A Travellerspoint blog

Apologies

Hi everyone. Things have gone rather pearshaped. On Thursday we went out to spend a day with the boys from the Home school and the older boys from the Transitional home playing a game of soccer, which I lasted about 20 min before I hurt both my knees in falls and my leg muscles hurt too much, and then had a swim in the pool with our team AH 'uncles' and the boys. The day was quite expensive but we had fundraised in Australia for this day to bless the boys and uncles. So we had a great day, but while we were away, a thunderstorm had gone through Kampala causing a transformer that fed our guesthouse to short and blow everything that was plugged into the power points and turned on. Microwave, light bulbs, our Ugandan to Australian power converters, our USB chargers, the guesthouse wifi router. You get the picture.
The following morning, Friday, we packed for our Safari trip to NW Uganda and intelligently I brought my laptop and charger so I could plug it in hear, hopefully borrowing a Ugandan to Australia adaptor and then use the USB ports to charge my phone etc. Annoyingly I found the first power point didn't work so I found a different PowerPoint, which also didn't work. I tried the power point with something else. It worked. Hmm, my new Toshiba power supply had also been blown. So no laptop either.
So, here I am finally on my second night on Safari and I have wifi, a charged iPad and phones charging from USB adapters that I found at the bottom of my suitcase plugged into the shaver outlet in my bathroom.
So apologies again for being off grid for 3 days. Typing on my iPad is certainly slow and now my figure has cramp :-(
We have had a great couple of days. The first day, Friday, was spent travelling here, via a white rhino park. We had a guided tour and saw a small number of white rhinos which were extinct but this park obtained rhinos from various parts of the world and have a breeding program which has now tripled their initial number to around 23. We crossed the Nile and made our way to our accommodation which is rather posh.
Today we went on safari in the morning, saw nearly all of the big 5 - the lion, the elephant, the buffalo, and of course the rhino yesterday. The only one we didn't see was the leopard. This afternoon we went on a river cruise up the Nile to view the Murchison falls. Here the River Nile drops through a 6m channel through the rocks with a flow rate from memory of 300 cubic meters of water per second. I think they said this was the most powerful falls in the world.
Tomorrow we head home via the top of the falls.

Posted by richarddb 08:52 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Day 11. Tuesday 6/12

With the shopping squarely out of the way yesterday and life getting back to normal to some degree for AH and the Transitional Home, we headed over to AH office for a time of devotions and a briefing on what to expect from the boys at the home and how we should act/react to the situation. I found the devotions refreshing. Abi reminded us that God is good all the time, nothing in his plan for us or His goodness to us has changed despite the turmoil associated with the death of one of the boys in their care. Others put in texts and encouraging words from those texts to remind us that Gods had a plan for us, a plan for our good. I often think that we westerners think we have something to teach these people who are new Christians or not so faithful and strong as us, but I tell you, when you are this rollercoaster ride of life and death in Uganda or any other perhaps 3rd world country, the only place you have to go is to our God. Our life in the west seems so easy compared to here, but I believe its the troubles and trials that make us grow, not the easy times. The roots of a tree go down deeper in the storms of adversity than when there is calm around us. And I personally felt challenged that these people were actually more faithful Christians than I was and I really needed to listen and learn rather than try to teach them something.
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We arrived around 11.00am after buying the paint, rollers, trays (or basins, we couldn’t buy roller trays in Uganda) and some more paint brushes. We quickly got into the work as Olivia was to paint a mural on the wall for the school room. All of us got stuck in, including quite a number of the boys, young and old, from the home. The inside was painted by some while other focused on the outside. Still others painted the Army green for the doors and front outside wall of the home.
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I played soccer piggy in the middle with Abi and some of the boys. It was a great way to avoid doing too much work and I was very pleased with the resultant amount of work that the others did while I was playing. I made a mental note to use this tactic again in the future when there was work to do. I did find that a 49 year old body didn’t respond as quickly to the brain commands as the earlier 29 year old body did. Note to self, find a less tiring way to avoid work in the future.
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Unfortunately, during the process of, I guess, ‘blessing’ the boys, Tk’s iPhone was taken from her bag. I was confused. I couldn’t understand how kids could do this to us when we had invested so much, not only in the cost of the trip, but the equipment we had brought for them, and I guess, the love we were endeavouring to show them through the work we were doing for them. I felt angry and betrayed that they would do this, but then as I write this and try to rationalise my feelings, I guess we need to show them sacrificial love in the same way Christ loved us. Despite everything I’ve thrown at my Father and my Saviour, I believe the Triune God still loves me and forgives me, but in the same way I forgive others there trespasses. Wow, this is difficult! I feel like ranting and raving and telling them what we have done for them and how betrayed I feel, but every time my mind goes down this path, I feel convicted myself. I guess God must be laughing at my mental turmoil and efforts to rationalise my sins and minimise what I have done as I try to help Him understand how much worse they are. Yeah, it is futile. I’ll just keep my mouth shut and pray that some good may come out of it. And who knows, maybe the phone will come back. I guess we’re dealing with boys who have had to survive some pretty rough times on the streets and in the slums and some habits are hard to break. And I have no idea what that would be like and how that would scar me.
And then, with wisdom, Ainsley reminded me why we are doing this. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. And first and foremost we are doing it for Him.

