BLOG: Trip 2014 Listening and fellowship
Feb 8th Day 1.
We arrived safely in Entebbe where Benjamin met us. We were ages getting our luggage so it was much later than expected but Benjamin had waited patiently as usual. We drove to Narec in Kampala but arrived so late (about 3am) that there was nobody about. We finally managed to get 3 mattresses from someone, rigged up nets and slept in a room with a stable door that didn’t close. Poor Benjamin slept in the car.
Feb 9th Day 2.
We left really early for Kasese and stopped for breakfast on the way before continuing on the Mbarara road (as we did in 2005). We were all in good spirits and God has already put us in touch with people, namely Education Uganda. Our first night was spent in Kajwenge with Benjamin’s family. They were so welcoming, as always. We walked down to the trading centre to talk to the women from the group in their small businesses. We are going to visit Bwera School tomorrow and join the Bwera Women in their regular meeting. We are going to set the programme at 4 tomorrow afternoon.
Feb 10th Day 3
We had a good day visiting the new Kajwenge Anglican High School, Bwera Secondary school and Bwera women’s group, who are doing really well with Briquettes and clay ovens. Kajwenge Anglican High School is newly established to allow young people the opportunity to continue their studies if they have not done well in their Primary Leavers Exam (PLE). It is a vocational faith secondary school which aims to train youngsters in skills that will benefit them and the local community. It is building up the Joseph Generation. Kajwenge Primary School at Lhuwhaha has lent the buildings for secondary use.
On the way home we stopped to speak to the Kamughobe women’s group who have set up market stalls selling smoked/ dried fish and produce such as tomatoes and fruit. Benjamin’s wife, Irena, is not very well and is in a lot of pain. Jethro’s son, Joshua, has contracted malaria so Jethro had to go to Kasese. His mother also has malaria and is in Kagando hospital.
We are now setting the programme in the morning. Angie is going to Maliba for 5 days tomorrow to spend time with Japheth and Grace.
Sadly Benjamin’s brother died during the night. We heard the drums announcing the sad news.
Feb 11th Day 4
We spent this morning at Kajwenge C O U Primary School where we passed on letters from Pyrford Primary School. The staff and children were very happy to receive them and intend to write letters back before we leave Uganda.
We are being pushed outside our comfort zone by God.
We asked for fellowship so today we have sung and prayed with the women over the body of Benjamin’s brother who died last night. He looked so peaceful and the women appreciated us going to share their grief. Tomorrow we may have to give a testimony at the funeral.
After lunch we drove Angie to Maliba for her programme with Japheth. We made a stop at the new bridge over the Movoko River; rebuilt by Amaha We Uganda following the recent catastrophic floods. All the footbridges were washed away and the rebuilding of this one has reconnected the communities on both sides of the river and allowed the children to return to the secondary school.
On the way back we called in at Kasese and saw Epafra and Janina. They welcomed us joyfully. We bought a jar of Benyaminite honey. Benjamin is collecting the wild honey from our hives and bottling it for sale. It is the best honey I have ever tasted.
We had a wonderful meal with William’s family (14 children) and met William’s new grandchild. William’s daughter Robina has just started her first teaching job since she qualified. She has to live at home as she can’t afford to live out. Some things are the same the world over.
The programme continues to unfold on a daily basis.
12th Feb Day 5
We have had another really good day. We visited Ngome Vocational Secondary School. A new one and part of the Joseph Generation dream. The young people are being trained in tailoring, brick making and other skills as well as continuing in their school learning. We encouraged the single girl in the secondary 3 class learning alone. We also met the children and teachers in the Primary School. It is in a beautiful setting and we felt the energy and enthusiasm
We were given the gift of a cockerel (for supper) but he lived to fight another day as he was too tough to eat and is now strutting his stuff in Benjamin’s back yard. We became quite fond of him despite the fact he was trying to establish himself by attacking the other cockerels. Irena doesn’t feel quite the same attachment and keeps threatening to eat him.
