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Nearly Done

Just taken my driver Stephen for lunch down on the beach on the shore of Lake Victoria. He has driven from Mityana to pick me from Shalom in Kampala and drive me for the last time to my final destination, Gately Inn in Entebbe for my final night in Uganda.
He was almost tearful as we said goodbye. He has been spoilt working for 3 years with white people he says. I have never shouted at him or made him feel bad, I keep him informed, consider his needs and opinions, ask his advice, consult him and keep to time. I inform him in good time of changes to our programme and generally value his work, as did Siobhan. Ugandans do not speak nicely to one another, bark instructions, blame and keep subordinates in their place.
I have also said goodbye to my fellow VSO mentors, many of us have become close. I have realised that different relationships are forged when living abroad. All fellow Britons or Europeans become someone with whom you have things in common whereas they would stay strangers at home. Sue and Greg have promised to visit me in the Boro. I hope they do. We have had good times from sharing a non flushing toilet for four days and no power at my house to 2 nights exploring Fort Portal together.
Seven of us had a raucous night at a lovely lodge overlooking the lake at Gaba last night. All seven squashed in Sally’s truck with Carmen laid across our knees in the back. It was a very expensive night in a beautiful resteraunt costing 104000/- each( about £27) a lot for a meal here. We would normally pay around 20-40000/- in a muzungu place and about 7000 in a Ugandan one so you see a special leaving party with much wine!
Tomorrow Robin is joining me for a poolside day and lunch for my very final goodbye.
What a fantastic year I have had and I believe wine and champagne awaits me at home.
What a wonderful World.

Foot note
Once home I am going to instigate a random ‘power off’ hour everyday. This will remind me to appreciate electricity and all my conveniences AND save me money in my jobless state. Hannah here I come. Beware!



Dreaded Hospital Visit

Hospital Treatment
What a shame! In the 11 months I have been here I have taken 2 Imodium tablets the first 2 days I arrived in Busuubizi. I have dished out many medications, paracetamol, savlon, nausea pills to all sorts of people but have not once been ill myself. That is until Friday when I spent the night in agonising pain from my left shoulder which radiated all down my arm, I hardly slept and felt sick and lifeless all day Saturday. So Ill in fact I missed another leaving do, my lunch with Robin and Stella at Enro. I laid around on the sofa all day moving my left arm manually with my right hand. Still would not take paracetamols! Sunday I felt brighter in myself but still in real pain with the shoulder, especially at night.
Yesterday after taking a paracetamol on 3 occasions I could stand no more sleepless, agonising nights and went to International Hospital Kampala. I am also concerned about sitting squashed into a plane for 10 hrs 20 min on Saturday. I will be in agony and a pain to the poor passengers sitting beside me. I saw a Dr who prescribed Tramadol, a painkiller, and I went back today for a scan. 5 tablets cost £7 but I think I could probably have charged this to VSO and the consultations I did. I took one last night and had much less pain but today felt dizzy and anxious, so not keen to take many of them.
The scan shows inflammation and infection in the tendons through over use..( I don’t even lift my beer glass with my left hand!). Old age the young medic told me!!!
I am to return at 5pm to see a specialist so I can get treatment before I come home.
Well done Uganda private health.
Sadly as a teacher, head or college tutor here in Uganda this treatment would be totally unaffordable to me!
Long live the NHS with all its imperfections. No ordinary Ugandan could afford a scan.
Hope my appt ends in time for my next leaving do with my fellow mentors this evening. Just one more with Robin on Saturday. Then home for a rest!
Fancy a ‘coming home party’ Traff?

