My evening walks

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Each evening…… just before sunset around 6:30 I take a walk around the grounds to enjoy the coolness of the evening. I have taken a walk each evening since my arrival in Kibaale.  Tonight, I was reflecting on the beauty all around me….. the sun was just over the horizon and the sky was a abstract canvas of purples, mauves, dark pink with  dark blues along the edges of the hillsides. The various shapes and types of trees were silhouetted against this amazing backdrop. It had been another very hot day…. with temperature over 96 degree F.  By the time the sun is setting …. the heat drops and the coolness takes over. There is no light or man made light visible in any direction only the half moon shining down and giving light to the darkness. It is such an amazing time of the day……. you can see for miles the various hills and valleys…. but it is for only a few minutes as  the darkness falls quickly. The air is fresh and sweet and the land is quiet. No sound of cars or motorcycles, no sirens or alarms…..only the few last birds giving chorus with the crickets.  It seems that all is at peace…… and I too take a deep breath and enjoy my surrounds.

I have now been in Kibaale just over one week and so much has happened……. there are no words to describe my learning… from how to cook with propane stove in the dark, or wonder what is making the strange sounds outside or was it inside my little house in the middle of the night, or try to come up with a menu for dinner when the fridge does not work and you question the food stuff in it, or what people are asking you. Sometimes they are speaking English but the accent is too heavy or you understand the words but they do not make any sense.  I can only  laugh….. laugh and laugh and laugh loud and long…… for it is all too  funny.  Like this evening…. I was given some “Irish potatoes”, that is the name of the spud which looks like  a regular every day potato. They are very small so it took some work to peel enough potatoes for me for dinner and maybe fried for breakfast. Now, do I wash them in clean or dirty water….. well it is OK to wash them in dirty water since they will be boiled for at least 3 minutes. I cleaned them and cut them up and now had to find the matches to start the burner……. all went well… the potatoes were boiling.  I realized I do not have a potato masher. Well, I can have boiled potatoes or I can find a way to mash them…… I discovered a large metal spoon which worked pretty good. I love my mashed potatoes with milk and butter. But I do not have real milk only powered milk. Do I want to add powered milk to my potatoes along with some water or ….. I decided on margarine.  I was going to fry up two eggs to go with my potatoes. I had a lantern on the counter lighting my efforts on mashing potatoes but since there was no light over the stove …. I did not notice I burned the eggs.  I left the potatoes sitting on the counter and started frying eggs a second time. I finally sat down to a large plate of mashed potatoes and  two fried eggs.  It was a good meal.

I thought that adding a new posting to my blog was more important that cleaning up and doing the dishes. I somehow never get the dished clean while working in the dark. I usually have to wash them again the next day….. So why do I not leave them until the morning to do them….. because I want to prevent any bugs or ants from thinking they can get a free meal at  my house.

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Meet Deus….. a young Ugandan student

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This is Deus….. a young man wanting to get more education. He comes from Kibaale …. where there is no running water, no electricity unless you have a generator. His father and mother are farmers. They like everyone else in the area have what we might call a hobby farm. But it is not a hobby to them. It is there livelihood. He has a few brothers and sisters. Somehow a few years ago, I saw a picture of his wonderful smiling face and just had to sponsor him. I have been sponsoring him with his education for the past 4 years. Little did I know that his graduation from grade 12 was not the end……. some how I thought that getting a student to complete grade 12 in rural Uganda was an amazing feat. He wants to go to university and become a business man…. work in a bank or own a shop… or work for the government.  He has a dream and wants more out of life than to live and work on his family’s farm. So, I am supporting him in his quest for more education. Now, the cost of a university education in Uganda is not expensive to us but far beyond his or his parents reach.

I am living and working in rural Uganda….. with little or no running water and electricity when the generator or solar panels work. I guess you could say live is simple…….. but for Deus, life got a lot more interesting. He is now expected to have a computer for all his university studies. He has never had a computer, never  used a computer nor does he know how to use one…. but the professors or teachers at the university in Kampala (the capital) expect him to have computer. Yes,  a few hours down the red dirt road takes you from old fashion to 21 century. Deus is not the only student who is frustrated, confused and stopped in his tracks for lack of a computer. I have meet two of Deus classmates from Kibaale who are also in the same situation….. it all came out at the end of last semester. Both of these young men are going to different schools one of medicine and the other for agriculture. Each one of them will be an assets to the new future of Uganda. They just need an education.

On a more simple note….. and to make things even more confusing, I spent twelve minutes and three tries attempting to up load this single picture . Cousins Sheila and Doug gave him  the sweatshirt. That morning it was 60 degrees F but when I gave him the sweatshirt, the temperature was over 100 degrees F. He wanted his picture taken and would not wait until the temperature was cooler. A simple sweater shirt but a big smile on this young man’s face……

This is just a little of the  complex and confusing differences between the big city and capital of Uganda, Kampala and the rural village of Kibaale.

