16 August 2008 (Day 5): Agnes, Peter, Betty
Hello again. Today was interesting, productive, and at times emotional. First, a few general comments:
Ugandans are very kind. Since Emily and I arrived, we have been treated like gold. More impressively, Ugandans are nearly just as kind to one another. In Mbale (urban), the streets are buzzing with people and yet there are very few disputes. Friends are holding hands and helping one another with tasks. In the villages (rural), where land is wide open and crops and livestock are vulnerable to theft, people are generally honest and respectful of the property rights of their neighbors (with some exceptions – see Jude below).
Ugandans are unbelievably polite. Everyone is eager to greet us and welcome us to their country. Yesterday, I was greeted by a TASO staff member with perhaps the most courteous sentence ever constructed: “Hello, you are welcome, thank you please, goodbye” – as if it came out of a holster of kindness from her belt.
Ugandans have remarkable endurance. I began to detect that this might be the case when I learned that men, women and children from the villages often ride their bicycles uphill to Mbale for more than 60km, carrying produce, goods, or people on the back. The concept was fully revealed during my brief (45 min) stint as a member of the Cure Hospital fútball team. I was graciously asked to join by John Busolo, a security guard at Cure. Our first practice was on Thursday. I knew there was a problem when I was breathing heavily during stretching, after opening drills. Then the scrimmage. We had an even 8, so we split up 4 on 4. 15 minutes in, I was politely offered a “substitute”. Again, we had even numbers.
Enough with the comments. Today, we made field visits to the homes of three Poultry Project participants: Agnes, Peter, and Betty
Agnes is 17 years old and attends secondary school at an Mbale boarding school. She lives in a village in Bukedea with 10 siblings, her aunt, and grandmother. The children are AIDS orphans (parents died of AIDS). The grandmother is very old. The aunt is a TASO client on ARV’s and is not in good health.
Of the Project participants visited so far, Agnes’s family is perhaps experiencing the most hardship. There land is very small considering the number of inhabitants. Sleeping quarters for the 14 of them are split between two huts with one bed apiece. The Project has allowed the aunt to begin building a house while Agnes is away at school, but because of her health, the house remains only half built (unlivable by any standards).
The aunt is worried about what will happen to the children once she and the grandmother pass on.
Agnes with grandmother, aunt and Martha the counselor from TASO. The half constructed house is in the background.
Peter (Project participant, not Peter the manager)
Peter, 20, and his four siblings are also AIDS orphans. At the onset of the project, Peter attended secondary school. Since then, he was forced to drop out of school after getting married and having a child. The orphans, Peter’s wife, and the child (7 months old) live in a small house in Bukedea. 3 of the orphans attend a local school. The 4th was forced to drop out to help with generating household income. The family continues to struggle for basic needs.
Peter has been relatively successful with the Project. He has turned the original 5 chickens into 7 goats and 3 pigs. In addition, the family has a large amount of land for ground nuts, sugarcane, and cassava (among others). Currently, though, they are relegated to plowing it by hand. They could really benefit from an ox plow (approx. $150) as their neighbors have oxen. We will continue to brainstorm.
Betty, 17, attends secondary boarding school in Tororo. She has 5 siblings, all AIDS orphans. The children live in a small village in the Bukedea region with their uncle and his six children.
The progress of the Project for Betty’s family brought a smile to our faces. The uncle was eager to display the 5 goats and more than 30 chickens that the Project has reared. In addition, he explained that he had just come back from some early morning work – planting 100 citrus trees and digging a new well for the village – just a little light landscaping for a Saturday. This man is tremendously hard working. He will speak on behalf of his and Betty’s accomplishments at the Project workshop. Hopefully, his words will inspire.
Emily and I finished the day with a good Indian meal in town and watched the first Arsenal match of the season (English premiership soccer) with Peter. Peter is great. He wants to study in the U.S. He has completed his studies at the University and would like to pursue a master’s degree. Any suggestions are welcome.
Betty’s uncle shows Joe the chickens he has acquired through the Poultry Project.
Good Night from Uganda!
P.S. A flickr page with more pics coming soon!