Day 1: Monday, December 28th, 2009
We arrived at Portland International Airport at 9 am. The line for the check-in was minimal as we waited to check the 7 supply bags full of toothpaste, toothbrushes, diapers, baby formula, fabric, and many other items that had been donated for the children in Uganda. Each bag weighed 50 lbs, and we paid the additional cost of $450.00 so 3 additional bags could be taken along. As soon as we pulled out of the line and proceeded toward the gates, the line for checking in grew to well over 200 ft. It was about 20 feet when we arrived at the airport.
We passed through TSA security with no problem and continued down the aisle toward gate D15. We decided to have some liquid refreshment and relax at the local Rogue ale restaurant. As Albert & I talked about the trip, time flew by. Our check in time was 10:40 am and it was currently around 9 am. We left the ale house around 9:20 with an intention of stopping by a local strip market for an item that Albert needed. While Albert was in the store, and I outside, I heard, “Albert Ricker, lease come to the gate ASAP. Your plane is leaving.” I called Albert and he said he didn’t hear his name, nor believe me that it had been called. However, we quickly proceeded to the gate and were rushed onto the plane. It seems we were the last of about 300 people to board. This event tells you what not to do the next time around. We had good seats right in the emergency aisle and the plane took off within 10 minutes of our arrival.
Day 2: Tuesday, December 29th, 2009
Amsterdam is 9 hrs ahead of Oregon time. We arrived at about 8 am, Amsterdam time (11 pm Portland). The flight was good and comfortable. I didn’t sleep much, but read half my “out of poverty” book and watched movies on the net book. Once we arrived in Amsterdam, we immediately checked the terminal and found that we needed to be at gate D3 at 9:25 am. We had about an hour to walk around. Albert purchased some eye drops from the local store as I waited. The Amsterdam airport was packed with people of all different sorts and sizes. I love people-watching and this was the best place to do it. I had a 20-minute massage near where Albert sat with the carry-on bags. I always pursue a massage while here at this airport when I travel. A 20-minute massage cost me 27.5 euros. I didn’t want to calculate the exchange rate so I used my credit card to pay for the massage.
At around 9 am, we proceeded to gate D3 and joined the line of 14 people. After 30 minutes, the line stood close to 200. I had no problem going through the metal detectors, but Albert was set aside because there was an item in his bag that needed to be inspected. The mystery item turned out to be a laser pointer with flashlight. Once we cleared security, we went into the waiting area. The area seemed to just fill with people every minute. By 10 am, there were about 300 people waiting to get on board. Crap. We boarded the plane and, of course, somebody was sitting in my seat. She said her ticket did not have a seat number, but I asked her to check again and wow, amazingly, a seat number appeared; she took her stuff and left my seat. The flight to Entebbe was cramped and distant odors hovered in the air. Oh yeah, I forget to mention – the first flight, our seats were right next to the bathrooms. On this flight, our seats were in between both bathrooms. Albert had the window seat and I had the aisle. The lady behind me kept on pushing my seat forward because I had lowered the recliner to its maximum. She gave me an ugly look every time I got up to use the bathroom.
The movie system was great, when it worked. For the first leg of the flight, the screens did not work. On this flight, I just watched movies and tried to take a few naps.
The time difference between Portland and Uganda is 11 hours. We arrived on time at the Entebbe airport, around 9 pm (10 am Portland time). Albert and I paid our visa entrance fees and moved quickly to the baggage claim. With so many people waiting, chances increase that someone will grab someone else’s bags. The seven duffel bags that we were waiting for had blue painter’s tape on the straps and had been zip tied back in Portland. We waited for 15 minutes with no sign of the bags. Other passengers came and went, and so did their bags. It was probably not until 20 minutes after landing that our bags arrived 1 by 1. I was amazed all seven arrived with each other. What a blessing. We grabbed two carts and pushed the luggage out the exit. Lots of taxis were waiting. We politely declined a ride and told them we are fine for pick-up. James and the crew were supposed to be there at 9 pm, but there was no sign of them. It was not until 10 pm that James arrived with everyone: Marjorie, Stella, Peter, Wilson, Paul the driver, and little James. Lillian, James’ girlfriend was working but we were to meet her later in the trip. We hugged and walked with the baggage to their rented vehicle – a Toyota Delica (similar to a VW van). We packed everything in and departed for Bsewguya, a little town outside Kampala. The road was vicious, there were crevices in the streets; small children could probably disappear from accidentally stepping into one. It took about an hour and a half to get to the house, getting us there around midnight. We rented a 1-bedroom house for about 50k UGS ($40 US) to cover our stay until Monday. Not bad little place. The crew helped unload the bags and left. Wilson stayed the night with us. The house had a shower that only had cold water; the pit latrine was outside where you needed to squat. Albert and I shared a queen-size bed with a surrounding mosquito net. Musty smells, but not many mosquitoes, were floating around. We changed into our night clothing and went to bed. I took my medicine and an Ambien to help me sleep.
Day 3: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009:
At 6 am, I had to go use the pit latrine. Albert was sound asleep next to me; Wilson was sleeping on the floor in the other room. I gingerly walked out the door to a locked 3×3 room where a pit latrine awaited for me. I took care of business, noticing the crisp air, the sound of chickens, the light traffic, the blue skies, and the musty urinated air. I went back to bed for a few hours, just trying to get the necessary rest needed for the next 3 weeks. The morning started off bright and early, 8:45 am…15 minutes before my alarm watch began its annoying “beep beep” sound. What I really needed was a shower, to “hit the showers,” as I say, and so I did. Taking a cold shower in the morning definitely woke me up. I got dressed and headed outside. The sound of chickens continued and little children screamed outside the compound’s gates. I took a few photos of the compound and the surrounding area. The air was still crisp, but odors hovered heavily. When I went back inside, Albert was up and running. We met in the little living room and talked. He started reading the Bible and discussing the verses of John. As he read, I separated out the 7 bags of supplies into different piles sorted by content, which I then put back into the duffel bags. One bag was designated “the filler bag” – it was used to pull items from the other bags to take to locations where children lived. Our host, Wilson, had slept in the living room and while we were in the room, he was outside preparing breakfast. From the inside of the building, I could smell the delicious food he was making. In a few minutes, he had brought in plates of eggs, poached and plenty. We sat at the center of the room, prayed, and devoured the food. Wilson also prepared some very wonderful cow milk with a bit of ginger. Very, very delicious.
As we finished breakfast, James arrived with the hired driver. He asked me to step outside with him, and he told me that he was concerned about our safety at our current location. He stated that our accommodations were not the best because it was far from the main road, and because the neighboring villages have had issues of gangs finding out about Mazongos (white persons) living in the area, and breaking down the gates to steal from them. We decided it was best to move ourselves from Kampala to an area near Jinja on Entebbe road.. James took us to Gaba to visit Stella while he and the hired driver moved our belongings to the new location.
