Well, what a day we had today. I think I was about as far out of my comfort zone as I could be. We met with the team from African Hearts at the office and had a time of introductions and worship. The team here have a lovely simple form of worship and devotion and their hearts are well knit with God. They are so aware of the need of Gods grace and work in and through them. The headquarters were simple by our standards but nice. We then split into groups to buy things that we were going to use or give out over the next few days in the school, the home school, the Slums and the village of Khyrema.
So by 12.00pm we were on our way. Our group Michelle, Amy and myself along with Eddie from African Hearts had the task of buying paint, 4 20ltr water bottles and stands to pour water from, 4 20ltr plastic jerry cans to go get the water in, 2 basins to wash in, 100 plates and cups 120 school exercise books and pens, pencils etc for the schools. We walked through some of the most chaotic and busy scenes I think I have been in for a long time. Poor Amy who is a pretty young 15 year old had multiple girlfriend or marriage proposals along the way, disappointingly no-one seemed interested in a greying 49 year old man.
After 3 hours and a lot of walking we had everything we needed and we began the long walk carrying the gear back to our parked car. Well, this is where things dived. With hands full and some with large bundles, we carefully made our way back to the car. We squeezed through here, between there, around there. I was getting way behind because I was carrying the big sack with all the cups and plates and was finding it very difficult to ‘squeeze’ through anywhere, when a man stopped me to tell me that someone was steeling from us. He pointed to someone somewhere amongst the 100s of faces but I couldn’t tell who he was pointing to and I was becoming increasingly afraid that I might be being isolated so that could rob me. I had my phone, all the plates etc and my wallet in my pocket with a lot of money in it. So I thanked the man and feeling very isolated, I tried to catch up with the others as fast as I could go to let them know we were being stalked. After taking a wrong turn, I turned around to see the rest of the group had stopped. Thankful they had waited for me I walked up to them to tell them the bad news. But, I was too late, somewhere along the way Michelle had her brand new iPhone 7 Plus stolen from her closed bag. In the rough and tumble of the brief journey to this point, her hand bag had slipped around behind her and someone had unzipped it and helped themselves to her phone. So, with dampened spirits we continued the long journey back to our car.
Arriving back to the African Hearts office we announced the bad news. Abi quickly grabbed as much information as he could and took Michelle to the ‘Police Station’ (a tent on the side of the road) to inform a very uninterested Police officer that a phone had been stolen. After a while the officer took down a few details and wrote up a brief report.
Things didn’t get any better for our guide for the day, Eddie, who I believe was feeling quite terrible about the loss of Michelle’s phone. Given the intensity of Kampala traffic at the best of times, he was going home for the day, when a Boda Boda ran into the side of his car. Given the Boda Boda rider had 2 passengers on his motorbike, a lady and her baby, who had fallen off the bike in the impact and were hurt, he tried to get away. If he had got away then Eddie would have been charged with the accident. So Eddie did his best to keep the rider there, but other Boda Boda riders came to the aid of the escapee. So after a quick phone call to Abi back at African Hearts HQ, a number of guys went to Eddies aid. Punches were thrown, shirts were ripped, but the Boda Boda rider didn’t get away and he was charged by the police. I am surprised more accidents don’t happen! Vehicles invariably came within 10-20cms of each other and even with that gap, Boda Bodas try to squeeze in between. Crazy. And then I saw Learner vehicle and wondered how on earth people learn to drive in this place. I think ultimately the jungle law prevails, the most rude, most bold, most ‘assertive’ as they call it, survive. I guess it’s all simple – if your nose is in front, you go first. If you can imagine a round about with this principle – yes, that’s it, you don’t give way, you put your nose in between 2 vehicles in front of you, and if the 2nd vehicle can’t get around you to cut you off, you win.
And so ended another hectic, eventful day in Kampala, Uganda.