Time to put my degree in transport (you can see the certificate if you don’t believe me) to good use, and write about how people get around in Uganda. We experienced Kampala traffic on the first morning (pictured above) but most of the places we have been to have been rather more rural.
The heirarchy of transport appears to be: foot / bicycle / motorbike / transport shared with lots of other people. An example of the latter is shown above, though there are minibus taxis too (less photogenic). I quite liked the example below – one of many vehicles with Bible verses and the like on them. Exodus 3:7 is about freedom from oppression: “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.”
Many people ride bicycles, and use them to carry all manner of things. The picture below shows goats being carried – and yes, they are alive. Our driver, Joseph, asked the lady before I took this shot. Joseph thought it surprising that we find carrying live goats on the back of a bicycle unusual.
These children are using a bike to carry water in the yellow plastic cans that seem to be commonly used. I wonder how far they had to go.
This afternoon I had the opportunity to try riding a Ugandan bicycle. The picture (thanks to Bex) shows me giving Joseph a lift – ‘roles reversed‘, as Liz put it. The bikes are mostly very large and heavy with rod brakes and sprung saddles. They are the kind of bikes one might have had in the UK in the early 20th century. I imagine, though I couldn’t find any information online, that the design is from colonial days. But on these roads durable is more important than light.
For many of the people we have been meeting even owning a bicycle is something they can only hope to be able to do one day. This is where PEP, the process supported by Tearfund, comes in. Liz has explained what PEP is here, but in summary it is a programme helping people to see that change is possible if they make the most of what they have and work together with others in their communities.
Finally, and not especially related to transport at all, except that it is taken from one of our vans, an 11 second video I took this afternoon of children waving and running alongside us. They love to see vans and white people, both being somewhat of a rarity. (Click link to see video – trying to keep loading times down on the blog.)
Today we went to the church in Ogongora for the final time to join the people for a church service.
The singing was amazing. I have posted a video (which may or may not work) which I hope gives an impression, but in summary it was full of joy and life. This is not something I am used to. [Aside: we were told it was OK to use cameras in the service. Wouldn't normally do so...]
I’m not going to pretend I followed every word of the sermon, but one part of it was all about ‘borrowed things’, based on 2 Kings 6, Elisha and the axe. From my notebook: ‘Think of the things you have – are they yours? … Whatever God has given you – use it carefully’.
(This is the nearest thing you will find to a sermon on this blog, so if you come here for sermons make the most of it.)
There were other elements to the service – prayers, testimonies, Bible readings, (above) and whenever there was a gap another song was sung, each time seemly led by a different person without any (obvious) pre-planning. I really enjoyed participating, which is odd as I don’t really enjoy church services with overt displays of enthusiasm, clapping, etc, back home. I can’t really explain this.
All being well I’ll be back later with today’s blog posting, part II.
We were back at the village of Ogongora today. Some of the time was spent talking to people at the church – the photo above gives an impression of the surroundings. We drank tea and had food there too – I will write more about that another day.
Today I talked to three people who told me / us about the time in 2003 when they had to flee their villages during the occupation of the land by the LRA. One was our driver, Joseph, who told us some things, which I can’t really blog here, about how his uncle was killed. Then there was Pastor John (below). He described, from the villagers’ point of view, what it was like to have to flee because young people were being taken to be trained (if they survived, which many didn’t) as child soldiers. The people went to refugee camps, where sanitation was non-existent and there was no food. Some would come back to the village in the hope of harvesting their crops, but often those who did would be captured, tortured or killed. Hearing this story from three perspectives has brought home how much all of the people we are meeting have been through. When eventually they were able to come back to the village for good, the houses were burned, and they had to start again with nothing. This is where the PEP programme that I talked about yesterday comes in, to help people rebuild their lives. And this is why support for this kind of training for people in these situations is so important.
