Last fun times in Uganda

Samstag, 01.06.2013

 

The last two weeks have been very busy. Ralph and I had to finish our project which included: making instruction videos, making a picture book of the therapy, teatching the workers from Home Sweet Home how to continue some of the treatments, and writing dossiers for all the disabled children. Besides that we had made some fun plans for the kids. All the time we were here we wanted to take the kids to the pool. When it was clear that we would take them on Thursday they were all very excited. The days before they were not talking about anything else then about going to the pool. Maria asked me over and over again if we would go the next day and I had to tell her, in three days, in two days, tomorrow and finally I could say: Today we are going! They were soo excited. Ralph and I bought 5 breads, peanut butter, jam, bananas and water, so we could have lunch at the pool. For the kids that is a very special lunch, because they like bread a lot and don’t get to eat it besides on special occasions or holidays. For the strong disabled children and the aunties who staid at home we left some bread and apples so they could also enjoy some nice food. We went to the pool with 11 children, Suzan and Zenon. The smaller ones had to be watched in the small pool, the bigger ones could go in the bigger pool but had to stay on the side where you can still stand. Suzan had tried to teach them swimming in the past but they could not swim so well yet so we had to supervise them. The kids were happy to play around in the water and Ralph and I would sometimes stay with the small ones and then exchange to the big ones and vice versa. We always had to be the crocodile which comes to catch them under water. They had fun escaping.

At lunch we ordered soft drinks for everybody and had a picnic on the grass. Then the kids were ready for the pool again. So we also got in. Luckily it was a very hot and sunny day so I didn’t freeze at all being in the pool the whole day. Although the kids got blue lips and were shivering after a while they didn’t want to get out of the pool until we left. We went home at 4.30 pm and in the car almost all kids fell asleep. Also Ralph and I were totally exhausted in the evening and everybody went to bed early that night. It had been a fun day.

The next event we organised was a game day. We only told the kids that we would do something fun on Saturday but didn’t say what. That made them very curious and they didn’t stop asking what we were going to do. On Friday we went shopping in Jinja to get some stuff we needed for the day and organised everything. The night before I couldn’t sleep so well because I was nervous about that day. It was the first time for me to organise such a thing and I was worried that the kids wouldn’t like it. In the morning we went down to the village to buy some more sweeties for a couple of games. Than at 11 o’clock it was time to start!

We made two teams; team Germany against team Holland. The games contained: which team is faster in jumping in a sack, the egg walk (using passion fruit instead of eggs), finding a pan on the ground blindfolded, pulling a rope, jumping the rope with many children at the same time, who can hang the longest on a rack, who is the fastest in putting 30 peanuts into a cup with a straw, fishing sweets out of a water filled pan only using the mouth, making a pyramid and a quiz. The kids were very enthusiastic about the games and after one  was finished they couldn’t wait for the next to begin. Because they all did there best and we couldn’t keep trek of which team was first all of them received a price in the end. It was a very successful day with much laughter, funny pictures and happy faces.

On Sunday then we went to church with the whole crew. After the service we met our friend John. He wanted to show us were he was studying and we had lunch together at his home. In the last week we took Suzan and Zenon and their two little kids to a Chinese restaurant. It was a good ending of a great time together. The next day we again enjoyed good food. Auntie Jasinta, one of the employees who we had become good friends with, invited us to have lunch at her house. She can really cook! It was delicious. Also was it interesting to see how she live. On the same day also Peter had invited us to have dinner at his house. He came to pick us up at 5 pm. At his house we talked a lot with lots of different people who also came into the room (the house contains two little rooms, the cooking always takes place outside). Some of his brothers, his mother, some kids and his fiancée. Then after an hour or so she his fiancée started to kook for us. They even had bought some beer for us and we could eat a banana in the meantime. She cooked matoka (national food: kookbanaan, which is not sweet) with fish for me and pork for Ralph. Peter had even remembered that I don't eat meat. They only cooked for us and watched us eat.. When we asked why they are not eating they said because they didn't wanted us to wait so long they only cooked some for us and they would eat later. For Africans it's normal to eat later anyways, they usually do that at around 9 or even 11. The food was really good and we had a good time. Because it was dark by the time we were finished Peter and his brother walked us home.

