Oli otya everyone
Although English is the official language in Uganda, many people speak one of the 40 indigenous languages. I’ve been learning Luganda which is the language most commonly spoken in Kampala. I was hoping to return home and impress everyone with my newfound language skills, but it turns out that speaking Luganda with a strong Yorkshire accent just makes everyone laugh . . . A LOT.
I’ve been really busy since posting my last blog and this hasn’t left much time to write so I have a lot of
catching up to do (this is my way of preparing you for a looooooong blog. Maybe make a cup of tea and grab a nice slice of cake before you continue). Last week we made a trip to the Kids Club Kampala office to take an inventory of the donations we brought with us. We had such a generous response to our Just Giving Campaign and our request for donations that we arrived with 8 suitcases full of equipment. This included 90 mobile phones, 65 footballs and 76 packs of crayons and pencils. Special thanks go out to my family and friends for their support. We also received a great response from people living in the Holme Valley in West Yorkshire; this includes the residents of Holme Village, the congregation of St David’s Church in Holmbridge, the 1st Holme Valley Scout Group, Bookends Bookclub, the Pattern Principle and Imagine Toyshop in Holmfirth. Many of your donations have already been put to very good use with the various educational and community projects.
After dropping off our donations we spent the remainder of the week visiting a number of Kids Club Kampala Projects. All of the projects are very different and range from educational and feeding projects to carpentry projects and women’s Initiatives. The education and feeding projects we visited were based in the Katanga and Namuwongo slums. These are some of the poorest areas in Kampala and I couldn’t do justice to these projects in just a few paragraphs so instead I plan to write a separate blog about them. I also need some time to process my experiences in the slums and to write something that doesn’t sound patronizing and trite.
Our group particularly enjoyed visiting the Women’s Community Development Initiatives. The projects are all very different but share the same vision that in order to help vulnerable children it is vital to empower mothers. Each of the projects brings together women from the community to work as a group to learn new skills and generate a sustainable source of income. We visited a sewing and knitting project attached to the Kids Club Kampala offices. The project runs a 12-week course to teach women how to sew and knit. Ugandans take a great deal of pride in their appearance and the women in particular wear the most beautiful dresses (my niece and I have experienced a lot of dress envy during our trip). There is a real demand for hand made clothes, so there is a real opportunity for these women to work as seamstresses and tailors when they graduate.
The Women’s Craft project in Mulago was also an interesting experience. The ladies in the group make and sell local crafts and as you can see from the photo below the work is of very high quality. I was really intrigued to find that the beads used for the necklaces and bracelets are all made from paper and glue. I had a fleeting fantasy that I could make some of the beads myself when I returned to the UK, but then one of the ladies gave us a demonstration and I realized that my fumbling paws could never manage to create something so intricate.
All the crafts are available for sale on the organisation’s Etsy site.
I should warn everyone that there may be a shortage of jewelry and clutch bags. The work is so beautiful that my niece and I bought out most of the stall.
Our final visit was to a pig project in Banda. The women work as a community in groups of 15 and breed and rear pigs so that eventually they can start their own individual projects. These women are single parents and the main breadwinners in the family. I was really impressed by the their entrepreneurial spirit . . . they could give Alan Sugar a run for his money. Not only do they look after the children, run a house and raise pigs but they also tailor clothes and make shampoo and soap to sell as an additional income source. The ladies where so welcoming and keen to answer our questions, it really was a pleasure to meet them.
We also had the opportunity to return to the Ewafe Abandoned Children Project. The children where really excited to see us again, especially when we handed out sticker books (Ugandan children really love sticker books). We broke off into groups to work through the books and I learnt some new Luganda words and the children learnt new English words. We also spent time in the garden playing games. The children could have played for hours, but we were beaten by the hot weather.
The trip hasn’t all been about work, we have had the chance to have some fun too. We took a couple of days off and visited the local Mosque, Anglican Church and Baha’i Temple. We also travelled to Jinja to see the source of the Nile. On Sunday I got to experience a church service Ugandan style and it was a really fun experience with lots of singing and dancing.