The current exchange rate was 1 US dollar to 1900 shillings. For the next endeavor over, we will need to designate a bigger allocation of travel monies. The cost of this driver was 50,000 shillings for the day, plus 20,000 for the driver, plus the cost of the vehicle’s petrol that we had to stop and purchase at the gas station, along with three large bottles of water for 3,000 UGX.
Storefronts looked more familiar as we drove on Gaba road towards Stella’s domicile. We arrived after 20 minutes and Stella and her mom greeted us with open arms. We were there to document the issue of stagnant water in the neighborhood pathways. When it rained hard, the water would sit in collected puddles and grow bacteria. The stench was unbearable and the sight of mosquitoes emerging from the pools of water was disgusting. My group and I were to determine how to minimize the dangers to the local people from illness, etc. I calculated that about 400 feet of trenching would be needed to dispose the water from the street at another access point. The estimated cost was about 2.6 million shillings – around $1,400 US.
We were first given an estimate of around 4.5 million shillings, which included the rebuilding of a property that Stella’s mom owns that had been destroyed over time from the flooding water. I told both of them that this was not an issue Patrick’s’ Children could pursue, because it was not helping out the whole community. Both Albert and I documented the water-damaged pathways and eventually left with a copy of the bid that Stella received from a contractor. I suggested that she and her mom request the difference of 1.1 million shillings (about $600.00) from her neighbors.
Our next excursion took us farther down Gaba road to Gaba church. We were going to visit any staff that were working and to use the church’s internet cafe. On our way, we were greeted with young children yelling “Mazongos!” and laughing. As we walked, we bumped into an old friend named Miro. He had just left the church, but walked back with us. When we got to the church, we were out of luck; the offices and the computer lab were both closed. Miro asked if we wanted to visit his living quarters and we agreed. Miro is about 23 years old and just finished high school. He lives in a small 6 x 10 room with his cousin. He has lived there for 6 years, his education and accommodations being supported by Gaba Community Church. He’s a very nice fellow, but he is in the common dilemma of how to raise fees for college. High school costs around $40 US dollars a month, and college is typically more than twice that amount. Most Ugandans graduating from high school have a hard time raising enough funds for college, so the pursuit of further academia takes a bit of time. Some college students still have their high school sponsors who may be able to help out, other students work full time, and some may come from families where school is a major pursuit and have invested everything into it.
Back on Gaba road, village children swarmed us. We made our way to an internet cafe where it cost 500 shillings per 30 minutes of internet time. All the computers ran on 128 megs of computer RAM, very slow in today’s standards, keeping us waiting a substantial time to log into our email accounts. It took 12 minutes to log into Face book, where in the US it would take less than 30 seconds. We updated a few blogs and I tried to upload a few pictures to my account. No luck. I had given the machine 10 minutes to upload a large picture of Albert and I at the Portland airport waiting to check in, but after 10 minutes it still was not completed. I shut down the system and we paid our fees before returning to the main part of Gaba road where the village children stood.
Albert started to hand out sweets from his pockets to the children. Soon, dozens of children were in front of him, all their hands reaching out. A few neighboring teenagers came over to help organize a proper disbursement system with the idea that if the children lined up, it would be more orderly. However, the arriving children just pushed themselves up to the front and caused even more chaos. Soon we were giving out candy, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to the children. They were unbelievable! They were aggressive enough that we had to literally push them back. From ages of 5 months to about 11 years old, the children stood before us in tattered clothing. They were on holiday from school and were wearing their play clothes. We eventually ran out of goods and sat across the street talking with a student named Judith. As we walked over to him, seated on a bench into front of a store, he yelled at the kids following us to keep a distance away. He succeeded by telling them he would have a gift for them if they kept 20 feet away. Albert got back up, pulled out the camcorder, and flipped the screen around. The children went crazy seeing their faces on the screen. I sat back and took a few snapshots of the children walking by and of Albert having fun with them.
We called James in the midst of everything and requested to be picked up. He was just finishing up transporting our items to the new temporary, but safe location, near Jinja. We waited and waited. Gaba has not changed much except for a few new commercial buildings. The alleys looked the same and there were children everywhere. Around 3 pm, James arrived with the driver. Both Albert and I were very hungry so we went out to eat. We stopped by a place called Bon Appetite. For the 3 meals that we ordered, it cost around 20k shillings, so around 11 dollars. Albert and I had chicken, chips, and a soda. James had chips, fried liver, and a soda. We left around 3:30. Both of us were still a bit tired from the trip and started to doze off in the car (Remember; Uganda is 11 hrs ahead of Oregon time). Before we left Gaba, we needed to purchase even more gas (30,000 shillings worth), and we stopped to visit James’ grandmother. She was in bed and her age showed – she was 88. She was happy to see us but we left after being there 10 minutes. We then stopped by the local grocery store and picked up some essentials for the next few days while at our new accommodations near Jinja.
It was about 5 pm when we left the store, and both Albert and I were exhausted. We fell asleep on the way home, where we arrived around 7 pm. We settled in and talked more with James. This new location was more secure and much cleaner. We had 2 bedrooms: one for the living room and the other a room with a queen bed. It seems we have lucked out by having nice beds to sleep on and not a twin, as was the case when I visited with my wife Terrie in 2005. The compound had plenty of bugs flying around, which the other location did not. The toilet consisted of a pit latrine, exactly the same as the other location but missing a key to the lock (earlier in the day, I forgot to put it back in its place). Wilson was notified about the missing key and we met up later the next day to exchange it. I forgot to mention that we are staying at Lillian’s domicile. Lillian and James are set to be married sometime in 2011. She works for the Entebbe airport and had graciously given us the opportunity to stay with her until we were to leave for Pastor Fred’s house on Monday, January 4th.
The night was relaxing; we watched PS, I Love You on TV. Albert went to bed after the movie while James and I talked and started another movie, Shooter with Mark Wahlberg. We both fell asleep by the end and eventually went to bed.
Day 4: Thursday, December 30th, 2009
I had taken some Ambien to fall asleep the previous night. As I laid in bed in the morning, my thoughts wandered. Albert was snoring very loudly but he definitely needed the rest. Around 7 am, I woke up and had to use the latrine. I grabbed the toilet sheets just in case and ventured out the front door. James was half asleep but had to help me find the keys to undo the massive lock that kept the door from being jarred open from the outside. Often, robbers would break in at night to steal residents’ valuables. There were two locks: one for the inside while we slept, and one for the outside while we were gone. As I slid the red plastic slippers on to walk to the water closet, I looked at the 12 foot fence line; the tops were covered with shards of broken glass to deter robbers from hopping over the barrier. The pit latrine had its usual array of big bugs lurking along the walls. When I sat on the latrine, my clothing touched the walls. These latrines aren’t made for six-foot-five-tall men that’s for sure. Nothing came out, which is common – clogging happens when the body is in a new country. I finished my duties, walked back to the house, and laid back in bed with the net book fully charged.
