Today was a bit of a mixed day, with the team splitting up to follow their own paths.
Gill and Helen were up very early, as they were going to the local hospice for the day. Rachel, Anne, Lyndsey and Georgina were going to teach in Masese Co-Ed and Walukuba East schools and the rest of the team were going to visit Nsenge village.
Geoff: Always a highlight of any UgandAid trip is a visit to the village community of Nsenge, about 40 minutes away from Jinja. We have been working there for several years now, sponsoring various building projects for our students at NVI to undertake as part of their practical training. Those of you who have followed our blog over the years will recall examples of brick or “local” houses, world famous long drop pit latrines and high quality goat shelters! What is remarkable about this community – and yet typical of many throughout Uganda – is the deep sense of mutual sharing and resilience upon each other, which is a wonderful lesson to us all and something which we in the West often leave behind.
The purpose of today’s visit was quite special in it’s own way. We were invited by the village elders to formally open the grain/chair store which was completed earlier this year and marked the last project in the village which we will be undertaking.
So, we arrived to the customary welcome of beating drums, shrieking dancers and many hugs and handshakes as we reconnected with well-known and well-loved friends. Of course, we had the expectant speeches from representatives of the village, community leaders, Muslim church...it is impossible to attend any function in Uganda without a catalogue of speeches, all of which are heartfelt and full of gratitude. At last, the formal opening of the grain store, complete with string and posts of flowers. This task was entrusted to Mike who accomplished it with due deference and grace! So, more drums and dancing, more hugs and handshakes and swapping of stories and memories followed. Here I should point out that any resemblance to Strictly Come Dancing on our part was entirely coincidental, but with true British grit, we threw ourselves into it for Queen and Country.
After this, most of the group walked to the house of a young lady called Janet, who myself and Julie (my wife) met some 8 years ago and each year since when we have been to the village. Now married, with three children, she wanted to welcome us all to her house. This is a huge honour and privilege and she was so proud to do so. There was also an additional bonus! Janet’s youngest sister Amina, after some prompting by Janet, has just started her first term at NVI in the hairdressing section and came with the wonderful Joseph Kaninga to the village to take part in the morning’s festivities. As if that wasn’t joyful enough, Annie, one of the new members of our team, there and then decided to choose her as her personally sponsored student!!! Not a dry eye in the house! Another fabulous experience for us all.