Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm Home - Really - March 14, 2010

Really, I am! I know this will surprise most of you, but I came back to the US on March 11 - it was a surprise to the family (except Corky)...I wanted to be at their "mid winter get away" at St. Cloud and decided to COS (Close of Service) on March 10th a long time ago - just lied a lot since then!!! The kids were really surprised - not suspicious at all!!! We decided that the last time we were all together was August '07 at Bert and Naomi's wedding reception! That's too long!

Great fun at the hotel tho' I got a bad cold (airplane) and was a bit off - the little grandkids took a long time warming up (not sure if they ever did), but the older boys, Riley, Dylan, Henry and Ben got back into it! Greg said "it doesn't seem like you were away", but it does to me! Really overwhelmed by the crowds at the hotel, all the food, and how many people are grossly overweight! Older women in Uganda get big and you see some overweight men in Kampala but otherwise all I've seen for two years is really skinny people!! Funny that that should strike me even more than the obvious skin color difference.

Jean and Kody (well, Jean) are making wedding plans - she and Gail got 3 Bride magazines while we were there! I'm not surprised that Jean is so organized (she's even more OCD than I am if that's possible) but it amazes me that she is really into the wedding planning! The (very) tentative plans are for 2/11/1011 (Friday nite) at Lutzen Ski Resort on the North Shore in Minnesota!

Weather is not bad - 40s and 50s and snow is melting, but I'm freezing!!! Going later this afternoon to watch Greg and Bert play hockey and I don't know if I'll make it!

Miss the folks in Uganda, but I'm really happy to be home. Want to rest for a few weeks and then maybe look for some work part time! I am really tired. Living that long in a foreign culture is exhausting!

Back to the "regular" blog - old news now! I'll try to write a few more times as I get more into American society and my reactions to being back.

While I was working at the PC office the last days in Uganda I drafted my blog for the week. Am now at home Friday morning and adding. I just saw the Waste Management Truck go by - I love those guys!!! Them, the USPO and the Library - sorely missed in Uganda!

I last posted from Uganda on Friday the 6th. Friday nite Shari, Holly and Michelle had Becky and I over for dinner - the last Bean Burrito feast! A great meal. Holly's gas tank just finished (she has 3 weeks to goin Uganda) and the power is out so she's w/o any cooking facilities! Bummer. She came over for hot water Saturday a.m. (since she brought me hot water when my gas and power were out before).

Saturday, the 7th was the dreaded farewell party - I didn't know how I'd do! Ugandans LOVE parties and there was no way around it! Fortunately, they combined the going away for Shari, Holly, Sr. Goretti, Sr. Veronica and me which made it a lot less intimidating! And it was wonderful - LOTS and LOTS of work by the staff and kids!

It poured rain in the a.m. but didn't stop anyone! The priest from the parish, who I really like, came and said Mass at 10:30. Reading and sermon were on The Good Samaritan. Holly and Shari had invited the other "local" PCVs - Adam from Mukono and Heidi from Katose which was nice; plus, Lieke and Louwke ("the Holland girls") and Becky were there, along with the other departing guests! After Mass there was a program - Fred MCd and it moved! We each gave a short (really) speech and in between there were dances, songs, poems, etc. It all lasted just over an hour which is VERY un-Ugandan but great! Lieke video taped it and will send me a CD after they get home which will be nice. I got lots of great gifts which worried me (again) about packing. PH gave me a great "certificate" folder w. pictures and nice messages, and a really elaborate wood plaque, got lots of baskets, beads and purses from others, and from Sula, a "half gomez". The gomez is a traditional dress worn for special occasions and can get pretty elaborate. A half gomez is the same style but less elaborate. It's not African but an adaptation of the dresses the missionaries made the women wear - the only "African wear" we see is on the dancers occasionally. Will wear it when (if?) I get a power point together and go on the road.

During the program Didas and other staff were putting out the kids' food in the shoe room, so as soon as the tables were rearranged dinner was served! Great food - matoke, rice, beef, fish, ground nut sauce, chipati, pineapple, bananas and sodas. (I treated for dinner - the kids so love a break in their diet). Several other Sisters from the convent came for the meal.

After all the festivities I said goodbye to Sr. Goretti (very sad) and Sr. Veronica....and went home to try to pack. It wasn't working and I re-did it many times in my head that nite. Finally got the idea to leave my old brown suitcase and use one left by China (still under my bed) that's bigger - tried it Sunday a.m. and it all worked! YEA!

Sunday after Mass I divided my clothes into boy (T-shirts, polo shirts) and girl piles and took them down to PH to be distributed by the head girl and head boy. Head boy (Alex) didn't get my instructions (?) and was keeping it all, till I was alerted Monday a.m. - think we worked it out. Eva, head girl, started giving it away and by Sunday afternoon I could see myself all over PH! She really appreciated the old suitcase to use as a locker for her things,too!

Becky had us all to lunch which was really nice - on our veranda! Holly and I had our "last walk" (everything was last), and then I went to a nice little supper at Fred's. All in all, a great weekend. I'm feeling strangely unemotional - not sure if I'm heartless or just can't comprehend that, after two years, I'm actually leaving!

Monday we took off about 9:30 on a whirlwind trip to Kampala (is there any other kind of trip for PH?). Sr. Juliet came as well as Andrew (boy w. CP who I love), Josephine, and a fairly new resident, Maria (more later), plus various people from town who wanted a ride (it was a holiday, Women's Day). The Sisters, kids and Fred sang The Franciscan Prayer in parting - it's so neat. It's much better sung, but goes:
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make his face to shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you.
The Lord lift up His Countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

We stopped first in Kisoga, so Josephine could get a letter from her former Head Mistress to take to apply for college scholarships (nothing in Uganda is done easily - always has to be a personal stop and hope the necessary people/articles are there as promised). Stopped at the Italian's Sisters clinic to see some potential residents, but (fortunately) the Sisters were out w. visitors. On to Seeta to say goodbye to the Chairman of the PH Board, and then to Kireka (just outside Kampala) to try to find a another place Josephine needed to visit for information on scholarship applications (didn't find it - there are no addresses - you just hunt).

Then we went to Butabika Psychiatric hospital. The young woman, Maria, came to PH several weeks ago. She was sent by another Sister who went to nursing school w. her. She's had some bad times and basically has had a "breakdown". She talked to the nurses from Butabika when they were at PH for the Epilepsy Clinic last week and they Told Sr. J she should be admitted - she didn't know that - she thought we were going to pick up some medicine for her! Pulled up to the women's building and our "welcoming committee" was a pick-up parked outside w. some men and two police women in the back and a lady dancing away, wearing only her bra and panties - and lots of feathers in her hair - she stayed, too!

Sister went in first, and then we went in w. Maria. She figured it out (she's very bright) and went ballistic! They finally held her down and sedated her. The hospital is really clean and seems OK and I was impressed that the staff was so nice - defintely not One Flew Over The Cukoo's Nest. While Sr. J and I waited for her to settle so we could take her clothes back (they get a green uniform), the other residents visited w. us - I suppose it's unusual to have a muzungu and a Sister stop by! They sang hymns, prayed for us and one even read part of Revelations (IN ENGLISH - she had to be well educated). I've never particularly liked Revelations, but having it read to you by a mad woman in a Ugandan security hospital is another experience! Do they know something we don't know?

Anyway, finally got out (YEA) and on to the PC office. Fortunately, the office had alerted the security staff so we could drive in and unload - tho' Sula and Sister had to be checked and turn in their phones (?); Meghan Bender, a friend and PCV from our group, was in the volunteer computer lounge (offices were closed for the holiday) so they didn't have to feel they were leaving me alone. So, that was the final goodbye - Sr. J was really sad, but I was still awfully casual about the whole thing (wierd).

