Visit to Kampala in Uganda
Miss Crampton and Mrs Brooks started their incredible journey to Kampala in Uganda on Friday. We wish them well.
Mrs Brooks and Miss Crampton set off on their journey, arriving at Heathrow very early. Good job we arrived early as Trevor (the vicar) left his yellow fever certificate at home! You have to have this to get into Uganda. Becky (who is in charge of Karis Kids) sent her husband back to Richmond to collect it. Trevor then proceeded to discover his passport was missing........not a great start. Eventually after reporting it stolen he found it in his bag and we were ready to go. We boarded the plane and set off to Africa!
On arrival in Kampala we had a lovely driver pick us up. He informed us we would be at the guest house within an hour (that was a relief as it was late and we were very tired!) Unfortunately this was not the case as the police decided to check all drivers’ permits, adding half an hour to our journey and causing a traffic jam. When we arrived at the guest house we headed off to our room where we were greeted by a great big rat just outside. Off to get some sleep.
Up nice and early as we have a busy day ahead. No sign of the rat this morning! We had to go to a meeting at the church to find out what our agenda would be for the week. They greeted us in English, and then greeted us in African (this is where they make very loud shrilling sounds). We were then served a very tasty African lunch consisting of rice, matooke, ground nuts, chicken, lamb and vegetables followed by lots if fresh fruit. After this we were taken into the slums, we visited lots of families but we got lots of cuddles as they don’t often see white people where they live. This was sad at times as these people are very poor and live in bad conditions.
The children all seem very happy but they live very different lives to us. Families of 9 or 10 live in one room, they have no bathrooms or kitchens. Washing and cleaning all happens in the streets. Some babies cried when they saw us as they were frightened by our skin colour, others just wanted to touch us. Late in the day we went to visit Marshgate's family. They were very excited to see us, we were greeted with the African shrill and lots of hugs. The family were very happy with presents we took to them. We will tell you more about the family when we get back (pictured below).
Later we went to our host family house for more African food. It was a long day and on our way back we got stopped on the road again, but this time it was because of a cow and its calf blocking the road! Back safely only to be greeted by the resident rat again...... this time it was not scared by us and refused to move, we decided the African shrill was the way forward, it worked!
Up bright and early as we were going to the church to do activities with the children. Arrived around 8am - we went to an English service which was very jolly with lots of singing and dancing. Lots of children came and sat with us and encouraged us to dance and sing and clap, oh happy days! They then had a Ugandan service where they turned up in African outfits. It was very bright and colourful also very loud!
We took the children outside to do activities, they did drawing and made bracelets and necklaces. There were well over 100 children but we all had a fun time.
When we finished we went back in to the church were they then had a third service which was in Runyakitara (another blend of African languages) this was also very colourful and loud and great fun! These services lasted over six hours! We had another meeting and lunch at the church and then we came back to the guest house. No rat yet......
Up bright and early today to visit the police station. We arrived only to be told we were not expected, the officer in charge had not been told. After sitting around for about an hour, we were then informed that we would be meeting the inmates first. We thought we would be meeting them in the cells, but they brought them out into the courtyard with us! An ex prisoner was there to talk to them about how he had turned his life around and they could do the same. He told them about his life in prison which includes some stories about what other inmates had done to him, which the inmates found very funny. Trevor and a few others got the chance to pray with some of them. For both of us very scary but an experience we shall never forget.
The group then went upstairs to talk with the police officers and have some breakfast. One police officer took us into his radio room and was showing off about the technology he had and that he was the only one that knew how to use it (it was a CB radio and an old computer!).
When we had finished we were taken by the same officer to meet all the police families. They live behind the police station in conditions not much better than the slums, often two families sharing one room as a home. The officer showing us around got very excited when he took us to his house to meet his family, along with his wife and seven children, five friends were also there as well. All the children kept calling us ‘mazungu’ (this is not how you spell it!) which means white man, we felt like celebrities as they were all staring and trying to touch us. This took up most of the day.
In the evening we had a meeting on parenting which included a lot of dancing, singing and high fiving everyone in the church. We returned back to the guesthouse very grateful to not meet the rat as we went to our room. However we then found a gecko in our room.
A bit of a lie in this morning, waking up at 7.00am. Had breakfast and arrived at the church for a day of children’s activities, this included a lot more singing and dancing but lots of tears from the little ones, therefore we got lots of cuddles. The activities included play dough, painting t-shirts, parachute games which they loved and a few other things. The church were expecting around 150 children however over 200 turned up. The age range should have been 4-15 years, but many children turned up with baby brothers and sisters who they have to look after as their parents are not able to. We then cleared up and set up for the next day of activities. Fun was had by everyone, but we were shattered by the end of it!
Miss Crampton returned to the guesthouse to have a shower, only to let out an African shrill as there was a leaping gecko in the shower with her! She ran out of the room and Verity (another girl with us) ran in and saved the day! Relaxing we sat down to do the blog and at two sentences from the end the electricity cut out leaving us in darkness, with no internet, all our hard work had been lost! Mrs Brooks and Miss Crampton nearly cried, but instead got back on it and redid the whole thing again. Now waiting for electricity to come back on so we can send you our news.
Still no rat…. Up at 6.45am to be ready for more fun and games. Unbelievably over 230 children turned up (word got out we are in town!). Off to a slow start but things really got going after a while. Miss Crampton was put in charge of bracelet making while Mrs Brooks was on pipe cleaner people! To say it was chaotic would be polite! After today’s session we had sweets for all the children. They hardly ever, if ever, get such luxuries, so you can imagine the atmosphere. It was great to be part of this.
Later we returned to the guesthouse only to be told we would have to move rooms as there was a problem with the water. Annoyingly we packed our bags and set off. Wow the new room was AMAZING, and guess what…we would never go on the rat path again!
We are both looking forward to a good nights sleep in our new room. Tomorrow we will be visiting more of the Karis families and the hospital, where we will be giving out the presents that you and your families donated. We will have our tissues at the ready!
Today was our busiest day and we knew there was no chance of stopping. Firstly we went to the homes of all the Karis kids families except ours as we had already been there. Between us we visited fifteen families with two more to visit tomorrow, as they live further out. All the families were very welcoming, but again it was really sad to see their living conditions. This was made harder by the fact that we now knew a lot of the children as they had been with us the last few days doing activities. This lasted all morning as we had the hospital visit in the afternoon.
Later in the day we visited Kampala hospital which has over 10,000 patients through the door everyday. We were appalled by the conditions everyone went to the children's cancer ward were there were patients on mats and the floor as well as in beds. There were also very sick children outside on the floor as they don't have enough room to have them all inside. We were not allowed to take photos here but we managed to hand out a few gifts. Cot blankets and cuddly toys were also left there to handed out once we had gone. Our time was limited here as the children were seriously ill. We came away feeling emotionally drained.
Finally we went back to the church for our last evening meeting, both Mrs brooks and Miss Crampton got peed on by the same boy (yuck)! This happens sometimes as they cannot afford nappies. Then back to the guesthouse after a very long day. Still no rain yet...
THE FINAL DAY! Got up late by mistake, got a knock on the door by the vicar! Whoops! Went to hutch to had out gifts for all the Karis families, saved a few extra bits for the Marshgate family. They were all very excited.
After this we went on to see the two remaining families, as they lived out of the slums, not much better conditions though.
Spent the rest of the day in meetings where Miss Crampton knocked over a bottle of water during a very crucial moment, luckily they saw the funny side of it.
Later on we will be having a BBQ with the bishop of Kampala. We are both very tired, covered in mosquito bites and looking forward to getting home for a nice long weekend.