Bottom Line

Bottom line.
I am currently very popular as I am preparing to distribute all my acquired possessions; people eye up my high tech, desire able possessions and make their requests. Many of my items are beyond the means of Ugandans.
It has set me off thinking how little I have needed to live a perfectly contented life for one year. Aside from bed, sofa, fridge, 2 cooking rings and dining suit provided I have bought the following
2 sets of wooden shelves £5 each
I plastic veg rack
1 wire dish drainer
2 plastic buckets with lids for rubbish
3 plastic washing up type bowls
3 plastic stools come tables
1 plastic garden chair
1 wire rack for bathroom
5 cups
4 plates
4 bowls
1 set of flimsy rubbish cutlery
3 chopping boards
1 colander
1 sweeping brush
2 towels
2 sets of sheets
2 sharp knives
2 pans
1 elec kettle
1 coffee jug
13 glasses. – yes I wondered about my priorities too when I realised this!,!
But you do need steamed glasses to enjoy wine, don’t you?
1 wobbly ironing board
1 second hand shared iron
35 coat hangers
Several plastic food containers.
Not much is it really? My life is luxurious with all these possessions!
Hope I don’t fall into old habits when I return to consumerism in The UK.


Another Leaving Do!

party 1We had arranged to have a party for the neighbouring children on Tuesday evening in my house but as I traveled in a public mini bus taxi from Kampala on Sunday.( I had met up with some VSO friends and a few strangers I collected on the way, including a nice young man named Rob, to visit Ziwa Camp- the sanctuary for 13 0f Uganda’s 15 White Rhinos.) I received a call from Robin saying that several of Stella’s semi permanent guest/ family members were leaving for Masaka early Monday to spend the holiday with their father. This meant an impromptu party Sunday evening.
Those children who were around were quickly gathered up; Martha, Beckie, Reece, Ryan, Esther and Stella’s brood, Junior, Noeleen, Seleka, Gerrard, Brian, Moris, Harriet and Baby Dave. The latter group came dressed in their very best clothes- smart suits for the boys and clean, pretty dresses for the girls.
We gave them a balloon and a cup which we kept refilling with nuts, pop corn and biscuits. What fun they had! So excited about the balloons they kept bending down to retrieve them and spilling popcorn everywhere. I chickened out of giving them sodas as I could see this would result in a sticky mess all over my furniture and their clothes. After about an hour we put a cartoon on the lap top for them to watch and sat them down with a lolly pop. Even 6 month old Baby Dave had a lolly! So simple but a real experience for these kids.
The house was like a bomb site and as I began sweeping the pop corn out of the back door, well trained 7 year old Noleen snatched the brush from my hand to continue the job.
There was still plenty of pop corn, nuts and sticky wrappers under the sofa for Stella to clean up on Monday morning.
Last night I had my last evening in Mityana to eat deep fried fish balls (YUK) and have a few beers with Robin, Christine & Stephen. We called it a girls night out but as senior Ugandans never walk any where Stephen had to attend to transport Madam Christine.
Tonight another childrens’ party for Tonny, Valaria and Victoria and Stella’s remaining kids. More wading through pop corn and popped balloons.
On Saturday we are taking Stella to Enro for a last lunch.
Life is just one long party as I prepare to leave Busuubizi on Monday.

Still Learning

New Skills I have learnt in Uganda
How to wait patiently for a day and a half to get a signature at the Police Station
How to gracefully step over mashed dog on the roadside without being distressed
How to live without running water and electricity
To wash in a small bowl
To withstand other people’s body odour without comment or nausea
To live without make up
Not to worry about the unsafe condition of the public vehicles I travel in (accept that every day could well be your last on this Earth)
Not to worry about the health services (admission to hospital certainly will signal your last days on Earth!)
Impromptu public speaking
Sitting politely in all day meetings which make no decisions or progress
Graciously pay extra for everything by virtue of being white
Spot gecko poo at a great distance and live with it
Eat bugs in my porridge

Skills I have not yet learnt
How to get out of my truck elegantly
To keep my knees covered
Enjoy a huge plateful of bland carbohydrates
Hit the small hole of the latrine without splashing
To be friendly and comfortable with bats
Live happily with being dirty