Megan and I went down to the hotel and out to dinner together...nice! Tuesday and Wednesday I went to the PC office to finish paperwork (and there was still plenty!). Tuesday afternoon I went to the Mall to do some errands and saw Invictus -it's a bit hokey and drags in parts, but I loved it and glad I saw it in Africa!
Pretty sleepless nite - last one in Uganda, but it still hadn't registered!

Wednesday we had a big group lunch - 10 of us around from our group (3 others leaving this week) - good times. I will miss those guys. I decided to bite the bullet and will subscribe to Facebook just to keep up w. them. You know you probably won't see most again, but it was a fun bunch! Had my final interview w. my supervisor and medical and Shari and Holly went with me and the PC driver to the airport. Two years over - it's hard to believe!

Flights all were on time and w/o a hitch. Watched Up in the Air and Harry Potter to Amsterdam and then Blind Side, My Favorite Fox (?) and tried to watch Where the Wild Things Are (dumb) to Minneapolis. I can never sleep on planes and by the time I arrived I was exhausted (plus, haven't slept well the last week). At the Amsterdam Airport they have a small exhibit from the Rijks Musuem (very nice). Picture wasn't there but got a print from Josef Israels - Children of the Sea - I just loved it!! Spent my last Euros!

Corky met me after customs (I had to declare the drum but they were satisfied when I said the head was cow leather - ?) and we headed home - first on the list at home were a hot shower, microwave popcorn and laundry (love watching the machine work). I slept 11 1/2 hours Thursday nite. Now I'm pumped to go to the hotel in St. Cloud and surprise (hopefully) the family!

If I'm undone by anything - it will be technology (which has always been a problem for me). Corky got me a new phone and I'm stumped; TV remote is too complex and tried to see some videos from Uganda and can't make them work either!!!

Well, that's enough for now.....I'll be slowly re-integrating into society from here on in! Again, thanks to everyone for your support and patience. God Bless you All!

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's March - Actually March 5, 2010

I'm back in the PC office - I'm getting my physical/dental out of the way this week. Got most done on Wednesday but we have to come back within 72 hours to have our Mantoux read - PC will even pay for you to stay in Kampala the two days, but I opted to go back (not that big a trip and personally, I don't care for Kampala - too noisy, polluted, crowded, etc.) Everything came out great - nice to know! Was extremely lucky w. the rain too - it poured yesterday (THursday) and the road to Mukono was nearly impassible (Fred went to Kamapala for chicken vaccine and was stopped for 3 hours near Kisoga for a line of matatus being pushed up the hill!); today appears to be sunny, too! Don't know if the mudslide in Eastern Uganda made the news - about 100 people killed they think. People were squatting on public park land (and the government doesn't look), and had cut down most of the trees on the side of a big hill - and it gave way in the heavy rains! It's really been raining!!!

On the way in today (we left right at 6:00) another driver stopped our matatu on the and said there was flooding in Kampala so our driver was going to go a different way, but he made a few phone calls and guess that was not true! There was a big accident in Mukono and traffic was stopped both ways, but we managed to take a road around the country and miss that (phew)! Travel here is always an adventure!!!

On to the week past - We had our COS (Close of Service) party last Saturday - lots of fun. Only 7 missing out of about 40 of us left. We had a great Ethiopian buffet - nice spicey food - then a slide show and dancing. I made it till 11:30! Was up at 7:30 and out of town by 8:15. I was pretty sure there was not going to be any action at the hotel till noon! A little rain on the way back but the road was still O.K. I'll miss the PC "kids" - a great group all in all. It's amazing how they have gotten close after being dropped in a foreign country by chance - but it does take a certain "breed" to go into PC I guess - crazy? maybe, but also able to tolerate ambiguity and being uncomfortable a lot of the time!

Monday it rained all nite - I slept for 10 hours! YEA! I got started at PH but I couldn't get the bakery office key to type and Sr. J was in Kampala so I went to my apt. to sort papers for burning. I washed my sheets etc., hung them out - and then it started to POUR - it rained for hours. The sun came back out at 3:00 and stuff sort of dried. Went back down to PH after tea w. Holly. At that point, one of the hospital Sisters came to PH to tell one of the PH Sisiters (only Sr. Benna around) that Anastasia (the girl w. diabetes and sickle cell) who's been in the hospital since Friday nite was unattended and doing badly (you are supposed to provide a caretakers for every patient). Becky and I went up with the matron, Auntie Justine, who had been checking on her during the day. Apparently Anastasia had tried to get out of bed to poop and fell - when we saw her at 4:00 she was totally unresponsive and her breathing was intermittent..she looked bad. Josephine came by and said she'd been there at 3 and Anastasia was talking tho' refused to eat. Sr. Juliet was on her way back from Kampala but her taxi was stuck between Mukono and Kisoga (got there at 10:00); She called the priest to come and give Last Rites and he did. The Doctor stopped and put in a nasal feeding tube. She was till alive hen we left around 10:30 but was having convulsions and still not conscious. Two girls were staying the nite (and they were scared). Poor girl - she's so thin and lives w. constant pain - but she's a fighter! When I got to PH two years ago I thought she'd be dead in a week! For the medical types, the nurse started her on an IV of Glucose (she's diabetic); the Doctor said to give Saline and not Glucose; the nurse said they were very low on saline and he said "FIND SOME" - she rolled her eyes!

Tuesday a.m. Sr. J stopped by and said Anastasia died at 2 a.m. Hope and Proscovia were at the hospial as caretakers and it was peaceful after she got some painkillers.
Sr. J and I went to town to buy a coffin and some barkcloth (for wrapping the body). The coffins are wood and ready made - they didn't have any little ones (she was only about 50 lbs.) so had to take a long, but thin one! Sr. J was really angry at the family for not coming to see her at the hospital. They live nearby and we know they had heard from others that Anastasia was very sick, but they refused to come (it's not uncommon for parents of disabled children to just divorce themselves from the child; also they are afraid they might get stuck having to pay something if they come to the hospital). The grandmother was at the hospital in the early morning visiting someone else and told Sr. J the family was all in Nkokonjeru but had no money to contribute! Sr. J arranged for a Mass at noon at PH and the family attended!!! w. lots of weeping and wailing! I told the father "Sorry you didn't see her when she was still alive" and walked away - not nice but I was pissed! The family then jumped in the truck to go w. the coffin to their home for burial! (looked good for the home crowd - sorry, I am bitter).

I spent the rest of the day typing (found the key). Then, Holly, Shari, Becky and I had a "paper burning party" - piles of PC paper! Holly even brought marshmallows to roast!

Wednesday Becky and I went early to Kampala - she wanted to do some shopping and I left her at Logogo Mall and hiked up to the PC office. I'm doing my physical early to get that checked off at least. I met with the PC nurse for urine, stool and blood and then down to The Surgery (muzungu clinic) to see the Doctor for the rest. Very thorough and I came off well. Had lunch at the little cafe there - cream of mushroom soup and 2 big slices of warm brown bread - delicious. (I'm getting excited about food again in anticipation of coming home). Back to PC and then to the dentist for Xrays and cleaning - also O.K.

I joined Shari's friend Michelle at the office and we came back to Nkokonjeru together - road was slippery but passable. "Checked in" w. Sr. J - they'd all been to Anastasia's buial but by 6 were cleaning out the central building as a temporary chicken coop for 250 chicks that are coming (we hope) from the National Agricultural Advisory Service (they are notoriously unreliable).

Talked to Gail - a blistering 33 degrees F in Minnesota (0 C) - might go up to 40 next wek - WOW - lots of snow left!

