|It's taken time but I do think that I'm finally adjusting to Ugandan life. I don't want to overstate the case because the difficulties are always going to be here. Most of all, the difficulties with public transport and the problem with driving here, where there are no rules of the road, just a free for all, have all compromised my independence. My new crowd are colleagues in their 20's and 30's who are all wonderful but I am feeling like advertising for some old codger friends ( and miss so many of you who fit into that category....!) Talking, of whom, Dani, one such friend told me she has been to the bookies to place a bet on whether i stick it out but wouldn't say which way she betted. I don't blame you Dani, until very recently I wouldn't have known either!
Apart from the work, of which more later, which is so compelling, the difference has been made by having two consecutive long weekends away and having Jane, friend from Paignton to stay for a week and for one of the trips. Uganda is more than the filth of Kampala; it is a beautiful country with wonderful culture and people happy and willing to share it. So, over Easter,Jane and I went off on a very-low-budget-safari to Murchison Falls. It was wonderful. We saw hundreds, literally of hippo, giraffe, lion, elephant, many variety of impala type things, wart hogs etc etc. All this amongst a lush and green vegetation and an amazing variety of birds. The waterfall was also very spectacular and if my old Dell computer hadn't packed up I'd attach some photos. Luckily we have a computer repair wizard who says he can mend it so there will be photos next time.
Some of you will be flabbergasted, given my previous entries, that Jane and I also undertook a bodaboda ( motorcycle taxi) tour of Kampala, together with some of my young colleagues. We went with drivers who are appealing to the white European (mazungoo) market and even provide some very flippy floppy helmets. I'm OK though because I brought my cycle helmet out and am making good use of it.The aim was to make or break my fear of bodaboda's and also to make more sense of the geography of the city which is spread across seven hills. One of the entrepreneurial drivers had mugged up on the history and he wasn't going to let us escape without hearing it all! It was fun and I wasn't scared with these drivers. Unfortunately I took another boda in the week with a driver with whom I felt anything but safe so the desensitisation programme hasn't fully worked.
But I think another reason that I am finally settling in and submitting to some of the things that bug me so much is that the work is so compelling.We now have 25 babies, five of whom I have admitted since my predesesor left. I have also had to turn one down because we were full and I feel very anxious about which of the other awful homes she was taken to ( and probably sold on to the international adoption trade). Yesterday, whilst having a well deserved pedicure I conducted a telephone conversation with one of the social workers about admitting a week old baby, left on the street. Trying to maintain my old standards of confidentiality I attempted not to mention the word 'baby' but by the time I had finished quizzing the social worker the woman in the chair next to mine was offering names of her family members who might foster or adopt.Another British standard hits the dust!
Talking of pedicures and things that bug me, top of the list is perpetually dirty feet which is almost worse than the heat and humidity. That's not too bad at the moment as it's rainy season ( cooler but not very rainy). Jane thinks I'm slightly obsessive about dirty feet, surely not?
I've spent most of today, sunday, working which feels like my old work life back home. I've worked out that in the UK there would be 4 people doing my jobs here so I am a bit overwhelmed. What excites me, apart from working to resettle the babies is the scope for developing the social work practice here. The social workers are doing some amazing work but are badly trained and soak up training like blotting paper. So much to do and difficult choices about where to focus my time and energy. But all a bit more positive than previous entries you will agree?