Uganda
Central Region

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  • Day16

    Back to Suubi

    October 31, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    We had another good day at Suubi, starting in the Baby house, where Nathaniel spent more time playing with little Emmanuel and Caleb with Caleb! One of the nannies suggested we should bring Emmanuela home with us as she thought it was a bit unfair that I was the only girl and Emmanuela was so happy with Nathaniel!

    We ate our packed lunch (samosas) sitting on the staff balcony looking out over the most amazing view. We also visited the medical centre, where Zach will be based and met Dr Job, clearly in the middle of a clinic but carrying a baby outside to greet us! They have a dental surgery next door (alas no braces, apparently you have to travel ‘far’ for that!), but they did have some very advanced equipment which they demonstrated on Hugh, such that the patient has a tv screen where they can actually see all that the dentist was doing! The machine was a gift from Hong Kong. The only slight thing was the room was divided into 2 sections, just by a small screen, so a poor lady who was having some teeth extracted had all 6 of us in the same room, chatting about the wonders of the high tech machine, hopefully it provided her with a welcome distraction, if not there was also worship music playing , so she should have known great peace.

    We then went up to see Denis again and took a football and cricket stuff up on to the big football pitch where we played for a while and lots of the children joined in as they finished school.

    In the evening, David cooked us a lovely meal of goat and roasted pumpkin, then Judith the owner surprised us with a huge cake in honour of Zephie’s birthday tomorrow (5 layers of chocolate sponge, covered in cream and actually really light, unlike Ugandan cake would normally be, she had bought it from somewhere that bakes for muzungus). What amused the boys was that it was decorated with Happy Birthday Zach! I didn’t have the heart to say as she’d been so kind, but it’s going to seem a bit strange when Zach stays on next week and the Zach she thought, goes home! She’s a really easy character and will probably just be amused. She had us all laughing for the evening about how she loves fried grasshoppers, which are typical around this time of year. Hopefully we might get to taste some before we leave !
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  • Day17

    Zeph's Ziwa Birthday

    November 1, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 26 °C

    Today started with a plan to leave early to get up to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary after Zeph had had some presents - no Kampala driving though on his 17th birthday. We avoided the worst of the Kampala traffic and got onto the Gulu road for a 3 hour drive. On arrival we had thought we had been booked into Ambuka lodge, however after being welcomed with drinks and cold flannels it transpired, much to the protestations of the welcoming team that we had actually been booked into Ziwa lodge. Eventually we arrived at our destination, a very basic lodge next to the headquarters and were warmly greeted by Winnie, who told us she was a Watoto child and had actually shared a house with Dennis!

    The Rhino sanctuary is located in 7,000 hectares of bush land. Rhinos were lost in Uganda in the 1970s and now through this programme they are being reintroduced into the wild. In addition to all the Rhinos there are many antelope, some leopards and many species of birds. After a quick lunch we went Rhino trekking. After a short drive we stopped and walked through some long grass to be see a mother and baby rhino ahead. They are docile when left alone and can only see around 30 metres, but can hear and smell a lot better. So we were told that they were unlikely to charge but if they did to dive behind a tree! Once we had left this pair we went to another group of 3 which we tracked on a loop until we found them back were we started next to the van!

    After supper we went on a night walk - a trek in the pitch dark amongst the noise of crickets and chicadas. Although we saw no leopards, we did see rabbits - which the guide seemed very excited about, us less so. We also saw some night birds and mole crickets which make a very loud noise.

    After about 3 hours we returned back to our lodge to find a group of 5 rhinos sleeping in our garden! We got to sleep quickly amongst the geckos on our walls!
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  • Day27

    Day 27: Back to Kampala

    February 28, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    We are now on our way back! This means my first overland truck tour is almost coming to an end 😱 I’m not ready for home AT ALL so any day that passes by scares me a bit.

    Today we went back to Kampala 🇺🇬 - another 10 hours drive. But we get to stay at the nice hotel with air conditioning and hair dryer again 🎉

    Tonight we also had to say goodbye to a few fellow travelers as not all of us are going back to Kenya. This is a bit sad as we have grown so close to each other within the past days. But we will keep in touch, I’m sure!

    You will find some photos I took on the way...
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  • Day19

    Church Watoto Style

    November 3, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Three church services today - the first was a local one near our guest house - apparently starting at 7.30, although we were told it was realistically 8am - we arrived at 8.10 to realise the pastor wasn’t there - after a walk we arrived at 8.30 for the real start! After a few songs we left for Watoto church - this one was much more on time - to the dot! - we were given seats at the front of a huge auditorium, where we had to stand up as we were introduced. A really good sermon and great worship. Jose enjoyed it, but saying it was more Muzungu style.

    Lunch was at a local African restaurant consisting of goat, beef, matoke, rice, yams... all very good. Then back to the guest house to relax in the beautiful garden. At about 6pm we heard lots of singing outside and we went to investigate to find another church service which we join for a bit, Zach proving popular as one of the children gave up holding Emma’s hand in favour of Zach’s, then she wanted to be picked up and promptly went to sleep in his arms!

