|Well, I've been back a week, after a much appreciated trip home. Never have home comforts been more precious. I completed my house buying business and can look forward to moving ( after I sell) when I finally make it back from Uganda. It was lovely to catch up with friends and family.
I resolved that the moaning has got to stop. I volunteered for this, i have always wanted to do it, i will look back on the memory of it fondly(!) so just need to get on with it.
Then I returned to:
So it was a quick wash in a washing bowl with water transported in from the baby home. Now I understand how truly precious water is as a resource. March was supposed to be the rainy season but apart from a few spectacular thunder storms there has been virtually no rain and there is consternation about the lack of water and rationing is by by means of arbitary cut off of supply for days at a time. Is this the effect climate change/global warming? It's worrying here in green Uganda but is likely to be catastrophic elsewhere in Africa.
As for 'load shedding'of electricity, this is because Uganda generates less power than it uses so it provides it on alternate days only (or less, also arbitrarily). The bad news is that the government owes 126 billion Ugandan shillings to Kenya for electricity and I live in fear that this debt will be called in!
I really felt that I settled myself in at work in the last week. I spent time with each of the 7 social workers and 2 family support workers in order to understand their cases. The work they do is truly amazing. They admit an average of one abandoned baby per week to the babies home. Many come from the hospital car park where mothers abandon their babies hours after giving birth. With 100 births a day it's difficult for the hospital to identify the mother but in at least 40% of the cases the social workers do trace the mother or extended family and manage to support the family to return the child. The remaining 60% go for adoption and, of the 22 placed for adoption only 2 have gone to international ( white) families. This is the first organisation that has placed babies for adoption with Ugandan families which allows them to remain in Uganda. So it's possible to see the impact of the work in every case. Two of our babies were rescued from pit latrines; i hadn't really appreciated that this meant that the concrete cover over the hole in the ground with its hole in the middle had to be removed ( when the baby was heard to cry) and the babies recovered from the shit below. This is attempted murder and both mothers have been found ( they were too weak to go far) and will be sentenced accordingly. Both babies were critically ill but are now safe and well in the babies home. Neither can go for adoption because the families are known and won't consent to adoption but neither are willing to offer the babies a home. I'm supposed to come up with an answer to that problem.....
So it's the work that grips me and keeps me here and the challenges are becoming more manageable. Weekends are time for seeking the luxury of western hotels and resorts which offer a style of living which seems almost unbelievable given the conditions the ordinary people ( and volunteers) live in. Yesterday we went to a resort overlooking Lake Victoria with a view over Kampala's seven hills and a lunch as good as any anywhere.
I'd like to say I'm overcoming my fear of bodaboda's ( motorcycle taxis) having taken two this week - one to a yoga class and one to the shopping 'mall' this morning. Both were frightening in their own way, squeezing through impossible spaces, charging through craters in the road and rubbing up against pedestrians and other vehicles. There was a headline in yesterday's evening paper: "Bodabodas are not for the faint hearted". Apparently there are approx 800 admissions to hospital from accidents involving 130,000 bodas in the city every day. Never fear, I have brought my cycle helmet back from home and wear it in spite of the ridicule and humour it engenders!
Next weekend I'm going to The Haven,a hotel resort overlooking the River Nile; the following weekend _ Easter - it's a budget trip to a national park for a safari.More of that next time.