Sunday 30th August
Hello – I am back again. I am also back in Kumi, which I have started to think of as home. Team 3 has left us and they took with them the fun and laughter that only seven children and five young people can bring. We also had six adults who were quite fun as well.
I feel quite nomadic. In the last week I have travelled from Kumi to Entebbe (7 hours), Entebbe back to Kumi, Kumi to Murchison Falls (another 7 hours), Murchison to Entebbe (yet another 7 hours) and Entebbe to Kumi (you have guessed how long). I have spent no longer than three nights anywhere for nearly two weeks and feel quite at home living out of two small bags.
From this nomadic existence, two things occur to me: first, nomads were the first occupants of Uganda (from Ethiopia) and so I am following a tradition (although without hunting, gathering, wearing a loincloth or carrying a spear) and secondly the contents of my two bags are more in quantity than most people have in the world in Uganda, these days. Fewer possessions seems to result in more happiness. We can all learn from this.
It is difficult to summarise the achievements of the last two weeks. It is remarkable how much difference 18 people can make in a short time. Not only in practical ways, but also in building relationships with Ugandan people. Not to mention the immense amount of aid they brought with them – from clothes, educational supplies and medical equipment to shoes, underwear and paint rollers. Everything will be given to our project partners here to distribute among those they help (except the paint rollers which I am jealously guarding for our painting projects).
It is a week since I last wrote anything and in that time there have been many new entries to the funny names competitions. I have saved the best ones for you:
On the backs of vehicles we have “10 minutes – one man army” (on a bus) and “We repair broken eggs” (this one written on the back of a petrol tanker) – and, no, I have no idea what they mean either.
On shops we have “Minimum Restaurant” (small portions?), “Safety God Salon Phone Charging” and my favourite mixed business entry “Scrap battery buyer – drinks and sodas sold here” I just hope the two businesses have separate containers for the liquids involved.
The one serious one, which deserves a special mention, is “Forgive Don’t Forget” on the back of a taxi. This is something that Ugandans are very good at. The years of Idi Amin produced a nation of many murderers and, even now, people are living next door to those who they knew killed their fathers and grandfathers. They remain neighbourly – they have not forgotten but they have forgiven. This taxi sign has been the only tangible evidence that I have seen in nearly two months of the mass slaughter that occurred between the years 1971 and 1986. Hundreds of thousands died and lie in unmarked graves. Many thousands simply disappeared and are assumed dead.
But Ugandans are upbeat and look forward to a better future. They do not dwell on past atrocities – if I ask, they will tell me what they know but they prefer to forgive and move on. Again, we can all learn from this.
To close on a lighter note, there is a small town near here with no electricity, no running water, no proper drains and no TV. The name of the town is “Television”