Thursday a.m. Sr. J, Sr. Seraphine and I sat down and finally got the Application done for a new PCV (but probably won't come till Oct.)! It only took an hour...Sister worried about making the appliation perfect - I said PC knows PH well enough and let's just get it done!

The day started sunny (more laundry up) and Becky and I were having a cup of tea about 10 while waiting for the Butabika nurses to come for the Epilepsy Clinic when the skies opened up - poured for almost 2 hours and we were literally trapped in the Sister's house! Fortunately, the nurses came sometime in there (Moses,the CBR volunter, had turned his phone off because of the lightening) and they were all working away! Moses has really come a long way - he was handling that alone and very well; also, Tuesday, he took a letter and the CBR 2010 Workplan to the Town's Community Development Officer (CDO) in the hopes of getting them to become more involved w. our work and thereby more (or at least somewhat) involved w. the disabled in the community like they are supposed to be. Anyway, the CDO wanted a budget and I told Moses I didn't have time right now and he said "I'll do it"! Great news - that's how it's supposed to work!!! We hand off!

We'd invited the CDO to come and see the Epilepsy Clinic which he did, despite the rain (I was impressed) and Sr. Juliet talked his ear off about how they could be involved! He also brought along some other people from the city office and one lady who's challenging the incumbent for the mayor job! Got him to sign off on the new PCV application - PC wants someone to say it's not a "fly by nite" organization and has been in the community for more than 2 years (try 82!). So, that was a bonus!

Butabika sent out four nurses and their supervisor - she was here to try to get Sr. J to take some elderly from the Psychiatric Hospital - Sr. J. said PH was full (it is). We've had quite a time (esp. Becky) w. the old man who's a Congolege refugee - incontinent, demanding, nasty - and Sister is not taking any more "unknowns". The nurses and Moses worked till 4:00 (63 patients) and then we had lunch! That will be my last Epilepsy Clinic - sort of sad. It's starting to be a lot of "lasts" - but I'm SO ready to go!

Then Sr. J and I met w. the Holland girls to review their proposed program. Their project is going to involve following 6 PH residents w. varying disabilities including going to their homes to see what could be done there (inexpensively) to improve the home environment (accessible latrine, easier feeding, hygiene routine etc.). It sounds exciting and Moses and Nelson will be going w. them. When we were done we used their laptop to see a CD Evelien and Tessa had sent of their life in Holland. Got to see their homes and watch them make chipati (flat bread) - Sr. was amazed at the road, stoves, etc....and esp. the snow!!! (about 1").

So, that's the week - it went fast. 'Course w. two days in Kampala it would - I should be back fairly early today and check the PO.

It's coming to a close - sort of mixed feelings - don't worry, I won't extend!! But I will miss the people I see every day; it is a nice I am using the internet and having great lunches - what's to complain about?

Thanks to all for your patience w. my ramblings - and for your constant support and prayers. Almost there!!!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

One Month to Go - February 27, 2010

Wow - it's coming fast! I'm in Kampala today (Sat.) for our COS (Close of Service) Party - it's really for our group but some people from the other groups may be there. Not sure how many of the Feb. '08 "class" will attend, but hopefully most! I'll be the only "oldie" there - the one couple from Texas opted not to come (long way) and the others are gone already!

Came in this a.m. with our two new Holland OT students - showing them "my" Kampala - the malls! They bought an electric kettle (a necessity, I think) and had a good time at the craft stores and the National Theater Craft market! We had a great "muzungu" lunch at a nice restaurant! Party fare tonite will be an Ethiopian buffet.

Becky had a nasty week - she got an intestinal infection and tried to fight it but was down most of the week. Thursday we (Sr. J and I) took her to a "muzungu" doctor in Kampala and she got some antibiotics and they seem to be turning the tide. I have been SO lucky to avoid that so far! They can really wipe you out!

Last Sunday Sr. J, Verity, Becky, Sula and I went back to Kavule - the convent by Lake Victoria. I was just there w. Holly and her dad and sister, but I love it - just a magical place. We also went to the fishing village of Ssenyi nearby - very poor place...houses and stores are all put together with odd pieces of wood - dirty kids running around everywhere!

Monday we had rain from midnite to 5 p.m.! Holly was trying to get back to Nkokonjeu and it was a bad journey after Mukono - they had to get out of their matatu and push!!!

Fred and I met early to go over the chicken grant figures before everyone headed off to Kampala - Verity to leave and the Sisters and Fred to meet w. the Mukisi people and then to pick up the new Holland OTs - Lieke and Louwke. Sr. Goretti also left (very sad)...she's off to recuperate at the Regional House in Kampala and then on to school to get certified as a tailoring and catering teacher - good opportunity for her, but we'll miss her!!!

I went back to my apartment in the afternoon to draft more reports (it's endless) and sift through more papers (also endless). Will be glad when it's all over!!!

Tuesday was not a good day - Robert, the ag teacher was late and then the kids refused to dig (it's practical ag day)...the students said it was too wet and he has no control...but we couldn't find the key to the storeroom where the hoes were anyway! Moses was very down about CBR continuing. My fear is that no one will do the organizing and paperwork; he's worried about the money for transport. Real worries. It's irritating - I thought things would be running better by now.

Fred said the chicken grant was not well received. We did a cost/income analysis for 100 layers for 18 months and the profit was not substantial - barely pd. labor costs. But it's a learning project and the kids get eggs - and with small numbers you don't make much of a profit (some costs like transport and meds - you have to buy vaccines in batches of 500 - are constant). At least we were honest. Depressing - esp. for Fred since he was hopeful of managing the won't work w/o a strong, hands-on manager! The cook started using the new beans Sister J bought and the sacks are full of sand (for weight)...she called the broker and he promised to come and look (and hopefully reimburse her some) but was a no show by week's end! No wonder he gave her a "good deal"...we are hoping that in the future she will buy them from a reputable store - a little more expensive, but at least you can find them when things so wrong! Ugandans love to get a "bargain".

Gave Lieke and Louwke a tour of PH and town - they seem like they are excited to get started. They will be helping Nelson and also going out to the homes of some residents to see what it would take to modify the home environment to make it suitable for the return those residents (although the parents and the kids don't want to go back - it is the overall goal). There is also a large group of Americans in town from Educate Uganda - they are working w. the church to build schools - good work, but they give the impression that Americans can hand out money in large clumps!

Went for a nice walk w. Holly to get back in perspective...Holly has three standard comments to all my whining...1) "and is that YOUR problem"; 2) "and what did you expect would happen?" and 3) "what would they do if you weren't here"? - great comebacks!!

As I was heating my bath water the gas tank on my stove went dry! Bummer - so close to the end! Will probably re-fill - it's $35...but the worst is finding someone to lug it to Kampala to get it re-filled. Whey not this a.m. before Sr. Seraphine and Sula went to Mukono to pick up some flour and beans? I was mad, but, then, around 8 p.m. Sr. J stopped by and said she'd gotten a call from Dr. Antonio and he's raised enough money to pay our bill at CoRSU - YEA!!! The accounting dept. keeps asking when we will pay! So, it was and UP and DOWN day..nice to end up!

Wednesday, we couldn't go to the eye clinic in Jinja. The Doctor w. the key to the equipment to test Edward still isn't back - she said "maybe next week"! So, Holly and I went to the PC office. Very quiet there and we tried hard not to talk to each other and got a lot of work done - did a draft of my DOS (Description of Service) - the record of your work that goes to future employers (think the grandkids will be impressed?). Also, did my letter to Sr. J and one to the new volunteer (who won't come till Oct. even IF Sr. Juliet ever gets the application done). Did a little shopping and back by 6 - wonderful dinner of veggie pizza and salad at Shari's! Gone 12 hours for 4 1/2 hrs. at the computer, about one hour of shopping - the rest is waiting and traveling! And we are close!