As I type, I’m in bed waiting to be called for breakfast. I should get up and take a shower…I’m starting to smell again. Most houses don’t have a hot water heater; water is boiled over an open flame and then served. I finally prepared a basin of water and took my first warm sponge bath.
Once James showed up with the driver, we (Albert, James, and I) had a quick breakfast and got into the car. The sun was shining and the crisp air was all around.
As we sped along the road, we found an orphanage in the town of Iganga called Iganga’s Babies Home. We had brought a few bags of supplies but definitely not the right type; this orphanage’s focus was on children aged 0 to 5, very beautiful children. The orphanage was in very good shape, the floors clean and the compound well-kept. We got a tour around the place and the children had just gotten up from their naps and were following us everywhere we went. Sister Sara Elizabeth, who manages the children, requested from the allotted 190k shillings: dairy milk, Johnstone & Johnstone baby soap, and Pampers. We found a local market and purchased the items easily.
We spent approximately one hour introducing ourselves to the orphanage management, listening to their needs, leaving the compound, finding a local retail store, and returning back to the location. What joy it is to fulfill the needs of children who have them. This is exactly what Patrick’s Children Without Sponsors (PCWS) was created to accomplish back in 2003. Amazing that the organization has grown to include an orphanage three hours away from the main capital of Kampala. Beautiful.
After leaving the orphanage, we arrived at Wilson’s home in less than 30 minutes, but we had to cross roads that had severe erosion problems due to the rainfall and lack of government maintenance.
Our plans today also include a visit to a pig and maize corn farm in the outskirts of Jinja, a project that PCWS helped build and now operates in Uganda. Wilson and I started in 2008, with an intent that it would help support Wilson’s, and others’, education. He helps to manage the farm but is currently studying to become an electrician. The farm is managed by family members in Iganga, which is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from our current location in Entebbe. Wilson is one of the last students that PCWS is supporting through its college sponsorship program. The program started with four students in 2007, and has since helped two students graduate from the local university. In 2008, one student dropped out and left his sponsors in shock, so we transferred their support to another student who was about to lose their sponsor do to a job loss. James’ education has been supported by myself since 2001, all of his fees starting with high school and then college.
Once we arrived at the farm, the little village children yelled, “Mazongos, Mazongos!” The Maize project is on a two-acre plot with two annual seasons, both 6 months long. The current season ends in January. The Maize will produce about 350k shillings worth and net around 200k after expenses are taken out. Wilson’s vision is to double the production every year until it covers ten acres.
We took a few pictures of the maize farm and headed for the piggery. This farm had ten pigs, eight females and two males, which were about 13 months old. Wilson plans to breed the pigs when they reach 19 months old. Wilson still has about six years left of school so we have a good ways to go, as far as his funding is concerned.
By the time we left the farm, it was around 6 pm; we had plans to attend a midnight service with James and Lillian. We stopped by Wilson’s family-owned business and had a brief dinner. We finally left at 7 pm to head back to Entebbe. The traffic was crazy. We did not arrive back until 11:59 pm, which meant we were unable to join James and his wife. We spent more than seven hours in a car today. Once we arrived home, we had another brief dinner of Matooke and Irish potatoes. Very delicious. Wilson left with the driver and Albert and I watched some TV until the power was shut off because James decided to iron some clothes. It was around 1 am.
Day 5: Friday, January 1st, 2010
We woke up to the television set blaring around 7:30 am. A different driver was supposed to be here at 9 am to take us to visit six orphanages located in Kampala and Jinja. African time, boy, expect about a two-hour delay. Charles showed up at around 9:30 am and he joined us for breakfast: doughnuts, muffins, and cups of goat milk with sugar.
Charles works for Legacy Missions, based in Georgia and operates here as an NGO caring for many orphanages. The organization collects government food and raises money to send it here to Uganda. Pastor Gary is the president of the organization and Charles is the transportation director.
It seems I have caught a bit of a cold. A sore throat started on Wednesday and has worsened. It seems that I always get something while I’m here; last time, I had urinary issues and a bad rash. The trip is still very young, there’s plenty of time to attain new sicknesses. I keep praying not to get any sicker.
We left around 10 am, heading for our first orphanage of the day – Bweya Children’s Home. We stopped by the local petrol station to get 70,000 schillings worth of gas before continuing on to the home. The Bweya orphanage has been around since the 1970’s and has been slowly renovating its property. It is clean and the children well taken care of. They requested porshe, beans, maize, salt, and oil. So with the allocated budget per orphanage of 200,000 schilling we were off to the local markets to purchase the items.
The local market is a fantastic people-watching arena. I love watching people, talking to people, getting to know them. Charles and James traveled together and sought out the supplies while Albert and I walked among the vendors. I took many pictures of unique people and saleable items: stacked chickens , deep-fried fish, Irish potatoes, a lady operating a sewing shop. We people-watched and, after approximately one hour, left with the supplies in the back of the Trooper that Charles has been blessed with. We pay him 80,000 per day, only 10,000 more than the other driver. Charles speaks great English and has a great sense of humor. He is married with three children and has worked for Legacy for over one year. He has a degree in Water Management. He drives because it is consistent work whereas work with Water Management is not.
At our second orphanage, Grace Place Outreach in the Kitiko District, we tried something different. Charles visits these orphanages on a monthly basis and knows exactly what they need, most of which is food. We reversed the sequence of our visit to the first orphanage, shopping first, and then visiting the orphanage. Grace Place Outreach was out in the country and there were some serious pits in the road.
The next orphanage, His Kids, registered 127 kids, with about 35 living there full-time. Again, we purchased the needed items before showing up and touring their facilities. The property is in the slums of Kampala and very difficult to reach by vehicle. Pastor Timothy is the main guy in charge of the orphanage. We talked about his vision for the children and facilities, and I told him that PCWS is expanding and helping some orphanages to become more self-sufficient, less dependent on outside resources. I believe this orphanage will be the prototype for a rabbit project, eventually housing a sewing school within the compounds to train young teenagers in a trade. Charles is a fellow Rotarian of the Myewana club at Hotel International in Gaba. We agreed to visit his club on Wednesday and discuss partnering up on the building of the sewing project.
We left after about an hour of discussion and shot some great photos of the children holding the food, and some footage of the orphanage via camcorder. Albert took great pride in capturing the video.