We attended the burial service of Benjamin’s brother and met many old friends and greeted many new ones. Amos and Job came up too on the motorbike from Kasese.
Following the burial we planted trees for Benjamin on his land where he hopes to build a retreat and walked for what seemed miles visiting and praying with people in parts of Kajwenge not visited before. We then went to Benjamin’s garden (shamba) and brought yam leaves back like true Bukonzo for fish and pigs.
13th Feb Day 6
Another good day. We spent the morning in Kajwenge nursery playing with balloons and singing songs with the children. We visited the Compassion office and heard about the work with some of the young people. We went to see Rose who is now living in Kajwenge at the trading post. She has her hand operated sewing machine with her but is unable to buy fabric to make clothes. Her ‘trainer’ has malaria so the shop wasn’t open.
The afternoon was spent in fellowship being Ugandan women; sorting beans ready for cooking, peeling cassava then down to the shamba (garden) to cut matoke, cacao and jack fruit which we carried on our heads home. (Well some people did!)
Benjamin caught the 3 catfish in his fish pond that had been eating his tilapia finglings- cat fish for supper. Tamsin taught Dorcas and Benin how to make English pancakes with cassava flour in Irena’s kitchen. We chatted to many many people as we walked about. It is a real blessing to be here.
14th Feb day 7
Irena produced English pancakes, made from cassava flour, for breakfast…Amazing! We sat around this morning as Benjamin had to go to Bwera to get the car fixed. We tried to learn some Lukonzo. Dorcas and Benin had been working in the shamba since 6.00am.
After lunch we went to Margaret’s house. Her son Rogers is waiting for his exam results (O levels) like Dorcas. There has been a problem with marking the papers so the results are delayed and young people waiting cannot go back to school until they have them. Margaret showed us round her garden explaining the purpose of many of the medicinal plants. Tamsin hoed part of the garden with Margaret and planted do do and a medicinal plant for stomach ache. It rained- a blessing. She showed us her ‘junior’ pigs which turned out to be guinea pigs. (destined for the table :(). She walked back with us the long way round showing us parts we had never visited before. We learned that the village was in fact called Kamuhange (not Kajwenge) in Kajwenge Parish and the border was the Kamuhange River.
When we got back to Benjamin’s we found Dorcas, Jovia and Juliette combing out nylon hair pieces for Doreen who has set up a small business in Kampala. The nylon got wrapped around the foot of a chicken and the next 30 minutes were spent trying to catch the chicken and avoiding the attacks of one very angry hen. Success was achieved and the chicken was returned to its mother nylon thread free.
15th Feb Day 8
The day began at 7.30 am visiting the Lhuwhaha women’s groups. They were meeting under the tree in the beautiful early morning sun. They sang to us in their usual welcoming way and were so pleased to see us. They shared their successes and challenges. Their handwork is really beautiful but they need to find a bigger market although they now know what people want and are making things according to need.
Our next stop was Kajwenge Library where an adult learning scheme has been operating for 2 years. The adults had just finished their training in vocational studies; including tailoring, carpentry, languages and computer studies. The issues are the same with any training- starter kits are needed to get people started.
We also visited the new Graduate programme (funded by Martin in Germany). The young graduates are enthusiastically coming up with business opportunities hoping to create jobs to their community. They have emailed their plans to Martin who will back the best option. They are very enterprising. They too would love to get computers and access to the internet in Kajwenge. This library model is being used by Education Uganda to build community libraries in schools in Kasese.
We went to visit Rose’s trainer in the local clinic where Rose was sitting with her. She was transferred to Kagando Hospital later with malaria.
We then managed to have a quick visit with Obed before he returned to Kampala. He has a beautiful home. He is the director of Acodev, which is in its 10th year. He encouraged us and urged the NGO to have a big public launch the next time a group from the UK visit and invite the Ugandan High Commission to show them what we are doing in the community.