Thursday Becky was still sick and very weak so Sr. J and I decided she should go to The Surgery in Kampala (where PC sends us when the nurses can't help). She balked but Sr. J insisted and it was a good thing - she got an antibiotic for an intestinal infection (not sure what). It's hard for our systems to fight those African bacteria. We had a nice tea at the little restaurant on the grounds and stopped at a 2nd hand bookstore - the enclave is set up for Muzungus (whites). And Sula got my gas tank filled - YEA! It started to rain as we went back and the road was awful. Sula had to take a detour and that road was blocked by a big dump truck that was stuck so we went back and tried another route - just like ice but wet, red, clay. We got sucked into the ditch at one point trying to go around another stuck truck and I thought we were done but Sula put it in 4 wheel drive and we escaped! He's super!!!

Reading a fun book Becky gave me - Blood, Sweat and Tea - by an EMT in the UK - lots of drunks!!!

Friday I sat in on a meeting Sr. J. had w. Lieke and Louwke re: their program at PH; then we had a 2 hour staff meeting - all in Lugandan! (I made a rough draft of my end of service report for Sister). Got to thinking of some of the good things from the past 12 months re: these meetings - #1 - we're having regular staff meetings, #2 the disciplinary committee is organized and ready to work and #3 we had elections for student leaders last Saturday - all new things that help run the home better! I have no hand in either (other than sitting in), but they are a real improvement.

After that Holly and I walked out to Moses' for "lunch" (4 p.m.)...about a 40 min walk in the drizzle. Nice to visit w. he and Mama Rose. Gave him the Solar Lantern he'd admired when a guy was selling them during the last Epilepsy Clinic (Dick "bought" two - and one was for me to give Moses so he didn't suspect). They all seemed excited - they have no power and it's hard for the girls to study at also charges phones!! We walked back and got home before 7 - nice end to the day. We marveled at how "normal" all this seems after two years - will the U.S. seem "normal". Returnees say it does - they move right back in - so much for reverse culture shock theory.

Found out that Josephine got a 19 on her S-6 exams (I'm not sure how they figure that number but it's good). That means she will get a government scholarship (minimum for a scholarship is 17). She was so happy - and SO deserving!!)

Rained again some Friday nite - my laundry is inside and still dripping! Trip to Kampala today was dicey, but the driver held it on the road. Hope it doesn't rain any more before I go back tomorrow.

Time to move on to the party - I'll be lucky to last till 10! We're staying at the same location as the dinner/dance so I can retreat whenever I want!

Best wishes to you all - so eager to see all of you and catch up on what I've been missing. See you in a month!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


It's Sunday a.m., February 21! Jean and Kody called yesterday a.m. to tell me they had gotten engaged - YEA!!! Wedding in 2011 - plans still uncertain. I was really excited to hear the news!! AND, I'll be home in plenty of time!!!

It's been busy week - I'm still procrastinating on PC paperwork - bottom of the "to do" list! When I blogged last week I was coming back to Nkokonjeru after a day away (a great break). It was fun to see all the PC "kids" in Kampalaand hear their travel and future plans - lots of uncertainty, but we've learned to face that here.

Came back into the chaos of PH - Sr. Juliet was really sick w. malaria. The new Sister, Sr. Seraphine, is working out well - she's a take charge kind of gal! Sr. Goretti leaves PH for good tomorrow - I will miss her quiet reassurance a lot.

On the way back I stopped at the PO and got a package from Mary Brahs and am catching up on news (people getting back to the US seened shocked at the "nastiness" of the political rhetoric...bummers). Got the box from church too - such great stuff - THANKS! I feel very humble to be included in the "service people" - it's a LOT tougher in the military!

One of the two older female pigs had had 11 piglets but 6 died - no known reason - Fred thinks she may have had a fever at some point - not good, but the six are doing well.

We had scheduled a meeting of our new disciplinary committee at 2 on Saturday and I was back and eating lunch when Fred called me at 2:05 wondering where I was! What have I done...he expects to start on time??? We went over the rules, procedures and punishments. The punishments are mainly extra work, but someone really has to follow through. Caning (beating) remains an option - to them it's esppecially effective if done in front of a group of peers!

Fred had just found out that their youngest son, Tony (2) may be deaf! When Mark (5) was home they didn't notice, but now that Mark's at boarding school they could tell! He's really concerned. We'll see what the Doctors in Kampala say.

Juma came back (we took him home 3 weeks ago for bad behavior - he's an 18 yr. old in the vocational program). He just waltzed back in (if you can "waltz" in sitting in a wheelchair)....don't think he'd told him folks at home that he'd been dismissed! I asked Sr. to give him one more chance - it's all he's got....we'll see if he pulls it together.

On Valentines Day I gave everyone a Valentine and a candy - wrote them out and put them on their beds w. Proscovia's help (13 year old girl)....can't remember who sent all the valentine stuff,but THANKS - they loved it! Corky called (early - before my coffee - that's dangerous)...good to hear from home.

On Monday Josephine started teaching English and appears to be doing a great job (what I expected)...Sr. J wanted me to sit in for a few classes so I pop by but don't want to appear to be hovering! When I got to PH one of the pigs was out in the compound - Gerald,the vocational student,is having trouble taking care of them....he's a nice kid, but really slow and not sure it's going to work out. I checked them and the pigs had NO water - even the new mom. Fred came over and we got them water and greens, but Gerald's heart is definitely not in it...I really think he's afraid of the pigs. Now to go to Plan B (there is no Plan B, but we'll have to make one up).

Didas wanted to go to Kampala to get glue etc. Tuesday - he really wants to stock up before I go and the shoe money I have at my apt. goes to the Sisters - I think Sr. Seraphine will keep it intact for shoe supplies, but he's nervous. Then back up to my apt. to get the Church money for Sr. J because the guy was coming w. the posho flour (corn). It's hard to fathom how much having that food in the storeroom has eased her mind. We also got new locks for both the stores - big problem w. keys out to who knows - the Sisters give someone a key to get something and then forget to get it back and eventually there is only one key and no one remembers who has the others and things start to "diappear".

Sr. Goretti and I both went to Kampala - she went to the Head Office to get her new assignment letter and I went to have lunch w. Sandy, an older volunteer, who's going home this week. Lots of talk about what will happen when we hit the U.S. Who knows?

Woke up early Tuesday a.m. by another bat, more cockroaches and a tiny colorless frog on my wall. Couldn't get the bat, "Doomed" the cockroach and took the frog out in the dust pan! We (Becky and I) took a large group to CoRSU (orthopedic hospital)...Mulondo - to get the pins out of his broken wrist; Review of Moses (new resident- 20 - w. bad osteomyletis); Justine; a little 3 year old boy w. badly bowed legs and was having surgery and a new resident (16 yr old girl) who has one leg very bent (Seraphina - she came as a caretaker for another girl who is microcephalic but that girl has never had a caretaker before - we think the family begged to send her along so PH would "fix" her). It was super crowded at the hospital and it was quite a hectic time w. X-rays, visits, Mulondo getting his cast off, etc. Mulondo stayed w. Moses as a caretaker, little boy and his mom stayed for surgery and Justine stayed to FINALLY get her leg brace taken out - she's had that metal screwed in her leg for 10 mos!!! New girl will go back for surgery after Sister talks to her parents.

On the way out of town we picked up Rachael (Becky's friend Jenny's daughter) who is here doing business for their charity, Mikwano, and Verity (also from the UK) who is the wife of the BA pilot Adrian, and who wanted to see PH and get ideas for their charity, Uganda Children's Trust. Verity is staying w. me till Monday a.m. in my tiny apt. She's really a peach - I'm picking up lots of "Britishisms" - she's really open-minded and flexible, necessary qualities here.