Our last orphanage, Daughters of Hope, was well-established, with many children living with extended families while on holiday. When we travel, we never know what type of orphanage it is we will be seeing, or the resources they may have. This orphanage had custom-built concrete molds for washing clothing, which were very well-maintained, and had piles of building supplies on the property in preparation for expansion. We dropped off the supplies and left. Not much conversation took place because the main contact, Pastor Fred, was not present.
By this time, it was around 5 pm. We had left the house around 10:30 am and visited four orphanages; we had planned on six, but the weather and the roads did not help the traffic. We were now on our way back to our Entebbe location for dinner and relaxation., but we stopped by a supermarket along with way, a Mazongo market. I actually saw one other white person, but they did not particularly want to chat. Oh well, I continued inside the shop to purchase some food and other items needed during our stay at my friend’s house.
We arrived home around 7 pm. Lillian was expecting us at 3 pm, but she had come to expect lateness. She had prepared Irish potatoes, chipolta, rice, pork, and a pleasant and delicious homemade fruit juice. We chatted for awhile and prayed about the day, and for the next day, for safety from harm.
I called Terrie at 9 pm and we chatted for around 10 minutes. The total cost was about $2 US, which was incredibly cheap compared to the last time I visited – a 10 minute call would have cost over $8.
The power abruptly shut off and we all talked in the living room about life and God. The power eventually came back on and we put on a movie. Albert went to bed around 10:30 pm, but the movie went on until midnight. Before going to bed myself, I ventured outside to use the pit latrine and wash my teeth while watching for large flying bugs that seemed to hover around tall white people’s heads.
Day 6: Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
I had to wake up early in the morning, around 3 am, to use the pit latrine. I walked out slowly and quietly so as not to disturb our friends who live here. It was very peaceful but a bit wet. I was so relieved that I had gotten out quietly, but then I had to go back through rooms to get to my bed. The doors here always squeak, and after getting back into bed, I could tell that I woke a few people up.
We were to be picked up by a new driver, Seka, at around 9 am. The driver was hired for 50K per day, but it ended up being around 50K per day plus 20K for a driver’s fee plus fuel. Seka drove a Toyota Tercel that had some serious mechanical issues.
We first visited the Dwelling Places Orphanages. When we arrived, no one was home. Peter, our guide, called and tried to get a hold of somebody. We sat outside their office and waited. Maureen finally arrived about 30 minutes later. She led us through the building and the location appeared to be very well-kept. The children were on holiday; the orphanage was actually a boarding school. A boarding school allows the children to leave on holiday to visit family, in-laws, and/or friends, whereas an orphanage houses the children full-time because they have no place else to live. It’s really hard to distinguish the two unless you visit the location and talk with the management.
Next, we headed for Another Hope Children’s Ministries, an orphanage located in the Nansana district. This was a full-time orphanage with about 60 children, aged 4 to 19 years. We could tell it was a well-funded location from the noticeable supplies in the home, the children’s clothing, the distant smell of cleaning supplies, and the fact that they could sleep one child to a bed. The caretaker, Esther, was on holiday, so Edith, her cover, gave us a tour of the location. She led us to the back and had us sit down. About 12 children came out in costume and dance and sang for us. There was music coming from three drummers sitting a few seats down from us. Out of the dozens of orphanages I have been to, none have done this before. It lasted about 20 minutes and then we had to go because of the other orphanages on the day’s list. We allocated 200,000 UGX for the purchase of supplies. They requested rice, pasho, Vaseline, sugar & toilet paper. We visited a local market to purchase the supplies. The whole visit took about 2 hours.
The third orphanage we visited was the Savior Orphanage Home in the Matuga district. I tell you, this was the most under-funded orphanage. There were about 11 children ages, 8 – 14 years old. The children slept 2 to a bed and the condition of the building was very poor. The founder of the orphanage, Timothy Bata, uses funds he receives through his recording studio to fund the project. We allocated 400,000 UGX to this orphanage for their serious needs and listed them as potential prospects for the upcoming rabbit farm, the self-sufficient project through PCWS. As before, we shopped at the local market and delivered their supplies.
We continued on to the last orphanage on the list, African Child in Need, located in the Nambria district. This orphanage had 25 males, ages 5 – 15. The establishment was in very serious condition, but much better funded than the previous orphanage. We allocated 100,000 UGX for them, and purchased the items before we visited. PCWS also added this orphanage to the list of locations to start a rabbit project. The purpose of this project is to see if they can take a small project and create something bigger through efficient management and planning. If successful, another project will be introduced into their environment. This potential project will be Sewing Machines. More on this later.
We left the orphanage around 6 pm and headed for Gaba to eat at a local restaurant. The driver did not want to eat with us so we gave him 5k to eat somewhere of his choosing. We arrived back to our host house around 8 pm. Another long day. I still had a sore throat and now the sniffles. Before I hit the hay, I organized the next day’s bag of supplies (toothpaste, brushes, soap, etc) and documented the day’s purchases for accountability.
Day 7: Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
The plan was to wake up at 7 am and hit the road for church at 7:30. The driver showed up at 7:15 and opened the front gate of the house. In the process, he had locked his keys in the vehicle. This driver is not the best one and not going to be used again. Besides locking the keys in the car, which caused us to arrive late for church at 9:30am (ends at 10am), the vehicle seemed to operate on only three pistons. It’s not common for Ugandans to prevent mechanical failure – they wait for it to happen and then fix the problem.
We attended Gaba community church until the service ended at 10 am, then we drove to James’ mum’s farm in the Msati district, approximately one and a half hours away.
Through the rolling hills we went; the scenery was very different compared to Wilson’s village. Girtrude, James’ Mum, was waiting for us. She welcomed both Albert and I and had us sit and relax. We started the program on her farm in 2007. The access path to the farm was quite exciting; when we crossed a dried stream and almost got the car stuck, it raised questions on whether to visit the next time in a 4×4 vehicle.
James took us on a tour of the 25-less two acre farm. Last year, thieves stole two acres, and because of a lack of funds to defend the situation, James’ family could not pursue its retrieval even though they had clear title. The farm contains maize, Matooke, cassava, chickens, pigs, two cows, rabbits, Irish potatoes, and sweet potatoes. The weather was hot, very hot. Hot enough to even wear some sun tan lotion, but that didn’t help. The sun burst through my skin. James’ mum fixed us some delicious African meal with Matooke, Irish potatoes, and chicken. We really appreciated the gesture. We left around 4 pm to head back to James’ house in Entebbe. Before we left, we presented to his mum a few of the items we had brought for the orphanages; toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, sponges, etc., and two bags that my wife, Terrie, had prepared for her.
The drive back home was fun but took a good two hours. We spend about four hours a day in vehicles, but that’s part of life when trying to do as much as possible within the little time we have here in Uganda.
