White water rafting on the Nile

6 August 2007

Hello all dear treasures and holidaymakers in the Netherlands,

Yes, I am still alive! I’m sorry I haven’t spoken to you for so long but I’m busy (yes, even here in Africa). Days fly by and sometimes I don’t even know what I have done. Especially a lot of waiting, waiting and waiting…yes I think I spend a lot of my time waiting. Of course I also enjoy and give myself a few days Kampala (capital) with hot water, chocolate cake and pizza…delicious. Since I’m back there have been about 8 volunteers and that’s great fun. I can express my frustrations and they give me new ideas and energy.

I also had a dip after my return. I get so tired of it that the children are beaten with the stick for (almost) nothing. Most of the children are beaten at home and here at school the stick is used regularly and I know it is a cultural difference but it is hard to accept for me. So one morning I saw another child coming out of a classroom crying and in the next classroom the children were put against the board and beaten up…I was so fed up and went completely out of my league against the teacher. I shouted “Why do you always have to hit”? He: “They don’t perform well enough”! Me: Well I guess that’s probably because of your great teacher qualities and if the kids are getting really smart from all the hitting then we should have the best and brightest kids in Uganda at this school”! Then I ran away crying and I had completely had it. I know that the children can be terribly annoying and that many teachers can’t support a class of 75 or more children but hitting them with a stick doesn’t solve anything (except huge bumps on heads and bruised fingers and legs). Then the headmistress started raging against me and I didn’t know it anymore. It’s fighting against the beer quay and without cooperation we can’t get out of it. Luckily the other volunteers support me but it is so difficult to show them that there are other methods and that this method scares the children of the teacher and because of that they will perform even less….. Hopefully it will slowly change but at that moment I just wanted to leave and had nothing more to do with it. The annoying thing about being frustrated is that you start thinking so negatively and I don’t want that because there are a lot of positive things here as well.

Now I am back in my positive period…and that is mainly because of all my friends and family who support me. I get such sweet letters, parcels and phone calls. Oh well just about my phone number (know nml that people have called in vain (sorry look and jacket and who else), especially on my birthday) Had one day a heavy Boda boda ride and found out that my mobile phone had fallen out of my jacket…so I have to buy a new phone. From now on I can be reached at the number: 00256-774966048. Without your support I would have had a gigantic dip and a huge money problem for a long time but every now and then an uplifting phone call, note (with green tea) or text message does wonders for a human being.

All the things that have happened are in a hurry because otherwise you will be reading tomorrow…. I have been on television with my story about the children. The tv man liked me (what do you want such a handsome woman like me) and thought we could start a relationship. I don’t think so of course but it’s nice that he showed my story on national television which never hurts because people need to know what disgusting things happen to children here.

I was with one of the other volunteers orphaned white water rafting on the Nile. In such an inflatable boat with a helmet that is too big (that sinks in front of your face every time you almost drown) and of course a nice and tight life jacket. Hero Kim in the boat with a very attractive guide (who wasn’t interested in me at all) and some other nice travellers. We paddle and paddle along the Nile. Magnificent area…Instruction turns upside down, get under the boat and main feet forward and let the current take you along until someone comes to your rescue (????) Well there we went…oh my G… As soon as the guide said that we could hit over the head my heart went crazy every time I saw such a huge waterfall stream an adrenaline rush went through my body but I made it and still have all my limbs. In the evening in a cosy hostel overlooking the Nile (even when you were taking a shower) I had a nice meal, had a beer and chatted about all our adventures that day and how tough we were. Was a nice experience but I’d rather go bungyjumping……

Go regularly to introductions (engagements) and funerals. I sometimes see it all in front of me….Friends and family stuffed up with their twenty-five year olds in a VW (where normally up to 15 people are allowed to sit in) van all in such a hot, hard to go to the toilet in a traditional dress (yes men also wear a kind of dress with oversized jacket and trousers) on to my fiancée’s family. All the goats, cows and other presents you have to give (crates of beer, lemonade, sugar and even more of that stuff) on the roof and wait a lot before you really leave. Yes, I was joking again. We left, finally on time (couldn’t believe it) After a 5 minute drive to the next village we stopped to pick up some huge fat and talkative women. I almost got pressed against the window and still suffer from my acute thrombosis….I thought well there we go then…. thought not! No really people we waited 2 hours in the village 5 minutes from the school until the cow and all the madness was loaded on a stickie so that we finally had 2 more hours in a blood-soaked hot bus (without airco) half starved and yearning for nicotine. We (three other volunteers and I) had promised to put on such a dramatic dress. Well there we were, fully dressed and ready to make our entrance. People couldn’t believe their eyes…. 4 Mazungoes in a Gomes (traditional, clumsy dress) we just didn’t need to call an ambulance for fainted Ugandesen. We were the top attraction of the evening…..Was glad that after 3 hours of Ugandan family exchanges we finally got food and after dinner we would leave right away. Yes yes African time. At one point we all had to pee so badly that the four of us were naked with our white buttocks, giggling about the whole situation on a lawn, wet our dresses (there is no other way with such an onding)…..Ach I had something extra.