Wednesday was a crazy day (like Tuesday wasn't?). The Public Health teacher came and gave notes to Alex and left (I called him and told him never to do that again); The Ag teacher spent his entire class period working alone w. the pigs - I think the kids scare him! No students showed up for Crafts and I had to go through the dormitories threatening to send everyone home - phew!

Rachael is here to do some observations and is also going over a grant for a chicken project Sr. J put together. Lots of good quesions re: care and record keeping; we called in Fred and she was impressed w. his knowledge. But when we went to see the chickens we discovered the girl working w. them had taken the keys to school and they hadn't been fed (she just started school Monday), two little (8 wk old) chicks were dead in the room and Fred said that since the girl (Beatrice) started school Monday she's been slacking and eggs are getting eaten by the chickens! Not a great impression, but they are still considering the grant. We got the keys from school (Sr. J went); Fred called the vet and we got the little chickens treated and he fed and watered and collected eggs! It's a never ending battle!

I think I mentioned the old man who was a Congolese refugee who's come to PH and is really crabby and demanding? His neice and a grand nephew came to visit him Wednesday. (Sr. J had called them - found their numbers in his stuff) - but they dont' want him either. Guess he really was a general in Mobutu's in the Congo (Zaire) army and at one point had a LOT of money and power; apparently has two or three sons in Europe who have no contact w. him. Becky is spending much of her day working w. him - changing, cleaning etc. It's hard work and not much appreciated by him!

Verity is working w. Nelson and his two OT students from Mulago Hospital...she's impressed w. all that he does in a day! To top the day off, a baby goat was born; boys pointed him out just a few minutes after birth - pretty exciting!

Thursday was another busy day (seems to be a pattern). Lots of small requsts and disturbances that took up time. Sr. J and I met w. Moses (CBR worker) to plan 2010 but they are not very optomistic about how CBR will continue w/o the donations I've been lucky to receive (thanks all)....hopefully the eyeglasses will come soon and they will get some cash from that - I'm a bit concerned about who will manage the money they do get. Moses likes to spend on outreach - have to dole it out carefully!

Then we had some more visitors from the UK - they run a school for small children w. Cerebral Palsy in Kampala and they sponsor Nelson (our OT) at PH. They are the ones officially doing the chicken grant, so there were more questions, Fred came again...but this time when we visited the chickens, we had keys (new locks) and the little ones looked great (vet visit paid off). Much more impressive!!! Now Fred and I have to re-work the figures to include some new items - training, salary etc. Fred was excited about working w. the grant (if we get it) - I'm glad for him. Got some typing done on the bakery computer (still no ink in our printer); Verity and I went to town for a soda (Becky had gone to CoRSU to pick up Mulondo and Justine)...nice dinner w. all at the convent!

Not sure why things seem so busy (they are?)...Friday the classes went well - Josephine was doing a great job at Math - had them figuring out a budget. Another baby goat was born, but his was to a first time mom and not doing as well nursing. Then we "lost" the older baby goat - had gone under some bushes for shade! Kids and the old man, Mafalanga, that cares for them, looked for a long time! We were afraid some dogs may have gotten him....

Jasmine, our German Volunteer who was here Sept.-Nov. stopped back to visit. She's working w the CP school in Kampala but wants to come back to PH! She's a great worker and got on well here so I hope it works out...also, since the new Holland OT students arrive Monday (22) and will use the apt. at PH, she may take my place and I won't have to move anything - YEA!!!

Verity is fitting right in - she's "adopted" Frederico, the 23 year old who's in bed all day - is blind and hydrocephalic and has very deformed limbs. She is washing and caring for him and helping Becky w. the elderly plus working w. Nelson. Into to Uganda - power was out, we had a huge, black bug in the apt. at nite - and my little albino frog was back! Doomed the bug, and took the frog back out (he was back in on Sat. again).

Satuday was really crazy! Rained hard in the a.m. - nice for the new banana trees! Went down to work w. Fred on the chicken figures and we got sidetracked by another project. There is a possibility of funds coming to finish re-modeling the small building Sr. would like to use as office space, so we had to discuss and measure that! Just as we got started on the chicken numbers the guy came who was to talk to the residents about tree planing. He's from Trees for the Future - I'd heard about the group at our PC conference last June, but had trouble making connnections and we finally got him scheduled for Sat. He was really good and the kids liked him and the idea of planting trees...he got down to their level w. his "lesson". They planted some seeds in a demonstration plot and then he gave us more. Cutting trees for firewood and charcoal is, to me, a HUGE problems in Uganda and resulting in rapid deforestation.

After he left (1:00) we got organized for our big dinner (courtesy of St. John Sunday School). It was planned to inaugurate the new dining tables and benches donated by Verity and Adrian's charity. Kids were SO excited....had beef, fish, matoke, rice, ground nut sauce, cabbage, pineapple, bananas and sodas! Lots of food and quite the feast. We delivered food to those that don't walk and then made the others come to get their food by tables - slow for them but very "civilized". Then, they had elections for Head boy and girl and all the Prefects (kids in charge of various areas)....finished that about 6 and then we handed out Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes! We were a little short of boys boxes and some boys got girls but they were all thrilled!!! I hope to show pictures to you all when I get home - just a great back to my apt. at 8!!!

Today is much quieter - took Verity to the Sister's mass and then on a little walk; will work w. Fred later to finish the chicken project. Some are going to the convent at Kavule (by the lake) but I may pass - I love the place but was just there w. Holly's family. And a quiet day sounds awfully nice!!! Tomorrow Verity goes back to Kampala, Sr. Goretti is going to her new assignment, and the two new Holland girls come (I'm not going with - truck is full and I need to get some things done here).

Hope everyone is well and surviving the winter - is it warming up some? Yesterday was very cool (for us) and rainy but today is very hot again! Good for growing tho'.

Thanks again to everyone - it's hard to describe how much people appreciate all the donations you have made.....they are well used and lots of prayers are coming your way!!! They kids sing a song that includes the line "we have nothing to give in return, but only prayer"...and they really do! But prayers are great, too!

See you soon - less than 5 weeks to go!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Almost 2 Years - February 12, 2010

I came in to work at the Peace Corps office today and get some of the Close of Service (COS) paperwork done - well, that was my intention. There are a lot of forms and reports that need to be turned in and I need to get started - but, there were a lot of people at the office, and it's hard to concentrate! Got a little done, but then we went to lunch and I went shopping for farewell gifts!!! (much more fun).

Last Saturday after I finished the blog I decided to go to a little drum maker's shop just outside Mukono to check prices. Walked there and met a couple from Holland who are living in Kiqywe (near us) and have been at PH...they were buying a big drum and had brought along a drummer from a local troupe to help them. He picked out one the size I wanted that he said was good and did the bargaining so I just bought it! Got it home on the matatu and found a box in the infirmary that will fit it so that's one thing off my list (in fact, almost everything except the PC paperwork is off my list - now how can I procrastinate?). Had a great dinner at Shari's - hot pot cooking - veggies and meat in boiling water and oil. Those girls are so creative w. cooking on a two burners.

Sunday was a quiet day - still cool and rainy. I did laundry and cleaned. Went down to PH and handed out basins, etc. to the new arrivals - a few come every day. Number will be small for Vocational School (maybe only 6)..Sister is really worried about food and isn't going to start any 1st years....I'm disappointed, but I can see her's a BIG worry.

