My wife Julie, and I, had travelled together to Kampala in July of 2014. I was part way though my year of travel as I chased after more of the 7 summits and Julie was on her annual return trip to Mengo Hospital where she was running a regular support programme for the nursing staff.
So when in July this year Julie set of for her annual visit to Uganda I was a little disappointed to be staying behind at home in Sydney. But things had a way of working out, deadlines at work were met, catastrophes averted and so I had the opportunity to leave work behind and make a surprise visit to Kampala.
Julie’s surprise was real and well worth the 24 hours I spent sitting in planes and airport lounges. And within a few hours I was back in contact with friends that I had made in Kampala the previous year –
- Harriet, the amazing midwife at Wakisa Ministries. Naomi the finance clerk who had suffered through two weeks of me reviewing the Wakisa financial systems and who had really doubted the benefits of moving the accounting from handwritten journals to spreadsheets.
- Chris and Jonty and Clair who are the driving force behind Our Forgotten Children, a not for profit working with young children in Kampala.
And of course the sights and sound that are Kampla –
- The constant traffic noise as the vans, the trucks, the cars and the boda boda (motorbikes) move masses of people and merchandise around the city.
- The street sweepers that never stop cleaning the red dust from the gutters, only to have it blow back in place behind them as they move along their allotted section of roadway.
- The open markets from which you can buy almost any fruit or vegetable that you would want. Even the wheelbarrow man selling fresh pineapples, whole or sliced, to anyone that will stop.
- And the Java coffee house – my favourite spot for an early morning coffee to start the day.
- ??? shopping centre. Very much a shopping mall influenced by and visited by the westerners that make Kampala their home.
But my most memorable time was spent out in the rural villages. Once again Chris provided me with the most amazing experience. In 2014 it was visiting two young boys they (OFC) were assisting with schooling. Richard and Ronald
This year it was a trip west, almost half way across Uganda, we crossed that equator, that in itself was an experience (another story maybe) and then continued south west to visit a village that OFC have been assisting for the past 2 years.
On this visit we would visit Anne, a young girl who had been deserted by her parents and now cared for by her Jaja (grandmother). Several months earlier OFC had found a doctor prepared to operate to reduce the swelling of her skull caused by her illness. The operation had been considered a success and Anne was now back living with her Jaja. The cost of the operation approx. USD350! And for that this young girl now had a future, she still had a long way to go – she had to learn to walk, but she now had a chance. Spending time with this family was a privilege. I was definitely the odd one out, a Muzungo – white man (very white), in the middle of Africa.
For ?? Sam it was a similar story. Two of his siblings siblings had died from illness and he was also unwell when OFC stepped in to asisst with supporting the family. He was scheduled for surgery and OFC were also providing support to the family that would hopefully enable them to establish a small pig farm and earn an income.
And after two days with these two young children, their families, their neighbours and their extend village I felt I too had to provide some help – no matter how small. The opportunity came when we went back into the local town to buy supplies. OFC have been supporting these two families for many months. I was able to provide that some of that support for the next month by purchasing the supplies –
- 6kg of sugar
- 8kg of rice
- 30kg of maize flour
- long bars of soap
- 2 tubs of vaseline jelly
all for the sum of 99,600 Ugandan Shillings (aproox AU$ 32)! And when it was delivered – well it was almost to much to handle – these people were so grateful for what had been provided.
Click on this link to view photos from the Uganda 2015 gallery.