Patience is a virtue

20 September 2009

Hello, everyone,

The dry season started a while ago and to our surprise it has even rained a few times, which is not really the intention in the DRY season. Now the rainy season should start but it only seems to get hotter. In short, no water and no refreshing shower under the broken roof gutter. Good for the line because every day up and down (fortunately now with my new red bike) to the water pump…fast down but up is quite a climb. Water is sometimes brought by our moped friend and sometimes we get it ourselves, yes again on that bike. You swim in a small layer of water and every day you look hopefully to the sky to spot some dark clouds. Sometimes I wish for some rainy weather from the Netherlands, just a few hours of rain and then the water tanks are full again and we can get back on our bikes. Maybe the weather gods are on holiday, hopefully they will come back soon. The Ugandans themselves sometimes don’t understand the weather anymore. Normally they knew exactly when to plant and harvest but the last two years there has been a climate change here and everyone is a bit confused. Many harvests fail because there is no rain when it is expected and it puddles when the seeds have just been planted and wash away these just planted seeds cheerfully. We have now rented a piece of land ourselves and we have to plant as well. First the whole thing has to be done in the old-fashioned way with the spade, no tractor to be seen here. We rounded up some friends but it’s very hard work so now we have to let the prisoners work in the fields. Here it is very common to use the prisoners for chores. That way the prison earns some money and the prisoners are “nice” outside. Escape is impossible…all of them are wearing yellow suits and there is a gentleman with a 70’s rifle next to him who hopefully has experience with his weapon because you never know.

Of course, a lot of things have happened lately. For a moment everything is shown schematically.

# I have/ had two volunteers in the house
# Jan and Liselotte called
# Very cozy, by the way
# A “temporary” new baby in the house, Betty
# A true beauty of 2 ½ years that we found among the banana trees at
her grandmother
# Betty needed some love, attention and food
# She was severely malnourished, couldn’t walk and was a sad looking girl
# Liselotte had a good time talking about Betty and had this great result
# I was still without a work permit
# I switched to a different organisation because with my own
organisation did not get any further
# The co-founders of that organisation didn’t give a shit about the whole project and
apparently wanted to make a killing
# I realise once again that I’m quite naive and I’ve learned again
# All is well with the children
# Liselotte is back in the Netherlands in the meantime (three months goes by fast anyway)
# Jan is traveling through Africa
# I’m Remi again, but also enjoy the peace and quiet for a while
# Well rest, it’s a holiday so it’s a coming and going of children and others
# I’m going to tell you now, in detail, what else happened in the
last two months.

I rent a building (our office) in the city where I go every Wednesday to meet the people who come for help or people we already help to know how they are doing. Our secretary Ruth sits there every day just a little bit and breastfeeds her child. She is very sweet to the people who come but she doesn’t know a computer, she doesn’t have to because the computer has been gnawed at by the rat who was very cosy in the house, although she was very good at playing cards on the computer, mmmmm? Well Ruth just sits there for decoration and to give everything a little professional touch, she can also cook (not unimportantly). Anyway to make a long story short, Mr. Chairman, from our almost no longer existing organisation HULP, got the weird idea to close that office. Mr. Frustrated jerk has no manners and came into the office screaming and blaring, threw Ruth and child out and shouted to all the neighbours that nobody should break into this office and put two new locks on it and then probably drove off satisfied with himself. I have no choice but to be this guy’s “dick the wallpaper” because he gives me a lot of trouble. I was furious when Ruth called with this news and he also threatened to close the house we live in. What is this guy thinking? So I called him…….meneer the wallpaperer said he had every right to do this and as there were a number of murders near the city he didn’t want to be held responsible if anything happened to me or the children. Oh and now all of a sudden he is worried. For the last 2 years he hasn’t given a damn about us and he probably still had the hope to get rich through Kim and that hope is gone because I am apparently not as stupid as I seem. I came here on my own and am responsible for myself. The children are under my name and not the name of the organisation, so what beautiful stories he is telling. He threatened to close the house, he has zero rights according to our constitution but reading is not his best thing so he has no idea what he is talking about. His brother is in government, big friends with Museveni, and that gives him a kind of right to be important. People here shit their trousers for this asshole just because he has a big mouth and a brother with influence, well amehoela……..

