Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Les Journaux Africains: Outside the Staffroom, Kigezi High School, Kabale, Uganda - 13.40 06/04/2010

For most of the morning I have been in contact with my various Ugandan people, none more so than Charlotte Ainomugisha. She is a chronic textoholic. Along with Ruth and Grace, she has been plotting a return to Kabale, in her case from Mbarara, and this lunchtime she arrived, although I hadn't realised.

Making the same mistake I had with Grace, I was looking for the trademark short-clipped hair of most KHS girls. Only after doing a double-take did I see Charlotte in the staffroom talking to her Aunty Anne, who is a teacher at KHS.

As with Grace, the long braided hair was in and the change in fashion deceptive. A further notable absence were the distinctive darkened glasses of the year before.

As we chatted, and right on cue, the heavens opened and bodies ran for cover, clustering under the multitudinous verandahs. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Les Journaux Africains: Staffroom, Kigezi High School, Kabale, Uganda - 10.15 06/04/2010

View through window of the boys' dorm.
This morning, of any year, is always the time of great exploration. After some initial, tentative contact with our Ugandan counterparts yesterday, today is all about getting your bearings and getting used to the day to day workings of Kigezi High School (KHS).

This morning, thus far, has been taken up with the Grand Tour of the KHS site - that time when you realise just how much space there is here in the compound with its sweeping views of the south-west Ugandan countryside. 

Despite being a regular feature at the school, when walking around, it is still surprising just how often we still get 'mzungued' - mainly in the form of people just stopping and staring.

The obligatory tour of Robert's chicken farm also took place this morning and yielded some surprises. In the year since our last visit, another chicken hut has appeared and, by all accounts, business is booming. Robert is  now not only selling his eggs around Kabale district, but is also now selling in neighbouring Kisoro district and is now exporting to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; although he confesses he doesn't drive them into the DRC himself.

Okay, so life isn't easy having to run a farm to supplement your income as a teacher, but I always see a lot of positives in this situation - a great view of slow moving mist in the mornings and the hyperactive dawn chorus unbroken by the chugging of ancient diesel engines. I always think that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall would be a tad jealous if he were to see this farm.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Photo from UNHCR: Refugee Girl

From Carly, a refugee's story, originally uploaded by UNHCR.

This picture was one that I found when looking at the UN's Flickr stream, the main focus of which is refugees. I found that there was something very moving about the distant look in her eyes. Unfortunately, there is little text on the UN site to explain who she is or what the exact nature of her situation is, but perhaps this makes it all the more upsetting. 

On the same Flickr photostream page there is a link to a cartoon about a Refugee called Carly - perhaps this is meant to reflect the girl's situation in life. The video can be found on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hammersmith Sunset



Sunset in Hammersmith can be a thing of beauty. The above picture was taken on my iPhone from the roof of my workplace last week. Most of the day there had been a thick blanket of fog, but around 3pm it suddenly lifted to reveal the sun. This is the view from my workplace, looking towards the River Thames and Hammersmith Bridge.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Les Journaux Africains: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale, Uganda - 20.30 05/04/2010

I am amazed that after spending the entire day wearing black, outside in the heat, I have returned to Green Hills with only mildly sunburnt hands and nothing else.

We've spent the day, or afternoon at least, getting to know the Kigezi students. Led by Stefan, Yusuf and myself, we did some team-buliding/ice-breaker activities that, with me involved, included some cricket.

Trying to explain the rules of kwik-cricket to people who find cricket itself an oddity, was a challenge and a half. First of all there was the concept that you could bowl underarm, but couldn't roll it along the floor. Secondly there was the bat flat face forward. Thirdly was the idea that you had to concentrate if you were fielding.

It was exhausting, but luckily we got there in the end. Dinner nice. Need sleep.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Les Journaux Africains: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale, Uganda - 14.01 05/04/2010

After the Muslim students had returned from prayer, we left the area near the mosque, bound for Green Hills. Shortly after starting the ascent up the hill I heard 'Tommy' being shouted out.

I proceeded to look around me, realising that it wasn't Grace's voice or any of our group members' voice. I then noticed that the in the distance Ruth, another former Kigezi student, was running up the hill in a mad fit of excitement.

Since returning to her village, she has been very hard to contact, but I was able to get the number for her dad via Grace. With no real means to contact her upon her arrival in Kabale, it was a minor miracle that she had managed to time finding us when she just happened to be nearby.

I asked her how she new it was and the answer, simply put, was that she saw a mzungu in a cowboy hat - I suppose I do stand out somewhat.

It was great to see her. She looks exactly the same as she did last year and has kept the short hair. She has relatives to stay with in town so we'll be seeing a lot more of her - she is keen to see Grigorios and help out in the Art Centre.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Les Journaux Africains: Nr. Mosque, Main Street, Kabale, Uganda - 13.15 05/04/2010

It's just gone midday on our first full day in Kabale and as I write the sun is hideously hot. I am in full omzungu mode now: hat on, linen trousers, white shirts, etc.