We spend our last day in Jinja, buying last souvenirs and having one last great smoothie at the Keep, our favourite bar here.

Today is going to be our last evening with the kids and we'll bring some fish for dinner. That's always special for them...

Tomorrow then...it's time to leave...I will definitely cry.

Looking back it has been a wonderful time! All the great moments with the kids, the travelling around this beautiful country, our work which has been successful and the nice people we have met... I'm very happy I came here and could experience all that!

Luckily I don't have to leave Africa immediately but will go discover the south.

South-Africa I'm coming!

 

Okwagala weelaba (love and goodbye)

Simone

 

Written on friday 31st of may. I'm leaving Uganda on saturday 1st of june.

Sipi Falls! BEAUTIFUL!

Dienstag, 21.05.2013

Our second last weekend here, Ralph and I went to the Sipi Falls in East-Uganda, near Mount Elgon (one of the highest mountains in Uganda). On Friday we left after breakfast. We were going with bodas and matatus (motorcicles and taxi busses) and we were prepared on a long journey of 5-6 hours. With the boda we went to Jinja, from there we luckily got a matatu to Mbale immediately. It was more than filled but we were glad to be on the way. After around 3 hours we arrived in Mbale, the last biggest town before the hills and mountains where we had to change taxi. There the driver dropped us at a taxipark where many matatus were parked. A guy helped us to find a matatu which would go to Sipi. It was a very very old minibus, not in a good state. The front windows had many cracks in it, the seats were old and trashy.. We were the first ones in the matatu and so we had to wait a long time in the heat until it was filled with more people. There were also many men busy with packing the taxi with goods and luggage. They squeezed and stuffed and pushed….everything would find a place, although the trunk would not close properly in the end. But there is still the roof right? So they put more things on top and tight it with ropes. In the mean time we were already sharing the back row with three more people (there are only seats for 3) and I was squeezed in the corner. Children, women and men kept coming to the windows trying to sell food, drinks, cloth and other goods. I had to say “no thank you” like a thousand times. More people came and took their places in the matatu. I think in the end we were in there with around 16 people on 10 places. But here everything is possible.

After around an hour of waiting we finally were ready to go. We had to drive up a little hill to reach the street and our fully packed car had a lot of trouble to get up there. The streets were bumpy and I had the feeling the car would break down every minute.

At 2 pm we arrived at Lacam Lodge, hungry and exhausted from the journey. The view which was expecting us was stunning. The lodge was built on a hill (a part of Mount Elgon) right next to the first waterfall. From the restaurant of the lodge you could see far over the country and the waterfall was to see if you walked a few meters to the side. A guy named Fred who would also be our guide for the next day showed us our Banda (little house) and told us that we could have a sandwich for lunch. While eating, we enjoyed the view…

After that we rested a little on the veranda, slept and read. We got an early dinner at 6, containing soup, toast with guacamole, rice with vegetables and some meat (not for me) and buttermilk cake as desert. Then I had an African tea and we just sat there and talked for a while. At around 9 pm we were already in bed, reading and... sneezing. I think there was a lot of dust in the blankets. Both of us were sneezing like crazy and used half a toilet paper role because of a running nose. Besides that it was really chilli in the banda and I was even freezing with three blankets.. That was a new experience here, usually it’s too warm to fall asleep. Also new was the fact that there were no mosquitos!!

After a rough night we went to have breakfast. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and the view was still amazing.. We had some fresh juice, fruits, eggs and toast and enjoyed the local coffee (most coffee in Uganda comes from Sipi, even in Holland you can buy itJ). Then we were ready to do abseiling! We had decided to do that already the evening before and I was very excited. Ralph was more nervous but he also couldn’t wait to hang on a rope 110m above the ground next to a waterfall…

So we got to the top and the guys gave us some gear and ropes. One guy climbed down first, then it was Ralphs turn and I would follow. We were seeing the guy descending…aaahh that was deep.. Now Ralph was going. After the first shaky steps he gained more confidence and the guys took some good pictures. Then it was finally my turn. Suddenly I stood on the edge of a rock with a huge waterfall next to me splashing down 110 meter. It was scary! The guys told me to step a little down and straighten my legs so I would sit in the gear. ‘What? How do I have to do that? I can’t hold myself are you guys crazy?’ Was what was going through my mind. But then I just tried to walk down a bit pushing myself of the wall. I looked down…ooh no. I would have to climb down 35 meters; the last 75 would be hanging and letting myself down. But then I would be able to just enjoy the view. The guys encouraged me to do stuff like jumping away from the wall and to look up for some nice pictures. It was awesome! After I reached the point where there was no more wall to climb down on, I hang in the air. The view, the waterfall, the feeling of hanging…it was amazing!