Day 8: Monday, January 4th, 2010
We woke to the sounds of roosters in the backyard at Lillian’s compound on Entebbe road around 6 am. The last day at this location. My friend Lillian was so gracious to let us sleep in her bed while she slept at her friends’ houses or at work. She works as an attendant at the Entebbe airport. We all had a bodacious breakfast of eggs, tea, muffins, Fanta soda, and water.
I was pretty tired. I tried to sleep the night before without taking sleep medicine, but no luck. I had stayed up all night and was wired. We had a big day ahead of us before we could look forward to settling in at my friend’s house. We were to visit a children’s AIDS hospital, attend to banking matters, and visit Noah’s Ark Children’s Ministries out in Mukono district, about an hour and a half drive from our Entebbe Compound.
Charles, the driver, showed up around 9:30 and we packed our four remaining duffel bags into Charles’s 4×4 vehicle. As we worked, Albert spoke our daily devotion from the bible, this one dealing with letting go and letting God direct us in our lives. I agreed whole-heartedly with the message.
We said our good byes to Lillian and James and headed for the car. James called my name and asked me to come back and talk to Lillian. She was in the back room crying because she had gotten used to us being there. I told her that I would be back with Terrie and she hugged me before I left with the others.
First, we headed for Mildmay Children’s Hospital. James G. helped us get into the premises and Charles drove us to the entrance. We asked the front desk if we could visit the children and they agreed to let us talk with Rosemary, the public relations manager. We greeted her and asked about the hospital. She told us that it was started back in 1999 and has grown to accommodate the 4,000 children that come with their caretakers to receive free medication. We had brought a big bag of supplies for the children and we placed it on the table. After we did this, I could tell she was a little more receptive to giving us a more informative tour. She then called for Steven, who is the on-site manager. He welcomed us and took us on a tour of the treatment centers. The first building was called the Triage site where they assess the needs of the child, take tests, create a program for the child and caretaker. If the child needs immediate care, they will push the child to the head of the line and make them a priority. We then left the Triage center and headed up a small concrete trail to the Admittance center, where the children are taken for rest and monitoring. We saw a few small children with tubes coming out of their noses. Very beautiful children. There were others laying in the entertainment areas watching television while waiting for treatment. Many nurses worked at the triage center, but at the admittance center, it was doctors helping the little ones in need. We left Admittance and headed for some of the offices; they were very modern, with newer computers. We were then led back to the entrance. We thanked Steven very much and left with Charles driving us toward Kampala.
As I mentioned, PCWS is trying to make Ugandan orphanages more self-reliant. One of the projects we are implementing to reach this goal is the Sewing Project. We were headed for Kampala to meet with Pastor James Teira, the founding pastor of Kampala Community Church, because we had planted the seeds for this project in his church. We raised around 1.7 million shillings to purchase ten sewing machines for his ministry. One of our supporters from the States, Kathryn, donated a large bag of sewing supplies including needles, thread, fabrics, and many other basic necessities. We were very excited to help with a project of this magnitude. We purchased the sewing machines and took our leave.
Charles, Albert , James, and I headed to the Kumuno district where Noah’s Ark Children’s Ministries were located. We arrived around 2 pm. It took us about two hours to get there from Kampala due to traffic from the highway being redone. We passed a Coke bottling plant and many little cities before reaching the orphanage. Charles called ahead and asked what they needed and they said cakes. We stopped by a bakery and picked up 120 cakes for the children. The rest of the orphanage’s supplies were provided by outside resources and agriculture grown on the land around the compounds.
When we arrived in the district, it was no different from all the other districts that we had visited or passed through. It seemed the storefronts have not changed much since I last visited in 2006. Just more cell phones, people, and boda boda (motorcycle taxi) drivers. The population is expected to double by 2015 and then double again by 2030. Crazy.
We finally arrived at the orphanage gates; security guards greeted us and let us pass. We went up the access road to the orphanage and parked the rig. The clouds seemed a bit dark and dreary, and it started to rain as we walked down the pathway to the children’s health clinic. Charles’ contact, Pastor Peter, or “Papa,” as the children call him, was in a meeting so we just waited for him in the clinic, which was very clean and modern. About 10 minutes after arriving, it rained hard…very hard…torrents of rain fell from the sky and we just watched in amazement. Soon, it had stopped and we hiked back up the road to the management’s office and waited longer for Papa. Papa is a white man who had come with his wife 15 years ago as a British Missionary. He had started Noah’s Ark from scratch and now has more than 100 children ages from a few days old to 13 yrs old. This orphanage is the best one after which to model other orphanages. It has agriculture gardens, teachers’ housing quarters, management offices, gender-separated buildings that house the children from babies (beautiful and crying their heads off in their cribs) to 13 year-olds, who live with a set of parents within the house, a medical clinic, and about 15 shipping containers that are used/sold from other countries sending them supplies.
When Papa was finally finished with his meeting, he joined us at a table in one of the office lobbies. He was very stern at first but after we all chatted about how to make Uganda a better system for living, he let his guard down a bit. We talked for two hours, issues ranging from agriculture to providing jobs through vocational studies. By the time the discussion concluded, it was around 6 pm – the same time that we had scheduled to be at Pastor Fred’s house in Gaba. We had to make the tour of the baby’s home quick. As we walked, Albert asked if there was anything they needed. They had everything on premises, except for soy-based baby formula, something that my wife, Terrie, had collected from members of her salon. Amazing how God works. We then walked to meet Papa’s wife in their study, which is connected to the main children’s home. When we were passing through, the children were eating dinner. Ruth, his wife, met us with a quick hello and stood very stern. We chatted a little more about their children and walked back to our vehicle. We opened up the duffel bag of baby supplies and handed Peter and Ruth about a dozen containers of baby formula, including 8 cans of soy-based baby formula. Ruth smiled.
We had to get going so we said our goodbyes and headed back to town. Charles, our driver, said that Ruth never smiles and was amazed that she cracked one while we were there handing out the baby formula. It seems that one of their children was not absorbing the regular formula and they had prayed for soy-based products. God had answered her prayer.
By 6:30 pm, we were stuck in traffic. We had all our supplies and luggage in the back of the vehicle. We were headed for Pastor Fred’s house in Gaba. Pastor Fred is a good friend who I had met back in 2001 on my first trip to Uganda. He was expecting us at 6 pm but we arrived around 9. Only three hours late; truly I have become a Ugandan. African time is really about eventually showing up somewhere, not at a time but just showing up.
When we arrived at Pastor Fred’s road, we had little clue of what direction to go except to drive towards Lake Victoria and try to find a black gate. When it is pitch dark, it’s hard to find anything, especially on a road that has pot holes big enough to break a car’s axle.
We soon found his gate and were greeted warmly by his family. Fred was in his shorts and a shirt. His wife Rebecca, was in the kitchen; Joel (13), Joselyn (11), and Jotham (5) were all in the living room or outside awaiting our entrance. Joyce (16), his oldest daughter, was away at boarding school.
