The chains were a super success

16 June 2009

All people, time flies and my memory is going backwards. It has been three months since I wrote an update, so it is high time for some news from Uganda. Some of you have already been personally informed about all the adventures and events through my visit to our little frog country. How wonderful it was to see everyone again and to have a nice cup of tea and to just sit at someone’s table in the evening and be pampered, because I am pampered. How wonderful to be able to talk and laugh again and to talk about nonsensical things. How easy it is to take a shower (2x) or go to the supermarket by bike. I have to confess that I used to just walk into the supermarket to look around and find meat (sliced) in packets, cold, fresh milk and real chocolate. Sometimes I couldn’t make a choice because there was too much……..goddly all that luxury. Yes the first comment I got when I came home in Uganda was that my butt had grown bigger, nice arrival……..

The necklaces were a super success and of course we will continue with the sale. Maureen and Teddy jumped a hole in the air when they discovered how much they had earned with their homemade necklaces. Maureen will be able to go to school next year and she is so happy, I am a bit less because Maureen is my great support and someone like her is hard to find. I heartily allow her to go back to school but I will miss her very much. As of January 2010 the vacancy will become available for this adventurous job so anyone who is a bit flexible and likes to come to work and live in rather primitive circumstances is more than welcome to send his/her CV. I’m sure a lot of people will apply so be quick and inventive……………

So… back in time… where was I last time? Oja de Flair, half March my story was in the Flair (with many thanks to Sylvia). How weird to see us in such a magazine but also very special and I got a lot of sweet and nice reactions from acquaintances and strangers. What I really liked is that people wrote that they thought the children looked happy, that did me good that means that the children radiate it and that it doesn’t always have to be pathetic children with flies and fat bellies before the message comes across. The children liked to see themselves in a magazine and were proud. At the same time, I was killed two birds with one stone in the REVU.

In the meantime Jan, our new volunteer, had arrived. A nice and social young man (20) who came to live with us for 6 months but now decided to stay longer (yes, it’s that cozy). He has bought a keyboard for the children and he teaches them to play on the thing. At a certain moment you become redshifters from Father Jacob and Happy Birthday but yes they like it. The buttons that you can choose a song yourself are also very popular (especially with Roos) so La Koekaratsja shines through the house in many ways (piano, violin, drum) and the more often the repetition, the better………

Jan looks here and there to see what he can do for us. For example, he has sponsored and built a pig house with the locals for one of the people we help. We too have now built a beautiful pig house at home for our four remaining stinking piglets by the strong men in the house. If there is a small problem and I don’t have time, Jan will go out with Sunday and it will be solved anyway. The children love him and I think he has found his place. He goes his own way and enjoys his time here……

A few weeks after Jan came Helmi and Esther, mother and daughter and both a nurse. As I am interested in medical care I loved to ask them all medical questions and it was nice to have sisters in the house. There had to be a small renovation at home to accommodate so many volunteers but in the end we had made a small but cosy room where we (Sunday and I) slept with all the children and could walk as well, just being a bit creative. Helmi and Esther wanted to help in the hospital and of course we wanted to see some of the country. Unfortunately it turned out that there wasn’t as much to do in the hospital as expected and when they had a project and were at their doorstep at 8 o’clock in the morning they were told around 11 o’clock that the project wouldn’t take place after all but that it was almost certain that it would take place tomorrow, yes that’s a bit disappointing and you can’t rely on anything, welcome to Uganda. If you make the plan to do and finish at least five things in one day then you can squeeze your hands when you manage to get one thing done and believe me you are happy with that.

Helmi and Esther have done a number of projects, for example HIV testing in a fishing village for 3 days. Brief summary:

* Fishermen go fishing at night
* Come back in the morning
* Sell their merchandise
* Have money for beautiful ladies
* Spread the virus freely and joyfully and charm a lot of beautiful ladies
* 1 in 3 tests positive for HIV
* Of course, no hospital + medicine nearby
* Question? Does this make sense?
* Yes, because perhaps honor and of the hundred you can bring to his mind is that this disease is deadly and if he cares a little about his fellow man from now on uses a condo0m or refrains from sex for the rest of his life (which is almost impossible). With that one you can squeeze your hands again because you have done more than one thing that day (tested a hundred people) and hopefully protect more people/children from this horrible disease.

