A Christmas Day like no other – Part Two – Visiting ‘The Grand’ & my first Christmas meal!

I hope I am not causing trouble to your system sending all my news in one go. I have to make the most of being in Jinja and with two hydro-electric power stations on the Nile nearby I should get enough electricity though Godfrey who I am staying with said they had little over the Christmas period!

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Part Two – Visiting ‘The Grand’

Not on our schedule for today was calling in on an elderly lady who has brought up many children orphaned by the death of their parents or abandoned by their parents’ irresponsibility! I first met her in 2002 when John Baptist Zaake and his sister Veronica were taken into Maria’s Care after their father, grandfather and two uncles had died of Aids.

When Veronica turned 14 the government rules stipulate that she had to leave the children’s home so she went to her grandmother’s who already had many grandchildren in her care. I was asked by the charity I was connected to at the time if I could find the money to build a little home for her and Vernon Infant School in Poynton did just that. I helped Veronica and other children to build the mud home from treading the mud to building the walls. An experience never forgotten! Let me know if you would like me to send you my newsletter of that time!

Their ‘Gerry-built’ mud home fell down a few years ago due to termite infestation but only after it had seen Veronica, John and cousin Innocent, through their teenage years. I am in constant contact with John and his cousin Innocent who has been helped by some of you to gain degrees and a chance of a good future.

It was a complete surprise to The Grand when James and I arrived. She was busy cooking their Christmas dinner! John was fetched from the church he was praying, his beautiful smile showing the delight he felt at my visit. I said we were on our way to visit his cousin Innocent so would not stay long. Famous last words…..

While catching up with John’s news The Grand had gone back to her cooking and served a plateful of food for James and me! We know better than to try to refuse so we ended up sat with John in a tiny room decorated with the branch of a tree festooned with homemade decorations, having an early lunch and it was delicious.

The pork she had cooked was the best I have every eaten, it fell off the bone and its flavour was amazing. I joked with James that we should employ The Grand to come and look after me the next time I come to Uganda. He took me seriously and asked her before we left and she agreed! I’m pretty certain she will be more reliable than Fatuma and other ‘maids’ I have had, but we will see what happens. She could certainly do with the money I would pay her and probably be more reliable, not disappearing without saying!

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