Even grandparents can have adventures!

The birth of Donnez de l'espoir à l'Ouganda

Are you giving up something for lent?

Perhaps a headline you would prefer to ignore but whilst some of us do and others don't give things up for lent there are others who don't have the choice. 

Shamefully and some would argue needlessly there are those who are homeless much closer to home than Uganda and in a wealthy nation this should be a total source of shame to politicians and public alike, but for today that is not my argument. 

Uganda was colonised by the British and despite Idi Amin's subsequent horrors the country's government is still based on a western styled model. 

However, whilst political promises are there the reality for the population is not of a state which provides much support for the poor.  Hence children are abandoned or go uneducated, or die from a variety of ailments which could be treated elsewhere. 

Living conditions are sparse and frequently people sleep on the ground, prey to termites, mosquitoes or worse.  Children take on big responsibilities at very early ages, often responsible for cooking, caring for siblings and household chores by 6 or 8 years of age. 

There are no pavements by marram roads and accidents are not infrequent. 

I have tried to paint an honest picture through this blog as I hope you can see. 

So, back to giving things up. 

If you saved

£1

that could buy a child 6 x 96 page exercise books - children have to provide all their exercise books to go to school. 

£5

that could provide one girl with reusable sanitary protection for up to 2 years.  Preferable to using plastic bags banana leaves and old rags

£10

Could pay for food for a family of 4 for a week 

£15

Could pay for schooling for one child for a month 

£20 

Could pay for 2 medical consultations for a child or adult 

£50 

Could pay for a school bag and mattress for a child to go to boarding school. Or to make an elderly person more comfortable than sleeping on the floor 

£75 

Could pay an experienced primary school teacher for a month 

£100

Could pay for a football and strips for a team and cover goalkeeping gloves and several pairs of boots too. 

£200 

Pays for primary education for a child for a year 

£300

Pays for secondary education for a child for a year 

£500

Could provide a substantial hen house and 109 hens to help someone set up a sustainable future for their family 

£1000 

Could enable a water tank to be erected to collect rainwater and thus reduce the number of trips people have to make to a well, often a 6 kilometre round trip for a child before and after their walk to school 

£2000

Could potentially purchase 2 to 3 acres of land 

£5000

Could provide a survey and the construction and provision of a borehole for water 

£10000

Could build a community centre centre 

So it could continue. 

If you don't want to give something consider doing something positive to help these people move towards a sustainable future.  Aids and war have ravaged their families, there but for the grace of God goes any one of us. 

Change can happen and with help and support we could produce amazing change.  Thank you for reading if you have got this far.  If you can help in any small way I would love to hear from you 

 

Three suggestions

Something that is really on my mind is how to do positive things to help and support Kissekka and a few of the other people we met. 

One young girl who has really touched my heart is Lydia.  She was a waitress at Plot 99 and she enjoyed chatting to us and hearing what we were doing. 

She has a comparatively good grasp of English and was able to talk about her hopes and ambitions. She wants to be a nurse or a doctor and in fact has an interview for a nursing course in Kampala on March 11th. 

Lydia gave me a gift, when we left, of a hand knitted blanket, an incredibly touching gesture. 

She would have the chance to study if she lived in the west but the cost is likely to prohibitive.  Just over £1000 for the full course I believe. 

As a waitress Lydia earns about £40 a month and is saving half of that per month towards her studies but I doubt she will be able to afford it without help. 

Lydia's only relative, it seems, is her grandfather. Her job occupies her for 12 hours a day on 6 days of the week but she enjoys running on her day off, and indeed is hoping to compete in the Masaka marathon next year to raise money for causes in Uganda. 

If she lived in the west the chances are she would have parents who could support her or be eligible for some form of grant or loan. 

In Uganda, despite the obvious need for health care professionals she does not have those options hence I would love people to help raise money towards her fees. 

Please consider getting people to sponsor you to do something out of your comfort zone, or send a donation to help train Lydia. 

I have talked to Lydia about Kissekka and said that it would be amazing to have a health care practitioner based there in future so potentially Lydia could have a nursing role and Kissekka a basic health care clinic through our fundraising efforts. 

She is a bright girl and she is trying to support herself and achieve her ambition.  It would be incredible to be able to help her to achieve her dreams and a useful career. 

So whether you fancy a sponsored challenge or can influence a group of people to support her in some other way I would love to hear from you. 

 

Lydia

Birds gorging on ripe Jack fruit

Different ways of death

Doreen and I had a number of interesting conversations.  Usually subjects arose fairly naturally and as our month's stay continued it became easier to broach topics perhaps considered taboo. 

Death in the west is often something of a taboo subject and people are often uneasy thinking or talking about it. 

Death in the west is sanitised, ritualised and surrounded by legal requirements and ceremony. 