After lunch (liver, potatoes, rice, bananas and soda) we turned up at the meeting of the 6 Kajwenge Women’s groups. They were not expecting us and were really happy to see us. We encouraged them in their fellowship and shared singing and dancing. We continued on to the 2 groups in Kamughobe, then 2 groups in Kisinga. These groups are all doing well and although they have challenges seem to be overcoming them slowly and with determination. The next 2 groups were at Bethsaida (up a steep hill!) They have decided to concentrate on 3 projects (including handcrafts which they sell at Kisinga Market). They explained how they help and support each other. E.g. some of the women were helping out at a wedding, by cooking and serving food. It was good to see the mix of ages in all the women’s groups.
I swept the path in front of Benjamin’s house with a broom made from twigs. Apparently this is only done when Dorcas is home!! We shared a wonderful meal with all of Benjamin’s family in the back yard. Benjamin called it a ‘Swallowship’ – fellowship with food. (made up of course). The hero dish was a ‘small shark’. A wonderful wonderful evening.
16th Feb Day 9
We worshipped with Benjamin’s family at St Paul’s in Kajwenge. As the Bishop was preaching in a nearby church most of the reverends had gone to hear him. The usual happened; ‘Judith would you like to preach for us?’ mmm! Benjamin came up with a solution. I would talk first and then he would finish. Much better plan. We talked on Hebrews 10 vv 24- 25 and 1 Corinthians 12 from v 12- 13. A sad farewell to our friends and family in Kajwenge (well Kamuhange) then down to Kasese where we had a wonderful lunch with Lavinia and Amos. We were greeted, as usual, with great joy.
Before heading off to Maliba to collect Angie we stopped by the All Saint’s Women’s group. It’s as sad to see how disillusioned they had become. Some of the women had wandered away from the group and failed to turn up to meetings. We tried to encourage them. I committed to find each woman who had wandered away a prayer partner. Benjamin encouraged them to seek their friends and try to get them back to the group before Amaha We found new members from within the shadow groups.
We collected Angie who had preached and given communion at church in Maliba! We stopped to hear Surgeon who was preaching to the crowds at Maliba. He has matured so much. What a strong preacher he is. Angie had had a very packed mission with Japheth and Grace in Maliba.
We had another wonderful meal with Lavinia and Amos in the evening followed by fellowship and worship. Charged phone. Had a shower (cold) and looking forward to washing hair in the morning.
17th Feb Day 10
NO Water! Amos and Benjamin had to go and collect water from the river for washing and cleaning. Praise the Lord for baby wipes and dry shampoo! Didn’t know that Lavinia had a long drop either.
Bank stuff took ages but it was the first time we had managed to get to a bank since arriving in Uganda. Benjamin took Angie and I to Kanyangeya then went off with Tamsin to Kyarumba to see the flood damage up there.
I discussed how we were going to do the teaching at Kanyangeya and what they were going to spend the money on that the children at Darley Dene had raised. The staff decided they wanted to buy sports uniform and although there was a small shortfall they were confident they could raise the small amount required to make up the difference.
Angie and I walked for what seemed like miles in the hot sun to Saluti (poor Jethro who had to accompany us). We met one of the street boys who had passed his driving and tried to encourage him to stop hanging out with the boda boda riders but go to register at the municipal taxi park where he might get the opportunity to drive! We met the lay reader Matthew and his family at St Barnabus and handed over the things from Caroline.
When Tamsin got back she drove Angie and I to the Marguerita Hotel where we spent some girlie time catching up on Angie’s adventures and Tamsin’s visit to Kyarumba- chips, soda and coffee! Tamsin had met with a micro finance group who were processing coffee and cutting out the middle-man. She brought some ground coffee and coffee beans back. (The coffee is really good.) It could be a good model for Amaha We Uganda groups.
Back at Amos’s house the water was on. Hair wash.