I go to the police. I’m the one who pays the rent for the two properties and Mr. wallpaper does something against the law, I want to open that door….Yes Mrs. Muzoengoe you are absolutely right, we go after it. Mr Muzoengoe is also coming to the police station with his big mouth but now very sweetly, oh no Kim I do not want to fight, I am doing this out of self protection and even more blablablabla butt licking. Well there I was, because Mr. Policeman doesn’t know a thing about organisations or constitutions and chose the side for Mr. Dick the Wallpaper. With a threat to come and close my house, no backup from the police and an order to arrange for our organisation to be fenced off as soon as possible (while I stepped out, in a legal way so I’m actually not involved in this nonsense anymore) I was able to get on my moped home. Angry with myself that I let myself be cooped up and afraid that we would be thrown out, I went to a lawyer, yes it’s not all widt anymore. This nice sir, with some missing teeth, wrote a neat letter to the wallpaper sir to open the office as soon as possible otherwise this case would go higher up and could even lead to a lawsuit. I am not so much of a threat but I was glad that someone who knows the law stood behind me and that felt much stronger. During a meeting with our co-founders, Mr de Walker found out that I had called in a lawyer, but now he felt a bit wet, because his brother wouldn’t thank him if he got bad publicity for abusing a Muzungu, and in the end showed that he hadn’t done a good job, but he could only open the office if our organisation was wound up, and that was still my job.

Lawyer was more than happy to help us but then we had to pay, all three of us paid our fair share except for mister wallpaper (always broke) so papers were left lying around. We are now 2 months further, the office is still closed, dick the wallpaper keeps quiet but I don’t trust him. He is threatening our office neighbours and I think he has a twist in his head so I am keeping a low profile to keep the peace. But soon we will ram out the back door because I want my things, then he can go to hell with his threats and he can have this organisation all to himself and shut it down because after one and a half years of waiting I finally have my WORK ENVIRONMENT and so he can’t do anything to me anymore. All people I am really very happy. A two-year work permit. No more sweaty times at Entebbe airport or being refused to fly, what a delight. Yes folder Kim was lost at the immigration office but fortunately after a year and a half they dusted me off and with some help of a parliamentarian I am finally legal. I have felt so frustrated about it and it was a burden but now I am a lot lighter and I can deal with it again with fresh courage. The little piece of written paper is for laughs, nothing computers or technology in that immigration office, no, everything by hand and everything in very dusty folders. Another step further in Uganda, yes, slowly but surely we will get there…………………….

I can no longer remember when I wrote my last report, but I would like to thank everyone for their kind text messages, calls, cards and e-mails. I texted everyone back but apparently none of my text messages arrived because I got zero response after that. Yes guys I am going up to 30 and I still feel like I was 22 or so. You are a bit more aware of things. I have many a self-help book here because I want to learn a bit more about myself and there are many issues that bother me and that I think I should get over (always that body, love, insecurity and other things that are not as important as they seem) because it is such a waste of time. I try to enjoy the moment, meditating on that beautiful hill next door hasn’t come much, the days fly and we have so much to do. There is always a child sick, people without food or other troubles. We in the western world always have to be productive, here they do not have that urge at all, rather the other way around. I can be very worried about that but I can also adapt and find a golden mean……My life has changed so much in the last two years. I have never been able to prepare myself for a baby or a big family at all, suddenly it was just there…Now I realise all this and the responsibility and that I can never go back to the life I led before. I find it difficult to say goodbye to certain periods, to people and to things of my own, but I do my best.

I also notice that my thoughts are with the people in the Netherlands every day. My kitchen is decorated with pictures of friends and family, my social life is still taking place in the Netherlands because I don’t have a social life here. Luckily I now have some new volunteers in the neighbourhood and their coordinator lives an hour away from me so sometimes I go to Jeroen for a chat and a chat.

