Even grandparents can have adventures!

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

Pit latrine being built

Staff training workshop

Part of the meeting on Monday

The diversity of the audience

February 1st 2020

Today finds us sitting at Plot 99 and taking stock of progress to date. The week has not been easy for us and this morning has been cold and rainy which doesn't do much to raise our spirits. 

There was a very large group of people at the hotel last night and we are fast coming to the conclusion that Ugandans do not know how to be quiet.  The men, in particular, speak loudly and laugh louder. 

The thought that others might be trying to sleep doesn't impinge on their consciousness. 

The parting gift from this group left us without water to shower or flush toilets.  Thank you so much. 

Yesterday we met a youngish African man who told us of the level of taxation in Masaka.  He said that there are over 1000 shops in the town and that each shop proprietor is required to pay 1500000 shillings per year in business tax.  When you think that schools are given a comparable amount per term by the government to run the school, it does make one wonder where the money is going. 

The same man was quite exercised about global warming and climate change. The news of the fires in Australia is known here and as Uganda is having unseasonal rain, questions are being asked. 

We do enjoy the time we spend at Plot 99. The staff are warm and welcoming.  It is just a lovely place to be and boasts European style loos which is perfect. 

On the loo question, we read in the daily paper that in a local district 25 of 100 primary schools are unable to reopen because of inadequate pit latrines.  We are so happy to have helped provide such an important facility for Alex's school. 

Catch up 29th January 2020

A very busy and productive few days which have been slightly marred by my poor reaction to my antimalarial drugs. 

The main events of this period have been a visit to a village to the west of Masaka.  We didn't find out the name. 

The brief here was to talk to a group of people about parenting and child sexual abuse. OK so I was psyched up for the challenge, had taken materials for people to make notes etc.

We duly arrived and discovered an audience composed of some 40 or 50 adults and at least 150 children from months of age up to young teenagers. 

To say I was thrown would be something of an understatement!! I wouldn't presume to present that sort of material to children. 

Additionally, as so often here, it all had to go through the filter of a translator with whatever changes that might make to the subject matter, tone and style. 

I had wanted an interactive session but that obviously wasn't going to happen. 

We survived the event but it was by the skin of our teeth. 

However, two things did come out of it. The first was when we were talking about bonding with a baby and attachment.  I mentioned talking to a child in utero and singing or playing music.  This was received with amazement.  Could a child in the womb hear?  How would it respond? 

The questions were animated. They were engaged and very interested. That was a good moment. 

Reluctantly, I then launched into the main purpose of the visit, the thorny topic of abuse. 

The audience had decreased a little by this time as a number of children who attended a local primary school had gone to have a school meal.  Unusually, this school was in session as it was a private school. 

I was intent that this session would be more interactive and managed to achieve it. The crowning moment was when a young woman disclosed her own abuse by her father and was massively supported by those around her. 

I am well aware that this was potentially dangerous but didn't come away with the feeling that it was. 

The community was desperately poor.  Some 18 or 20 children came forward asking for sponsorship, the state of their clothing was dire and the whole area reeked of poverty.  Heartbreaking stuff. 

Yesterday was very different.  We went to Alex's school to do some staff training and passed a very positive day. 

We were looking at learning styles and critical learning skills.  This operated as a workshop and was very interactive.  We were on much more familiar ground mercifully. 

The outcomes were positive and I feel a number of things were clarified for all of us. 





There is no video clip yet

21st January 2020 Journey to Masaka we hope!

We set off from Kiboga to collect our luggage from the hotel in Kampala at 10am, arriving at 1.15. We all needed a break which would relax us before the next 3 hour stretch. A break of an hour was agreed and I asked whether it would be an African hour or an English hour. An English hour was promised but is turning rapidly into something more resembling the African version. So, we wait and will see when, or whether, we get to Masaka 

Sleeping accommodation for 2 children per level of bunkbed

20th January 2020

Our second visit to the school and orphanage involved us in firstly a brainstorming session with the management team and then doing a drawing lesson with the children followed by a brief workshop with the teachers about what they thought was a good teacher trying to get deeper into their ideas to express the need to share meaning as well as words, and when I am able to post pictures you will be able to see at least part of these sessions and the school environment. 

We are still alive and coping although it has been very hot and it is challenging to feel cool enough in this environment.  


Hoima 19th January 2020

As has happened so many times in Uganda in the past the journey here took longer than anticipated, which was caused by a variety of factors. 

Patience is a virtue, but, for a go getter who wants to keep appointments and promises, accepting that others don't see life, or time, in the same way can be a difficult one. 

The journey was a long one and African roads at night are not a picnic, so, almost fortuitously,  I developed a very crampy stomach and became afraid that I was going to badly disgrace myself so we broke the journey at a remote town called Kiboga. 

The hotel didn't have Internet and neither does the one we have booked into for tonight. 

We went to visit the school and orphanage and were shown round by a Bishop who, although he believes in a particular faith, has a real awareness of the need to help people regardless of their beliefs. 

This set up was transparent and has records of how all money received is spent.  He has been working with this community for 9 years and his staff were open with us and prepared to listen.  He wasn't sitting with them to make sure they were saying the right things. 

