Arrival 28 December

Written Sunday 29th December 

I’ve made it!

After coming very close to cancelling my visit to Uganda altogether because I was exhausted from weeks of coughing and sleepless nights, I’m here feeling very much loved and cared for in the home of my very good friends the Mwase family who l will spend almost a week with, actually until next year!! The few days leading up to Christmas I had begun to feel a bit better, less coughing and even sleeping a little more but the long journey here on top of already feeling ‘washed out’ has just about finished me off! Last night staying at Banana Village I coughed all night and couldn’t imagine travelling any further but the sun streaming through the window and the fact that my friendly and reliable taxi man Charles was waiting for me outside, gave me the encouragement to get up and go, though a bit slowly!

When Charles witnessed my cough he offered to get me ‘local medicine’ and ‘biotics’ that would make me well in two days! He asked ‘Do they not have ‘biotics’ in the UK’? No good trying to explain about resistance to anti-biotics here in Uganda!

The journey from Entebbe to Jinja on the Nile was the usual tediously long one of stop start break repeat, with vehicles including the boda motorcycle taxi and local ‘suicide’ (my name for them!) mini-buses zig-zagging in and out of the traffic at breakneck speed! Going slow does award you the opportunity to take in all the typical everyday life of Africa, including the piles of mouthwatering fruit! Mangoes, watermelon, jackfruit, oranges and my favourite, pineapples! The local people here have suffered greatly in the recent floods and landslides but it seems the fruit is even more abundant and more delicious and I couldn’t resist the pineapples. Well, I’ve heard they’re very good for sore throats and coughs!

Tonight Godfrey went out specially to buy my first Nile Beer of my visit which I always look forward to but I didn’t like it! Seriously I’ve gone off beer and wine! Other than mulled wine I’ve not enjoyed any alcohol recently. Miriam said she would make me a drink that would help my cough and that I would enjoy, and I did!

New cough relief drink – squash freshly harvested pineapple in a cup of boiling water and sip. It works!!

Fempads – reusable sanitary towels for Uganda, a real life-changer!

Fempads – reusable sanitary towels for Uganda, a real life-changer!
Can any of us imagine what it must be like for girls and women not to have sanitary products easily available and affordable, for their monthly cycle? Well for the majority of females in Uganda, and I imagine other 3rd World Countries, it is the norm! Instead they have to use old rags, dried leaves, grass or paper – school girls sometimes tearing pages from school books.
Menstruation can be a life-restricting monthly event for women & girls, and the reason that girls do not attend school during their period in Uganda and women find it extremely difficult in the workplace. Also when girls start missing school they are far more likely to be exposed to other risks such as early pregnancy and marriage, and contracting HIV/AIDS.

If you remember, last year on the last day in Uganda and on my way to Entebbe airport, I visited my friend Patrick and his wife in Kevin who live on the outskirts of Kampala. They have a project teaching ladies who have had little or no education, the basic 3R’s. They also learn skills that could help them earn a living such as hairdressing, tailoring, basic computer and the latest knitting (many of you donated wool and needles!).
Before I left the UK for my trip to Ugandan in February earlier this I had seen on the internet the idea of reusable sanitary pads and had spoken briefly to Brain Trust head teacher Charles who had confirmed all of the above. Primary schools in Uganda have classes up Year 7, pupils of 14 years and sometimes older so the problems were very familiar to him.
My daughter Nicola sent me the downloaded instructions of how to make disposable ‘feminine pads’ and I decided to speak to Patrick about it thinking his group could make some. I showed him the design, the pattern and instructions and he was really interested.
It was strange but very refreshing to listen to him discuss maybe what we would call a ‘ladies problem’ openly with the other lunch guests Innocent and taxi driver Charles, none showing any sign of embarrassment. The menstrual cycle is just another part of life in Uganda but one that causes millions of women and girls big problems. They have no money so buying sanitary towels is out of the question.
So I left the idea with Patrick and since then they have made several hundred fempads and donated them to those who need them, most recently to young women at a Youth Camp in Western Uganda. Brilliant!
Patrick’s group are prepared to go on making and delivering the fempads as long as they can afford the materials involved so this is where we come in. Please would you make a donation to this ‘fempad project’ so the ladies being taught skills in Patrick’s group can help others. Each fempad costs approximately 1000 Ugx and they are given out in packs of five. At today’s exchange rate it works out at roughly £1 a pack.
(To clarify, the pads are washed and reused, not disposable)
Please get in touch if you would like to help. Thank you
I recently received this message from Patrick ‘I have a suggestion that we will send you the Sanitary Pads we are going to make when you are in Uganda and you can share them with the girls and women of Kamuli.’ Kamuli is the district where I deliver mosquito nets so wouldn’t it be great to be able to donate fempads to the ladies too!
I can send you the link to the instructions if you fancy making some fempads for me to take to Uganda sometime!

ASANTE SANA (Thank you very much!) MARTON PRIMARY SCHOOL, Macclesfield!

It’s been an amazing week, with donations for mosquito nets coming in steadily which is great news. And on Monday I presented an assembly to Marton School, Macclesfield thanking them for their previous hard work raising money for many mosquito nets for Uganda. I told them about my last trip earlier this year, showing them photos and video footage of their nets being delivered plus giving them examples of my life in Uganda for instance about the night the flying ants arrived, me helping to prepare them for cooking and yes, me eating some! And what a surprise at the end when I was presented with a cheque that will buy 140 nets, amazing! That’s a lot of people protected from mosquitoes, saving a lot of sickness and even deaths from malaria. So wonderful! Most of this money was raised by Ellie, Tilly and Maddie doing a sponsored triathlon and Oliver, Alice, Maddie and Isla a sponsored climb up Snowdon. What inspirational children! Also the school Ethos group, who do work in school to promote the Marton school vision and values, sold hands of friendship which I will be taking to Uganda. Marton is an amazing school with a big heart and I cannot thank them enough for their support. I look forward to returning in 2020 to report back to them how my upcoming trip to Uganda goes, not long now!

Marton school also donated coloured pencils to Brain Trust Nursery and Primary School in Nawanyago, Uganda. Lessons are now more colourful! Below we were learning about each others countries which included drawing our flags. Having colour made all the difference. So thank you once again Marton Primary School!

Yes, ASANTE SANA MARTON PRIMARY SCHOOL for your continued support for those in need in Uganda.