Sunday-The first big hot mosquito net delivery!!
I’m writing up my blog sat in Gerry’s Plaza. Innocent is just about to go down to the trading centre to get us a very well deserved Nile Beer!!
It’s pitch black, no light pollution here except for my phone, and there’s the chorus of night time critters all around. Love an African night!
Today was hot hot hot 🥵 and it was the day my ‘new’ transport arrived to help me deliver m mosquito 🦟 nets many of you have sponsored. It’s always difficult to know when you are going to find people at home and as it’s a Sunday many were at church in a morning so we didn’t set off until after noon when the sun was highest in the sky giving little or no shade! The car itself is a 15 year old pickup who was certainly showing its age (like me!) and I apologise now to my hubby Norman as I might be in the habit of slamming car doors really hard when I come home! The pickup had some funny little quirks for getting the windows and doors to work (Charles had to climb over my drivers seat to get out until we worked out how the door opened!) but basically, though rather old with the usual creaks and wonky joints like me, it worked! Today we were giving nets to those children at Brain Trust that missed out last year and newcomers to the school especially the nursery children that are most affected if they get Malaria.
I’m amazed how far out we had to travel to reach some of the homes! Some children, and Charles himself who walks to school and back every day, live a few km away!
The road, better described as a deeply rutted mud track, threw up the usual challenges where many a time I had to steer the wheels along either edge of a deep crater! Twice we came across massive sugar cane trucks blocking the way, collecting the cane from individual farmers who had foolishly rented their land out to the industry for a measly 1.800,000 (£400) for six years! The Land then has to be left fallow for a time because all its nutrients have been used up by the sugar cane! So many are tempted with the short term gain then find themselves unable to grow crops to feed their families! Of course the government should prevent its people being taken advantage of like this but money talks!
Anyway back to my story! The first of the lorries had been piled so high and precariously, (the workers are paid by the weight) that it had tipped right over completely blocking the track! One of the workers waved me to drive the pickup through an area of uneven grassland which, as Charles warned, could be hiding anything. I knocked on the glass behind me to alert Innocent to jump out and check the area carefully. I cautiously followed his lead and was safely guided through.
The second truck was parked right across the track with men balancing precariously on the top to receive the sugar cane that is passed up to them. When I drove up they just stopped work and stared, probably at the shock of seeing a Mzungu driving a pickup in the middle of nowhere! It took a while for it to register that I wanted to pass and even then that I expected them to actually move their vehicle but with a set of hand gestures, polite ones I promise, and perseverance with said gestures, the truck was slowly moved out of the way. My friends are not surprised anymore of the way I manage what could be awkward situations so let me get on with it most of the time! I don’t speak the language but this is an advantage because I can’t get into noisy slanging matches which is normally what happens in these cases!
As it’s only a two seater Innocent was in the back with the nets and the spare wheel, in fact he found the shape of the spare wheel just right for a seat! I was worried he would melt under the bright orange plastic sheet that covered the area, but he hopped out at each stop looking fresher than Charles or I!
Charles knew where every child lived and their circumstances so would guide me which is good as every track, bush and homestead looked similar to me. I’d hate to get lost here!
We were greeted with excitement by the children and even some of the mothers broke into a smile falling on their knees and offering a handshake as a greeting to each of us. Once we handed over the nets Innocent would go through how to wash them. Nets could last a few years if they allowed themselves only to wash once or twice a year, which is difficult for most Ugandans who love to wash and scrub everything all the time!
There are many fatherless families here and even a bigamist, which is still allowed in Uganda! We went to the wrong wife!
With the awkwardness of getting to each homestead we had still only delivered 30 nets by 5pm but I needed a break from the relentless heat and I had to admit a proper rest! We had been at it four hours and had gone through several litres of water and two hands of tiny sweet bananas but I could feel my wobbly legs coming on! One way I kept a little cooler was by wetting my head at every opportunity and even put my head under the borehole pipe to the amusement of people around. It worked! In fact with the dripping hair and the wet hat (which dried within a few minutes by the way), I was much more comfortable.
I will forward photos of all donated nets and their recipients directly to those who sponsored them. These are just an example.