Happy May Day Bank Holiday! Feet are killing me this morning. Several hours dancing to the most fantastic African music, after a run round the streets of Kampala with 250 ‘Hashers’ meeting for Africa Hash 2009. The week-end’s only just started: at 10am I get on a coach to Jinja ‘Source of the Nile’ for an hour’s run along the river, ‘the most scenic spot in Uganda’ (that’s some claim). Another party laid on tonight, then off to run through the Botanical Gardens at Entebbe tomorrow morning, along the shores of Lake Victoria…. followed by another party!
Joining the Hash is a great way to meet people, 90% of whom are Ugandans. It started out as an ex-pat club (not normally my type of thing) and there are lots of silly public humiliations, e.g. if you’re spotted wearing new running shoes you’re forced to drink beer out of one of them! Yesterday someone was drinking beer out of a flip flop somehow! The beer was flowing all day but no-one got stupidly drunk which was good.
First Hash was last week, about 7km, longest run for months. Really had to push myself, thoughts of Prince’s Trust week-end came flooding back! We passed through a village and everyone stood at the side of the – steep and very uneven – ‘maram’ road, laughing and cheering us on. Was kept motivated by young boy of about 11, who joined us as we ran through a village; he ran next to me for 30 minutes, in his flip flops, onto the main road, through someone’s back garden, back through another village… it’s moments like that I treasure here.
I’m investigating how, through our access to remote communities, we can help other VSO programme areas. It might be as simple as providing mosquito nets but we could facilitate introduction of other health organisations, working with HIV/AIDS or disability for example. Malaria is the biggest killer here and only a third of rural Ugandans sleep under a net; 78 000 of every 100 000 deaths are due to HIV/AIDS; the disabled are mostly hidden, they are seen as an embarrassment (or worse) and few make it to school. School fees are higher for Special Needs children and schools lack the facilities to cater for them.
It was great to meet up with the other (12) volunteers who I spent my first week in Uganda with. I’ve been so lucky with this placement – one volunteer is quitting hers after six months and another’s leaving early.
I’ve signed up for more Luganda lessons. Pa and Valere: I haven’t forgotten the request for the next Luganda lesson!
Thought for the day:
When you teach someone how to use a PC, you notice how it reflects Western society, and not just in terms of the currency characters on it. (It does get confusing using an English / Thai keyboard set up with North American settings!)
Try explaining to a 21 year old Ugandan (Simpson) what the return [“carriage return” button is] – What is a typewriter?
As you wait for programmes to load, how do you explain what an eggtimer is?
Here eggs are boiled till they’re hard enough to peel and eat whole. No such thing as our very English soft boiled ‘egg and soldiers’! [that’s thin slices of toast for dipping into egg my northern European friends!]