24/06 Same project, different car!

Well that was a much calmer, constructive and productive day, though maybe not quite so many laughs as yesterday and certainly no paddling in flood water to cool me down! Today we delivered over fifty nets compared to less than twenty yesterday. We had an extra pair of hands too, John Baptist Zaake who I have known since 2002 when he was twelve and living in the children’s home where I spent my first stay in Uganda. It’s lovely being able to keep up with some of these young people watching them grow into fine adults and parents. John is now has a wife and son. It’s like coming home every year when we meet up. John’s job today was to explain to the receivers of the nets how to look after them, washing them only occasionally and very gently, hanging them in the shade to dry, not the sun as that has an effect on the chemicals the nets are treated with. We want the nets you have generously donated to last as long as possible!     One thing that was rather tiring for the boys was that the ‘new’ car had its problems too! Alex had told me that it had a small problem starting – that was very understating! Firstly we realised that the spare wheel had been stolen from the car which I had parked right outside my window overnight – bit spooked by that as it feels as if someone has been watching me, and I’m sure they have! People are so poor here that unfortunately some will take advantage of any chance to make money! I had to be push started by the boys as we realised the battery was dead and when we went to the local petrol station it stalled again! The whole day was spent trying not to let the car stop which was very difficult with the tracks we were following. In second it had no hope so I was keeping it in first a lot of the time which of course is not good for any vehicle! The boys advised me that from now on I should park the car in the petrol station overnight as the armed guard would look after it for 2000 Ugandan Shillings (40p!). I was a bit dubious about this but I have learnt to trust my young friends, after all they live here! I asked Innocent to tell the Askari that I would give him a bonus at the end of the week and he was very happy with that and the car was looked after very well – his bonus was 10,000 (£2) and he was over the moon with that!

Guess what? I’m there again! The bar where the best internet is. Ok I do have a beer in front of me and my team is enjoying a Nile too! Click on the first photo to see slideshow x



23/6 last episode of this particular cars saga!

3 pm – We’re out of the flood and delivering nets again! But the internet was much better when we were in the water!!!

An hour later this is what I reported – I thought we were ‘out of the water’ as we got on and delivered some nets but now the battery is flat!!! Thank goodness one of the young friends I have helping me is a trained mechanic! He was permanently disabled when knocked down by a car and completely lost the use of one arm and partially a leg but guess what, he has just fixed the car with no tools and is driving! You’ll be pleased to hear I have organised another vehicle for tomorrow if I survive!

And then, guess what? We had to return the same way, through the flood! But this time my one armed hero Fazie is driving. Thank goodness its an automatic!

and lastly – Just helped push the car back though the flood! Yes it got stuck again! Thanks to the walking sandles I’ve had since climbing Kilimanjaro in 2001, I stayed upright! Im enjoying my nice cool feet now! Thank you to my friends Innocent, Charles the head teacher and Fazie my disabled but extremely able friend who is now driving me home! What a day!

Last posts from a very chaotic day – I can see the main road home but we’ve just run out of fuel so Innocent has gone off with a can to find some! Apparently the petrol station is not far away thank goodness!

We are back!! The dead bear has been replaced where it belongs and I can’t wait to have a ‘polite’ word with Livingstone when he comes to collect his pile of junk! I know we have been laughing all day and I wouldn’t have missed the fun and companionship BUT that man actually put our lives at risk, in oarticular mine as, if it hadn’t had the forethought to take four 1.5 litre bottles of water with us along with bananas and other snacks and other items, I for one could have been made quite poorly! The good news is that we are home safe and sound and dear Judith Innocent’s mum has made lunch of four pots! We will be having another meal of similar portions tonight! It is 17.23 now!

Just before we went to return the car I had to get a phto of it and my trusty team Innocent, Fazie and Charles! Doing what they are good at, pushing!!


23/6 continued! Latest episode re car and net delivery!

Ok, latest episode!! We filled up with fuel but still didn’t get very far because, when I needed to reverse, guess what? Reverse doesn’t work! So out the three men get and push! That’s ok, I’m just driving!!!
We did manage to deliver a few nets on behalf of Marton Primary in Congleton. These people are so happy to see a Mzungu and especially thankful for the life saving gift. Ar the same time we were giving pens and pencils out to each child. These had been donated by the ladies of Marple Methodist Church and also our lovely niece Vicky Smith.