Geez, it’s going to be a long report…wants to tell you so much. I went to an orphanage in Jinja. It was very impressive and instructive. There lived many children who had lived on the streets and who were tortured and beaten. There was a little boy who was beaten by his father every day because he looked like his mother (father had already beaten mother to death). There was also a boy who had lived on the street for years and walked many kilometres every day to call some material to a company and so after hours of walking he got maybe 50 or even less eurocents. He has a lung and breast problem from all the heavy things he wore and needs surgery but there is no money for that at the moment. I met a woman there, she is now 21 years old and had her first child when she was in grade 8 of primary school. She is 21 now and has three children from three different fathers. The children have a behavioural disorder and can scream a lot…..to go crazy. It really felt like a family. There are 33 children with different backgrounds living in the house and many of them have experienced terrible things. They get therapy and the house gives them a safe haven with lots of cheerfulness and a chance to develop themselves and discover talents. The owner has found a sponsor for almost all the children to pay for school and there are even two who go to university. That is exactly what I want……

I am setting up my own organisation and hopefully we will be registered as an NGO (non government organisation) this or next month. Then I will be able to raise funds and help many children. I want to rent a house and buy a large dining table. I want to create an environment where the children feel safe and where they can be children. They can develop their talents and get the attention and love they deserve. I already have a nice house in mind, close to the school and not so far from the city. We will keep cows (for milk), chickens (for food and for eggs) and goats (don’t know what they are for). We will also have plantations so we can provide our own food (banana, potato, pineapple, mangos, avocados and more delicious things).

In the beginning I will live there with the children I am taking care of now (frank, saige, babirye and pinto). I think the number will soon double because I am in a district where there is a lot of child abuse. Last week there were already three cases of starving darlings, one of which even died. Heartbreaking but I finally have a chance to really do something about it and to make the lives of those children a little happier and give them a future. I am very much looking forward to it. A bit afraid of raising funds, but I believe that if you really want something, it will work. So for everyone who doesn’t have any holiday plans for 2008 yet…you are very welcome! Uganda is a beautiful and easily accessible country…so what do you pay attention!

Of course I can’t do all this on my own. Before I came to the Netherlands I met a man in the pharmacy (no no candidate for marriage and he already has two wives, that’s enough for me). He heard the story of Frank and Babirye and told me that he would help me. Well and that’s what this…. does, so I think he deserves an introduction on my website. His name is Salongo Kabugere, he is 38 years old and has 5 children of which 2 are twins. He takes care of about 10 other children of deceased brothers and sisters and he calls them all his children and loves them all equally. He smokes like a heretic, drives in any moment falling apart 4wh drive, he has humour but most important of all he is determined. I would never have been able to do it without this great guy. He has a big brother who takes care of everything (even the passport for babirye) and the people who work in his company are all treasures. He is a farmer and has a lot of land in the district where I live, he also has another company (something with security or something, always when I am there the employees are playing card games on the computer) which is based in Kampala. By now I know everyone who works there and everyone is very friendly and helps. He knows I don’t give a shit but he doesn’t care. He always says “I’m not rich, I’m not poor but my children go to school and they have to eat and I do what I can to help others”. Such a sober man who not only likes me for my money but also for what I do. I see ministers and senior officers you normally don’t even get on the phone and do my story. Then I get a nice letter with a recommendation for a work permit and starting an NGO. He supports 60 children by paying school fees and is always there for everyone. He really knows everybody, even the boda boda drivers in Kampala know him. Talking about Kampala I have lost my legs almost 5 times due to boda boda rides (you know how fast you can maneuver your moped between two cars when there is not enough space and know that there is a Mazooengoe with a baby on the back, unfortunately they don’t look at your colour in traffic…here it is the strongest one…). Fortunately, I also survived all those adventures in traffic and enjoyed my time in the city.

Lots of plans and ideas and hope that my dreams will come true here. Unfortunately the dream of the prince on the white horse won’t come true so soon, I’m afraid, but I won’t even have time for that with all those children.

Again sorry, sorry, sorry for all the birthdays I forgot. Sometimes I don’t even know what day it is here but that’s no excuse. Darling, I think a lot about you and try to send everyone a card quickly. Yes I think that was it for now. Jeez I never like long emails but when you have read this email you need a nap. Now I’m hungry, go look for some melted banana with rice and some pancakes.

Everybody a big kiss and lots of love from Uganda.

Madame Kimoe