads and Flip Flops to the people who need them. If any of you have any ideas, let us know.
And to all the people in Uganda: you are always in our hearts. We. Are. One.
Thank you for reading.
Trustee, Believe In Better
NOTE: I use these blog updates to capture my memories and share what I'm doing on my travels with friends, family and anyone who’s interested enough to read. The views are my own and I try my best to ensure any information I share is fair and accurate but I do sometimes get things wrong. I welcome any feedback so I can make improvements and corrections for future readers. Thank you.
If you’d like to support Believe In Better, our Charitable Trust (HMRC reference XT37841) and our work in Uganda you can do so in various ways:
Beautiful Lake Bunyonyi
A peaceful last afternoon.
· Donate (thank you)
-Bank details: Lloyds.
Sort Code: 30-67-53.
Account number: 21000468.
Account name: Believe In Better
You can stay anonymous, but if you let us know you’ve donated we can re-claim Gift Aid on your donation if appropriate. You can also tell us how you’d like your donation to be used (e.g. for water filters).
· Volunteer or visit Uganda
…with or without us… Anyone is welcome and whilst you don’t need any specific skills or experience, anyone with a medical background (e.g. nurse, doctor) is always in high demand. We can help you plan a trip that includes a balance between volunteering, project work and seeing the sights of this beautiful country (that include mountain gorilla trekking and safari).
· Show your support
-‘Like’ the ‘Kigezi Healthcare Foundation (KIHEFO)’, ‘Kihefo (Kigezi Healthcare Foundation)’ and ‘North Uganda Outreach Project’ Facebook pages
-‘Subscribe’ to Hugh and Becky’s ‘Reaching out in Northern
Drew, Bex, Hugh and I
The team - good job guys!
Uganda’ blog ‘http://outreachuganda.blogspot.co.uk/
and KIHEFO’s blog http://kihefoblog.wordpress.com. If you’d like to know more, or have any questions, please get in touch. We’ll have a website set up soon but in the interim - if you don’t know us - you can contact me through TravelBlog.