My few days in Jinja, tourist capital of the world, has been a happy one, staying at the home of American friend Hannah, her two year old foster twins Johnny and Gracie and ‘Uncle’ Alex, one of the young men my family and friends have had the pleasure of helping with his education.
Now I’ve moved inland to live at the home of Innocent, another young man who has benefited from my family and friends financial assistance through his university course where he was awarded his degree in Business Studies three years ago. Innocent lives in what I call the ‘real’ Uganda where a white face is rarely seen but is welcomed openly, though the tiny tots find my white skin quite frightening to begin with! Innocents’ home is just outside the trading centre of Nawanyago where he runs a small bar called Mirembe (Peace) and keeps a cold Nile Beer always available for Mum G, me!
I’m writing this sat under my mosquito net at 5.30 am after a wonderful nights sleep! Dawn is just beginning to break and looks beautiful out of my metal-barred but un-curtained window! I can here the first of the cockerels singing out their alarm calls and the critters in the trees that have been serenading me all night have now gone quite, making way for the dawn birds’ chorus.
Alex dropped me off yesterday afternoon to be greeted not only by Innocent but also his mum Judith who has agreed to stay here to look after me and to stop any rumours starting – ‘Mzungu woman moves in with local barman’! Judith is in her early forties, the same age as my two daughters, so I could be her mum which would make me Innocents’ grandparent – Oh no, I do feel old sometimes!!!
The family that lives next door to Innocent had been told of my arrival and came out of their home to greet me from a distance but within a few minutes the children had decided I was not a threat and toddled over for a closer look. The little girl, stark naked, and her big brother of maybe four or five playing with an old motorbike tyre and stick, probably his only toy. Just like Nakakabala this is a relatively poor area where families live a simple life but with the added bonus of a trading centre where they have the opportunity to sell any surplus crops or items they have made. I’m hoping to go and buy some mats and shelves, both locally made, for my room as there is nothing on the dusty concrete floor and no furniture except from plastic chairs I brought in Jinja. It still had that empty hollow sound to it.
Of course I was hoping to live at St James as I usually do but with James being so unreliable and unpredictable that wasn’t possible this time. I will be visiting the school often though as it is only 20 minutes motorbike ride away. In fact I’m going there tomorrow. One advantage to living at Innocents home is that my bedroom has an on-suite ‘facility’, a small room in the corner where I can bathe. Of course there is no shower but I do have a willing ‘son’ who goes off to the nearest borehole to collect the water and returns with it loaded on his bike!!
Thank goodness I don’t have to collect it myself! Also being within the home I’ve not had visits from the gecko as I used to at St James where my ‘bathroom’ was open to all creatures great and small, goats, chickens, gecko, whatever fancied a chat with me as I was bathing! The big brightly coloured gecko are around though, everywhere you look when the sun is shining. I love to watch them!
Judith made a delicious meal for us last night – matoki (savoury banana), ‘Irish’ potatoes and g-nut source. Though a big storm was brewing with lightning lighting up the sky, my personal barman hopped on his motorbike and came back with an ice cold beer in the pocket of the highviz jacket I gave him. I think I’m going to be very happy living here!
The sun is high, I’ve breakfasted on delicious fresh pineapple grown locally and tiny sweet bananas from a plantation I can see from where I am sitting! I’ve done my washing and the neighbours allowed me to hang it on their wire to dry. They were very much amused that I was doing my own washing and I had to persuade Judith that I was capable of doing any basic chore this morning.
I got Innocent to tell her that she is my friend and not my maid all the time! However Judith seems happy to keep busy and doesn’t seem to want to go away from the home.
The word had got round! A row of children has formed the far side of the neighbours’ compound, here to see me, a Mzungu in their mists! It’s just coming up to 11 am so they should all be at school so they have either just skivved school for the day or more likely they don’t go to school at all. The exact reason we started St James in 2008, to cater for these children.
The chickens are ferreting around in front of me and can hear the piglets calling Innocent for their breakfast. He’s been looking after me too well and have temporally forgotten them!
I think I’m going to enjoy living here!
(Gerry apologises for the lack of news from her at the moment – where she is staying has poor internet connection, so she hasn’t been able to send me many updates to the blog. Norman)