I'm reading the book Dick left, The Sign and the Seal by Graham Hancock - actually, he left it for Shari since she's going w. Michelle to Ethiopia and Egypt after COS. It's a semi-scholarly pitch for the Ark of the Covenant being in Ethiopia (not a warehouse in DC - so there, Indiana Jones). It covers a lot of history of Israel, Egypt and Ethiopia and incorporates the "mysterious body of knowledge" theory (like Dan Brown), brings in the Templars and's really interesting, if a bit far fetched. And another excuse for not writing reports!!!

Monday we had a Staff meeting - only started 1/2 hr. late! Fred was chairing and they set a 2 hour time limit, but when that was done, they just added minutes!! I protested, but was outnumbered. Very little gets done in way of an "action plan" but Ugandans love to debate every point!

In the afternoon, I got a call from the 2 volunteers in town from Colombia - Maricio and Maria. They are teaching at St. Peter's secondary for a year. Lovely couple. They stopped by for "the tour", tea and welcome from Sr. J. We had a great conversation about politics....they are economics majors and have done a lot of traveling.

Called Jessica in the evening to wish her Happy Birthday and she said it was snowing!!! It's been another big winter!

Tuesday CBR was depressing - Moses and Kinene are convinced that the program will fall apart when I leave. I don't know what else to do to make it their program and give them some confidence. I have helped throughout the year w. some contributions, but we're hoping to get the glasses from the 2009 clinic soon which will provide funds. The program existed 12 years w/o a muzungu - only 4 w. one but that makes no difference to them! Maybe it will fold....maybe they want it to. Their small Community Based Organization has connected w. World Vision to do some work with disabled children in their district (their CBO got the grant based on Moses and Kinene's experience at PH) so maybe that will be it....Nkokonjeru Town Council needs to rise to the occasion!

Sr. Goretti is leaving - darn! She's still moving slowly from the surgery and having problems but is so much more cheerful. She's going to be sewing at the Regional House in Kampala. The new sister, Sr. Serafina is young and really feisty. Think she'll hold her own!

Want to really thank St. John Church for their generous donation. After much discussion, we decided to put the bulk of it to buying food for this term. Sister had been so desperate about the lack of food it was truly a "God send". We used some for prisoners clearing new fields and a good chunk will go toward keeping the animals healthy and well fed (sustainability is the goal, but having a reserve in case of problems is nice). She's had our corn ground, and is buying lots of beans and corn flour plus some ground nuts for variety. We have some cassava and greens growing so at least every day won't be the same. Also, Corky said the Sunday School donated some money. We had gotten a donation to get new benches and tables for the dining area some time ago and they are almost done so next Sunday we will inaugurate them w. a special dinner courtesy of the St. John Sunday School....they kids haven't had meat since Christmas so it will be great. Hope it's all O.K. Realize it's all about food and that's consumable, but when you don't have it, it becomes awfully important!

Becky's friend's husband donated some money to buy a "starter shoemaking kit" for two of last year's graduates that have no one to help them. Didas drew up the list and bought the tools and materials Wednesday....he was so excited!!! Really a great start for about $100.

All the chickens are doing well - getting about 60-70 eggs/day and the cow is producing much better w. the new guy! YEA!!! Bad news is that she's not pregnant, so we'll have to try again. Two big female pigs will deliver soon and we plan to breed the "girls", Shirley, Liz and Debbie next time they come into heat! We had good luck selling piglets last time and are hopeful now that people know the pigs and their quality. Sister said they are the best looking pigs she's seen in town!

I'm trying to get Sr. J to start the PC application for another volunteer, but there's always some "emergency" (she likes paperwork like I do). Also, am trying to track down the Italian Sister in Kisoga to get her application but we keep missing each other. The new group just arrived in Uganda last nite - 29 newbies! We really feel superior!!!

The infirmary is all painted and Becky moved back in - looks GREAT! Cheery walls and organized!

After the 5 days of rain last week it stopped and it's hot and dry again (but it saved the little banana trees)....some people are planting, but Sr. J said it's too early - the rain was just a "tease"!

Nelson has two OT students from Mulago Hospital's training program for two weeks and we'll be getting two more OT students from Holland on Feb. 22. Their help is very much appreciated. Most of our new residents are pretty severely handicapped and require a lot of attention. I cleaned out the room the German students prepared for the afternoon activities (and added all the craft supplies left in my apartment) and the Mulago students are carrying on! The Holland students will be working two days a week in the community visiting families (with Moses and Nelson), but we're hoping they will help out w. that program, too.

Monday I was washing my feet on the veranda and slipped on the cement and really landed hard on my rump! It hurt (and still does a little when I walk a lot).....I was so mad at myself! Reported it to the nurse at PC today - told her it's just bruised - she concurred - but I wanted it documented!

Wednesday nite I heard rustling under my bed about 1 a.m. - sure sign of cockroaches. Got up, turned on the light, and sprayed Doom under there...went back to bed. Then, felt one run over my back - I was MAD! Got up, turned the light on again and there he was running all over my bed, trapped by the mosquito net. I DOOMED him and then noticed what I thought was a big flying one on the outside the net and sprayed him - only to discover that it was a bat (I like bats). I felt bad watching him dizzily crawl across the back of the net and drop on the floor. Swept them up and put them outside -hope he made it. An old Sister died Weds. and there is lots of cleaning going on at the convent for visitors and think they(bugs) are all in an uproar...apparently my apt. has become a camp for Internally Displaced Critters (two more coackroaches last nite and this a.m.). I REALLY dislike cockroaches!!

Thursday the hospital had a Mass and Program for Day of the Sick - nicely done. Holly's Project Hope clients did a drama about a sick woman who went alternately to a witch doctor, hospital, herbalist, and what happened - it's all in Lugandan, but you can tell just what's going on!

That was the week....not too exciting but still very busy. Next week we have two visitors from the UK - Jenny's daughter is visiting PH (she's in Uganda for 2 weeks) and Adrian's wife, Verity, is coming (he's the pilot who started Uganda Childrens Trust and have been very generous to PH). She's bringing the glasses! We have a big group going to CoRSU on Tuesday so it will be a busy week, too. Oh, well, it makes the time go fast. And visitors are fun (and sometimes they bring chocolate).

Hope you are all surviving the winter storms. Gail said there was another snow day and that they are into "make up" days....

I'm really getting excited about coming home - hate to "count down" but it's hard to resist. At lunch today we were all talking about how ready we are to go - many are traveling after for awhile, but they are all anxious to see home!!! I've really lost my "snap"....used to take me 30-35 minutes to walk to the PC office from Lugogo Mall - now it's 45 or 50. Slowing down a lot!!! Can't wait to sit in my chair and watch movies....maybe open and close the refrig, and watch the washing machine go round and round!!!

Thanks again to everyone who has been so generous w. support, prayers and thoughts. I'm still really glad I did PC, but will also be REALLY GLAD to be back home!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday Post - Feb. 6, 2010

Im in my usual spot on Sat. a.m. in Mukono at the Internet Cafe. It was raining this a.m. (YEA) and I slept in a bit. Missed the first matatu and got on the next one at 7:00 which didn't leave till 8:15 (don't think I'll do that again) and the driver was really pokey, but I really don't have anything more important to do!

Dick Murray, Corky's cousin on his mom's side) was here for a few days (more later)...he left yesterday and I was really sad. I hadn't seen him for probably 20 years, but it was still neat to have talk to someone who knows your distant past (sort of). Short stay and all at PH, but it was fun!! He and his wife are volunteer for two months in Ethiopia (did last year, too) and he popped down to see Uganda!

After last weeks "novel|, this will be short! Kids are starting to arrive at PH, but slowly. The Vocational Program will be small - Sister has gotten some requests but is holding off because food is tight. We seem to be getting more and more severely handicapped students - maybe things are getting better at home schools for the mildly handicapped. It's a drain on the staff tho'.