18th Feb Day 11
We had a wonderful morning at Kanyangeya Primary School teaching P2 some games, devised by Magpies class at Darley Dene, in their PE lesson. We started at 8.30am as it is too hot to do PE later. The children in P2 taught us a game they play in Uganda. Judith taught P6 a history lesson (put together by Woodpeckers class at Darley Dene) on the Great Fire of London and the pupils then made a collage of the houses on fire. Angie taught The Hokey Cokey at break to about 60 children then Lavinia asked us to teach the teachers. Such fun.
We then went to meet St Peters Women’s group making briquettes. They are persevering but need more training. We suggested that Martin goes along to help them.
We had an interesting visit to see the flood damage at Kilembe. It clearly had been an awful experience and the devastation is horrendous although they are slowly recovering. There have been many awe-inspiring stories that have come out of the flood.
We visited the new library in the growing Kikonzo area of Kasese. The enclosing wall is built and plastered and the bookshelves are in. There is much left to do and the team are waiting for an engineer’s report on best cost for getting the electricity to the building. It would be great to see this new library project completed as a library and internet café. The books in the local language have been bought and are safely in the office until the library can be used.
Tamsin ‘cleaned up’ Job’s computer which is now running much faster. We will try to get hold of another computer for the team by advertising on social media. There maybe someone out there who has a refurbished lap top!
19th Feb Day 12
Arrived to meet with the boys who were making briquettes. They also use the hand pressed briquettes but are competent at using the big press. They collect rubbish (paper) from the streets as well as other recycled organic material, charcoal etc. to make the briquettes. Two women came to see what they were doing and expressed interest in using briquettes. We gave them 3 briquettes each to try and they said they would inform their friends. This could be a good marketing opportunity for the boys. Martin, who is proving to be a good leader, explained that of the 4 boys trained he is the only one left. Sadly Good Luck died, Robert left for Kampala to work and he didn’t know where the other boy had gone. Benjamin said he would ask Martin to retrain the St Peter’s Women’s group and that he would get a fee for doing that.
At lunchtime we walked back through Nyakasanga to Divine Guest House where Amaha We Uganda had funded a fellowship meal for the boys and the team to share. On the way back we heard stories of some of the boy’s experiences. Francis told us how he had escaped from Gulu where many of his family had been killed. The food was really good.
We handed over a bag of t shirts and shirts from Darley Dene. Jethro, Martin and another boy counted the shirts and they will be kept safe and handed out as required. We had found out that Hamis has a wife and 2 children and we were honoured to be taken to his very tiny room to meet with his family, Maureen his wife, Hamis (3) and Alfred (1).
Had another girlie catch up and down time at Margarita and met up with Education Uganda. Before dinner we had a catch up with the team (Job, Benjamin and Jethro) to discuss some of the projects – successes and challenges and possible ways forward. Jethro told me the boys needed their own jerry cans and bowls for briquette making. (19,000UGX). We gave Jethro the money to buy those.
20th Feb Day 13
We had an amazing morning with Jethro’s father learning about Bukonzo history. He is a story-teller and plays a Bukonzo flute. He gave us a DVD.
We went to Nyakasanga Primary School and had a really good time. Darley Dene Primary School is forming a new link with them. They also have internet. This is the school that lets street boys use their playing fields. We spent some time with a P5 class learning their letters under the trees as they haven’t enough classrooms. The children were using the slates given by Education Uganda. We spent some time with the staff before lunch and were encouraged by the eagerness of the staff to learn new things. They were particularly interested in talking about inclusion and what strategies they could use to support young people with autism in a mainstream class of 45 children! The headmaster Gad provided us with a wonderful meal. The deputy head is Meresi’s father. He is eager to firm up an international link with Darley Dene. I explained we had already actioned the new link in our application to the British Council. By the end of the visit many children had written letters for me to bring back to Darley Dene.
On the way back through the Nyakasanga District we came across several of the street boys working with local business women. It was very encouraging as not put on for us.
Angie spoke eloquently to the diabetic group. They were excited to have been given so much information and they will be a model group for sharing information.
