Sunday, 22 April 2012

Uganda Diary Day 7: Boogie on down

April 10th – Tuesday

Puppets at the assembly today, which went down really well.  Dad was telling the story rather than doing it to a CD track or song, so there was more leeway to react to the audience and make time for comedy.  When the farmer in our story scattered the seed we were able to lob real seed at them, and when he waters the crop we sprinkled real water out of the watering can!

Afterwards, instead of joining the building team we were co-opted by Geoff 'Daddy' Booker to help give out presents from sponsors to their sponsored children.  It sounded pretty easy and we has lists of all the children we needed to find, but in reality it went something like this:
  1. Put presents for each class into a pile.
  2. Line up the class behind their presents
  3. Attempt to hand out the presents, realise that the list is out of date an half the kids have moved up a year.
  4. Hunt through the lines and reunite the child with their correct present.
  5. Correct the list and pass on this information to Geoff, who tuts.
We did this at the primary and high schools and it took the best part of the morning, especially since the senior classes were in exams so we had to wait for them to finish and come out.  I wasn't expecting it to take quite so long – I think I sunburnt my toes. 

I managed to land myself the amusing task of trying to explain Yoda to Elisha, one of the handymen here.  “He's like a small green frog with pointy ears, and he speaks backwards.”  This naturally led onto discussing Star Wars, which he had no knowledge of either.  “Is it about stars having battles?  Kapow!”  Something to try, explaining classic western movies to foreigners and filming the befuddlement on their faces.  “Ah, these strange mzungu and their peculiar ways.”
We've driven past Ruth's house a few times since dropping off our gifts, and although the guttering seems to be holding up well the water butt is nowhere to be seen.  One of three things has happened to it:
  1. Someone pinched it
  2. She sold it for something she needed more
  3. She's found a better use for it than a water butt.  There was an oil drum in her kitchen room that she was going to use to carry her spare veg to Gayaza to sell and make a stall out of it, but the bottom has fallen off it, so she may have re-appropriated it for that.
As long as it's not option 1, it's all fine with me.  We did what we could do, and now the future decisions on how she uses those resources are up to her.  It just goes to show the nuances and complexities of trying to help a single family, never mind an entire village.

William Parker left after lunch, spurred on by a torrential downpour which left us stuck in the dining area for half an hour.  It was very pleasant though, to sit on the wall under what is essentially a massive thatch-roofed porch and sing old songs and watch the rain pelt down in sheets.

Quick sketch of a woman's silhouette
Today's talk was by Lilian and Resti and was on the welfare programme here in Kabubbu.  They told us the stories of some of the kids currently living at the foster home, which was very sobering.  They were only the stories you'd usually hear in England; kids whose parent remarried and the new step-parent didn't want them, or whose parents divorced or died, but in Kabubbu until recently there has been no system in place to help pick up the pieces when things go wrong.  In the UK we always complain about social services but that's more than they've had here.  About 20 children live in the foster home currently with their new mother, Betty, and it's these kids we've been painting the new rooms for this week, which is nice to know.

The afternoon workshop was traditional African drumming and dancing, which was funny as I guess most groups the Ugandans teach may have a modicum of skill, but this time they had Dad, whose key educational qualification is in percussion, backed up by a very musical family (and one not-so-musical Steve, who got stuck in anyway).  Dad waited very patiently while the lady in charge instructed him on drumming, but at the end he got to have a play and ended up in a sort of rhythm-battle/cultural exchange with the 19 year old boy playing the long drum.  The dancing was fun too; they brought along the kind of skirts they'd been wearing a few nights before at the African evening, including the feathery butt-padding, and we all got to try shaking booty with them.  It really is very like the belly dancing shimmy, but with wider spread legs and a double-tap with each foot.  And the faster the better.  Danced myself into a very satisfying sweat.

My amazing Ugandan dancing outfit, complete with E.T. t-shirt!

Steve, Mum and Emma line up for their lesson behind Josephine


The remaining six of us sat about for a while after dinner, telling terrible/hilarious jokes to fill the raucous gap left by the departure of William Parker, but I've spent most of the evening doing the pencil drawings for Susan's ten (TEN!) posters.  If I can get the Ugandan ones done tomorrow somehow – working round our trip to the Nile – I can trace the pictures onto the English versions to save time.  Colouring them I've not even thought about yet.  I had a momentary freak out along the lines of “My style of drawing isn't good enough for this!  I can't do a good job!” but managed to kick myself out of it and have been drawing steadily all evening.  Measuring out the lines and copying the words over is the hardest part.  The inking ought to go a lot faster.

Also, I decided where I want to donate the money I saved when I was doing my Rice & Beans challenge.  There are two libraries here, one for the community and one up at the high school, and the latter is very sparsely populated with books.  I can't commit to sponsoring a child, as QT wisely asks for a commitment of several years to make sure there's continuity of education for the child, but I had thought of sending some books.  I have given the money to Enoch, earmarked for Trust High School’s library.  I love books, can haunt a library for several hours if given the chance, and most of my key influential figures are authors, so this is an idea that is very important to me.  I am pleased to have found a place for that money that fits for both of us.

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