Sister is still keeping up the garden projects but the lack of rain (before today) was taking a toll on the banana suckers - kids watered some but there are 400 of them and it's a job! Sunday she was telling me that she went to check on the gardens in Kikwaye and someone had taken the tin sheets and windows out of the gardners "house" there. The gardner left (he's the one who was cutting firewood and selling it on the sly) and a neighbor decided to take the things for his home!!! She contacted the police, but don't know what will be done - if you are not IN it or wearing it or using it it's up for grabs I guess!

Went to Mass on Sunday and it's the first time my morning Bible reading was actually one of the readings!! One of my favorites from 1 Corinthians:13 - about "love is the greatest of these".. Also they sang a neat song at the end - chorus goes, "Holy quiet place, blessed assurance for my soul, on the stormy sea, Jesus speaks to me, and the billows cease to roll"...catchy tune, too.

I've started to clear out my apartment. Collected all my school books and supplies and took them down to Josephine and boxed up my art supplies for the resource room that the German girls started with their afternoon classes. We're expecting two new OT students from Holland Feb. 22. Their program will involve some community outreach but Nelson and I are hoping they will do at least a couple afternoons with the kids at PH each week. Also, getting two OT students from Mulago program next week, so he'll have some much needed help in the classroom.

Until yesterday it's been terribly hot (intense sun) and very dry. Just drink water and sweat - it's hard to get much done after 10 a.m. It's worse than I remember from last year tho' the months in Luwero in training were really hot, too.

Jenny (Becky's friend) is heading back to the U.K. She and Becky went to Kampala on Monday to check out some places where Jenny's charity works. It was fun having her here for the week! They took along Fred, his wife and son Mark (5 in April) who's going to boarding school...I think it's sad, but the parents think it's the best for him, and he seemed excited!

Sr. J and I spent most of the day registering residents - and refused some. People still are not convinced they need to make some contribution (she'll accept a sack of cassava). They don't even bring notebooks or pencils (I raided the Christmas Child boxes for school supplies). In between we wrote up a "job description" for the Administrator of PH; we're getting a new Sister to help Sr. Juliet (Sr. Goretti is moving on - darn)....and Sr. Juliet wanted her to pick what she'd like to take over. I told Sr. Juliet that the new sister will read it, pull off her ring and run down the road screaming!!! It's a heavy load. (New Sister,Sr. Stephania, came Thursday and is young and bouncy and is still here...but hasn't seen the list yet).

I tried to clean up the afternoon resource room but didn't get far - it's just too hot!!! Sister and the kids were carrying water to the banana suckers when I gave up around 6.

Tuesday I went to Kampala and checked e-mails and picked Dick up at the airport around 2 p.m. Actually, I misread my watch (no glasses)and was an hour late but fortunately his plane was even later - African time has it's advantages! Dick has a blog (don't we all) at (I think) you might check out to hear his impressions of Uganda and see pictures. He said that compared to Ethiopia, it appears very prosperous. In Ethiopia almost all business is run by the government (ala communist style) and service and consumer goods are hard to come by.

We had a great welcome dinner at Holly's - bless her heart!

Wednesday I took Dick down to PH for introductions and to see how the place works (or doesn't). Cow had had mastitis but Sister got him treated and the new guy is milking and production is coming back up. Big chickens are laying 60 eggs/day (97 chickens) and that's good; little chickens are still healthy - Fred continues to go to Kampala weekly for their medicine - every week for 12 weeks!!! Sister put the female pig we got from Butabika Hospital in w. the new male and he bit her badly! Not sure what that was about!

I got to tell Sr. Juliet about receiving the 2009 Mission Money from St. Johns - she was so excited. Things have been stressful with all the people coming back and it was welcome news. Thank you all!!! The plan now is to use some for immediate needs an then sit and decide on a "project" for the rest - probably either new gardens or the boys' bathing area (they just bathe out in the open on a concrete slab behind the dormitory now).

Weds. evening Becky, Dick and I played Phase 10 - lots of fun (tho' as usual I lost big time). Dick spends a lot of time w. his grandchildren (8 & 12)and is up on games!!!

Thursday we had the epilepsy clinic - 63 patients but it went very efficiently! After lunch w. the nurses, Becky, Dick and I went to "town" for a little shopping and a beverage at Cathy's Restaurant. Took our chairs outside and watched the traffic on the main street - Dick commented that it looked like an old Western town and could use a few hitching posts! While we were gone the elderly man from the refugee program arrived (he's a refugee from the Congo and has had a stroke and was abandoned by his family in Kampala). He's going to be a handful.

Friday the painting of the infirmary started - Becky's gift. It was SO grubby it will be a great improvement. Peter (who painted my apt.) is doing the work. We muzungus had tea (Sr. Juliet is in Kbale for a meeting) and tried to figure out how to get a chair commode made for the new resident, Niccodemeus....Becky is on the hunt!

Dick and I took the matatu to Kampala, had lunch at my favorite Indian restaurant, browsed the bookstore and went to the airport. Got there just at 4 p.m. (our target time). He was leaving at 6:00 and would be in Ethiopia in 2+ hours. Took me longer to get back to Nkokonjeru!!!

Next week we start w. a staff meeting and then a teachers "workshop" Nelson is giving on teaching children w. special needs and then vocational school starts....things get back to"normal". I'm hoping to get to the PC office one day to start the dreaded paperwork!

Best wishes to all - it's February already - I can't believe how fast the time is going. Really anxious to be back in Minnesota and see everyone! Thanks again to you from St. John's for your continuing generosity!!! Believe me, it will be well used! The Sisters squeeze the max out of every shilling!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30, 2010 - less than 2 months to go!!!

I started this and then the computer went off - and w/o saving - fortunately I wasn't too far. You just re-group and move on. I'm getting better at it!!!

Called yesterday to wish Emma a Happy Birthday (she wouldn't talk to me - not a morning person)...but Gail said it was -4!!! It's HOT here - around 90 and very dry and dusty - eyes, throat, etc. all full of dust! UGH. My toe is much better and I finished the antibiotic w/o any stomach problems (yet) - YEA! So there's good and bad (as everywhere).

This will be long - sorry - going from Thursday to Saturday (today) - you can skim. I'm keeping the record mainly for myself. If I didn't have my handy notebook to record every day I'd never remember what I did! I keep a journal too, but that's more personal stuff.

So, onward. Last Thursday I was a the PC office - Got back and Sr. Juliet had sold the big male pig for 250,000 shillings ($125). But she took 50,000 out because one of the noviates had a very sick father who needed medicine (47,000)...I was a tad annoyed since the pigs need food, but what can you do? Next day I got an e-mail from Corky about a $250 donation; I got the 500,000 shillings and gave it to Sister and told her that God had multiplied her good-hearted donation times 10!! She was so happy - and rushed off to say a rosary! And saved her from borrowing from me to send the kids back to the Special Needs School in Kenya (and many other things).

On Friday, Becky and I took two boys, Simon and Edward to the eye clinic at the Jinja Hospital...both are in wheelchairs. We got there at 8:30, and got a good spot in line (and they kept to the numbers they handed out -YEA). Dr. came at 10:30, but that's O.K. Simon had an eye inflamation and Edward needs an exam for possible glasses. No meds in the hospital pharmacy so Becky and I went into town to get them (and shop and have lunch - truck went on to the Kenya school so we had lots of time). We did buy the boys lunch when we got back - more substantial Ugandan fare. Both boys are in wheelchairs and the hospital is not handicapped accessible - quite a job!!! Truck didn't get back till 5:30.

P.S. Becky has a blog that she does daily (when there is power) - if you want a different perspective. She has an individual internet connection on her laptop and is very dilligent about writing and adds a picture a day. Becky is trying mightily to organize the infirmary - she's determined!!! Hopes to repaint it too!

