Sadness and wobbly bridges

Saturday 16th July

We spent a difficult day yesterday. Part of our programme with the volunteers is to work on traditional village homes (read “mud huts”) for one day for each team. This gives them an original African experience whilst benefitting impoverished villagers.

Our local partners, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, run what we would describe as a children’s centre. They keep an eye on kids in their area and their families and try to help them. We were taken to visit people with terrible life stories:

• An epileptic man who is away drinking, leaving a wife who suffers from elephantiasis to cope alone with their children.

• A lady blinded by her husband (with a stick) shortly after the birth of their third child. The husband committed suicide after giving her two more children.

• A widow HIV positive and recently raped, bringing up four children.

• A boy with a mentally ill father whose mother has fled after her lover killed family members.
OK, so we can fix their roofs for them but sometimes all you can do is stand with them and weep. This is the blind lady and her family: There is no joy here (which is unusual in Uganda)

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Today we carried out the necessary risk assessments during a return to Sipi Falls. On the way we met the Chinese. Or, to be exact, a Chinese construction company doing roadmaking. They do things on a large scale – imagine resurfacing both sides of the A6 simultaneously down to a depth of five feet. Vast earth moving machines, surface grinders, rollers and trucks. Alex, our driver dodging around them as best he can.

It is reassuring that although the company is Chinese they use Ugandan labour. (Although Ugandans never look comfortable wearing high visibility jackets and hard hats. Usually, construction workers prefer T shirts and flip flops). The most reassuring Ugandan parts of the operation were the traffic controllers: young Ugandan women waving red and green flags; a red flag held steady means stop, a green flag held steady means go and red and green flags waved about together mean proceed with caution and the more vigorous the flag flapping the more caution you are supposed to take. A frenzy of flapping is a warning that you are about to collide with a fifty ton excavator coming straight towards you.

Sipi Falls were very healthy and quite safe – only one wobbly bridge remains and here it is. (And our guide has to pay the owner a fee for us to use it!)

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This is the winner of the weekly funny sign competition in the category of tourist welcomes:

IMGP6005.JPGWe did not see any well game (or ill ones either)

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