Tuesday night 12th April
A long dusty road, oxen ploughing small fields two by two, women carrying yellow water containers on their heads, large birds circling endlessly in a deep blue sky, goats nibbling at anything green, children trailing sticks in the dirt…………………………….it is a scene repeated a million times across Uganda.
But near Kumi the peace is broken by a minibus bustling along ahead of a cloud of dust. In the bus are four white people all wearing identical blue shirts with “Mission Direct” on the front. Local people look up at any vehicle passing, as all vehicles are unusual, but when they see these four blue shirted mazungus inside they stare or wave, depending on whether they are an adult or child.
The children often shout “maz….oon….gooo” but whether it is a greeting, a curse (unlikely as they are smiling), or a reminder of who we are is hard to tell.
We may as well shout back “small black person” but to do so seems impolite, so we just wave back.
Today we have done a lot of bustling about on dusty roads. We have visited a school, an orphanage, and a farm. We have been in classrooms, been mobbed by children, discussed building problems, missing water taps, sick pigs, broody hens, cows that won’t do anything and the never ending supply of undernourished, poorly educated children.
Talking of cows, yesterday we were told we were going to an office to visit one. My imagination soon had a fine Friesian sitting behind a mahogany desk working on her laptop but the “cow” turned out to be the cao or CAO (Chief Administration Officer) who had no computer of any kind.
The demand for helping children seems almost beyond reason. I feel we are trying to be Canute facing a sea of them. But washed up in front of us from that sea is the occasional starfish who we can dust down, fix up and throw back. It is just so tough on all the others who we cannot help. Tough on them and tough on us.
I am getting used again to the inefficiency of doing anything here. A lot of talk from Ugandans but often little action. Their plans to do small things months ago have not materialised. There is never a problem but always a challenge, they say. Often the challenge is in themselves – to deal with their own inertia. However, they are always friendly, always well-meaning and often do not see things as bleakly as we do. Time is not their enemy, as it is ours.
Daily, new opportunities to help are presented to us. We keep reminding ourselves that we spread ourselves too thinly across projects last year and must not make the same mistake again.
Tomorrow – I meet with our builder to discuss renovating a disused classroom, how to fix a new tap on a full 10,000 litre water tank, without wasting any of the water, and if he can provide a disability friendly classroom access (i.e. putting in an extra step – wheelchairs are not an issue as they aren’t any – kids use crutches)
We had supper out tonight. I had an amazingly tasty fish caught in the local lake. On our way home we were followed by street boys asking for money and food. Later we met a lady who told us one of the boys was not a street boy but was her son and it was way past his bedtime !