When I came down to the bottom I got totally soaked! Right next to where the waterfall splashes on the rocks I landed and was wet immediately. The guy who had gone down first helped me out of the gear and gave me a hand to get off the slippery rocks. Still a little shaky from the abseiling, looking like I had just taken a shower with all my cloth on, I stumbled into the sun. Proud of ourselves Ralph and I climbed back up the hill.

On top we met our guide for the hiking tour to the other two waterfalls. Because Ralph had waited for me down at the fall he was even more wet and first had to pour the water out of his shoes. Then we were ready for the hike. It was a hot day and our clothes dried quickly.

The hike was very beautiful. We went up and down, through forest, banaplants, little villages, cornfields, lots of coffee plants, behind the second waterfall, over the Sipiriver using a fallen tree as bridge and arrived at around 1.30 pm at the top, next to the third waterfall (there are tree big waterfalls in the Sipiriver, then a few smaller ones in the surrounding). There we had our packed lunch: sandwich, bananas, boiled eggs and pineapple. Under trees we enjoyed the food and an even better view! Because as higher we had climbed the view had gotten nicer and wider. Somewhere far away we could see part of a lake (I looked later on the map and saw that it must have been Lake Bisina, 50 km away from Sipi) so that was very far. It’s only possible to see so far because Uganda is mainly flat in the centre. The mountains are in the western and eastern part of the country.

After lunch we went back down, using another route. At 3pm we were back at the lodge. Exhausted but happy we arrived. During the tour our guide had told us about another tour which would be about the coffee they are producing there. Because we were curious about that, we decided to go on that tour also. After a little break and a shower, the guide took us up the hill to his home, where he would show us how coffee is made. We learned how the beans are cleaned, pealed, roasted and stamped until we could try a cup of our self made coffee. It’s a long process but very interesting. With some self made coffee in our bag we went back to the lodge, had dinner and went to bed early, totally exhausted from the excitement of the day and with sore legs.

The next day we left after breakfast. The employees organised us a boda which would take us to the closest place from where matatus depart to Jinja. Driving down the mountain on the boda gave us the opportunity to enjoy the view one last time. Then it was time to get stuffed into a matatu again.. This time we were luckier with the taxi because we had a little more space. In Mbale we only had to wait for 30 minutes until the taxi was filled and so we arrived in Jinja already at 3.30 pm. Because we were so early we decided to go into town for a bit, buy some stuff and go on the internet. Then we went back to Home Sweet Home and got once more welcomed warmly by the kids and aunties. After dinner and reading a story to the children I went straight to bed because I was sooo tired.

This weekend has been one of the best times here in Uganda! The Sipi falls are a wonderful place!

 

Love,

Simone

 

Sucking immune system but great SAFARI!!!

Samstag, 11.05.2013

 