I have not been sent the photos of our visit from today but we met a number of older children who board at the school and they are catered for at the school and have half bursaries so that the poorer families or orphans can be supported. 

Despite it being a Sunday, and the long school holiday is 2 weeks away from ending, the headmaster and 3 teachers were waiting to meet us the school in school, with a very sweet lady who is the matron for the boarding facility.  

Some photos of the extremely poor provision will be posted tomorrow I hope. 

There are 9 teachers at the school, and 5 of them will come in tomorrow to talk with me. 

I will be doing a drawing session with about 20 children tomorrow. 

I have some video clips to upload when I have them forwarded to me. 

You are receiving this because I have purchased a Ugandan sim card and put sufficient data on it to turn one of my old phones into a hot spot and use to connect this phone to the net when needed for the duration of our stay. 

Hoima seems to be a town with a massive social divide. It is an oil town and there are some very wealthy people as well as some who are an unseen and needy group. 

It strikes me that the need for empowerment of people in these areas to support their own people is immense. 

I hope that we may be able to take some video of the children saying something about their school, and lives, tomorrow and perhaps find a UK primary school to send some footage about their school to this school and, even, perhaps share occasional clips thereafter. I think both this school and children in the UK would benefit from learning how different conditions are, and perhaps this could lead to some further mutual understanding and perhaps, even support, but we will see.  

As I pointed out last time we came, we can't take on every project and want to restrict our scope to a few projects.

Please share your thoughts about ways in which to support or with the ultimate purpose of helping to empower people to develop skills and enable their communities to be more self sufficient and develop as sustainable communities 

Dawa tea 18th January

I have found a new favourite drink which is a variation on lemon and ginger tea but with added health benefits. 

You infuse grated lemon, ginger and garlic with cinnamon and or turmeric with boiling water in a teapot and pour it as you would tea, sweetening it with honey to taste. 

It is called medicine tea in Africa and given recent research on the health benefits of all of these ingredients it seems to be a more than justifiable claim. 

We set off for Hoima shortly so more of that later 

Breakfast view this morning 17th January 2020

17th January Kampala

Last night Lydia joined us for a meal at the hotel and really appreciated the various gifts we had brought with us. 

The evening ended after we had eaten and today started bright and early with a leisurely breakfast and the prospect of a party this evening to celebrate a number of birthdays. Lydia's and mine in December and Adam's because he didn't want to miss out. 

Jeremy, Adam and Mark went into Kampala to do a variety of necessary activities like finding art materials and sorting out banking and vehicle matters whilst Helen and I took advantage of an aromatherapy massage. A first in Africa for me. Apart from occasional sharp intakes of breath when the girl found the painful bits, it was a very pleasant and relaxing experience and me the first pamper session in far too long. 

Should you think that we are having too much free time, the itinerary is moving dynamically and instead of heading to Masaka tomorrow, as loosely planned, we are setting off to visit a school and orphanage further to the west, in what promises to be the poorest area we will have been to thus far. 

Currently, Ugandan children are on their main school holidays, so schools are not in operation until early February, so we will see the orphanage, meet the headmaster and, on Sunday I will do a drawing class with the 50 orphans who live on the premises full time. I intend to leave some coloured pencils and paper so that the children have something to use after we leave. 

Adam, who has experienced a variety of unpleasant situations during his time in the military, says that the plight of these children moved him to tears and he and Helen support these children by providing them with school uniform and food.  We will see what the weekend brings. 

Then to Masaka on Monday evening and a planning meeting with Alex about the forthcoming staff training on Wednesday, as well as planning to visit Planting for Hope and, of course, meeting up with Doreen and visiting Kissekka and the children we support there. 

Will post some blog and photos as we go, internet willing.  Thanks for following us and supporting us, speak again soon. 

16th January Lydia was overwhelmed by her gifts

January 16th Kampala

The journey here is over and we now face 6 weeks of warmth both from people and whatever the climate provides. 

As promised Adam met us at the airport but he also brought Helen and Mark with him so it was hugs times 3!

As ever the arrangements were well organised and on arrival at the hotel he had booked we were provided with drinking water and a fan. 

We have had the luxury of relaxing today although we are having a celebratory meal this evening with Lydia and giving her the gifts we have brought with us for her. We will pay her school fees during the course of the next week. 

We chatted with Ben, a young Burundian barman at the hotel where we are currently, in French.  It was amazing to see his pleasure at speaking French, which he would have learnt from childhood before he had to flee the atrocities of the war along with the few surviving members of his family. 

A second visit

We will be airborne a week from now heading from Brussels to Entebbe via Kigali in Rwanda.  It will be a daytime flight if you consider getting to Charles de Gaulle Airport before 5am daytime which it has to said I don't!!! 

It is lovely to think we have a number of people there who are looking forward to seeing us and we hope to be able to visit a national park this time although the fact that our son will be joining us for the last 3 weeks of our visit will be a wonderful experience for us. 

I won't write any more just yet but look out for more towards the end of next week. 

Please think of us it would be good to feel we are in your thoughts and your messages will be appreciated