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Making a Hash of it

May 2 • 3746 views • 12 Comments on Making a Hash of it Adventure, Africa, East Africa, Hash House Harriers, Kampala, Travel, Uganda, Volunteering

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!

I’m a Hasher ‘virgin’ – no ‘Hash Handle’ yet though I’ll be amazed if I don’t acquire a (normally) rude nickname by the end of this w/end. Dancing with my legs wrapped round the waist of a gorgeous Ugandan as he twirled me around on the dancefloor last night may just have been noticed … no wonder I’m stiff this morning!

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.

This week was spent In-Country Training with VSO. I made the most of having some ‘thinking time’ out of the office and plan to make use of VSO’s networks and use them to help me develop UCF’s strategy. You get so caught up in the UCF work, it’s good to have a reminder of how we fit into VSO’s strategy for Uganda. We come under the Participation and Governance programme, helping to build capacity of grassroots (community-based organisations).

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!]

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12 Responses to Making a Hash of it

  1. lizziema says:

    A slight but noticeable sharp intake of breath from your mother as I read that you are somehow dancing with your legs wrapped around a “gorgeous Ugandan”! I don’t know what Michele will have to say about this but I bet she sends a private email…. All sounds fantastic.. I need to digest all you are doing and it is a bit early in the morning. I just hope that you can teach me to do African dancing, obviously with an experienced partner!!! I wonder if pa will read this…..

  2. PA says:

    Yes we CAN (read this)! I am more breathless aboit what you got up to and did NOT include on your blog. Perhaps the new handle will reveal. We need to know! Couldn’t help thinking how proud your grandparents would have been (and I hope are). It would be something to share with PHC too perhaps? WE are full of admiration for ypou darling and releived that you have lots of support and are having fun too! XXXX

  3. Sarah says:

    Wow sis, sounds great and you’re having fun fun fun! Perhaps we could have an African theme when you get back and you can teach us the African dance, that’ll be fun won’t it? xxx

  4. Charlie says:

    No way I can ever hope to keep up with the Africans’ dancing … but I’m having a go! Home at 1.30 this morning, after more dancing, this time with an Aussie who was trying to teach me salsa and who is insisting sits next to me this morning. Oh no it could be a long bus ride …! He’s latched onto me and I’m going to have to shake him off!

  5. Charlie says:

    The band we’ve seen are Percussion Discussion and I’ll take you all to see them one day 🙂
    Apparently you have to do 20 Hashes before getting your Hash Handle (nickname), but they are considering ‘fast tracking’ me! lol.
    Sharing of Handle name with blog Followers may need to be by personal email only!!

  6. sjwaller says:

    Hi Charlie

    Wow!!!! What an amazing time you are having. Poor OLD John and |Sally have just spent May Day in Wales. Certinly did not have my legs wrapped araound a welshman (nor an englishman come to that)!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great to hear that you are having such a super time. Keep up with the blog. I love hearing all abput your time out there. Lots of love Sally

  7. Charlie says:

    Thanks Sally! I really love hearing from you. Has been a lot of fun recently – got serious amounts of work to do now tho but VSO did warn it would take a few months to get settled, acclimatise etc. I try not to bore everyone with the everyday frustrations of working here – think I’d lose blogreaders quickly!! x x

  8. Charlie says:

    Bleedin knackered, after 4 runs in 4 days (Monday night is the regular Hash night). Last night’s was the toughest, 5k+, the most DISGUSTING route tho fascinating: thru the industrial area, thru a village, very rough terrain but 100s of people, mostly kids laughing at us. Then back thru the shanty town, built 3 feet away from the railway line, rubbish everywhere. Along the track, stumbling over carcasses of two dead (massive) Maribou storks, then the most revolting smell … didn’t look around me, thank god. Turns out they were tanning hides 50ft away from us out in the open! The Ugandan Hashers were laughing afterwards, that they had purposely chosen most disgusting route for the visitors still in town post Africa Hash! Had kicked a rather fresh looking cowhorn as we ran along, now I know why! RETCH!

    Ran with ex-Marine this w/end and he reckons I could do a marathon (!!) so am contemplating a 10km in Nov… (it’s that or I turn into a banana!!)

  9. lizziema says:

    Well now you know how to get our attention, just wrap yourseslf around someone and pretend you are dancing!!! Can’t wait to learn and I bet Sally is up for it…eh Bubbles?!!! I bet your Country home was rocking.

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