The last weekend of April Ralph’s girlfriend Dana came to visit. So Saturday we went on a Matatu (taxi which is meant for 14 people but where 22 people can fit in there ‘easily’) to pick her up in Entebbe. Because she would arrive late at night we got off in Kampala and spend the day with Moses, a friend of Zenon we had gotten to know earlier. With the boda boda he showed us some more of the surrounding of the capital and many interesting places. We visited an historical church, the Ugandan museum, the kings tombs, the slums and the Bahai temple (there are only 8 of them in the world; this one is the only one in Africa). At every place there was somebody to lead us around and tell us about the place, so in the end of the day our brains were stuffed with cultural information. To go into the slums was not as shocking as I had expected but still very disturbing. Many many people living on very little space, in small houses without windows, little waterways in between which were smelling badly, laundry hanging everywhere between the houses, people cooking and washing in the alleys, women getting their hair done in very little saloons and little children running around in dirty clothes… The most disturbing for me was to see on what little space they are living squeezed up together. Further was there poverty which I had also seen in the villages, but there the people have at least some more space and nature around them… When we went through the slum I took some pictures, but for the first time in Uganda I had to watch out for thieves. Moses told me to hold on to the camera tightly otherwise it’d be gone. The big city is so different then the countryside with its villages and houses along the road. Here you can see the difference between poor and rich very clear. The slums squeezed every where in between, the crowded centre with its big houses and offices, lots of stores, big and small markets with many people trying to sell there goods, and in the suburbs the nice big houses and shopping malls for the richer people. With Moses we luckily had a boda driver we could trust, but also with him was it a dangerous ride through the centre. The city is just not built for so many cars, that’s obvious. And then their crazy way of driving…… In the evening he brought us to the main road to Entebbe, where we went further with the Matatu. Exhausted and hungry we arrived at the hostel and I went straight to bed after eating. Ralph stayed up and went  to the airport in the night to pick up Dana. The next day Zenon came to pick us up to go back to Home Sweet Home. He had also been in Kampala fixing the car. Late in the evening we arrived where the kids were waiting for us with dinner, very curious about the new visitor. On Monday we worked, but Tuesday we went on the next journey. Together with Suzan and Zenon, we had planned to go to Kampala for Queensday (30.4. Dutch holiday, celebrated all over the world from the embassy’s) and continue the next day to the north, to Murchison Falls National Park to go on safari. And that’s what we did. Early in the morning we packed the car and went on the first two our drive to Kampala, me sitting between the kids Devin (2) and Brechje (1). So I played the entertainer and gave snacks and drinks to them during the ride.

In Kampala Suzan and Zenon had to go to the doctor and to some office, so Dana, Ralph and I took the kids and went to a playground at a mall. Almost three hours of playing with laughter, crying, and some babysitter skills more, we were back in the car heading to our hostel. In the evening then we went to the Queensdayparty, which found place in the garden of the Dutch ambassador. It was huge. Live band, Dutch snacks and drinks, dance floor and hundreds of Dutch people…I felt a little out of place.. and was also not really aloud in there;) But it was fun.

 

 

 

The next day we left Kampala early to go to the Murchison National Park. It’s located more to the north of Uganda and we had to drive around 5 hours to get there. At 6 am we were on the road to get out of town before the traffic jam started. We hoped to reach the oldest building of Uganda in Masindi (a little city halfway) around noon for lunch but we reached there earlier and just had brunch. It was an old train station changed into a hotel. Many years ago there was much more rail traffic in Uganda, today only freight trains bring goods with very low speed from Uganda to Kenya and back. After a nice brunch and a game of pool we went on. After two hours we reached the entrance of the park! We paid and entered and had to drive another 60km through the park to reach our hostel were we would spend two nights.  On the way there we could already see a lot. Nice nature, rainforest and very many Racoons (big monkeys). Suddenly a huge iguana or lizard passed the road and Zenon had to hit the brakes. That was really special to see but it was gone to quick for a picture. What we soon had to learn was not to stop the car to often to take pictures. As soon as we slowed down the car was filled with Tse-tse flies! That are flies which leave painful, itchy spots back if they sting you. And also spread the sleeping sickness. So every time they entered the car it was a big fight to kill them, but to close the windows was not an option because it was too hot. I then thought our whole safari would be like that and didn’t like the idea of not being able to take nice pictures of the animal we would see…but what we discovered later was that the Tse-tse fly only is active in the forest areas and on the Nile. Before going to our hostel we took a turn left and went to the Murchison falls. That’s the place where the Nile squeezes through two big rocks. It is a beautiful big waterfall with water splashing high in the air. After taking lots of pictures we drove the last 20 minutes and finally arrived. It had been a long day with a long journey and we were glad to be there, to take a cold shower and have some dinner. After that we went to our little houses were we would sleep in and fell in bed.