In Uganda coffin makers have roadside yards and the sight of handmade coffins is common.  People sometimes buy their own so that relatives are not burdened with the cost and I imagine not everyone ends up in one. 

The subject of the disposal of dead family members arose fairly naturally from events as we travelled along the road and became a salient subject for Doreen to explain when Josephine, the mother of Suzanne, the baby with the huge umbilical hernia was summoned from the ceremony for a newly deceased relative to talk about Suzanne's potential need for health care. 

I asked Doreen whether that would have been a burial and yes she said, it would. She asked what happened in England and France and I explained. 

She was amazed that a doctor had to certify death because 'you can tell when someone is dead'. Cue my memory of a lecture in the sixties or seventies about the number of coffins exhumed from previous centuries which bore scratch marks on the inside of the lids because people had revived after apparent death.  Something that the papers would have us believe still occasionally catches doctors out! 

In Uganda the family, often assisted by the local village population buries the deceased within a short time of death usually in land near to the village. 

Kia, the young Danish woman we had met, had told us of taking a baby she had cared for to Bury him and digging the hole herself.  A massive experience for a twenty year old. 

Doreen was surprised to hear about the process of registering a death and the length of time before a funeral.  She wanted to know if bodies were buried and was horrified to hear that increasing numbers are cremated.  A totally unknown and alien concept to her and one that no doubt shocked her core beliefs in the way that burying a body in a random corner of a field or garden might do us. 

With a population in which 50% is under 18, less than 5% over 55 and where there are many fewer men than women in the 18-55 group, caused atrocity, wars or aids, the need for aid, stability, support and education for providing a sustainable future is paramount. Aids and HIV is an omnipresent issue and is a taboo area.  There is massive shame attached to victims and frequently their malady is a legacy rather than a lifestyle choice. 

Happy 1st March

Kissekka women

Enjoying colour

What next?

Do you want to help Kissekka?

We are still living a kind of transient existence, whilst we are now physically and partially mentally at home, our thoughts ànd early mornings are still in Uganda. 

I remember during the constant anaethetising images of Biafra seeing Basil Hume, a human being I respected despite not sharing his faith, openly distressed whilst visiting a famine stricken settlement. 

The juxtaposition of the two images made me realise just how much the constant images had numbed me to the reality of what was actually happening to the human beings on this dire situation. 

Yes, every country has problems and yes, all over lives could be ameliorated in a variety of ways.  Problems are still big and important wherever and whoever we are. 

But, which of us has been brought up with no food, no breadwinner, no prospects, no clean water, no electricity, no rubbish removal facilities, no privacy and no personal possessions?  Which of us has been expected to take our share of household tasks from about 3 years of age and been made responsible for our younger siblings from the age of 8, including having to cook for them on a fire we have made and tended ourselves. 

How many of us have had to walk 3 kilometres to collect water from the well before returning with it along a dusty rough track, another 3 kilometres. 

Then if our family happened to be able to afford school costs, walk another 3 or more kilometres to school before 7-30am and begin our return laden with school bags at 5pm only to get back to the need for more water to be collected. 

Can you even conceive of your children or grandchildren being expected to do it? Could you have done it? I certainly couldn't imagine it. 

Fresh clean water which arrives at central points in the village would be both a massive improvement and, no doubt, a virtually unimaginable luxury for the locals. 

It, in turn, might lead to the provision of more hygienic toilet facilities and in turn provide concurrent benefits to health. 

I won't dwell on things lavatorial but imagine how highly difficult it would be to deal with tummy upsets or menstruation, childbirth or illness with no availability of running water. 

Could you deal with keeping clean and preventing infections if you depended on old rag or banana leaves and a piece of plastic to deal with menstruation? Particularly if you were ayoung girl dealing menstruation and the shaming possibility of leakage through your clothing. Girls can be sufficiently disturbed by the changes in their bodies without the feeling that they may be shamed by this. 

We were reliably informed of  cases in which a girl had had such an accident in school and had never returned as she perceived it as so shameful. 

Yes, education is needed but the provision of reusable sanitary protection is possible and comparatively cheap.  Indeed a local firm Afripads manufactures them, but if a family has to choose between buying food or buying sanitary protection they are not going to choose the latter. 

These are two of the things that donations can provide. Donations, at the moment, given the current poverty of the community, are invaluable but they alone are not the answer. 

I believe that with donations should come expectations. Donations could provide the village hall with a clinic for use by visiting health care professionals.  Including the purchase of a plot of land this would cost about  £10,000.  A bore hole for water perhaps a further £4000.  Large sums for individuals but not unimaginable unless you happen to have been born in Kissekka where 25p is a generous tip. 

 

Village kitchen making porridge for 60 people

Breakfast in the shade

What is his future?