We've just conducted our first expedition into the town and, compared to the previous year, I should be spending more time here than I have in the past. We took the time to look at the area near the mosque in more detail and we found a very small Islamic school called Tafiq Isalmic School.

I went in to have a look around as the kids were outside getting ready for lunchtime prayers. Amazingly the small riad-like building houses not only classrooms and the teacher's office, but also a kitchen and boarding facilities. Inside I met teacher Bright and we exchanged numbers with a view to visiting again later in the week.

Having signed the guest book on behalf of William Morris, I proceeded to peer through the back windows into the boarding quarters. As I sit here, the word squalid comes to mind, but seems a bit harsh as whoever owns/runs the school is evidently trying hard with minimal facilities.

Outside again, I encouraged my Muslim students to go to prayer for the experience, and, of course, to give praise to Allah and the Prophet Mohammed. Whilst they went in, we exchanged a plethora of 'salaams' with the schoolchildren as they made their way to prayer.

This visit to Kabale seems to be creating new missions and contacts. Next year's trip could be a very one - I may need two months not two weeks.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Les Journaux Africains: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale, Uganda - 20.45 (EAT) 04/04/2010

And so it's the evening and we've finally reached Kabale after an agonising border crossing. The weather all of the way from Kigali to Gatuna/Katuna has been atrocious. The rain has bean so heavy that the bus was forced to roll along at a very slow speed, dodging the landslips as we went.

Road to Uganda: Peter and Liz.
The main factor in 'The Day of Great Delays' was the rather sweet decision of the Kigezi High School staff to come and meet us in the Rwandese capital. They all turned up in their Sunday best and were overjoyed to be out on a day trip.

Throughout the day I had been in regular contact with Grace, Charlotte and Sister Evangelista.

It was to my great astonishment that after months of email contact that, in a text message, Sr. Eva made a point of saying, "you must be very tired so I will stop for just two minutes."

I thought to myself, "only two minutes?" She may as well wait until tomorrow.

Upon walking down from my hotel room, running late for the 7pm rendezvous that, I was greeted by the sight of two Sisters sitting in a car. The strangeness of the sight was amplified by the dark shroud of the African night.

When I had located Sister Eva, she was talking to Peter about my whereabouts. She had with her a giant cake and presented it to me as her two fellow sisters popped out of the car and flanked her. The cake itself was iced with 'Happy Birthday Thomas' and was an exceptionally sweet gesture. This wasn't bad considering I had only met Eva for all of ten minutes the year before.

Around thirty minutes prior to Eva's arrival, Grace Kamusiime has arrived at Green Hills. She has changed a lot since leaving Kigezi. The most notable difference is definitely that the gone is the uniformly short-clipped hair of the female students and in is the more fashionable braids.

It was lovely to see her because she had been saving for months just to be able to come to Kabale and see the William Morris crew. She had also brought along with her a birthday gift of a picture frame with 'I Love You' written on it. I must admit I was concerned for a moment before she said that it was to put a picture of myself and Jeannie in.

Another birthday in Uganda, but the last for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Les Journaux Africains: Youth for Christ Hostel, Kigali, Rwanda - 10.58 04/04/2010

Cricket in Rwanda. Photo Matt J.
Still my birthday; still waiting for the bus.

Having become restless beyond belief, Matt, Mayur and myself walked to flat area of land on the hillside. On this land we set up our cricket pitch - primarily for the purpose of some 'arty' photos.

The wicket was a combination of very green and very dry. Half of the track was covered by thick wet grass, with the other half composed of drying red clay.

After taking a few pictures, we stopped due to rain and to assess the transport situation.

Having concluded that we had a real wait on our hands, we decided to play some more cricket. Matt fielded, whilst me an Mayur took an over each with bat and ball. I accumulated five runs, but lost them all by getting clean-bowled with the final ball of the over - Mayur racked up a steady three and won!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Les Journaux Africains: Youth for Christ Hostel, Kigali, Rwanda - 09.24 04/04/2010

It's my birthday and yet again I am in a foreign country - what keeps Jeannie sane is the fact that I will definitely be in the UK next year. The weather was miserable over night with an epic storm waking me up around 2am!

Having woken up early to ensure that we were ready in time for the arrival of the bus to take us to Uganda, it is now greatly apparent that we have a wait on our hands. So, having enjoyed the god punctuality of Rwanda, we are now running well and truly on 'Uganda Time'.

Regardless, you cannot beat morning in this part of Africa. The mist in the valleys. The small lines of smoke floating lazily up into the sky and bodies pouring forth from buildings in anticipation of a day of tilling the land. Rush hour for the subsistence farmer, though their job isn't enviable, seems a lot more relaxed than what I am altogether more used to.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...