The next day we woke up early to take the first ferry across the Nile at 7 am. On the other side of the river was the real safari area because most of the animals lived there. When we came down to the river we saw the first hippos in the water! With a beautiful sunrise we crossed the river. On the other side we took a guide in our car with us and started the safari. I was very excited and had my camera ready in my hands to not miss a thing. The guide told us some over the park while we were driving. We came to a big savannah. The landscape was beautiful…grassy hills with palm trees and other trees…aaaand then the first giraffes! It was so cool to see this huge creatures walking around there, eating, standing.. we stopped and took lots of pictures. The guide told us we were lucky because in the dry season it is often not possible to see any giraffes. Our safari lasted three hours and we saw almost everything. Many bushbucks, different kind of antelopes (one of them, the Ugandan Cob, is the national animal of Uganda), waterhogs, big herds of buffalos and interesting birds. Really cool was when a big elephant walked along the road just two meters from us. After we had seen al these animals we were eager to see lions.. at one point our guide suddenly told Zenon to go off-road because she expected something behind some bushes. Luckily we were driving a land cruiser with four-wheel drive, otherwise we would’ve been stuck. Slowly we went forward…we saw some buffalos which seemed to be restless because of something. And then we saw him.. a lion! He was walking slowly. Very excited we came closer and closer and followed the lion to his destination. Apparently he had been hunting the last night and there was still meat on a skeleton, so we could watch him heat. Awesome.

We went on and came to a different part of the Nile. There many hippos were chilling in the water. On the way back we went to another place off-road where lions often lay to sleep (they sleep 20 hours a day) and again we were lucky. First we didn’t see anything behind the bushes but then I was the one to see two lions, male and female laying there. On our way back to the ferry we past again many animals, but the leopard hid from us. Although we looked in almost every tree, we didn’t see any. But Devin (the two year old) even saw kangaroos so that was special too ;).

 

After lunch we took a boat on the Nile. During the boat ride we saw some more animals on the riversides. Buffalos, antelopes, waterhogs, storks and elephants splashing water in there face. We also saw crocodiles and baby crocodiles but they stayed halfway hidden in the bushes. Lots of hippos were sitting in the water and fish eagles in trees. It was a nice ride which took us to the waterfalls. All over the water were a lot of bubbles from the wild water and the view on the falls was impressive. The boat went back and we went to our hostel, tired and hungry from an exciting day. After dinner we suddenly saw a big hippo walking across the compound of the hostel which consisted of little houses and tents spread over an area. That was a little scary because hippos are the most dangerous animals in the world. We were told that they walk around there at night and we were supposed to only leave the houses with a flashlight. The next morning we left the park early in the morning because we had a whole day in the car ahead of us. With a short break in Masindi were we had to change a flat tire we drove home. We arrived at around 6.30 pm after a drive of 8 hours. The kids were waiting for us and jumped into our arms. It was nice to be back and I spend some hours with the children watching a movie and talking. Dana had become sick on the way back and went straight to bed. In that night I also became sick again… the next morning I was running a fever, had pain in the throat and a headache. So they tested Dana and me on malaria and a bacteria which you can get from dirty water. Because all tests turned out positive and we couldn’t believe that we went to Jinja to a better clinic to get tested again. Unfortunately can you not always trust the little clinics in the villages on the results. This time malaria was negative but I had a bacterial infection in the throat and Dana in her stomach. We both got antibiotics and I went home to lay in bed. My fever lasted for two days and went even up to 40 degrees, but after that I got better. The only thing is the weakness which didn’t leave me so fast.. Now it’s really enough with being sick in Africa, that’s no pleasure.

This week we have worked again in our normal routine. We have 3 more weeks left in which we have to finish our project. There is still some work to be done! This weekend we’re going to write all the dossiers and work further on the instructions which we want to leaver here for future volunteers and the aunties (employees).

 

Take care everybody and stay away of little creatures like bacteria’s ;) The big animals in the wild a way more interesting!

Your Simone

Already half way..

Mittwoch, 24.04.2013

 

 

 

Time flies. We are in Uganda now already 7 weeks and there are only 6 more left and we still have so many nice plansJ (waterrafting, safari, Sipi falls, Kampala, swimming with all the kids etc..) So the next blog will be about these things.

This time I will tell more about the therapy we are doing here. We are working with children with different handicaps. Most children are physically and mentally disabled and many don’t speak or understand much English. That makes it harder to work with them, and with some kids we are not sure if we can help them at all. But there are also some who we can help a lot and we already see progress.

