Our final week! On Monday, we revisited the nearby city of Jinja with some of the Okadi family and Pastor Tom. Our main goals: visiting the ‘source’ of the river Nile and some shopping… African crafts can make for good presents and we wanted to pick up a few Ugandan woven baskets before leaving. Gorreti was a valuable asset in bargaining! On visiting the source we were horrified (but not surprised) at the difference between the Ugandan and ‘Other’ entrance fees. Despite being tempted to turn around, Sam came to the rescue with some expert haggling. After a short, hot walk, we found a pretty, clear view towards the ‘source’ and a few small islands where fishermen base themselves in straw huts when not in their boats -not a bad office apart from the threat of African river life…
We finished off the trip with some coffee, cake and card games. Later that evening we were party to another spontaneous ‘Okadi choir’ singing sesh. Just love the rich voices and effortless harmonies they can produce!
On Tuesday morning we had a meeting with Sister Mable who is the Kawolo nurse lead for outreach. We really wanted to increase communication between Kawolo and Living Water staff and also, clear up some issues to improve the service- hopefully this will be a positive step forward for the programme.
Bright and early on Wednesday morning we -along with David our clinical officer- were picked up by Zuzana and Barbora to go to their clinic in Buikwe. We were keen to have as many of the Living Water staff as possible visit the clinic to see how well our service could run in the future. Hopefully, it will provide some motivation for our staff and valuable links to other health centres. On arrival, we had time for tea and were treated to homemade pancakes with nutella -yum! Zuzana (not a morning person) had dragged herself out of bed at 6am to prepare these for us… We then went through to hear the morning education talk that the clinical officer was leading for the patients. We left David with the other clinical officer to go over day to day life at the clinic and Barbora took us to visit Buikwe hospital. It is a private set up but offers treatment for very reasonable rates and facilities are much of an improvement from the government-run Kawolo. The Slovakian nun, Sister Lowra, welcomed us for a tour around the hospital.
Despite limited resources, it was clean and well organised. Fortunately, we were able to re-donate some intensive care airway equipment that we couldn’t use at the clinic and the hospital staff were delighted to receive it.
We then went back to the clinic to rescue David from the enthusiastic clinical officer amidst a heap of paperwork, said our goodbyes and boarded a bumpy taxi back to Lugazi.
On Thursday we worked desperately to try and wrap everything up -including a final crochet class with Edith. We were also invited to visit Milly, the clinic cook, at her house and had the opportunity to purchase some beautiful mats she had woven herself. We were humbled to see that her house was made up of one small general room with a tiny sleeping area attached.
There she looks after her three grandchildren by herself: two of whom are orphaned, while the other is also from a very difficult background. Despite having very little, she insisted on buying us a soda because in Uganda if you have visitors you must give them something to eat or drink. We had no choice but to graciously accept…
Friday came round too quickly and we spent the morning shopping at the market for lunch ingredients -a goodbye ‘British’ meal of pasta, vegetables and sauce. We were slightly concerned about cooking enough to satiate the Ugandan posho-primed bellies and happened to mention this to Sam. He was slightly alarmed that our offerings should constitute the whole lunch and quickly pointed out that Milly should most definitely cook something also. Ha –he was so right!
We spent a couple of hours preparing and gathered everyone (and a few randoms) for the meal. It was well received and luckily the clinic was quiet so we could proceed with education session afterwards. Our admin lady Robinah managed to present this week, with some persuasion, and everyone discussed the topic well.
We further primed the staff for a ‘general goodbye’ meeting with pineapple and cakes but unfortunately, there was a delay as Pastor Sam was held up with other business. Time for some improvised Ceilidh dancing –which everyone found hilarious!
After all the exertion, some staff members just couldn’t keep awake during the meeting… We had a quick round up of the past 2 months; comments on positive aspects of the clinic work; recapped future aims; and discussed areas that need more focus. Altogether it was a good meeting. After our goodbyes, we had to rush to Annette’s house as she insisted we come for dinner. What a spread she laid on for us!
Saturday was spent hand washing clothes, popping down to the clinic to finish off some work and make sure weekend staff were ok.
We also said our sad goodbyes to staff at Hallelujah supermarket. In the afternoon we managed do most of our packing and had the evening to enjoy the family’s company.
After lunch on Sunday there was quite a downcast atmosphere before we left and it really felt as though the family were sad to see us go. We were sad to leave -there is so much more to do! But perhaps we would have felt like that no matter how long we were there.
Poor Gordon chose the very last day of our trip to succumb to Africa-belly. It was a bit touch and go but we made it to the airport with only one stop required!
When we finally stepped onto the British Airways flight it was like entering into a completely different world –almost like boarding a spaceship! Soon, we were zipping our way through the dark night under the stars, towards home and a land very different to the one we had just left. The flight probably wasn’t Gordon’s best ever but he made it back in one piece (albeit 5kg lighter than when he left two months ago)…
Finally, we have been back a few days now and it’s already been busy. Both of us have felt a strange mixture of feelings: cold; slightly unnerved by the lack of orange dust; pleased to be reunited with milk, Special-K, raw vegetables and our families; disgruntled with resuming UK life and the pace that western life demands; and a desire to maintain contact with Living Water and all the great people we met. What the future holds in store for us we cannot know but hopefully it includes the opportunity to visit Lugazi again one day!
Thank you to all those who have supported us on our trip and also to those who continue to support the Capstone program out in Uganda. Without regular UK funding, the projects in Lugazi would grind to a halt. The aim to achieve a self-sustaining future for the local people of Lugazi is more than admirable and having witnessed it first hand, we believe it cannot be allowed to fail.
If you like to find out more about our trip, ways in which you can help or simply to say hello and welcome back, we would love to hear from you.
For more details about the charity please visit: capstoneprojects.org.uk
Until next time…
Lots of love,
Gordon & Raz xx