    Another dinner of goat, packing then bed.
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  • Day18

    Hopping snacks

    November 2, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We slept the night at Ziwa lodge with the quite surreal experience of ‘guard rhinos’ outside our bedroom window and I woke several times to the sound of their snoring, actually very gentle and quiet, considering the size of them! Instead of being the huge, threatening animals that they can seem, when sleeping and just happily grazing in their own surroundings, they are incredibly calm and lovely to watch, I think they might now be my top of the big 5!

    We got up before 6, to make sure we didn’t miss the rhinos waking up, which was quite an experience, under the backdrop of an African sunrise. We all sat on the balcony, with the rhinos literally a stone’s throw away and watched them gradually wake up, all 11 of them! They seemed to have quite a morning routine, get up, eat a bit of grass and go the loo! Quite amusingly they all liked the same spot for the latter and seemed to use a makeshift rhino toilet, which resulted in a huge pile of rhino dung just beyond our garden path! We were about half an hour late for our planned 7am breakfast as we weren’t allowed to make the 30m walk across to the breakfast area due to rhino traffic ! Eventually we crossed with the assistance of a ranger, but we needn’t have worried as breakfast was on African timing !

    So our planned for departure time of 8 am turned into nearer 9, but we thought this was still allowing ample time to arrive back in Kampala for the rugby World Cup final at 12md our time... however that didn’t allow for Saturday Kampala traffic ! The proposed 2.5 hour return journey took roughly double that, partly because of going into town to collect Aggrey, who was taking us to a local rugby club to watch the match. We eventually arrived at said club for the second half of the second half.... not the best moment to be in Africa in a final losing to South Africa! Nathaniel and I nearly got landed on by someone falling back off their stool in jubilant enthusiasm ! Suffice to say we didn’t stay around long after the finish, preferring to get some lunch at a nearby shopping centre, in the rain.

    We had planned to go back to Suubi for some more cricket but it was a bit late in the day, so we had another visit to the craft market then headed back to the mission apartments, which felt somewhat like ‘coming home’ after our night away. We enjoyed a lovely dinner, as usual, with a starter of fried grasshoppers, as recommended by Judith from the apartments, who said she can eat a whole tub whilst driving along. They are generally sold at your car window along the edge of the road and as we’d sat so long in Kampala traffic, we decided it would be a good time to try them. The only slight snag was, we saw some cooked ones and decided to have some, but by the time we were ready to wave the £1 equivalent out the window, traffic had moved on. So the next time we saw a box of them we were quicker off the mark, but as the seller handed me the sandwich bag full of them, I quickly realised they weren’t quite ready to eat, as they were still hopping around, albeit with their legs having been removed ! Caleb quickly took them on as pets, but as they then sat for several hours in the hot van before we arrived back at the apartments, they were somewhat less alive, in spite of Nathaniel’s amazing efforts at CPR. Not to worry though, chef David was happy to still fry them up and they were actually quite edible, almost a bit like savoury popcorn... sort of!
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  • Day15

    Suubi

    October 30, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    This morning we left the apartments at 8am (quite promptly in fact, as Watoto it seems do not operate quite so much on normal African timing, so we are trying to be good!). We headed straight to Suubi village, one of the main Watoto villages, about an hour out of Watoto (though probably only a few miles). Suubi is on a hill in a most stunning location with unbelievable views and surroundings. We had a tour round some of the classrooms, the on site goat farm (providing milk for the babies in Baby Watoto, as it is more nutritious and more easily digested), the church (where all 1400 or so children and young people worship every Sunday, and lead services with their music and dance skills). We met the pastor and spent some time chatting in the beautiful sunshine.

    The highlight for us all, especially the boys, was Baby Watoto, an amazing house, large enough to house 80 babies from pre-terms to around 2-3 years. It is also in a stunning location with amazing garden and facilities, including 2 little swimming pools for the children to play in, which is quite unusual as in Africa, most people are afraid of water and unable to swim, but they have recognised that for these young children, the water brings them great joy and they say they are trying to remove the negative memories the babies have usually arrived with, and replace them with positive experiences.

    Most of the babies come to them via the police or the hospitals, mainly because they have been abandoned at birth or worse. The unit has been able to house babies from as early as 28 weeks and often when doctors have thought there is no chance of survival. They had several sets of twins and have also had triplets and quads before! The stories are very moving. When the children reach 2 or 3 years, some are taken back into their biological families, if this is possible and many are taken to the main Watoto village, where they will become part of a family of 8 children and a Mama. There they will generally stay until they finish school, which can be anything from about 18 to 24, as in the Ugandan education system they repeat years until they can pass the year, so it is not unusual to be a year or 2 behind. Today we met Julie who told us her story and she is 17 but is in a class with some 15 and 16 year olds and others older than her. She would like to become a doctor one day, so she had a good chat with Zach!

