Public latrines and private parties
Posted by Deb and Dug Benn at 20:57 on 12th December 2011
The end of November was a busy time interspersed with special days and amazing scenery. We drove down to Kasese (far west of Uganda, about 6 hours drive from Kampala) – the roads have improved hugely since our first trip down last year. We spend quite a lot of the journey commenting on how much better it is than the last time and looking forward to how much it will have changed again before the next! We break our journey twice – once for a ‘short call’ (we don’t say ‘spend a penny’ here) and once for a snack. We stop to use the public latrines in Mubende and MUST find a better one! Public loos are a definite cultural awakening! At this one, you pay 200/= (about 5p) and help yourself to toilet paper from the man (although Deb declines & never travels without tissues) and then walk past the men’s outdoor ‘urinal’ or ‘tiled corner with gully’ and go to one of the three cubicles. The doors are rusted away at the top & bottom and none of them close properly – with no lights it’s possibly for the best – in long drops you always have to make the choice ‘privacy or visibility’. For a woman, using a long drop requires a certain technique and strong thigh muscles (standing up always involves a momentary panic, you really DON’T want to touch anything to help you balance). For your 200/= you can then use the standpipe & soap to wash your hands, although sometimes the tap isn’t working & a man pours water from a jerry can for you (Deb also never travels without antibacterial spray to finish it off). You’ll be pleased to know that the loos at Fort Portal where we stop for a snack are much more recognisable!
As we approach Kasese we drink in the views over tea plantations and plains, through forests – a family of baboons playing beside the road. We look up and see hills and mountains and always quote Psalm 121, the sight never ceases to make our hearts soar. We are very blessed to have BMS colleagues living in Kasese and so are able to stay in their home.
This trip to Kasese was to support some work Bethan & Gareth are doing. Gareth has been involved in setting up a small skills centre to train dressmakers and carpenters, Bethan has been involved in setting up a daycare to provide for the youngest children whilst their parents are training. Our task was to train the staff in the daycare. We did a three day workshop leading discussions & activities helping the three staff to better understand play, development, managing behaviour, safety, hygiene, organisation and safeguarding. Together we wrote cleaning routines, safety checks, daily plans and expectations for staff, children & parents. Everything was translated by a local pastor – he took such a full part in the training that we decided to give him a certificate on completion as well! It was an intense training course but even with the language limitations we were able to laugh together and encourage the staff in their roles. We relaxed by looking up at those hills and watching the kingfishers darting around the garden.
Back in Kampala we had a very important event to attend – Pauline’s graduation at the YWCA. It was a wonderful celebration of achievement, caps and gowns, huge floral displays, ribbons and photographers as well as a fashion show and cultural dancers. We were the only bazungu in the place and caused a bit of a stir – mainly because Deb was wearing a gomesi. Older women clapped when she went past, mouths literally dropped open, a child pulled on her mother’s sleeve pointing & repeating “Mazungu, gomesi” and as we were driving home a woman walked past the car & gave a broad smile and thumbs up when she saw the tell tale pointy shoulders. It was worth the effort and Pauline was thrilled. We are so proud to be her friends, it was a real honour to be there.
Early December was the BUU AGM – long days and lots of work, it was lovely to realise how many pastors we knew this year having travelled during the last 12 months. Deb took the minutes & Dug was on the sound desk as well as making sure all the pastors got the correct language copy of the Safeguarding Statement. For a few days all the BMS Uganda people including the Action Team, were in the same town, so on Saturday we celebrated by having a great fun day out together in Entebbe.
As well as Pauline’s Graduation, we’ve been to a wedding, an ordination and a dedication in the last couple of weeks – we are grateful for opportunities to celebrate and socialise as part of our local community...but we may never get used to the toilets!