Part of the PEP programme has involved bringing the community together to decide on shared church goals. I heard from several of those responsible for working on these different projects. Most important (but not terribly photogenic) is the plan to drill a bore hole so that villagers do not have to walk a long way for water (and the water isn’t clean – 20 children a year die in the locality from diarrhea). A piece of land has been given for the purpose, some money has been raised, but there is now a wait for government money to come through. Other longer-term projects include a health centre and a new road. But in the next year or two it is hoped that a new church building with brick walls and a metal roof will replace the straw-roofed building that I have pictured above. Bricks (below) are being made by people in the village – this shows them in their pre-firing state. This is another good example of people doing things for themselves rather than waiting to be helped.
In the afternoon (actually, still before lunch, which happened at about 4pm) we visited Pastor Peter (below), who looks after a neighbouring church that has also undertaken the PEP programme. I suppose this emphasises that although we have seen one particular village, there are many many more where the same process is taking place. In the picture Peter is showing us the crops he has planted.
A final picture (below): children having their photo taken. We have taken many pictures of the children – they absolutely love it, and then love to see themselves in the picture on the back of the camera. You get the impression that they have rarely seen a camera before, though other Tearfund visitors have been, so I suspect we are not the first. Liz and Bex have many more pictures. We have also given them bubbles and balloons – great excitement in both cases.
I have entitled this post ‘hard lives’. It just seemed to me that these people have seen and experienced so much. I can’t really begin to imagine it. And yet they remain,on the whole and as far as I can tell, so happy and so hopeful.
Additional note: I’m aware that today my descriptions / photos are mainly of men. Liz and Bex talked to some women this morning – keep an eye on their blogs as I suspect they will write more about that soon (and click those links for more pictures of kids pulling faces). Oh, and a reminder – you can see all of our updates via the webpage tearfund.org/dave.
I have posted a set of my photos from Uganda on Flickr if you’d like to see them. They are mostly the ones posted on the blog, but there are a couple of extras.
Tomorrow we go back to the village, for the final time, for a church service. I suspect it will be unlike anything else I have experienced. Then, for the two remaining days in Soroti we will travel to two other villages to see what is happening there.
Posted by Dave at 8:35 pm on February 27, 2013 and filed under tfbloggers.
Today has been quite remarkable. We had our first visit to Ogongora, the village in Uganda that we have come to see. There is so much to say about it, and I’d hoped to do some drawings, but technical woes and feeling generally overwhelmed means that not-particularly-eloquent writing and photos will have to do again.
First of all, a bit about the village and what is happening there. The people there returned from a refugee camp about five years ago, having been displaced due to fighting. They had to start more or less from scratch, and Tearfund have been working through a local partner, PAG (Pentecostal Assemblies of God), to introduce a programme that helps local communities to improve their lives. This happens by showing people that they can make changes and improve things themselves, rather than relying on handouts. Ogongora is an example of this process, but it has been happening in many other villages too. The programme is called PEP – I can’t remember what this stands for.
So, about our visit. Picture 1, above: Children show us their drawings. These were some of the children who greeted us as we arrived, each wanting to shake us by the hand. They attend the nursery at the church. We gave them some paper to draw on – this was something very unusual for them. While we were there they had their me porridge (below), which for many could be their only meal of the day. One thing that struck me: it costs about £1.20 for a term for children to attend, but not all do as some families can’t afford it.
Above: The church building. This is the grandest building in the area. Just being in such an unfamiliar setting would have been enough to think about on its own, but we went on to speak to various people who told stories of how things have changed for them (see below).
Above: Drying-up rack. This is a simple example of the kind of change that has happened. Before the PEP programme was introduced dishes would often dry on the ground, which meant that all sorts of things could get on them, meaning that disease spread more easily. We heard that since this change was made people from other villages have seen it and used the idea.