We said our goodbyes to Charles and paid his driver’s fee of 80K for the day. He is such a great driver. So much better than the other driver, Seka, who drove us around the first days of our arrival. We paid each driver about the same in compensation but Charles’ car had no mechanical problems as Seka’s did. A few days after our arrival, we were visiting an orphanage and when Albert was opening his side door, the handle broke off. The car also had some mechanical issues; for example, when the car idled, the engine sounded like it was missing a cylinder. Also, Seka’s bumper would come loose when we hit a big pot hole, and we’d have to stop so he could fix it.
At Pastor Fred’s, dinner was served around 9:30 pm and Albert and I sat with the family at the table. There was Matooke (the main food that Ugandans eat; it looks like small bananas and tastes like yellow mush), greens, water, rice, and guacamole. We ate and chatted. It seems that Pastor Fred was let go from his previous employment for no reason at all. He is taking the opportunity to start a ministry called Celebrate Hope Ministries based in Gaba, which will focus on helping children keep their homes from thieves, spreading the gospel to surrounding communities, and many other blessed pursuits.
After dinner, around 10:30 pm, Rebecca had prepared some hot water for a shower and I eagerly accepted it. Imagine a basin with cold water and a jeti (container) full of hot water. I had used about 1/3 of the hot water and utilized a cup to douse my head and body parts with water to rinse off the soap. It was a crude soap bath but I did feel a bit cleaner. Albert and I had separate beds with clean sheets and mosquito nets (they originally belonged to Joel & Jotham). I dressed in my shorts and shirt and ventured out in the living room and talked with Fred while Albert took a bath. Around midnight we all went to bed. I took some sleep medicine to make sure that I would get a good night’s sleep. My sore throat was gone, but I still had the sniffles and a strange deep cough.
Day 9: Tuesday, January 5th, 2010
What a great night of sleep. No roosters waking me up. No alarms. No barking dogs. I just had to worry about mosquitoes entering the net; Pastor Fred’s house is right near Lake Victoria so mosquitoes were rampant.
Today we were to meet Willy, our African Renewal Ministries (ARM) contact from the town of Bethany. He was to help us travel to Bethany and settle in.
We got dropped off by Pastor Fred at around 10 am at Gaba Community Church after Fred’s wife Rebecca prepared a brief breakfast for us of mini bananas, tea, bread, and fruit. A very quick but delicious breakfast.
Willy called to tell us that the boat driver was ready for us and that we’d have to take a boda boda once we arrived across the lake. The boat ride cost 5,000 UGX and a boda ride from the port to Bethany Village cost us 4,000 UGX. The ride was 15 minutes of sitting behind a driver while he dodged pot holes, goats, chickens, and people on the pathway.
Once we arrived in Bethany, everything as I remember from 2006 was the same, and a few new buildings had even been built. Willy greeted us with open arms and showed us into his house. Willy is the project manager of Bethany and takes care of public relations when visitors come. He gave us the option of staying in Pastor Peter’s (head Pastor of Gaba and ARM) executive suite, but we opted to spend the night in a house managed by one of the mothers.
We learned that 120 children were on holiday, during which they would be staying with host families. There were about 40 kids still in Bethany who had no where to go. Willy took us on a tour of the homes and started with Ma Betty who had three girls who were still there during the holiday. Willy asked Ma Betty if we could also stay with her and she said yes. She lived in the Hope House, one of the three homes that received a sewing machine the last time I visited in 2006. The machine is currently used to mend clothing and teach the teenage girls a few skills.
Before we came, Willy had already talked with the Mothers from the homes and asked what the children would need with the allotted 100,000 UGX for each home ($52). Willy’s task was a great accomplishment, considering a few of the mothers were on holiday when we arrived.
Willy then took us on a tour of Bethany Village. They have 11 children’s homes to which PCWS has allotted 1.1 million UGX ($600.00 US) for purchasing supplies, which we will be picking up tomorrow. Each home houses 15 children, ranging between 7 to 20 years old. Willy mentioned that they are having difficulty with some of the children because of the typical growth patterns – becoming teenagers. They have yet to resolve the issue.
As Willy talked and walked, we observed a lot of growth in Bethany Village: a community health clinic, acres of agricultural products – maize, Matooke, sweet potatoes – and pigs and egg-laying hens were at a secluded location.
There is a fishing village about 2 km from BV. On Thursday, we plan to visit and hand out donated supplies.
It was about 5 pm when the tour ended. Willy called upon a house father, Dennis, to lead us to a tri-plex home. He had mentioned that all of these homes had hot/cold showers.
We entered the unlocked premises and I went straight to the bathroom to check out the bathing contraption. On the floor lay a basin with a semi-deceased bat. Its head was still moving around but in an erratic manner. Along with bats came bat poop and lots of it. The bathroom floor and bedrooms were covered with dung. Dennis took a broom and swept out the bathroom and I jumped in first. The shower was just luke-warm, but it was much better than a cold one.
I was out of the shower in ten minutes. I didn’t have a towel, so I used a folded bed sheet to dry myself before getting dressed. I expected Albert to shower after I had finished, but he didn’t.
We arrived at Ma Betty’s around 8 pm. She had supper on the table but first requested that we have a time for worship and the nightly devotion from the book of Chronicles. The three children created a great circle of love and they sang songs from memory. After, we sat down to a dinner of Irish potatoes, Matooke, greens, rice, and bean covering; all very delicious.
We ended the night at around 10 pm. I took my medicine and fell asleep quickly as Albert laid in back either listening to music or watching a movie.
Day 10: Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
I woke up around 6 am to use the latrine. The outside door was impossible to open without waking up the whole house, so when I got back from the pit latrine, I opened and shut the door slowly. I headed back to my mosquito covered bed, a tri-bunk bed with Albert in the center.
The alarm woke us up at 7 am to get ready to meet Willy at the boat dock at 7:30. By 9 am, Willy was ready. We took a direct boat ride to Gaba port; the amount of supplies we needed to purchase would require a larger boat. We arrived at the port around 10. The gang of us included Ma Betty, Willy, myself, Albert, and Willy’s son, Timothy. Boy, there are a lot of Tims in Kampala.
Once we arrived in Kampala, I let the other guys go and shop while I went to the bank. Afterwards, I strolled around Kampala for a couple hours looking for some envelopes to put the orphanage letters in. I found the envelopes only after having a guy from an electronics store lead me three blocks away and up a few stairs to a little stationery store. Joshua, the helper, said that we were visiting his auntie’s and uncle’s business. I tipped him 200 shillings for the help and he led me back to the electronics store.
