Published: June 12th 2007June 12th 2007
Typical cluster of homes in a Watoto village
Entebbe airport at some ungodly hour and it's so good to see a friendly face to greet us! His name is Ivan, he works for Watoto (Swahili for 'child') and he is our driver for the week. We arrived at our friend Natalie Locke's place at about 5am during a blackout...ah Africa! Thankfully we got to sleep for a few hours before starting our day as we hadn't seen a bed for the last 2 nights (or a shower for that matter). Again, we are thanking God for the blessing of being in someone's home...local knowledge, laundry and cereal in the morning...so the best way to travel! We were so grateful to Nat for taking us in!
When we finally surfaced we were picked up by the lovely Watoto staff and taken in search of cash. After visiting several ATMs, we discovered that Mastercard is not so welcome in Uganda and we had to go to the head office of Barclays bank and pay lots of money in order to withdraw cash. Traveller's note: The Stanbic bank DOES accept Mastercard but we only discovered that later. Finally armed with lots of shillings, we descended on The Bulrushes, otherwise known
Hallway of school building
as Baby Watoto. To explain...Watoto is a ministry that is closely connected with our church back at home and comes out of Kampala Pentecostal Church (KPC). It is a fantastic ministry...made up of villages created for orphans and widows and a babies home for the really little ones. Babies that are orphaned or abandoned are taken here to start a new life and once they are old enough, they move to one of the Watoto villages. In each village, houses are built for a family of 8 orphans and their new mum; as well as a school, medical clinic and church. More about them later!
So our inauguration at baby Watoto involved looking after the really little ones...helping to feed and hold and burp. Can't say I've had much practice bottle feeding babies but you learn fast! One of my jobs was to feed a premature little boy...never held anyone so floppy! In the arvos, the toddlers wake up and the place is mayhem! They are all too cute and entertaining them is not much of a challenge cos they're full of energy! Ivan returned to pick us up while I
was busy feeding one, holding another and having
Not feeling any lighter...
Straddling the equator, south of Kampala, where apparently you are about 3% lighter!
others clambering over me. I so didn't wanna leave!
The next day we were taken round the two main Watoto villages. We were constantly struck by how beautiful they were and how amazing it is that these precious kids are rescued from their often tragic pasts and brought to such a loving, wonderful place! You watch them running around, healthy and happy and full of life and remember how gracious our God is! In the afternoon, Kev got to help out at the medical clinic at one of the villages...totally thrown in the deep end as he'd never seen a case of malaria before and they seem to treat nearly everything as malaria there! But he had a lovely doctor taking him through the process. We met up with some fellow Hillsongites in the afternoon, which was a cool coincidence!
Meanwhile Nat was taking us on culinary tours of the neighbourhood...we ate a little too well while we were there and were pretty surprised at how much variety of good food there is in Kampala. Actually, we found more familiar brands in the supermarkets there than we did in Europe! Would question whether this is actually Africa but
The misty border...
The beautiful hills where Uganda meets Rwanda
the crazy traffic and deadly potholes quickly allay my doubts.
The next 2 days were spent on a little cross country adventure to visit Confidence Assimwe...our adorable Ugandan Compassion child. We set off with some yummy supplies, our driver Fred and his collection of worship music. The first day was fairly uneventful...about an 8 hour journey down to Kabale in the far southern part of Uganda...entertained throughout by lovely countryside and some hopelessly scratchy recordings of Hillsong United and cheerful African gospel stuff. We spent the night in the little towns best hotel after briefly meeting with some local Compassion staff to discuss the next day's visit. They informed us that we were the first sponsors to visit the project and probably the first white people some of them had ever seen! So we were pretty excited!
We set off early in the morning and drove for 3 hours along some of the worst roads I've ever seen but through some of the most stunning countryside ever. We were mostly driving along the Rwandan border and so the scenery was what I've seen before in the north of Rwanda...Endless hills covered in green and bathed in a spectacular
My name is Confidence...
Confidence opens her pressies
mist...gorgeous! We finally arrived at the project and were greeted by a hill full of happy faces clothed in orange and purple (the colours of the project). As soon as we opened the door of the van, we encountered what Kev describes as one of the coolest things he's ever seen...an almost deafening song and traditional dance performed by the kids of the project...including little Confidence.
After using the most primitive toilet I've used yet (pit latrine)...this really was remote Uganda!...we were welcomed into the project building for our 2nd breakfast for the day. They really know how to put on a feast in Uganda...totally spoilt! After chatting for a while, we followed Confidence down to her home...a fairly steep climb for her cos she's partly paralysed on one side of her body. Her family overwhelmed us with their warmth and gratitude and we were humbled again when they gave us gifts and served us up (another) meal! It was pretty cool to see that our sponsorship was really making a difference to her family and to meet them in the flesh was a surreal and incredible experience. We found out that her dad walks for 5 hours to
Hand in hand
The walk back to the project
get to work every week and stays there until the weekend when he makes the hike back. These people are pretty tough!
Before we go, Kev entertains the children with a bubble gun that we picked up in Italy and we have another meal at the project...never thought I could fit in 4 meals plus snacks before 1pm!
The drive back to Kampala was really long...about 10 hours. At first we were entertained by the endlessly smily faces of children and others that we passed who would shout out MUZUNGU!!!! (white person) and sometimes run after our van for what seemed like kilometres! But as it got dark and we fed Fred snacks to keep him awake and dodged scary trucks approaching us with their high beams on and listened to the scratchy African songs one too many times, I was oh so keen to get back to Kampala! And we did...at about 11:30...so grateful just to be alive! Good old Fred...
Church was the next day and we sung and danced our way through a very cool service at KPC. I especially loved the choir outifts! The rest of Sunday was spent shopping, eating and getting
Who would have thought soapy water could be this much fun?
introduced to Lost (which Nat and her flatmate Nicola are addicted too)...perfect day given the rainy weather!
Our last day in Uganda was spent apart. Kev went back to the village clinic and learnt a little more about tropical medicine and I returned to Baby Watoto, deciding I could be more useful there. I cuddled and played and fed and held babies til my arms were sore. At lunchtime, the Bulrushes received 2 more little ones...supposedly found in an unfinished house and brought to Baby Watoto. They might have been twins but you wouldn't guess from their size; the boy being much bigger then the girl. 3 of us bundled them off with another of the new babies to the local clinic. While in the waiting room, we scoured the baby name book for suitable names for the 'twins' and the little boy made me hot with his feverish state. He screamed a lot when the doctor and nurse prodded and poked and weighed and took blood. I felt a little of what a mum might feel as their kid is getting examined. On finding them all healthy enough, we took them back to their new home. Although they
were pretty scared by being in such an unfamiliar place, they soon settled in and were playing happily with their new mates in this beautiful home! Kev joined me for a few minutes at the end of the day and was soon covered in children. So this place completely won me over...I almost envy the Ugandan nannies who get to work there and hang out with such precious children...but Mama Muzungu had to go...
Our final cultural experience was visiting Owino...the local market where you can find anything and everything! We went in armed with Nat, a local guide and nothing on us but a little money to make purchases. We were whisked in and out pretty quickly...found what we needed, bargained the price down (well, Nat did) and raced out...trying to dodge the mud and the friendly and insistent calls of 'Muzungu....Sister, come over here....' and thanks to our guide, did not get lost in the maze! A final lovely night with Nat and off to Rwanda!!! But I'm sure we'll be back to Uganda soon....
There are more photos below