My last day at Innocents home – picking produce to bring home!

There is a sad atmosphere in the home today which adds to my thoughts that today is my last day with this lovely family . Early tomorrow morning I start my journey home. I shall miss being here so much so must make the most of today. I’m off with Innocent to harvest and bring home fresh produce from the surrounding area. Should be fun! BYW I’ve checked customs restrictions and am taking note! Don’t want to be detained when I get to Manchester especially I’m looking forward to my first hug in a while from my hubby Big Norman! BFN

11.15 – I’m sat in the shade on a sack of potato leaves, feed for the animals, watching Innocent and Alex dig for sweet potatoes for me to bring home. They are very different from the sweet potatoes we have in the UK. Edith the owner of the land , the lady who has renamed me Mirende Gerry meaning peace, told Innocent that I should sit with her while they walk down the hill as it’s steep, ground uneven and the grass and plants are very high. Well, when I got out of bed this morning I said to myself that I was going to make the most of my last day here in this beautiful country where I feel so at home and in particular this village where everyone greets me warmly. It will be another 15 months before I return, and besides that I will be sat down for hours and hours tomorrow so exercise is definitely good preparation for that! So I didn’t take her advice, I had my sun hat on, my full water bottle over my shoulders so off I went following Innocent. Alex and Paul were way ahead of us. Ok I did take it very carefully and take advantage of Innocents outstretched hand when the going got a bit difficult once or twice but, even carrying the heavy hoe, I made it and I think I impressed Innocent! He said it’s because I’m a tough bird! He reckons I told him my hubby called me that!

The heavy rains and floods before Christmas had affected the potato crop here badly and Innocent is having difficulty finding some for me. I keep saying not to worry but he is determined, that’s Innocent!

Before we headed down here Innocent had already cut down a great hand of matoki, letting me select it, and several small hands of the delicious sweet bananas. My cases are going to be full!

A few hours later we were back home after going to the trading centre for other supplies eg my water! The only problem with my little excursion this morning was that I got covered in Black Jack thorns! I purposely wore shorts instead of a dress but the grass was so high and hiding lots of the BJ plants! It took me, Judith and Paul ages to pick them all off and they went halfway up my t-shirt!

Matoki

Ever since I came to Uganda in 2002 I have always fancied having a go at peeling matoki, the hard savoury banana that is steamed in banana fronds, mashed and eaten nearly every day. It might ‘only be a banana ‘ but it has a reputation for being very difficult to peel and I’ve seen ladies in Kamuli market peeling it for people who don’t want the mucky hard job themselves! I now know first hand why matoki has that reputation because I helped Betty peel some this afternoon! They are so hard and sticky! My hand really aches afterwards but I wasn’t going to let on to Betty!

When we had finished peeling, young Paul appeared with the cooking oil and proceeded to pour it on my hands! I was to rub it on the sticky black stains but they wouldn’t come off! Then a scourer type cloth was given to me but it was still a while and a lot of scrubbing before my hands turned Mzungu colour again! I’ve seen people using the dry soil or sand to remove it sometimes and that would have been the next thing to try if the scourer hadn’t worked!! And the boys got hold of my phone and recorded the event! The photos and video are rather hit and miss but they loved doing it and it’s keeping them amused as they keep looking at them again and again! Here are some of them!!

Every day shoes go ‘missing’ here and the culprit has been caught on camera now!

Norman has a liking for knives too but no one seems to worry too much about it! He often picks up food as he goes past too!! I will miss that little man!

More photos !!!

Mozzi nets to Kitayundwa

We have delivered the last of the 700 mosquito nets that have been donated, today. Thank you all so so much! That is 1700 altogether since October 2017! Quite an achievement I would say, so well done!

Today I drove the pick-up, for the last time this year, accompanied by Innocent from Nawanyago to Kamuli to meet up with Godfrey without whose help none of this would happen, as he orders and picks up the nets for me, and he is the owner of the lovable pick-up!

We were to deliver to his mums village, Kitayundwa. We transferred to his rather more comfortable car and for the rest of the day I did nothing but survey the scene and take a few photos! Godfrey had organised for most of the recipients of the nets to gather under a tree where his very able daughter Abi  and her friend did the handing over of the nets. I was purely a spectator, so different to my other deliveries! I just had to sit back and watch which sounds very nice but I found myself falling asleep!!

Godfrey’s mum kindly provided lunch, with an extra side dish of ants as I think I had sat on an ant nest or they were dropping from the trees! One bit me and i had to scrape it off/out of my skin!!

Godfrey kindly drove us back home where l had  a school trunk to sort and various other chores in preparation for my departure on Wednesday. I had also promised Alex and Paul that I would walk to the bore hole with them, accompanied of course by little Norman, always in the mix! Nico, my young deaf friend came too, then persuaded me to go and visit his family. It was a happy outing!

What I forgot to mention was that on the way to Kamuli the number plate fell off again! So the ‘free’ repair didn’t last long! We discovered this when a taxi-bus (my name for them in suicide buses!!) went hurtling past me on a bend beeping his horn. This is normal behaviour of this local transport! But today the driver was actually alerting me to the fact I was losing the number plate so I must be grateful!

Paul found the FC hat amongst my craft things and hasn’t taken it off since!!

Visit to Good Luck Junior School

17/1 Return visit to Good Luck Junior School in Nawantumbi. Marton Primary in Macclesfield had been raising money for mosquito nets and one of the ways their Ethos group thought of was to ‘sell’ hands of friendship which were then given to me to bring out to Uganda. I had given them to  the school when we delivered mosquito nets to all the families of the pupils, and had promised to go back and help them make return hands. Today was the day even after a long day of celebration yesterday, and night(!), yesterday left me exhausted!

We were due at 10 am but William one of Innocents friends still here after the party noticed the back number plate was hanging off which didn’t surprise me, but I’ve learnt not to worry about such minor’ things in Uganda, confidant that my young friends will know what to do which of course they did! We just stopped off at the Nawanyago Iron Works on our way. Two welders busy working on a job, stopped immediately and started working on securing the number plate, soldering it on somewhere! And they didn’t charge! Innocent gave them 5000 (£1) between them ‘for their efforts’ and they were apparently very pleased with that! See photos!

John Baptist, William and Fazie were travelling with us and I noticed to my horror when I looked in the mirror, John and William stood up at the back of the pick-up ‘catching the air’ but I’m relieved to say Fazie, disabled, and the more sensible, sat inside the pick-up however uncomfortable it must be! We eventually made it to the school, ok two hours late, but still had a wonderful welcome.

When we delivered mosquito nets to the school I had given Ibrahim the paper Hands of Friendship made by Marton PS in Macclesfield. I said I would return and help the children make hands to send back and here we were. I say we as not only was there Innocent but also Fazie, John Baptist and William. They had all been at the party and wanted to come and help me! I’m glad they did as organising approx forty children to do the hands with nothing to sit on and an activity strange to them, was no easy task but between Ibrahim, John and William, all teachers, I was able to sit in the doorway of the school office which was the coolest place in the midday heat and just offer any advice needed! 

Ibrahim had told the children they could come to school to meet Madam Gerry again and many did turn up along with a couple of teachers and some interested parents who were very interested in having a go themselves!!!

Hands completed I taught them the Jambo Song and the Hokey Hokey because of which attracted quite a crowd of onlookers!

Before we left I gave Ibrahim a bag of tennis balls and he threw one to the children who soon organised themselves into a great game. I think they are going to love those balls! Thank you Higher Poynton Tennis Club and Fiona who donated them!

Gifts of sugarcane and bananas!!