First day in Uganda

Dear Friends of St James,

I arrived in Uganda very late on Saturday night and it has taken me a while to get connected with mobile internet as being a Sunday the banks were closed so no UGX no Internet! But I am all sorted now so will keep in contact as long as there is electric power and mobile signal, and my energy keeps going!

Monday 8 December, 7.15 am

I’m writing this sitting under my mosquito net looking out over the rooftops of Kampala as the sun gradually burns off the early morning mist/smog! This morning I woke very early initially to the sound of the mosque calling Muslims to morning prayer then later to the rushing, beeping, screeching of traffic, radios turned up far too loud and the voices of families living around as they prepare for the day.

Yesterday morning was very different as I woke at Banana Village to the sound of gentle brushing outside my ‘posh’ mud house as the groundsmen cleared the debris of fallen leaves so there would be no hiding place for snakes, and the ‘chattering’ of monkeys swinging in the trees nearby.

I know which one I prefer, but I also enjoy being in the city as Faith (not her real name) one of our Ugandan ‘daughters’ lives here. My family ‘adopted’ Faith in 2007 and has since seen her gain a degree and a job. Faith was very young when she and her sister fled Rwanda after the devastation of the genocide.

They lost both parents and many other relatives and had an extremely difficult time surviving even when they reached Uganda. Their stories are too awful to write about here and thankfully they are both in a much better place now.

Last night Faith and I were, along with her 12 year old niece Lily (not her real name) who is living with her at present, were invited to meet up with some uni friends ‘down at the beach’ for a fish supper. I was rather tired after my long journey to Uganda and lack of sleep two nights in a row, but I don’t like to turn down an opportunity of another experience and Faith knows I love to join in with the local people as I am not one for ‘touristy’ places.

We travelled from Kampala to the shores of Lake Victoria on the local Taxi bus, not my favourite form of transport, but thankfully the city now has strict rules about overloading these buses and as we were in slow moving traffic there was no way it could speed anyway! Once off the taxi we walked down to the lakeside and were greeted by a mixture of stares and smiles as the local people usually don’t see white faces thereabouts. I was told later that some thought I was the Queen of England!

I was warmly welcomed by one of Faith’s best friends James Nono who informed me that he prefers to be called Nono. It’s a good thing he had a sense of humour as I kept calling him Gogo! He and the other young people were really good company telling me about the area we were in which is mainly a fishing village and one of the reasons they come as the Tilapia is the best you can find anywhere, delicious and so cheap compared to the city, and they sold ice cold Nile beer too!!

We watched the sun set over the lake and the full moon rise – I wish I had taken a photo as it seemed enormous, the biggest I have ever witnessed, like a giant red inflatable ball floating just above the water, its reflection making a wide road of light right up to the place we were sitting. We spent a happy few hours chatting about so many subjects including religion and politics.

I think they like the fact that my mind was completely open so they felt free to talk. The more young educated Ugandans I meet the more confident I am that Uganda has a good future. It will probably not be in my lifetime as we all know it takes many years for the new to take the place of the old, especially in politics!!

Nono had a vehicle that he was being paid by the owner to drive to Nairobi the next day as they were flying there for a holiday! Like Faith, Nono has gained a good degree but is prepared to work at anything while he looks for a job in his field. Not so different to our graduates in the UK really, only here there are no benefits, if you don’t earn money you don’t eat!

We all piled into ‘his’ vehicle, I had seven year old Authur sat on my knee in the front with the other six in the back. Thankfully Nono was a good driver and we got back home much quicker than we had come but it was still getting on to midnight!

After my ‘adventures’ of last night I slept like a log, with the cool breeze blowing across the rooftops through the window straight across my face – wonderful! I have a bed to sleep in while Faith and Lili happily share a matress on the floor where they are both still sound asleep.

Today I hope to get set up with mobile internet so that I can send this.

Love to you all x

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