Posted by richarddb 21:31 Archived in Uganda Comments (1)

Day 10. Monday 5/12

Today was an easier day, actually a nice day. We were to do some painting at the transitional home today, but to allow some time for the home to recover somewhat and to allow the management team to deal with the police and other authorities after the death of one of the boys under their care, we had changed our itinerary somewhat. Instead, we switched the day with tomorrow and went shopping at the markets for souvenirs. We ended up going to 4 different places, 2 were different Banana Boat stores (that didn’t sell sunscreen in case you’re wondering), and 2 different markets. I certainly appreciated having Grace with me. I am not one to bargain and the prices we were being offered were pretty high I found out as we continued through the markets. The first shops are the most expensive and as you make your way through the market stalls the price drops steadily. Little lies are told, “I can’t refuse your money” she says, “you are my first customer today” Grace laughs “Oh sure” Yes, yes” the lady says, “I can show you the books”. Needless to say, we decided not to buy anything there. We found ladies ‘African’ clothing with Asian elephants in the print that were definitely African elephants according to stall holders, “no we cant go any lower, this fabric is so much better than the other stalls” after we found a hole in the dress after we had bought it and brought it home, “no we make these clothes on site, we can’t go any lower others its below the cost of the material” we hear as we look over the dress when home and see a ‘Made In Indonesia’ label inside the collar. Most of the clothing only had little stubs where the labels were – the rest cut off, and now we knew why. Yeah, we had some tall stories told to us and we did get taken for a bit of a ride. Anyhow, we did get some nice items which I pleased with. But Grace had an idea of the game plan - never accept the first price, offer substantially lower and work up a little. And I started to get the idea too.
I did find something very interesting today - every woman's favourite honey. It certainly beats "I've got a headache".
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And another one for my friend Margie in NSW
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It was a fun relaxed day and we appreciated a day for shopping in amongst the days of rough and tumble of life in Kampala, Uganda.

Posted by richarddb 20:50 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Day 9. Sunday 4/12

White Water Rafting on the head waters of the River Nile

Well, I don’t think I have ever gone white water rafting, and definitely not on the river Nile! The name had such a moving effect on me. The longest river in the world, Moses was put into this river 3000 years ago (not here of course, in Egypt), the fact that this river was turned to blood around the same time (and probably only in Egypt). I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something spectacular about being here and on this river.
So, as per our experience so far, we got up early and on our way quickly so as not to be late…. and then waited on location for an hour for the crew and others to arrive. This time I didn’t mind so much. The view over the Nile was wonderful. I liked what I was seeing of Uganda today. No noise, smoke, fumes or hustle and bustle, just the serenity of a wonderful view out over the river and the landscape beyond.
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When everyone else had arrived, we were offered a breakfast of pancakes with golden syrup, and some muffins. I scoffed them down believing I would need every bit of energy I could muster for the trip downstream. And I was right. We kitted up, took some photos (well, they did, because we weren’t allowed), headed down to the river bank and into the boats. Grace and I elected to be in the front, which meant we were responsible to set the rhythm of the rowing and ensure that we at least were in time with one another. I was really enjoying this so far. But then we need to go through the process of being swamped and getting thrown from the boat and how to get back in. That meant rolling the boat and getting wet. Why so early, it’s only 11.00am? Well that was easy – falling out, I just didn’t expect it to be so hard to get back in! But I was glad we did the practice runs, we needed them for later on. And, the Nile was beautifully warm at 11.00am!
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We went through a couple of rapids before lunch and got well and truly dumped on one occasion. Half of us got separated from the raft but the support boats were there to pick them up. This trip involved some rapids and a lot of floating/paddling between them. This gave us the opportunity to look at the scenery but also jump in and just float down the river with the current. I was amazed at just how much water was flowing downstream at this early point in the river. And the water was low on what it could have been. At about 1.30pm we stopped for a beautiful lunch on an island which had an amazing view of the Nile downstream and also the next rapid we were to go through.
After lunch we attacked the rapid with exited anticipation and we got through this one unscathed. Having braved and conquered this one we again rewarded ourselves and took a swim or float in the Nile. I ended up getting caught in a whirlpool which scared the heck out of me. One minute I was with everyone else and close to the boat the next I was going around in circles and the boat and everyone else were about 50m away. There was a support kayak close by who paddled over and I grab the handle on the back of the kayak and he pulled me away and back to the boat. I think the colour of the Nile changed to a murky brown briefly.
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From here we had another smaller rapid which we easily passed through and then a very lazy float to the next rapid. Just lying on my back floating downstream, watching the clouds and thinking. Yip, I do that occasionally and it was fun! I’d like to do it again sometime, not sure when though, I’d have to think about it.
The last rapid was a snorkler. Wow, we had the option of going the easy way, grade 2 I think, or doing a grade 5 with a 50/50 chance of being swamped. The general consensus was to do the grade 5 by 5 votes to 4. I was thinking later, yip, I did think again, that we should have gone for the grade 2. My my, we got dumped, I think most of us swallowed at least half the Nile each and I genuinely thought I was going to drown. Every time I came up for air, another massive wave crashed over again, and I panicked. Once again, a support kayak was close by and, coming over, he took my helmet off, and told me to hang onto the kayak strap. Slowly I calmed down, coughed up some water and began to breath normally again. For me, I was over the adventure. I was happy to be in the boat and I took the time to rest. We found out later that our boat guide had purposely dropped us into the ‘hole’. Well, I guess it was worth it for some.
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No, actually I had an amazing day, white water rafting on the Nile River. If I had a bucket list, I would add this to it and then cross it off straight away. Done.
Sadly, our day ended on a low note. Two boys from the transitional home, which is the home to boys go to when first rescued from the streets, had got into a fight and one had just died from their head injuries. I had been brought back to the reality of the street/slum life of Kampala. What a way to bring me back to that reality.