On the walk back, the atmosphere was suddenly silent; there was hushing in the air and people running. It seemed somebody was caught stealing and was being beat up by the public – typical street justice. We continued walking and came up to an alley where police were taking a suspect with a black and blue face away. This thief was lucky; typically if no police arrive in time, the thief would have been beaten and then have gas doused on him/her before being lit on fire. The police usually arrive late and have to haul away what remains.
We passed the mob excitement and I left Joshua at his store before walking around on my own. I found a six-story mall and went inside. The power was shut off and the building went dark; I left very quickly because things happen in the dark and nothing can really be done about it.
By 1 pm, my errands had been taken care of and my feet hurt from walking around Kampala. I sat to wait for Willy at Shoprite.
When I got the phone call from Willy that most of the shopping was completed I was thrilled. There was a subtle disturbance in the air when he picked me up around 4 pm; Willy had found 90% of the requested goods, but he had locked the keys in the car while it was running. He did not tell Albert until after the shopping was done and a friend had to bring him an extra set of keys.
Albert and Willy spent around 940K (around $450) on supplies requested by all 11 Bethany Village Mothers.
We arrived back to Pastor Fred’s house around 5 pm and I got a call from Charles verifying my plans for the Muyena Rotary Club at Hotel International at 6:30 pm. Albert had spent all day shopping and lay resting in the guest house. He was too tired to join me for Rotary.
Charles picked me up at 6:15. My purpose for the night was to network with other Rotarians. The session started at 6:30 pm, but we arrived at 6:45pm. Charles led me into the room and introduced me to Catherine, the executive director of Legacy Missions (LM). LM is the organization that Charles works for which has provided a good list of orphanages. Charles soon left Catherine and and I to talk.
After the very strict meeting took place, Catherine, Charles, and I stood outside and discussed ways to make orphanages become more self-sufficient. As we stood there chatting, a man, Tex, and his wife, Val, came up and told us about their water treatment process. I told them that we would keep in touch and possibly visit their patented setup on Friday afternoon around 1 pm. They explained to me that when a child is dehydrated, you could pinch their skin and the skin would stay pinched; if the child is properly hydrated, the skin would flex back into place.
Charles had been asked to pick us up. Around 8:30 pm, he dropped me off at Pastor Fred’s house, where Rebecca had cooked us a full course meal and the children had saved a spot for me.
I took a shower around 11 pm, after the nightly devotion with the Sekewa family. I got into bed around midnight.
Day 11: Thursday, January 7th, 2010
I woke around 7 am to dogs barking and roosters yelling their morning rituals. Willy was to pick us up at 10:30 to finish shopping for Bethany; we were to go to the markets near the port where, after, we would take a boat to the village.
Willy arrived on time and we went to pick up the previous day’s purchases. Willy had them stored in the tailor’s house on the property of the Gaba Community Church. We headed out to the market shortly after.
The Gaba market was a mess of people and every square inch was covered with scraps of old maize and trash. Sellers were hocking their wares on the curbs and little, old-fashioned storefronts lined the streets. We arrived and parked the rig close to the boat dock and unloaded the supplies. Albert was nervous that somebody would steal the items once deposited, but I told him not to worry because thievery is frowned upon, the would-be thief would be swarmed, tied up and tortured, then lit on fire.
Albert and I walked around the marketplace while Willy drove the car back to the safe grounds of the church. I was looking for an umbrella to keep the sun off me because I had left the sunscreen back at Pastor Fred’s house. I walked about half a mile up the road before finding one for 5,000 UGX; I offered them 2,000. They balked, I walked. I found another vendor and they wanted 4,500 UGX. I offered 2,000 and they balked. I got tired of haggling and paid the 4,500. This purchase saved me from getting burned, but Albert remained unprotected and suffered for it.
The boat ride to the village took about 30 minutes. We paid 30,000 UGX for diesel; it seems even though we are helping a multi-billion UGX church, they can’t help a few volunteers pay for gas. When we arrived at Bethany Village around 2 pm, no one was at the dock to help unload the supplies from the boat – even though Willy had called from his cell phone and asked for the kids to come down and help. We went to Willy’s house and laid the supplies out in front. We asked the available children and house mothers to pose with the supplies and we snapped a few pictures.
Willy then distributed the items to the house mothers and, as we watched, we were very glad that we did not have the job. We had purchased 48 nice plates, 24 regular plates, six flat irons, a few baskets, six stainless steel pots, three trays, a 50L water drum, four dozen sets of silverware, and 12 sharp cooking knives. One of the vendors of the cups short-changed us by four cups, taking us down to 44 from 48.
Our next mission was to visit the nearby fishing village. Willy had plans so he had Emanuel, one of the other project managers, take us to the village via ATV. Albert and I hung on for dear life as we sped over the trails to the fishing village. It was about a 15 minute ride through gardens and trees. The weather was extremely hot. Both Albert and I had some serious burns on our faces and legs. That’s what I get for not remembering the sunscreen.
We had a duffel bag bull of toothbrushes, toothpaste, sweets, pens, and hotel soap bars. The kids surrounded us vigilantly. They did not want to miss out. Albert and I, along with Emanuel, passed out hundreds of items to the kids. They and their parents appeared from everywhere. Many kids would step back into line to be handed even more gifts.
The fishing village was a good reminder of what it would be like to have no electricity or running water. They lived off the fish they caught themselves from Lake Victoria, fishing during the night and drying the catch during the day along the walkways; they then sold 1 kg for 700 UGX to wholesalers, who grind up the remains into chicken feed.
We got back to Bethany right before it started to sprinkle. I took a nap on the sofa and Albert went to the dock and played with the kids. Boy, was I tired.
Ma Betty woke me up and I found that Albert had been back for some time. We sat down to tea time, which consisted of bread, scrambled eggs, and tea. So delicious. We finished in about 20 minutes and relaxed.
Around 7:30 pm, Ma Betty asked if I wanted to take a shower and I jumped at the chance. The shower was located in another building a few hundred feet away and the stars could be seen from the walk. The house with the shower was unlocked and I proceeded in with caution. Once I turned on the water, it was a good 20 minutes before I stopped. The warm water felt so great. I forgot my towel again so I dried with the bed sheet and watched all the bugs stare at me as they crawled on the bathroom wall. At least this time, there was no dead bat or bat dung.
By 8 pm, we were sitting in Ma Betty’s living room. We worshipped and read a devotion from the bible. We concluded the evening with a very delicious meal and off to bed we went. I was very exhausted and ready for sleep.
Day 12: Friday, January 8th, 2010
I woke up around 7 am to get ready to go to Gaba’s boat dock, where Charles would take us to visit Tex & Val, the couple who manufactures water filtration systems.
We had a brief breakfast of eggs, bread, and tea and I tipped Ma Betty 20K UGX for her hospitality.