    We had lunch with one of the families, a typical Ugandan meal of matoke, rice, chicken, cow peas and a delicious ground nut sauce, which Julie had been given a day off school to help prepare for us! It was here that we met Denis, a boy we started sponsoring just before Nathaniel was born, when a Watoto choir visited the island. He actually lives in another Watoto village in Gulu, several hours North, but they kindly arranged for him to come down for a couple of days. We have been (unsurprisingly) useless at writing to him over the years, but it was great to actually meet him, and introduce him to cricket, which we played with the children from the family we’d eaten with, and were then joined by lots of local children, as they all live in houses nearby. Nathaniel managed to hit the cricket ball inside a couple of the front doors, which was quite impressive as they’re quite well spaced out as well as onto a roof ! They don’t normally play cricket but picked it up incredibly quickly with their natural athletic prowess and were particularly impressive at pace bowling too!

    It was a relatively quick journey back to the apartments for a bit more garden cricket and a sit on the verandah, before going to enjoy David the chef’s delicious dinner.
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  • Day14

    Watoto

    October 29, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    After the traffic of last night we apprehensively left the guest house at 9,15 expecting the worse. However traffic was not too bad (compared with the previous day!). Our first appointment was an orientation session at the Watoto downtown church. Here they also run a project where abandoned women can make a living by sewing. The church was once a cinema but during the time of Idi Amin it was used as a torture chamber, however during the subsequent war the founder of Watoto, Gary Skinner, saw it and saw its potential... Watoto is church based and currently helps abandoned women and orphaned children, although its focus is shifting toward the former as thankfully there are less orphaned children nowadays.

    Once we had finished down town we went to the Bbira Children’s village. The village is beautifully kept and on site is a school, church and accommodation where around 8 children live with a ‘mother’. The village also has a medical centre (where Zach will be spending much of his time for the next 2 weeks) and also provides vocational training such as dress making, hairdressing and trades.

    Once we had finished our time at Bbira we went downtown, where we put our bartering skills into practice at the craft market. On our drive back we appreciated the Kampala traffic before getting back to the guest house to play some garden cricket! Dinner and then bed!
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  • Day24

    Day 24: Moving on to Gorilla land

    February 25, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    Another full day in the car, driving through Uganda to get to Lake Bunyonyi, the place where we will hopefully find the Gorillas within the next days 🇺🇬🦍🇺🇬

    On our way we passed the equator again ... time for pictures 😉

    And finally, we have arrived at the most beautiful place I have seen so far ... amazing nature 🌿🌱; this part of Uganda is very green and it seems like the people living here are enjoying a much better life than in other parts of the country ... see for yourself 🇺🇬Read more

  • Day23

    Day 23: Back to Kampala

    February 24, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    The day started off very nicely: We went to a rhino sanctuary 🦏🇺🇬. Rhinos were extinct in Uganda, thus, this place is trying to bring the rhinos back to the country...so far white rhinos only.

    We were walking through the sanctuary where the rhinos are running around freely. And we were able to stand right next to them...they are huge and it is an amazing feeling to stand this closely to these creatures 🦏 Again, we were also able to see lots of baby animals (as you know this makes me very happy 😊).

    Then, on our way to Kampala, we stopped to switch cars and quickly we were surrounded by several local children. They were asking for sweets so I gave them my cookies and afterwards we gave them pencils ✏️ and balloons 🎈 They were so happy ... incredibly happy ...

    I’m falling in love with this continent more and more every day ... before I left, some of you were telling me “I bet you are not coming back home after this trip”; well, let’s see 😉💛

    PS: Today I had air conditioning and a hair dryer for the first time in weeks ... heaven ... simply heaven 😂🙏🇺🇬
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  • Day1

    Alone in Uganda

    November 4, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Today my family left me in Uganda. I left mum, Zeph and Caleb back at the apartment at around 9 to head to downtown Kampala to see Aggrey and get taken to Suubi to start working in the medical centre there. Mum was quite obviously going to miss me for the 2 weeks I'm away while Zeph and Caleb didn't obviously show it, but I'm sure they will deep down. Jose, Dad, Oggs and I drove to downtown and met Aggrey there, we had a quick coffee and I had a long hug from Oggs while saying 'why are you leaving me?' Which I suppose was almost cute..! Aggrey and I drove to Suubi to start the 2 week adventure I'm going to have. I quickly met the doctor and the nurse working at the medical centre and was shown around. Before I knew it I was in the treatment room being told that today I'd learn how to fit a cannula! Half thinking she just means I'd know the process, not actually having to do one. But I got eased into it, first I gave the medication through the cannula, and watched 2 being done. Then after the third time of watching Ruth, the nurse, said the next one is mine 😬. And so it was, under supervision I put my first cannula into a patient, and, not to brag, I succeeded first time! I then had to set the drip up for this person and walk them into the ward to rest with their drip in. That concluded my first day at the medical centre and it's fair to say they allowed me to do slightly more than I'd be allowed to do in the UK! It was back to the apartment to rest and eat dinner with Felisha, who's the other person staying here at the moment. We planned what the hundreds of kids were going to do at children's church on Sunday. Then to bed to get some much needed rest for the next day.

    I really appreciate all the people praying for me while I'm here, thank you all so much!
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Central Region

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