A very special Christmas in Uganda – wonderful memories from 2009

Every year at this time I think fondly about a very special Christmas I spent with my Ugandan family in 2009. When I had been invited by Alex to spend Christmas with his family in the village of Kasozi I was a little worried, as at that stage, I had never stayed anywhere where there was no electricity, running water or toilet facilities! I prepared myself very carefully with torches, first aid, mosquito repellent, and bottled water for the duration of my stay amongst other essentials, and even toilet rolls! Alex had gone off to the village the day before to check that ‘Mum Gerry’s room is prepared and the walls have been polished with cow dung’! I couldn’t think of anything at all to say that! But when I got there the room was spotless and had the look of it having been polished! I have learnt since that that cow dung was/is used because it is considered antibacterial and small insects don’t like it!

I even made a Christmas cake to take with us but had to search high and low for dried fruit which I eventually got through the owner of an Asian supermarket in Kamuli town who had to order it in especially! It was the smallest pack of dried fruit I had ever seen and cost me a bomb! This was one of the many lessons I’ve learnt over my years in Uganda, not to expect Uganda to be like England in Africa! Also there was no oven where I was staying, just a microwave. I had to make up a recipe too and there were no measuring scales! I did a practise cake a few days before Christmas which turned out really nice but for some reason the one I made for the special day was rock hard and as there were no more ingredients, that was that!

I watched with amazement as Alex and friend Jerimiah tied all my luggage to the motorbike, wondering how on earth I was going to fit on and how we were going to go the long journey to the village along the dusty rutted roads without mishap! I hadn’t been on a motorbike too many times and with all the added luggage and the distance travelled it was quite a challenge. My legs kept getting cramp so I was sticking them out to allieviate the discomfort. Not a good idea but needs must!

All through the journey  people came running out of their homes calling us ‘Mzungu, Mzungu’ and as we got nearer the village many people knew Alex so ‘Alexie, Alexie’ was added to the greeting. (Many villagers add a vowel to those words that end in a consonant.) By the time we got to the homestead my bum and my back ached but we had otherwise made it in one piece! I will let the photos tell you the story of how Christmas day panned out. So please click on the first photo and read the accompanying notes.

My night in the village wasn’t uneventful either! Alex’s little home had two tiny rooms. The room at the back the size of a single bed plus the width of the door and the front room even smaller. And if I remember rightly the only light was from a tiny window from the front, so I made sure I was organised before it got dark! I realised when I had said goodnight to everyone that Alex intended to sleep on a mat in the front room as he had promised my family he would look after me! What I didn’t expect was the extent he would go to, to keep me safe! He brought his motorbike inside and once he had closed the door he propped the bike up against it along with a big boulder and a long metal bar. No one was going to get near Mum Gerry during the night! What I hadn’t informed him of, was that I often needed to go to the toilet during the night and it didn’t seem very long before that was the case! So I had to wake Alex who had to move the bike, the boulder and the iron bar and then he insisted he accompany me to the latrine which was round the back of his mums home and through the sleeping goats! Problem was that I didn’t and still don’t find latrines (long drop toilets) easy to use and knowing Alex was stood outside the door I found it impossible to ‘go’! So off we went back to bed only, and I bet some of you have guessed, I soon needed to ‘go’ again. So we repeated the rigmarole once again with the same results! On our return to the house I begged Alex to leave the door unsecured so I would not have to wake him again. I left it until I was sure he was asleep and crept out of the door, around the back of the house, through the goats who by then weren’t even bothering to move out of my way and into the latrine. Got myself settled and was in the middle of relieving myself when guess what? Yes, Alex had woken and followed me down! I knew this as a torch light was breaking what had been pitch blackness! The next morning nothing was said except for this in a very concerned voice ‘Mum Gerry are you sick’?

Talking about ‘loo issues’ something else happened in the morning that still makes me smile. As I was brushing my teeth near the bush that surrounds the homestead a little boy who didn’t even like my white face the day before came and crouched beside me. I felt pleased that it looked like he was now making friends until he got up leaving a pile of pooh beside me! His big sister, maybe only five years old came up with a big heavy digging hoe, scooped up the pooh and took it around to the latrine. I still smile widely at this memory as I am doing right now!!