We are treating 3 children with a hemiparesis, two of them (Opio and Isaac) can understand us and participate good in the therapy. With Opio we are working on his spasms and on the trunk stability so he can move easier, can make better use of both his arms while eating ect. and will later be able to use a hand bike. Isaac does not understand everything as good as Opio but realises that we are training him to make more use of his right side, where the paresis is. In the beginning he was very negative about that side, made gestures to cut his right arm off or said that he can’t do it with this arm. I’m now working with him for 6 weeks and it is nice to see how he improves and really works with me. He likes to come to therapy and has an idea how the treatment looks like. Stretching his arm can be hurtful but he gets that it is important and lets me do it while I talk about funny things with him. Also with the other activities he uses his right arm better now, often even without me telling him. I always tell him that his right arm is also okay and I can see him accepting it more and more.

Further we are working with many children who have balance problems or muscular twitches, probably based on brain injury caused by malaria. From no kids we have real a diagnose only the ones with epilepsy.

It is very different to work with children than with adults, but I really like it. This is such a good experience for me and I would never have thought that work with kids could be so much fun.. I always thought I was not creative enough to do it.

Ralph and I started this week to evaluate our work. We also have to figure out how parts of the therapy shall be continued by the employees when we have left Home Sweet Home.

There is still a lot to do and most children would need therapy there whole live…. But at least we could make a start.

The weather here is still very nice and hot, although it’s raining season. The people here say the raining season is even almost over.. Luckily we didn’t see much of it, at night it actually is nicer if it rains then the air cools down.. Mostly it rains at night or in the evening when we have to be inside anyways because then the mosquito’s come.

But they are sneaky and still find a way to get into the house and sting us. Because we had some children in the house who had malaria, Ralph and I got it too. Ralph even got malaria although he was taking preventive medicine. For me it was the second time but I’m still glad that I didn’t take Lariam or Malarone because it obviously doesn’t save for getting sick and has bad side effects. But I must say I’m getting tired of malaria and hope to can enjoy the last 6 weeks here in total healthy state!!!

The holidays have started for the kids, what also means that the children from the daycare won’t come to Home Sweet Home for four weeks. The ones we are treating continue coming two times a week. In the mornings we do physiotherapy with the disabled children, in the afternoons we do home study with the little ones from the home; David (6), Maria (5), Valentine (8) and Rachel (6). Suzan wants the kids to be homeschoold because the education level here is pretty low and to catch up the kids need to study more. It also keeps them busy and they like to learn.

 

I now also started to take Luganda lessons (the local language here). Just for fun, to get to know some basics. With the kids I’m practicing words and they like to teach me. A girl who has been a volunteer at Home Sweet Home two years ago and came back for another internship in Uganda, goes to the lessons with me. I’m learning handy things like:

“tonseera” =don’t overcharge me. So if I take a Bodaboda (the motortaxi) I can tell them that because from white people they always ask higher prices ;)

The last two weekends we stayed at Home Sweet Home and went to the church with the whole family (yes I’m going to church here pretty often but it’s not the same like in Germany.. They have a sort life band and sing a lot and we meet many people we already know. The kids are always excited to go and like us to come with them. So we pack up and take the car which is meant for 8 people, but we fit in there with 17!). After church we rented bikes and made a tour with our friend John. We went to the place at the Nile where the Bujagali Falls had been before the dam was built two years ago. We ended up in a little bar with a cold drink and a nice view. Two big fish eagles completed the picture.

The day before we took all of our kids to a soccer field. But when we arrived, around 100 other children from around here where already there. Ralph and I (the whites) immediately were surrounded by all of them and couldn’t move an inch. Maria, who was holing my hand was confused and didn’t want to share my hands with the others who all tried to touch me. Some think we paint our skin white.. We also had a boy with us sitting in a wheelchair. When the children saw that they ran to look at him because it is something you don’t see here a lot. It took a while until the children left us alone again. Frustrating was that I couldn’t really do anything because many children don’t understand or speak English and just come closer and closer to touch the white person.. it was an awkward situation.  

On Saturday we’ll go to Kampala again to meet a friend who will show us some more places around the city. At night we’ll pick Dana, Ralph’s girlfriend up from the airport and spend the night in Entebbe. I’m really excited about next week, why I will tell in my next blog.