When we arrived at the docks, we headed straight for the computer lab at Gaba Community Church. There were three computers set up on tables that we could use for free. When Albert and I logged on, the connections were not there. Dial-up, got to hate it; we were there for 30 minutes trying to log into our email accounts. Not much success for me. I barely updated Facebook with one statement.
Charles arrived exactly on time at noon. We soon were on our way to visit Tex & Val. Their house was very close to Myenda Hotel International and Rotary and we arrived around 2 pm. Tex and Val were white but had lived in Uganda for the past seven years as a retired couple. They started the water filtration systems a few years ago to help the community clean up their drinking water.
Their filter system looks likes a stand-up water fountain but uses no moving parts or electricity. It’s about two feet wide on each side and four feet high and can produce about 20 L of water per hour. The water can come from rain-catchers, but springs would be best; water from the tap would have to sit in a container until the chlorine dried before the water would be safe to use.
The system is made up of a tube that vacuums the water from the base, up the side, to the top. The first layers are made of small gravel, then sand, then a two-inch gap for bacteria, and then the metal top. You fill it up to the metal top and let the water push itself by gravity through the system. The bad bacteria can’t survive in the sand so it moves up to the area where it is eaten by good bacteria. The water then sieves itself through the sand, to the gravel, where it is vacuumed up through the tube to a container. All this for $100 US. They can even help install it and manage the program where it’s installed.
Amazing. This is something that would do very well in orphanages and schools around Uganda. I made an appointment for Tuesday to attend the Uganda Sunrise Club to discuss further pursuits with Rotary about this contraption.
We left around 3 pm to go back to Pastor Fred’s house. We found out that the plan to go home had been changed; one of the staff had a boat ready for us down at the docks so we didn’t have to take bodas and public boats back o Gaba. What a relief.
For dinner, we were taking the family to get Chinese food at Fang Fung. I was resting in the guest room when Joel entered the room looking for a shirt. I guessed it was time to go out and stumbled into the living room. Rebecca, the pastor’s wife, had just come down with the symptoms of malaria. Boy, when we arrived, Joselyn was suffering from the same problem, now Rebecca has it. According to Fred, the family visited his village in Rocki, near the Congo border a few weeks ago. The accommodations did not have mosquito nets so that might have been the origination of the problem. It takes a few days for the symptoms to appear.
We left for dinner, taking Fred’s mini-van. The streets were quite busy for a Friday night, but there was always traffic in Uganda. Unless you head for the country, expect traffic congestion at every turn. It is expected that Uganda will double in size by 2015.
We arrived at the restaurant, which was located on 14th floor of a building downtown. Very nice location. We all ordered food, nothing special, and after about an hour and half, the check came: 177,000 UGX, plus tip. I guess that’s the last time I order Chinese in Uganda.
When we got home, we relaxed in the living room. I had a cold basin bath to cool my body and went to bed.
Day 13: Saturday, January 9th, 2010
I woke up refreshed. I had taken a sleeping pill the previous night. I needed the sleep. I’m typically a light sleeper and, if not for the sleeping medication that my doctor prescribed before the trip, I would be a complete mess by now from lack of sleep. The pill knocked me out.
Pastor James Teira was planning to pick us up around 10 am; Albert and I got ready slowly. There was tea, coffee, bread, and bananas already on the living room table and the children were running around the house. Rebecca was also around somewhere. We got the family together and took a few pictures before James arrived. He arrived exactly at 10:30.
We said our goodbyes to the family and headed for Kampala. The Meongo (Mango) district where James lives with his wife, Lillian, and their children, Melody and Lovejoy. We were going to be visiting Pastor James’ church and participating in the children’s ministry. I did not know what to expect.
When we entered Kampala, the sky was blue and the smell of dust hovered inside the car. James’ house was on a hillside about 10 minutes away from downtown, a very nice distance. We arrived around noon and unpacked our bags. I then took a short nap and was woken by Albert around 2 pm.
When we arrived at the church, Dave, a junior pastor, gave us a tour of the community and of the church. He said that before Pastor James arrived, the church had a congregation of about 10, and the minister was only interested in getting them to give their money to the church. It was about two years ago that James left ARM and started Kampala Community Church (KCC). He now has a congregation of around 250 who attend mass every Sunday.
When we returned from the tour, the children were in full force in the building next to the church’s main hall. We played games and worshiped with the children until around 4 pm, then I went outside and fetched two cokes and two straws. When I gave Albert his, the straw had a mini colony of ants living in it. I immediately took it and replaced it with a new one from the store. We drank our sodas and observed the choir practicing their worship until we left at 6:30 pm.
Dinner was served around 7 and was very delicious: pineapple, rice, beans, beef soup, chipotle, and coffee.
I took a basin shower with a bucket of hot water to use. Very relaxing time.
Pastor James’ house was three houses down from the Prime Minister’s house; as I typed this, loud music was coming from there. It might have been live music – it was so loud that it seemed to be coming from next door. I took my sleeping pill and my vitamins, making the music a memory.
Day 14: Sunday, January 10th, 2010
I woke to James knocking on my door and telling me that breakfast would be ready in ten minutes. It was around 8 am. I had a very restive night; the sleeping pill worked. Albert had a difficult time sleeping and was very restless throughout the night.
For breakfast, we had sausage, bread, pineapple, and coffee. A very simple yet fulfilling meal.
Sunday school started at 10 am and service at 11 am. When we arrived, Albert took the hour in between to prepare his message. I joined a small group of students and working adults to discuss the journey of life through God and Salvation. Worship lasted from 11 am until noon. Then Albert stepped up to the podium to talk about faith and read passages from the Bible.
When church ended around 1 pm, we went back to James’ rented house. The sky was cloudy and it was a bit humid. We had lunch and both Albert and I relaxed a bit. An hour later, I was summoned to the living room. A few pastors of a church arrived and had an orphanage in their care. I learned about their ministry and we left in their car to visit the orphanage while Albert stayed behind to rest.
Orphanage #23 of this trip was Treasure Kids; it had around 15 children aged between the ages of 2.5 and 14. The orphanage was in good shape, with a shell of an expansion set-roof and walls, but had no doors or floor. I could tell they were well-funded, with each child having personal sponsors for school. I only allocated 150,000 UGX to the orphanage, based on the solid condition and support they already possessed. Also, they mostly needed skirts and shoes with the allocated funds, which tells me that all of their daily needs have been met.
I was given a tour of their property before being picked up by Pastor James and his family around 5:30 pm. We were headed for KCC. Albert was already there and James did not know until the last minute that I needed a ride.
James had sprung on me earlier in the morning and asked me to participate in a discussion with the young women about sexual relations with men. The discussion lasted for two hours. The conclusion is that men are crazy and will say anything to a woman to conquer her. The solution is to be patient and follow the words of the Bible.