We went to talk, via an interpreter, to a lady called Elizabeth (above). She is a widow and has leprosy. She has gone from begging to being one of the most prosperous people in the village as a result of the PEP programme. A lot of it (and I’m still learning about this, so please excuse vagueness/inaccuracy) seems to be about making a small amount go a long way as a result of a growth in confidence, persistence, making wise choices, and faith. This picture shows her granary (on Flickr I called it a larder, but you get the idea) where she stores produce that she has grown to that it keeps and can be sold. This means she can afford to grow more, and in the longer term she is hoping to move. The contents of the larder are shown below (corn, millet, and out of sight, soy gum (Bex thinks so anyway). You can read more about Elizabeth here on the Tearfund website.
This is a potted summary. We talked to other people – including Richard, who Liz has talked about here. Bex also has a great video of him playing a home-made instrument here (put computer on its side).
We’re going back to the village tomorrow. Thanks for your comments, and sorry not to have had time for reply to these and tweets. I promise that I will possibly do some drawing tomorrow.
Posted by Dave at 8:14 pm on February 26, 2013 and filed under tfbloggers.
Today we have travelling by road for most of the day getting to Soroti, our base for the week. I am tired and so am just going to post a few photos if that’s OK. I intend to draw tomorrow.
The journey was hot, bumpy, and quite scary a lot of the time, especially when it got dark. Let’s just say that safety standards are different here. But the main impression of the day will be of a wonderful country, full of variety, colour and interest. It was fascinating to pass so many places and people and see so many different things going on. Here are just one or two.
Uses for a bicycle. We saw mattresses, huge bundles of bananas, chickens, and everything else you can imagine on the back of bicycles and motorbikes.
Kids, on their way home from school. I liked the purple jumpers.
Truck, with people on the back. It doesn’t seem unusual for people to get around this way here, quite often with possessions or animals in the same vehicle. Our (local) driver told me that it was fine to take this picture, and these chaps seemed very pleased to have their photo taken.
Fish. This was my lunch. I know, it looks like we are living it up a bit. In reality I am told that when eating in Uganda there will be a menu with lots on it, but only one or two options will be available. At lunch today the option was fish. But I can’t deny, it was very tasty.
Sunset, an hour or two from Soroti. From this point on it got darker and the roads got worse.
Tomorrow we go to Ogongora for our first day seeing the work that the church, supported by Tearfund is doing. And, if all is well, there will be diagrams.
The bloggers have arrived in Uganda! I’ll do a proper update later today, but we reached the hotel in Entebbe just before 1am local time. We were up this morning for our lift to Soroti, where we will be staying for the rest of the time, but unfortunately our lift is yet to arrive. Traffic delays have set us back an hour and a half (so far). On the plus side it means I have some wifi to let you know I’m here.
Posted by Dave at 6:51 am on February 25, 2013 and filed under tfbloggers.
For much of the last week we’ve been in Devon doing all manner of crafts and sport at the Ashbury Hotel near Okehampton. It was the second time we’ve been and I can thoroughly recommend it – see the Manor House / Ashbury website if you want to know more. Great if you have kids, but great without too.
Today has been about packing for my trip to Uganda. We leave tomorrow! (exclamation mark to note how little time I still have). There are still a few things to tick off on the list (excerpt from the master list above – written by CW in the car yesterday), but I’m getting there. I’m still trying to work out whether I can fit in a scanner – it is a lightweight one but still a hefty addition to hand luggage. But it will improve the quality of my blogging over the next week considerably. Today I have been out to buy shoe laces and a door wedge.
Tomorrow I’m off at an early hour get to Heathrow for 9.30. The flight takes about 8 hours, and we get in at about 11pm local time.
It has all been a bit of a rush, so there hasn’t been as much time to reflect as I’d have liked. I’m excited, apprehensive about a few things, and very aware that it is a huge privilege to have this opportunity.
To follow all of our adventures you can keep an eye on tearfund.org/dave, or #tfbloggers on Twitter, or this blog, where I hope, if all is well, to blog each day – probably afternoon or early evening UK time. While you’re waiting, here is a taste of what we might have in store (video – you might need to click ‘read the rest of this entry’).