Only in the evening, together with a volunteer (Willy) Brigitte Kaandorp (don’t take a child), I listened to …..oh people. All this shit and piss is driving me crazy. We use meters of toilet paper and we still have paper. Betty spends at least a quarter of the day on the potty (poor buttocks) Rosah is already house-trained and luckily she gets the potty herself but she carries it over her head and sometimes it hasn’t been emptied yet so Betty’s piss is nice over Rose, oh well we have to wash it anyway, rather clumsy if we don’t have any water. Babirye goes to the toilet herself but that big hole in the ground is still scary so we have to quickly put it in the grass and then we have to get the toilet paper again. It’s unbelievable that we have just eaten for 5 minutes and then the poop and piss feast starts because when one starts, the end is lost. Rosah also blackmails me with it, if she doesn’t get her way she just yells “mama pottie” yes and you have to take that seriously because if you don’t do that the chair is pissed under again but then you admit she knows she gets attention and I think she laughs deep inside me like “you see my mother is kicking everything”. But anyway the pooping and peeing is a whole day’s work, what a respect for all the mums and dads who have toilet trained their children!

I am often worried about Saige but I am not sure what to do about the situation. This week we just walked by the neighbours, we had a very nice day. The children next door shouted something and apparently Saige answered with “Fuck your mother” in Ugandan then. Did I know a lot my Ugandan is still limited to “Shut up and go to sleep”. As befits a good parent we sat down around the table with the boy and explained that we don’t like that language and that you don’t just say that. We wondered from whom he had learned those words because sometimes I can swear sometimes but most of the time it’s in Dutch and I don’t say things like that. What turns out Saige’s father was rather rude in the mouth. What we already knew because he said that he would cut Saige’s head off if he ever saw that boy again and he beat Saige’s mother to death. Saige admitted that he had learned those words from his father and that his father also said every day that Saige was ugly. Now I understand why he always scratched his pictures and made his head invisible, the poor boy. He’s such a beautiful boy but with such a background it’s not easy to be part of society. We went to the neighbours with a pineapple as a means of reconciliation but Saige didn’t know what to say when he arrived, oh yes sorry…… Fortunately the neighbour knows that we are not the Flodders but she warned him that if he would use that language against others they would surely punish him. We now want to find out what Saige has been through by means of colouring and talking. It will take a long time but we persevere.

Oh dear, it has turned out to be another long report. I will not stop you any longer and I will end with a Did you know that. Thank you very much for all your support, yes I am going to write……..ever, but`that doesn`t say that I am not thinking about you now.

Did you know that:

* I have been in Uganda for 3 years now in October
* I am not tanned for more than a week in Greece
* So I’m still going crazy with that Mazungoe shouting
* You can haggle for anything
* I have now become a hiring expert
* You can even haggle on the electricity bill (6 euros)
* Rosah has discovered the word “no”
* And that makes her even more mischievous
* Frank is cozy in puberty
* Just a good morning can squeeze out of it
* Babirye when honey is chasing my ass
* I’m so glad she’s going to school next year
* I probably find it too quiet at home again
* Always able to pick up and care for a child between the banana trees
* I’m going to have a hard time bringing Betty back soon
* But you can assure me that my family is big enough
* Especially with the consumption of toilet paper
* Saige and Babirye are addicted to the game of Memory
* They are even better than me
* And laughing at me every time
* I finally have my work permit (yes yes I already told you)
* We now move on to adoption
* We love the teas you send us
* Sometimes a jar of apple syrup may be included
* Or perhaps a gingerbread
* If t can also be a fries mayo with a croquette
* I had a lot of necklaces delivered to Mummy Yvonne again
* You can buy a lot of beautiful jewellery
* Always nice for a birthday
* Or for your girlfriend, mother, grandmother
* The necklaces are even fashion in men
* We all bought a nice bike
* I like cycling without hills and gravel roads
* That there are only hills and gravel roads here
* I am still cycling stubbornly along the banana trees.
* People here are surprised that a white person can cycle
* I’m really going to stop knitting now
* Because I have to go to the shop for toilet paper and milk
* I send you all a big kiss
– And of course love because the world revolves around/on love