 

Take care everyone,

okunywegera

Simone

 

Some big hair…

Dienstag, 09.04.2013

 

….I got my hair braided and look like a hippie now haha. Before I came to Africa I said I wanted to try something totally different with my hair, like cut it really short. When I got to Uganda I discovered that most women here have fake hair. They get it braid with fake hair, get it sowed on to there head (sowed in there real hair) or wear wigs. I didn’t expect them to pay much money for such things because I would think they need it for other things, but beauty obviously plays a big role in all countries...…So I decided to get some braided long brown hair. 6, 5 hours later it was finished. Finally I could stand up after sitting on the floor the whole day.

 

We had two busy weeks working and studying with the kids, besides physiotherapy we also spend some time with two girls from the orphanage to study for school. Maria is my student. She is 4, but here with this age you already have to know a lot, otherwise you get beaten from the teachers. Maria is a very cute energetic girl, who sometimes can listen and learn well, but often is distracted and just messing around. We are working on writing her name, learning the alphabet and the numbers. It can be very exhausting but also a lot of fun when I see the progress she’s making. She loves our time together a lot. Then she gets all of my attention and after successfully having studied I take here on an airplane ride on my feet. What she and some other children like also is when I do the song “Hoppe hoppe Reiter” with them. Maria can’t get enough of it and can sing the whole song already (her German only sounds a little funny because she has no idea what she’s singing ;).

 

Last Friday a friend of Zenon came to Home Sweet Home. He watched us treading the kids and took some nice pictures. I’ll put them on facebook.

After these two weeks, with Easter in between, Ralph and I were ready to see some more of the country and to find some quiet time to relax! This we found on Hairy Lemon Island, a beautiful island somewhere on the Nile, surrounded by little waterfalls. It was perfect.

We also got some really nice food there, what we learn to appreciate a lot after eating “posho (maismash) and beans” every lunch... But I must say the dinner at home sweet home is always tasty. We get a lot of eggplant, potatoes, rice, avocado..

 

The treatments of the children are going well. We can already see some effects with some kids. That really motivates us! Some children really need therapy frequently. Therefore we will educate some workers of the daycare to continue with parts of the therapy when we are gone. Hopefully in the nearby future there will be a physiotherapist employed at HSH.

Because I don’t have much time left now I will tell you more about the therapy and what’s going on here in the next blog.

 

Love and take care!

Simone

My first weeks in Uganda

Mittwoch, 27.03.2013

Hey everyone!

 

Sitting in my bed in my big room I will start writing my blog from the time in Uganda. It’s in English so everybody, Dutch, American or German can read itLächelnd

I’m here now two weeks already and a lot has happened since.

After a very long journey with some complications with our flight in Dusseldorf, we finally arrived in Entebbe 8, 5 hours too late. After standing in line to bye a visa and getting our luggage we walked outside. Many people were waiting with signs in there hands. Also one guy was waiting for us. It was a friend of Suzan and Zenon (the people from the orphanage where we were going to stay). He was our taxi driver. Uganda welcomed us with hot air, sun and palm trees! It was so exciting to be there.

We went to an old jeep. The drivers door didn’t open from outside, it was old and dirty. This car would have never been aloud anymore in Germany. It was our taxi for the next four hours. We got onto the main road –Entebbe-Kenya, a very busy street. Busses, taxis, cars, motorcycles, bikes, people walking.. all mixed on a road with to ways, but the people made four ways of it if possible. We passed the Victoria Lake and a few villages along the way. Charles (the driver) told us a lot and I couldn’t stop taking pictures, it was soo different and a lot to see. We came through Kampala, the capital. There we got money and water. It was very hot. After some time were we so exhausted that Ralph and I both fell asleep, but I woke up many times because of the bad road. Once we stopped to get a mango. People are selling them all along the streets. Delicious!

At 6.30 pm we arrived at Home Sweet Home. Suzan, Zenon and the children were waiting for us. Because it was Sunday we had market food for dinner (fried kasaba, pancakes and some other local baked things).