Do enjoy the photo story, just click on the first one …….

And of course – Happy Christmas to you all! xxx



Happy Christmas!

Dear Friends, I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful but fun-filled 2019! I also want to thank you for all the interest you have shown and support you have given for my work in Uganda this year. I could not do any of my projects without your donations. Just for starters 870 mosquito nets have been donated protecting so many from the misery of Malaria, AMAZING! I am returning to Uganda in February and will be asking again for your support – it would be so wonderful if we hit the 1000 mosquito nets! I will be in touch again in the new year with other news too. ASANTE SANA! Thank you all!  


Work and play at Brain Trust Nursery and Primary School, Nawanyago

Hello friends, back at last! My wonderful friend Anne has given me her old phone to replace the one that gave up on me which had a lot of my photos and video footage, so I am now able to catch up on news from June and July, my last stay in Uganda, which seems so long ago but also like yesterday! I’ll start with a couple of blogs I wrote about my work (and play) at Brain Trust Nursery and Primary School in Nawanyago where in the main, I am now based when I go out to Uganda.

26/6 After the ‘adventures’ of delivering mosquito nets yesterday with the many car problems, today was a more relaxing day. Innocent wasn’t feeling too good so I made my way down to schoo on my own for the first time. The boda men know me now and know where I’m going and most importantly they know they won’t get paid if they don’t drive carefully!!

As my energy level is not as high as it once was and I have so many other things to do I’m just going into one class a day and finishing at lunch time when the heat builds up. But it’s still full-on as the children and teachers have such high expectations of me!

I feel my main role here in to help with everyone’s spoken and understanding of the English language. This is important because all books and exams are in English, not the numerous tribal languages. I try to do this through reading stories, singing songs, playing games and doing crafts rather than like the formal lessons they usually get where the teacher stands at the front with blackboard and chalk. They are not used to having fun in lessons and it is heart-warming to see and hear their laughter, especially when it’s aimed at me!

With the lower classes we have been making necklaces using the wool some of you donated and drinking straw beads, and today it was the turn of Class 2, delightful children and teacher. They learnt to use scissors, cut three different coloured straws to size and then created patterns. Whatever I do with children in Uganda they are always so attentive and rarely need showing again. It’s such a pleasure to teach here. The teachers always get excited too and become children when I’m around. They just love the activities, simple as they are, because they do not have the opportunity to have variety due  of to lack of materials and a strict learn by rote system in most schools here in Uganda. I’m certain I’m a bit of light relief to all! Today they all, and that included the teachers, proudly went home wearing their drinking straw necklaces with their happy face stickers on their tops! I shall be able to spot the children when I’m walking round the village and trading centre if past experience is anything to go by. They will wear them until they break!

29/6 I’ve been making the most of the internet since 4 am! Yesterday was another great day at Brain Trust. I was able to drive to school rather than load up two bodas. We celebrated the fact that the car Alex has loaned me started without a push start. More about that another time!!

I had the pleasure of working with the ‘Top Class’ today, actually the eldest nursery children. They handle big panga knives from when they are quite young for everything or even cutting toe nails and sharpening pencils with a razor blade, just the blade, no holder, (my heart is often in mouth!) but they are not familiar with scissors. It only took a careful demonstration and a few readjustments of fingers for them all to succeed. Mind you I did find one little girl trying to cut her school uniform!

The three girls in the photo were super quick at the activity! I do so enjoy working in the hall where it is cool and airy rather than the cramped classrooms. We were late finishing and playtime had started. I stay put under the hall roof with my water and snack bar and bananas but as you see I am never alone! Love it! Click on the first photo for slide show and do watch the videos. One is of the children manoeuvering heavy desks around with no fear for their bare feet or fingers! The second is a group of children singing and dancing a thank you Madam Gerry song! Back again soon!