 

Water….. is essential for living

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Living in the middle of Africa and trying to add pictures to this blog is presenting with a challenge. I have spent the last hour trying to add one single picture which would explain my challenges with water. Let start with this morning… I woke up and wanted to wash my face, opened the tap and out came nothing. No water. I was more than a little surprised.  I tried the other tap in my house in the kitchen but no water.

So, lets start with the fact, Kibaale does not have any infrastructure. No water pipes. Most individuals carry large yellow plastic container down to the river for all their water needs. But for those on the Kibaale Community Centre compound someone many years ago, came up with a very ingenious idea of collecting rain water in very large black reservoirs. Some of these reservoirs are as large as a small  house.  Above a number of the large reservoirs are 50 gallon drum. When there is electricity water is pumped from the storage reservoir to the 50 gallon drums. Now, when I turn on my tap….the water flows from the 50 gallon drum into my sink via gravity.

My problem this morning was no electricity and no knowledge of where the power switch was to turn on the pump to fill the 50 gallon drum with water from the reservoir.

Well, in short, it took three of us and three hours to find the power switch, put the generator on so the pump could do its job and pump water up to the 50 gallon drum. In Africa everything takes time. I learned where the switch is, how to pump water and who to ask if something goes wrong. I may have wanted to wash my face but I had a lesson on how to get water. Much more important that washing my face. It may have been a challenging morning…. but I had to laugh at all the various checks which had to be done to verify that  water was actually being pumped into the 50 gallon drums. Some how a faucet had to be turned on…. which no one seemed to know about.

In Canada and the USA many of us take water for granted but here in Kibaale that is not the case. Please pray for a soft gentle shower to bring down the heat, take down the dark red dust and refresh the land.

 

I have arrived in Kibaale

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I have finally arrived in Kibaale which I will call my home for the next year. I arrived with all my stuff yesterday afternoon but with all the company I received, I have now put everything in place.

Kibaale is a happening place this weekend. There is a youth conference in the community centre across the sport field from my small cozy apartment. The music is amazing even if I do not know the language. There must be at over a hundred young people enjoying fellowship and listening to  the energetic  and enthusiastic speaker. I am excited to know that there are so many young Christians in the  community. The three day conference finishes this afternoon.

Last night when the lights went out sometime around 7:30 pm….. I got to use my new solar paneled lanterns and flashlights. It was fun trying to find them in the dark as I did not know when the lights would go out. It seems that the generator is dead. Not to be resurrected again. So the question is to buy a new one or try something else like solar panels. There are a few solar panels on the compound but not enough to keep the lights and everything else supplied with “juice”.  With the solar  lanterns lighting up a small section of my abode, I was able to stay up and read until after 10 pm. When the lights went out it was dark. I mean I could not see the nose on my face. Initially, I lay and listened to the strange night sounds like frogs or crickets but later on it was silent. It was so quiet that I could hear myself breathing. I have never been in a place where there was so much silence. I did not feel alone but close to God…. as if I could reach out and touch him.

 

Things to keep me healthy

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This is a beautiful Mango tree. At this time of the year there is no fruit. Mangos were in season in November and December. BUT the tree has the mango fly which loves to lay eggs in wet or damp clothes. So, once clothes are washed and hung out to dry (there are no driers in this part of Uganda) the mango fly lays its eggs. When the clothes are completely dry then the eggs die. The rule is wait at least 24 hours after the clothes are dry before wearing them. Sometimes a seam or hem is not completely dry…just slight damp and therefore the eggs or larvae are not dead. When this damp seam or hem  touches the warm skin  the eggs hatch and migrate into the skin. As a result, I may have a small pocket of hatched larvae under my skin which need to be removed. Not a pleasant situation.

Water is another thing that we often take for granted. Bottled water is available in Masaka and in other large cities but it is not available in Kibaale. It cost about $2 US for 5 litres. It is not the cost the matters but the weight and transportation.  I have three options. I can transport all my water for drinking, washing vegetables and fruits as well as for cooking from Masaka. Or in Kibaale, I can boil the water for three minutes, filter it with a candle filtration system once cool and then store it. I have chosen to do both for now. It is going to take me at least 3 to 5 hours to make 5 litres of drinkable water in Kibaale once I move there in the next day or two. On Monday, I was in Kibaale for a few hours and had 4 visitors. It is part of the culture that you offer all visitors a glass of water. It was a good thing that I had brought with me 5 litres of water. After my 4 visitors had left and I had something to drink my 5 litres was half gone.

This gives you just a little idea of what it takes to keep healthy here……. never mind the mosquitoes with malaria.

I have arrived in Uganda

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It is Jan 17, 2012 and I am in Uganda. The last few days have been extremely busy as well as exciting. But before I tell you about Uganda, I want to start with two exciting pieces of praise. These two things ….. made my day. Yes, they both solved concerns I had prior to my departure.