Never thought I'd say it but I'm ready for school to start (of course I''m not teaching). This holiday is too long - 2 months - and all the kids left are so off schedule it's one wants to work anymore. Most of the older kids who are leaders are gone, too.

Saturday I washed and cleaned and Sr. Juliet and I finally finished the Hilton Grant Application - lots of little pieces cut and pasted (literally) to the application!!! That's what they said to do in the directions! Crazy! Sister Juliet has been to the Regional Office in Kampala twice to get advice from the Sister in charge of Projects and she asked if there'd ever been another application for Hilton (which is ONLY for Roman Catholic Sisters who work w. the poor) - Sr. Margaret said yes, some years ago, and it was approved, but the money was "lost" - wouldn't elaborate - lost, as in money transfer, taken by another organization - too scary to contemplate!

Sunday was really slow - I'm getting slower and slower. Got called down to PH to sell a pair of shoes, got the milk money from Oketch (kid taking care of the cow); he's really not interested in the cow and production is still down. There's a new man starting next week, thankfully! Cut some grass for the chickens and found out there were two new pigs!!! Sister bought a new male from a departing priest and he sent along a female he's having trouble getting pregnant - guess he thought he could let it live at our piggery till it got pg - not going to happen!!! (although it is now Saturday and the pig is still there eating for free - they keep saying they are "coming" to get her). Have to keep repeating, "it's not my problem...I'm handing it all off" - works for awhile!

Monday was a LONG Kampala day...went in w. Sister Juliet. We stopped in Mukono at the Noah's Ark Orphanage - I wanted to say goodbye to Peter (the man from Holland who runs it); he had boxes of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to give us (we could only fit 8 but will get more another time). These are from the U.S. We sat and talked a bit - he's having problems getting any cooperation from the government, Red Cross, UNICEF, etc. despite keeping 120 orphans from all over starting as babies....said he'll just rely on his own donations. It's frustrating, but pretty much par for the course. Maybe those organization work well on catastrophe's like Haiti - I hope so!

Dropped off the computer for repair, went to the Liliane office to pick up a disabled girl (Grace) who is homeless, and then stopped at an organization that works w. displaced refugees. The director had met Sr. J somewhere and now has an older man who came from the Congo years ago and has now had a stroke, and was abandoned by his family. He'll be a handful, but Sr. Juliet said PH would try, if they give some support. Then, found out we had to take the computer elsewhere (virus problem)- traffic is SO bad. After that we went out to Entebbe to give the grant application to Holly's dad who's returning and will mail it in the US so we meet the Feb. 1st deadline, and picked up Becky's good friend, Jen. Jen was here in November when Becky came (she has been in Uganda before and works w. a small charity from the UK) and came back for a week for Becky Birthday (the 26th)!!! It was all a surprise for Becky! She'd texted me 2 weeks ago and we'd been making plans. After a few more stops we got back to Nkoknjeru about 7 and called Becky down for tea...she was really overwhelmed!!!! After that we all went to the farewell party for the Australian Doctor at the hospital - didn't stay long, tho' the music went on till 3 a.m.!

Tuesday was a holiday and a nice slow day. Jen brought me a big box of Marks and Spencer mixed chocolates - heavenly!!! Tuesday nite Becky had planned a dinner party at her apt. for her birthday - really a nice gathering. The Sisters, Nelson, Sula, the Doctor....she'd made a casserole and 2 cakes in Holly's little camp oven!!! (and Jen brought an apple cake). Lots of great food and company.

Wednesday, Jen, Becky and I took the boys back to the Jinja Hospital. Simone's eyes were better after the drops. I took Edward for his eye exam but the person who does them is on leave for a month and (you could guess this)...the key to the cupboard where the equipment is held is with her!!! So we have to come back in a month. Sister sent Juma (a boy in vocational school) home w. us - not sure what the home is like - we just put him on a bus. Great kid - always full of laughs - but also some problem behaviors. I'll miss him and his smile! The three of us muzungus had lunch in town. Then took Simon to his brothers home near Mukono - very nice place. We're hoping that as he gets some basic tools, he can start a small repair "shop" there. Also got to stop for a bit to visit w. Sr. Goretti who's recuperating at a convent near Mukono - she looks good! I miss her a lot.

Dick Murray (Corky's cousin) and his wife Bea, are back in Ethiopia for 3 months and he's coming to visit Uganda Tuesday - I'm excited to show him Nkokonjeru and compare w. his experience in Ethiopia.

Reading Notes from a Small Island (England) by Bill Bryson - hysterical!!! Shariing his thoughts w. Becky and Jen.

Thursday was another marathon day in Kampala - started as a trip to CoRSU for one but people just keep adding on - not sure how they all know the truck is going. It means a later start and lots of stops so we get to the hospital later and have to wait longer, but in Uganda, you can't refuse anyone!!! Dropped Sister J and a dad and girl off at the Blind School in Kisoga to check it out; dropped off 2 Sisters at different spots in Kampala, dropped off a disabled girl trying to get to Soroti for school, stopped again at the Liliane office to drop off Grace, who's coming to PH (we picked her up Monday) but she'd forgotten her school records, etc., then took the boy (and Mubiru who was meeting Sr. Bridget) to CoRSU. The boy's name is Benebwa and he has really bad osteomyletis in his leg. He was on the street and someone brought him to the hospital. Dr. Antonio is treating him, but he had no where to stay (everyone then thinks of PH)...he's a nice kid but really sick right now. He was just there for a review (seen about 1:00) and then we picked up Justine who'd been at the hospital for about a week for review and improved diet - needs protein, but there's precious little in the diet of village people. She is doing very well and her femur is strong enough that Dr. A plans to take off the brace in Feb. We re-scheduled all reviews and pending surgers for Feb. 16 - we'll make that trip efficient (I hope).

On the way back we got the chicken meds, checked on Grace (who was not ready to go and will have to take a matatu), tried to get the computer, but it needs virus protection so we'll have to get that another day (waiting was out of the question - several hours and we were all - esp. those in the back - slowly roasting alive). We stopped at a really bad part of town for Benebwa's little bag of belongings and then in Mukono for Justine's meds before dropping her off WAY back off the road - and back to PH dusty and tired!!!

Becky and Jen had moved her to the apt. next to me. She had to leave her big apt. because a couple is coming for a year and is now my next door neighbor!!! I was listening to Becky and Jen talk in the truck Weds. and think one thing I really miss is the easy conversation of people who have known each other a long time and know each others history and families! It's to be treasured!

Friday was a slow day (thankfully)'s too hot to move very much. Our banana suckers look parched - may have to water - UGH! Sat in for awhile on a class Cheshire is holding at PH for teachers in the area. It deals w. teaching disabled children, and is the 3rd in a series, but they are teaching them the Braille alphabet!!! Incredibly complex and I left - we have a Braille Bible at PH and I shared w. them Genesis and Exodus. They were amazed at all the little dots so close together and the bulk of the books!!! Sort of an exercise in "hands on" which is what they should be focusing on in teacing slow students!

Holly fell running and scraped her hand badly so I wrang out the last of her laundry and visited, bought "groceries" and retired to read. Went for a walk w. the Australian Dr. and Holly after 6 when it was a bit cooler, but you just drip sweat!!!

Now am in Mukono at the internet cafe and you have mercifully come to the end of the week's "adventures". After Dick's visit I'm on a strict schedule to get all the PC paperwork done and clear out my stuff to leave. Nice thought! It's been a great time, but I'm tired and ready to come home. Miss everyone!!!

Thanks again for everything - hopefully, Gail will have some pictures soon - sent a CD awhile ago and then my camera card w. Holly's dad. See you all soon.