Please click on first photo to see titles. And then the latest news on this wonderful car….The internet is great where we are…..please scroll down to the video!

Now the latest news on this wonderful car….The internet is great where we are……….

Oh how I just love Uganda!



23/06 Dead bear removed, ready for the first mosquito net delivery or are we…….?

Dead ‘bear’ removed from dashboard, one hundred mosquito nets on board, licence and passport in my bag, several litres of water, first aid kit, emergency rations (bananas!), torch and mosquito repellent, and more water! All in case we get stranded somewhere! Oh yes and my bog in a bag!! All set , friend Fazie in the passenger seat to remind me how to drive an automatic and I start the car. It doesn’t!!! The boys laugh at my inability! Then decide it’s not me, we have no fuel!! So off Innocent goes on a boda with a can to fetch fuel! I love Uganda!! Third time lucky maybe? I will let you know!!

21 & 22 June – Reporting from Wallet Pub, Nawanyago, Uganda

21/06 And it’s still pouring! Well that was a great session I had at Innocents bar, Wallet Pub, last night showing the excited children as their new desks were delivered. And I’m here again now and the rain is thundering down on the corrugated roof! No, I didn’t mean a session of the ice cold Nile Beer Innocent sells!!

So good to hear from many of you once I’d managed, at last, to put a post on Facebook. For some reason it is much easier to post on my Gerry’s Uganda WhatsApp Group but you need to own a smart phone to use WhatsApp. If you do want to join though I just need your mobile number. I will continue to put the posts on Facebook though and of course eventually on my website but the news won’t be as it happens!

Because I stayed so long at the bar (only one Nile, honest! Though they are big bottles!), the journey home was in the dark and also it was raining heavily which brought the temperature down. Though I tried to keep down and sheltered behind the driver, I was actually cold on the boda (motorbike taxi)! I hadn’t thought of taking a coat.
But as soon as we arrived home the smell of food and the “welcome back” from Innocents Mum Judith and his wife-to-be Betty soon warmed me up. They had got a spread of ‘starters’ for us – fresh pineapple, roasted g-nuts and roasted maize! I started tucking in then remembered the meal they were busy cooking on the veranda!! I had lost a stone before coming to Uganda, reckon it’s on its way back on again! Oh well I have to keep my energy up don’t I!!!

22/06 I drove a car tonight for about one minute, straight into a ditch! Watched by many amused locals! The reason this happened, my excuse…….
Tomorrow we start delivering mosquito nets to the most neediest of families who have children at Brain Trust PS. Innocent said he knew someone who would lend us his car for the weekend and we were to meet him down at the bar. There was still plenty of light left at the time we had arranged to meet but just down the road from the bar the car was in pieces! Several men, I wouldn’t call them mechanics, were working on it. It took several hours, yes hours, when I couldn’t even have a beer because I would be having my practice drive, or so I thought!
By the time Livingstone appeared with the keys it was pitch black, the trading centre was heaving with people and the main road very busy with it being Saturday night.
I wasn’t that keen to try out a strange car in this situation but what could surely go wrong, the car!! I got in but couldn’t find where to put the ignition key, fumbling round in the dark. Innocent and the owner were already sniggering when I suddenly found it – under the ‘dead’ long haired bear lying on the dashboard!
There was no inside light in the car and it was pitch black outside so it was pot luck what I could find plus the fact that I’m not familiar with an automatic. Anyway I got it going and followed the men’s advice to turn hard left off the grass verge and into the road. ‘Suicide’ taxi buses were hurtling about along with masses of boda bodas. I decided this was not a good idea at all so stopped the car and told the men I would practice tomorrow morning. What I hadn’t realised was that I had stopped with one side of the car in a ditch! I had only followed instructions!
I went back to the bar where Charles, the head of Brain Trust PS, was waiting to discuss plans for tomorrow. He pointed back in the direction of the car where it was refusing to move for anybody. I went to find out what the problem was. Innocent had put a little local fuel in it just to get us to the big petrol station tomorrow, and when I had stopped the car it was at an angle, the fuel had all tipped to one side preventing it working and starved the engine of fuel. I walked back the few metres to the bar and minutes later I was on my way home on a boda!
I’m still debating if we will have a car tomorrow! 100 mosquito nets donated by Marton Primary School in Congleton are a bit heavy to carry and we have a lot of miles to travel in and out of the tiny hidden away hamlets. Will let you know!
PS That ‘dead bear’ has to go if I’m driving!