I’ve been doing some cartoon work for Christian Aid for Christian Aid Week – you can see the first one on the ‘resources’ page for Christian Aid Week organisers and collectors. In fact that is where they will all be over the next few months.
In particular you can find out why you might need a great big stick. And while you’re there, why not have a look around the site and think whether there is something you can do for Christian Aid Week (May)?
I’m now back home, having been away. It is all go here preparing for Uganda, but I will write more about that in a forthcoming blog post.
Posted by Dave at 4:42 pm on February 22, 2013 and filed under Cartoons.
I made this sign today. Well, a machine did. But I watched.
I will put it in my office in case I forget what I do.
Note for readers from the design world: I was not responsible for kerning.
My only aim for this week was to make a spice rack. I told the man, but he said that I would not be capable, and that the attempt would lead to misery, gnashing of teeth, etc. He was almost certainly right. And on the plus side if I had made a spice rack I would not have a set of paraphernalia hooks or a sign reminding me what I do.
Please excuse a slight lack of update today. I am affected by the cold and also anxieties about what is to come. The pressure is most definitely on. But things will be OK.
Over the last 24 hours I have taken part in nine different sports. Well, I say sports. Some might not quite meet the strict definition. Here is a list, with progress report for each one. (Warning: if you find me writing about my sporting achievements uninteresting then you find this dull at best.)
Target bowls. This is where you bowl, on an indoor bowling green, and have to land the bowl on a target. I am surprisingly good at this. I might take up bowling in my latter years. Our team won and we will get a t-shirt (each) as a prize.
Ten-pin bowling. I am not really that good at this, but neither was anyone else. I gave CW some coaching tips and she used them to beat me in the second game.
Volleyball. As a church youth worker in a past life I have organised quite a few volleyball games. This was great fun as none of us were particularly skilled. I think my team lost.
Badminton. I am inept at badminton, but then I have only played about twice. I lost both my games, even when employing tactics. But I was much better than the last time. If you want to beat me hit the shuttle behind me, as I have not mastered the art of running backwards with a bat.
Air hockey. Yes, OK, may not be a sport. Good fun. Noisy.
American billiards. This is essentially pool, but it sounds grander. I beat CW – but then I had the hill and the wind behind me.
Golf driving range. It is very satisfying to thwack fifty golf balls high into the air. I managed to get them 100 metres or more. Is that good? But then I did have a good raquet (6 iron).
Archery. I am very bad at this. Last out of seven people.
Pistol shooting. I find shooting very stressful and don’t enjoy it much because I have to concentrate very hard on the different steps – making sure the safety catch is on and off at the right moments, putting the bullet in the right end of the gun, that kind of thing. It takes me longer to shoot my 10 shots than anyone else. I did OK though – 66 points out of 100 maximum (the target above was my practice go I think). CW is way better – she won the ladies category yesterday.
Here ends the report. All good fun, and I am fortunate to have the chance to do all of these activities. I will give some details about where you can play all of these sports at some point, but not today as my blogging time is ended and I have to go and put on a sensible shirt.
Posted by Dave at 5:44 pm on February 20, 2013 and filed under Sport.
This is my row of hooks on a piece of wood, made this afternoon in woodwork. It is, on the face of it, a key holder, but I am planning to use it more for paraphernalia and that kind of thing. Stop and think about it for a minute – if a burglar breaks into your house and they see a key-shaped row of hooks, they will immediately know that it is a holder for keys. And if they steal all of your keys you are in all sorts of trouble. Whereas if it is used for paraphernalia they will be momentarily baffled and quite possibly forget what they broke in for.
I haven’t decided exactly what kinds of paraphernalia yet. Possibly hats, gloves and rulers. Or nine different categories of paperclip. Something that can be hung up, anyway. Please feel free to make suggestions.
Tomorrow I will be doing sports all day. My tracksuit bottoms will have their annual airing. You can of course follow all of this and more via the Twitter hashtag #craftsportweek.
Posted by Dave at 3:59 pm on February 19, 2013 and filed under Photographs.