Our first days were pretty exhausting because we had to get used to the weather, all the kids and the way of life here in Africa. In the orphanage there live 14 children, 6 girls and 8 boys. Most were picked from the streets after them living there alone for some years. Four of them are disabled and have gone through very bad experiences in there past. Some were treated like dogs and held in a cage…Here at Home Sweet Home is taken care of them really good. They are one big family but many had to learn first how to live in such a community.

They are all very cute and happy that we are here. I’m afraid I’m going to miss them a lot when I leave.

 

I’m going on writing after being here three weeks now. So many new things to tell you about!

In the first week I became sick. It started with a normal cold but then I also had fever and was really weak, so we decided to go to the clinic in Buzika town to get a malaria blood test. The clinic was very small with chickens running in and out. The doctor asked me a few things and send met to a little room. I was glad to see the clean injections lying on the table in between some old medical instruments. A guy took one and got some of my blood. Then I had to wait for the results. After a while in which I could see some people bringing in a wounded man to the clinic. He was bleeding on his head and was carried by another man. Followed from 8 more people he was brought to a little room in the back of the building where the doctor, who had talked to me earlier, went to. Many people were standing and watching through the window, curious about what was going on. The guy with my results came but I had to wait for the doctor to tell me about them. He then told me that I had malaria +. I was a little shocked but went home and took the medicine which Suzan had given me already. It was a doze to be taken over 3 days. The next three days I was still very weak but I became fitter every day. After the treatment I was back.

 

We started with the kids immediately the first Monday. Suzan brought all of them to her house so we could examine them and could decide which ones we could help. In the following days we made goals for every child and wrote treatment plans. Over one child we got in contact with a pediatric neurologist in Holland to ask voor medical advice. Luckily she is going to help us. We sent her some information and videos of the child. Now we are waiting on her answer and hope that we can buy the right medicine for the child here!

We are working with every child at least 3 times a week. In the weekends we are travelling around the country.

The first weekend we didn’t go anywhere because I was sick. We only went to church on Sunday. The people here are very religious. Most we know are protestant. The kids go to church every Sunday, pray before eating and have bible study. We will go with them on Easter, the other weekends we’ll be travelling.

The last two weekends we went to Jinja, the closest city here, were we hang out a lot to go on the internet and have some good smoothies!

We went to the market, it was very busy and you could buy many vegetables, some meat hanging in the sun.. and cloth. We bought mangos and tomatos for a fair price. The same weekend we went to go swimming to a hotel close to where we live. It is right at Lake Victoria. One sunny day we also went there with two of our disabled children. The next day we took a boat to go to the source of the Nile. The river starts right at the lake by Jinja. At the riversides we saw some colorful birds and monkeys playing in the trees!

Then last weekend we went to Mabira Forest. It is the biggest rainforest in Uganda. A guide led us three hours through the forest. Also here we saw monkeys, many butterflies, some big millipede and a buck. It was really nice. The parrots we could only hear..and the digdigs (little antelopes), cobras and leopards sad fully stayed hidden.

We got to know some locals who sometime come to Home Sweet Home. One guy, Peter, took us to see some more of the surrounding last Sunday. With the boda boda (a motorcycle which we always use as taxi) we drove up a hill to have a look at the Victoria Lake. All the way up we had a great view! But you can only see a little part of the lake because it’s so huge. We then went down the hill and to the riverside. We walked through little villages and were called by many African children. “Hi Muzungu” and “bye Muzungu” (muzungu: white person). The children are all very excited to see white people and want to be on the pictures. Sometimes they ask for sweets or even money, but mostly they just wave at us. When we reached the lake, we had some lunch under a tree and Peter called some friends to take us with a boat to another village. Three guys paddled us there, while we had to assure Peter that we would rescue him if we would fall in the water because he can’t swim and wasn’t comfortable on the water. Many people here can’t swim because they cannot afford to take lessons. But people who live right at the lake or river jump into the water a lot. The village we arrivd at was a fishing village. We could see how they dry the fish. Then we took another boat to cross the lake to go to Jinja. It was another good day with many impressions. To move around with a local has many advantages. We get to see many more places which we wouldn’t see as tourists and also the prices are much lower if there is an African with us. “Muzungus” have to pay for everything more! But it’s still very cheapZwinkernd

 

I hope you enjoyed reading about my first weeks in Uganda. Further stories are going to follow.