It were “festive” days for Helmi and Esther in this fishing village. They slept in a kind of pigsty where there was not a single hook or protrusion to hang their mosquito net so they contracted malaria for free and for nothing. They barely eat and/or drink all day, get lunch at half past 8 in the evening and then dinner at 10 o’clock, weird faces are set up when they thank for dinner because they just finished their lunch and would like to go to their cozy and smelly pigsty to try and close an eye. Above all, they did not hope to have to pee in the hole outside at least 20 metres away from their pigsty at night. They didn’t close an eye because of all the noises and buzzing creatures. I proved them right when they packed up after two days and after a one and a half hour moped ride they were back at my doorstep, happy to be able to wash themselves with a small bowl of water and sleep in their own bed under a mosquito net.

When I was in the Netherlands, one of the people we help died. It concerns Nasejje, she was only 26 years old. We had built a stall in front of her house so she could sell tomatoes, onions, bread etc. This went well but because she was often sick (she suffered from AIDS) she couldn’t work every day. Mentally she was not completely stable and she also took care of her 7 year old son and her one and a half year old daughter. The youngest always looked bad. Her hair did not grow well and she was clearly malnourished. The son did go to school but she didn’t look well either. Many people who have HIV get into a depression and don’t see a way back. They don’t have the money to go to the hospital where they hand out the AIDS medication every month and so they become socially isolated and their health deteriorates rapidly. That was also the case with Nasejje, after her daughter died last year she became even more depressed. When Sunday found her he took her to the hospital. There she refused medication and food, which made her even weaker. In the end she died and I am sorry that I did not see her again and was not able to give her a dignified funeral.

Many people asked me in the Netherlands what you actually do with the money we deposit. I notice that there is a need for people to know where their money is going, which is very logical, because there are many organisations where a lot of money gets stuck on the bow and I do want to show that we spend the money well. My good intention is to produce a newsletter three times a year to show what the money is being spent on and how things are going. We are also working on a website on which you will find exactly what we are doing and who we are helping, of course this isn’t very fast because I am used to working in the Ugandan (slow) way, we are doing our best…………………..

At the moment we are helping about thirty families with the donations. We also have to provide food, pay rent, school fees, medical expenses and transport. I have to confess that I sometimes buy a pair of new shoes or a bar of chocolate because in time I can think of myself. I am very happy and grateful for all the support I get and want to show and know that the money is spent on the local people who can use the help well.

Oh there is actually so much to write but in the Netherlands we are a bit busier and less time so I keep it short. The kids are doing well, fortunately they missed me and I missed them a lot too. As much as I liked it in the Netherlands I was happy to go home and cuddle and kiss my girls and tickle and tease the boys again. Without Sunday and Maureen I would never have been able to go to Holland, they looked after me very well and I could leave my family behind with peace of mind and enjoy my family and friends.

In the meantime, Helmi and Esther are back in the Netherlands and we have welcomed our new volunteer Liselotte. I had already met her in the Netherlands so I knew who to look forward to at the airport. A sweet girl who is still looking a bit for projects she can work on.

This week we celebrated Maureens and Frank’s birthday. All of us on the moped to grandma’s because it’s much nicer to celebrate it there. Our friend Emma the DJ had tied his mega computer and speakers to the back of his moped and came to play for us. Just a very cosy party with a small club in the middle of the banana trees and not to forget banana beer……………

Ah yes, life here goes on as usual. The alarm goes off again at 6 o’clock and the daily things are on the menu, also like the banana and rice. I left my phone in the hotel at the airport so it takes a while before I have it back, you can call/text me and I can call you again, I like it that way without a phone.

It was hard to say goodbye and that’s why it’s nice that it was just a quiet retreat. Cosy with brother Ed on the train to Schiphol, my last cheese sandwich and a bottle of fresh, cold milk before I started my journey.

I also realized a lot of things and I am fully recharged again to go for another positive year. Of course I will keep you informed and would like to be kept informed by you about all the wonderful stories from nappies to new lovers and beautiful other adventures.

Enjoy every day!