Posted by richarddb 20:17 Archived in Uganda Comments (2)

DAY 8. Saturday 3/12

Visit and serve the Village of Kyerima

After a bad nights sleep due to a humid night leading to a morning storm and an annoying mosquito, we set out early to the AH office to divide the medication and supplies we were to use today into separate bags. This would mean we could give the various team leaders a bag containing everything they would need for their days duties and so expedite the setup process. We had medication, malaria and typhoid testing kits and first aid supplies. We were heading out to the village of Kyerima about 2.5 hrs drive from Kampala. Here we set base and began to administer first aid, deal with aches and pains, test for typhoid and malaria and administer antibiotics if tests came back positive and generally entertain and serve the communities around Kyerima. We were also bringing with us some 20 ltr water containers with stands for the village to put water in. At this stage the villagers were travelling some distance to collect water in their jerry cans to use for washing and drinking. The goal of AH is to fund putting in some bores for water and I believe the money has been allocated for this already. The problem with water here in Uganda is that it is not always clean to drink. I witnessed many times cars, trucks and Boda bodas being washed in water ways, the same water ways that villagers were coming to to draw water to drink and wash. Grace said she saw some people tipping sewerage into waterways at one spot. Imagine what the people downstream would be drinking!
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When we got there, there was a large number of people already waiting. Word had been sent out to say we were coming and so people from the surrounding villages had come to have health care provided. Some had walked all morning with their families to be there. Once setup, queues were arranged for each station. Grace and I were on the first aid station, others manned a ‘pharmacy’ station to dispense medication and still others manned a typhoid and malaria testing station. The day was very busy, we saw some with deep wounds, one from a push bike accident 8 years ago that had been left untreated on a man, another from a fox attack that had left wounds in a boys hand and legs. We saw many cases of chicken pox, and rashes, some that had developed into open wounds from infrequent washing/bathing. During this time some of our team played games with the children, and others played the guitar and sang. I was told that this village and many in the surrounding area had been steeped in witchcraft for a long time but they had a church and a pastor and were slowly ‘coming around’ to the Christian faith. It was refreshing to see a change in spirit towards each other, but I also was told that we had to be careful with tricks as anything ‘magic’ could cause them to slip back into or re-embrace witchcraft and everything bound up with that.
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So after about 3-4 hours straight, we found the end of the line. It was a very satisfying experience. We were tired but felt that we had achieved something very worthwhile. Many of the ailments we had seen would not have developed that far if simple western medical care had been provided early on. So, we felt we had provided some difference in the lives of Kyerima and its surrounding villages. As we left heading back to Kampala, we past many of the locals on their walk home. I think they were grateful for the care they received. I wondered how they must be feeling about a bunch of Mzungu's (white people) coming to their village, ministering to their needs for a day and then heading off. But I also felt they did appreciate it, and I was also encouraged that AH wasn’t finished there. Funding had been approved for 3 wells, a school building and, I think, a first aid room as part of the school. So help would continue to flow, it wasn’t going to be a one time wonder.

Posted by richarddb 21:06 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

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