Second Police Visit

Return for Police clearance.
Arrived, was photographed, found my forms then waited next to the stinky latrines for 2 1/2 hours. Complained, was told the ‘big man’ who needed to sign my certificate was having his lunch.
“Please do not tell me I am waiting whilst someone has lunch again,” I protested. “That will make me very angry”
Was moved to a sofa away from the latrines after complaining about the smell too
Total wait 3 hours.
The problem with Uganda is everyone thinks their own time is important and everyone below their status is irrelevant and has endless time to wait around. There is absolutely NO public service ethic!
Left the police post and skirted round the daily riots in Kampala with police tanks out in force. There is an ongoing battle between the elected mayor (voted by the poor) and the city appointed executive which is running the city for businesses. Everyday almost, the mayor is arrested for some perceived public order offence sparking skirmishes or full scale riots which the police riot squad deal with with batons, stick, tear gas and even bullets. We were blocked at every road as we tried to leave the city to return to Mityana.
Stingers were laid out on the roads and running battles taking place in the streets around the slums and market areas. Stephen eventually managed to get us out without incident.
Very interesting!

Leaving Do

Leaving ‘Do’
What a fantastic evening!
I organized with Enro (local posh hotel) to hold a small Farwell function between 6-8pm Wed 27th Nov. Robin and I ate our fish and chips and consumed a bottle of the specially purchased on our behalf, bottles of pinotage during the afternoon. What a marvelous job this is!!
Robin had talked to Alfred and a cake was prepared with a ‘ farewell, thank you for the work’ message. I made some cards for each person to receive a free beer or soda on arrival so I could thank everyone for their support and friendship during my very happy year at Busuubizi PTC. All my CCTs and everyone at the college from Principal to groundsman, was invited. This could be about 50 people but we had no idea how many would come we guessed about 20. In the event about 40 arrived. Each was given a balloon and a card for a free drink. The balloons were a great idea and a good ice breaker. There were lots of games going on around the tables. I spotted a few possible strikers for the Boro based upon heading ability.
When everyone seemed to have arrived I said my little speech with thanks to everyone and handed over my small gifts; a couple of atlases for the students for the library and a set of 2 dozen new plates for the staffroom (I thought everyone would use these and benefit from them).
It is true that I have never LIVED anywhere but Middlesbrough until I came to Busuubizi and I pointed out how lucky that I had come to the most wonderful place possible to spend my year in Uganda. I thanked all groups of people who had made my time so happy, I would always follow the fortunes of Uganda Cranes (football team) and Uganda its self. In return they should show an interest in The Boro who are desperately in need of more support.
Then there were unexpected gifts for me- an official one and several individual ones which was very touching and a little embarrassing as the idea was for me to say goodbye and thank you and not to cost them money. However it was very touching and people in turn stood up to say their own or represent their colleagues with thanks and thoughts about my work . Africans are so genuine and not inhibited in their praise in the way we tend to be so this was great. Then Madam Jacqueline announced a ‘Judith Day’ for 27th November each year. Each individual sets New Year resolutions and this day at the end of the sch year is for them to assess their own achievements against this resolution and award themselves a suitable present to represent their achievement. What a fantastic idea!
Then Sebastian arrived and there were more speeches singing my praises. WOW! He then bought everyone another round which went down very well as you can imagine. Not that Ugandans need drink to enjoy themselves. Most just had soda, no one had more than 2 or 3 beers.
Then individuals and groups came up and began singing in their beautiful African voices “Farewell Judith May God Bless You,” others stood and sang their tributes between these choruses for quite some time. It was so spontaneous and lovely. I have experienced nothing like it. From simple things like – Farewell Judith, my children (Tonny & Denis) will miss you. To I now understand the School Improvement planning process because you explained it so clearly, to thank you for visiting my home when my brother was buried.
Singing and dancing went on for some time and everyone had a lot of fun. The young male tutors decided to go to the night club in town as the party dispersed. Stephen. who by now had drunk several beers (the exception to the no drink needed or consumed) drove us home!!!! Alfred and the Enro staff were very anxious that they see me again. It was all so simple but so lovely. I really was enormously touched by their kind thoughts and words. I do not know how I will be able to leave here.
The words spoken about my wonderful personal characteristics and attitudes left me wondering; is this really me? It confirms my feeling that African makes a better person of each and every one of us.
Post Script: Discovered this morning that following the night at Ambiance Disco in town two tutors ended up fighting on the college compound at 01:20am and are to be disciplined! Jolly good first “Judith Day”