Everyone is quite exhausted tonight. Even Benjamin went to bed before worship! We have a busy day tomorrow as we start early back with boys.
21th Feb Day 14
We went to meet street boys for final fellowship over briquette making. As long horned cattle wandered through briquette making area we wondered if cow poo would make good briquette material…answers on a postcard! The boys were already there and working. Joy upon joy, Robert had returned to join his friends as he had found no work in Kampala. He is good at using the big press and would be supportive in helping Martin train the women. Martin and Jethro cleared out the store room and reorganised it so there was more room. The Women and the street boys share it. Gad came to visit and we tried to persuade him to buy briquettes from the boys to use at his school for dinners.
We said a sad farewell but happy in the knowledge that things are coming together for many of the boys and Amaha We Uganda is making a difference.
We then went to Daylight School (only 1 hour late this year) to be greeted with a lovely welcome of song and drama. The story was about Angie and Dave who are obviously much loved by the children and staff. Angie and Dave have provided buildings and furniture for the school. We were gifted with a lovely lunch.
We then had a brief visit to Nyamwamba Parent’s School although sadly the head teacher was in a meeting and as we hadn’t planned in this visit it would have been rude to have asked her to change her plans. We met with the deputy who explained how well the school was doing in their results. Benjamin offered one young boy a home if his grandmother could afford the school fees in the village as she could no longer afford the school fees in town. The boy’s parents had died and he was an intelligent lad who deserved an opportunity to make something of his life.
We met with Jethro’s Father again, and he showed us his published books which he hopes will put Lukonzo books in schools and keep the Bukonzo heritage alive. I bought an early reading book, and then spent the next few hours translating it with Jethro. Great fun!
We spent the late afternoon and early evening at the Virina Gardens with Jado, Dolice and Crishano, William and Jethro. It was good to see William but sad to say goodbye. Our time with him had been limited as he was involved with a visit from Soma and their training of lay readers.
We went back to Amos and Lavinia’s’ for supper with the family. Irena had come down from Kajwenge as she is travelling back to Kampala with us. We have an early start in the morning. We have to be on road by 6am to Kampala. As always we have been treated with so much kindness and generosity by Amos, Lavinia, Blessing and Kevin.
We have spent many hours this time in fellowship with friends old and new.
Electricity has just gone off! We have seen lightening, heard thunder in the distance and it is raining heavily …early for the rainy season.
22nd Feb Day 15
A very hot, uncomfortable night as the electricity didn’t come back on so no fans. Up very early. Lavinia and Amos got up too and provided us with breakfast of bread, eggs and bananas. So kind. We got underway while it was still dark although at least not raining as the windscreen wipers leave a lot to be desired! Actually don’t exist.
As we were heading out of Kasese we crossed over some of the rivers and even though there had only been one night of rain the river was thundering down from the mountain. My first thought was thank good ness those children don’t have to negotiate the rocks over the river to school and that the footbridge had been rebuilt.
Heading out from Fort Portal we came across a troupe of baboons sitting in the middle of the road. We had to throw out our bananas to get them off the car. They must be very familiar with that route!
We made good time to Kampala and made several stops. We met a nephew of Benjamin’s who is a doctor and has his own clinic about ¾ way to Kampala from Kasese, then met with Dorothy, Denise, and Job in Kampala where we dropped off Irena.
We shared a lovely meal with Benjamin and bought him ice cream(!!!) at The Lake Victoria Hotel. Benjamin felt his responsibility was to take us to the airport but we explained the airport was not a good place to spend several hours waiting. We finally persuaded him that he had more than discharged his duty to us and that he should go and spend time with his family. Having realised that we were not going to sit at the airport for 6 hours he vetted a lovely taxi driver from the hotel then reluctantly left us there as he needed to get back to Irena. (They were staying at Obed’s).
It has been a truly blessed trip and yes we did arrive safely at the airport in time to catch our plane.