First of all, I planned to put my car in storage and leave it standing for the year. I used my car up until the last minute, about  3 pm.   I was departing for the airport sometime around 4:30 pm. I took my insurance papers to an ICBC (insurance corp of BC)office across the street to obtain a storage policy on the car. I did this in July and all went smoothly but for some reason, that day, I had to hand in the personalized plates (AuntyM). I have had those plates for 16 years and did not want to part with them. Anyway, I had to take the plates of the car but since most of my tools were in storage, it appeared that  I did not have the right tool to remove the bolts. I looked that the bolts and thought this was an hour of hard work which I did not have time for. A gentleman walked past my car and I asked him which tool would need  to remove the bolts and take off the plates. I did not have the correct tool but  he had the correct tool in the trunk of his car and within minutes the plates were off. He told me they were almost rusted on and it took much of strength to remove the bolts.  I was rescued.

I arrived at Vancouver International airport with three large bags… two duffel bags weighing about 50 pounds each. I had packed and repacked to ensure the bags were not overweight. Beside the two duffel bags I had a small suitcase, a purse and a small bag with my laptop in it. I would have normally found a cart and worked and worked to put all the bags on the cart but ….right in front of me at the curb was a porter. With this much luggage why not use his services. It cost me $10 and a tip and all my luggage was moved from the curb to the front of the line. Yes, I was not in first class but was taken to the first class counter and all my bags were put through without having been weighed. Not only was it put through…. but all the way to Entebbe, Uganda. I was absolutely sure that I was going to have to collect all the bags in London, England and then haul them back to the airport. BUT no, all the luggage was put through to Entebbe. I kept the computer bag and my purse. It was a good thing that I had my toiletries and a change of clothes in the computer bag and purse. What a relief it was!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, I am in Masaka, Uganda. I arrived with all my luggage and healthy. It was an amazing trip with lots of wonderful events like the truly great and interesting food at the hotel in London, England. We stayed at the Comfort Inn. Acceptable accommodation but more than acceptable food. It was interesting and very tasty. I would definitely return for another taste of their menu.

We arrived late Jan 12, 2012 into Entebbe. Bye the time we went through customs and immigration, it was the wee hours of the morning. We stayed at a newly opened guesthouse, the Pearl. The lady in charge was very kind and gracious. Just prior to our arrival, she bought electric fans to ensure our rooms were cool and comfortable. I had an amazing sleep under a mosquito net.

The next morning we headed for the supermarket. I was to buy supplies for Kibaale. What a shock to my system but Corina and Arlene were very helpful. There are many things which can be bought in Entebbe which cannot be bought either in Masaka nor in Kibaale. I bought red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, whole wheat or brown flour, pasta sauces, packages of soup…. I spent over $125 US in less than 45 minutes.

It was only yesterday, that I was finally able to go down to Kibaale and see the place and go into the clinic and meet the staff again. I knew when I left Canada that I was going to be traveling up from Kibaale to Masaka at least every few weeks to check on the 25 or so girls living in the dorms but little did I know that my time was going to be divided between the two place almost equally. I will be spending Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning in Kibaale helping with the clinic and then traveling the two hours or more Thursday afternoon into Masaka and spend Thursday evening, Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning in Masaka. I have been given a van to use. I will be driving myself back and forth. Uganda is like Britain in that you drive on the left side of the road. I have to learn to drive a stick shift with my left hand and drive on the left side of the road. I think that may be a interesting learning curve. I will keep you posted.

For now, I have been down to see my new accommodation in Kibaale and all looks great. They put in a shower since July 2011 but it does not have hot water. The fridge appears to be working  but we are not sure of the freezer part. It was cool but not cold. All my shopping is still waiting for me in Kibaale. For the time being I am living out of the kindness of my new friends in Masaka.

God has a very funny sense of humour……… like so many things in this world, he rush to stand still.

For now, I have been rushing to get to Masaka and Kibaale but for now I am standing still waiting to move forward.

It is only a few hours before I leave

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I have been told that elephants never forget. So, just in case your memory is not equal to that of an elephant. I can be contacted at margo4africa@gmail.com.  I will do my best to keep this blog updated as well as answer all emails.

It is 3 pm and I will be leaving for the airport in less than 2 hours. My flight today takes me to London, England where I will stay over night and then fly out on Jan 12 for Uganda. I arrive very late in the evening so will be staying in Entebbe for the night before starting my long 5 to 6 hour drive into Kibaale. I an excited, anxious, nervous and thrilled to be going. It is an honour to be able to spend a year in another country.  I feeling like I am taking the world but in truth I am taking two 50 lb bags plus one small suitcase. What is in the luggage is what I will learn to live with or without. I understand that Uganda is moving quickly into the 21 century so I may be every surprised at what is available.  Well, I still have the last few items to put into the suitcase ……. so bye for now.

 

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