SERVICES EVERY SUNDAY 2:45 pm to 3:45 pm --2017-2018 Schedule of Services-- December 2017 >>>Dec 3rd Mrs Jeanne MacMeekin>>>Dec 10th Mrs. Pauline Tiller>>> Dec 17th Rev.Heather Wilson. H.C.>>>Dec 24th Mrs.Geraldine Mann>>> Dec 31st Mr.Hugh Gough>>> January 2018>>> Jan 7th. Rev. Graham Warmington>>>Jan 14th Rev.Heather Wilson>>>Jan 21st Mrs .Gill Telling>>>Jan 6th Rev. Gary. Gotham H.C.>>>February 2018>>>Feb 4th Rev .Mike. Burrell>>>Feb 11th Mr. John Greenaway>>>Feb 18th Mr. Douglas >>>Feb 25th.Rev.Heather.Wilson. H.C.>>> Monks Chapel has now been certified as a place registered for the solemnisation of opposite sex marriages. So we can now accept inquiries for weddings.

January 2014 Archives

4th January to 11th January

She said that if the police stop you and threaten to give you a fine then really they are wanting a bribe but cannot directly ask for it as it is illegal.

claireAlthough last year has only just ended and the New Year just begun new experiences have already been evident and with vengeance! Last year ended with me being stopped by the police while trying to get home after going out with Veronica, known as Ronnie, for the day. I was flagged down by the police at Nakawa (said Nac –cow –a) so I obediently pulled over where she asked to see my papers. I handed these over but then she wanted to know about the driving permit and so I tried to explain, but after ages I decided to give up as there was definitely a language barrier. I think, that so she did not have to lose face she said ‘I will give you paper’. After asking what I was meant have done wrong she told me I had gone through a red light. Neither Ronnie nor I had seen the traffic light and so asked where it was and she vaguely waved her hand down the road and said ‘Down there’. We were not in a place to argue about it so I said if I had done wrong and she needed to give me paper then that was fine.  She had a pad of paper on which she could write out the offense. She turned it over and said that it was 100//= fine for ‘being inconsiderate to other drivers’. Anyway this debt went on for what seemed a long time but was probably only about 15 minutes or so. Back and forth ‘Shall I give you paper? Do you want paper?’ In the end I got back in the car and waited until she had stopped arguing with herself. In the end, as it was New Year, she decided not to ‘Give me paper!’ and I was allowed to drive away. However, it did rattle me for a bit and was glad to get home where I felt safer.

The first day back at work I was waiting for my lift when I got a text from Donald to say that he could not pick me up, so I walked back home and decided to drive the car to work as I still have until the weekend. I was allowed to enter the main gate of the university as  the security guard waved me through but when I got to the piece of rope which goes across the road the two ‘security guards’ who guard this rope all day every day, stopped me. He looked all around the car and then asked if I had water. I said ‘yes’ and he said ‘Give me water’. I was feeling a bit niffed, as it was my daily supply of water and I knew I couldn’t get any more at work, but handed it over anyway.

When I got to work I was just explaining the situations to Generous and she burst out laughing. She said that if the police stop you and threaten to give you a fine then really they are wanting a bribe but cannot directly ask for it as it is illegal. That is apparently why it took so long and when she realised I did not understand then she had to let me go because there were no grounds for her giving me a fine. The police are corrupt and she was possibly worried II was going to report her so she gave in. So being genuinely naïve and stupid pays off sometimes.  Apparently when a security guard asks for water it is code for ‘Give me money’. Well I said if they ask for water, water is what they will get!

We had been warned by VSO, that bribery and corruption was rife, and had done training on it, but I had not personally encountered it before. This time of year apparently it’s worse because people have spent all their money at Christmas and New Year and are now broke so try to get more money by whatever means they can, but not from me apparently!!!

I don’t think I told you that the chicken I pass everyday on my walk to Tusky’s had 10 chicks just before Christmas. They were very tiny and very furry like little ‘fuzzy plums’ walking about and now they are much more independent and brave and the poor mother hen is having a job trying to keep them together. They look like feathery avocados now! Anyway, I had just reached the main road and had crossed to the middle and waiting politely in the middle of the road, trying not to get squished from behind,  waiting for 4 bodas to pass, when a ‘young’ man lightly touched my arm and said ‘come, come, come’. I have never been helped across the road before! Am I now officially a muzee muzungu?

I  have also realised on very important and necessary fact which will save me a lot of embarrassment, that men here are like rhinos; they only every turn their back on you if they are going to pee. I know this does not seem a very important thing or necessary to know, but it will make such a difference to my everyday life as still get quite embarrassed by this  act.

A new year’s resolution! At New Year while I still had the car I decided to go and get three large bottles of water and I decided to crack the secret code of how to buy it. I felt like I was on a secret mission, an uncover detective! This has been worrying me as I only seem to get it right if I take Donald with me and like the ‘fuzzy avocados’ I have to be independent and brave. The bottles with rings which go round following the circumference of the bottle are 6000//= each and are fillable and you have to return the empty bottle. The bottles which have lines which radiant out from the cap down to the edge of the bottle are 7,200//= and you do not have to take the empty bottle back as these are recyclable, not refillable and the bottles which have lines which radiant from the cap down to the edge of the bottle but swoop round in a curving sort of shape are 25,000//= a bottle and are not recyclable or refillable. Yes, got it at last!!! But why would anyone buy these??? Well, I suppose I did to be begin with once anyway!!!!!

My lovely vegetable lady has got a new business ploy.  Last year it was ‘I give you bonus?’ but this year is ‘I want you to give me Christmas, buy a soda!’ which of course I did. I wonder if this will turn into ‘Make my day, buy a …..’It will be interesting to see how this develops. Good business tactics though!

I have just had a rather nasty lunchtime surprise. As usual I was working through my lunch hour when I got up and reached for my sandwiches which were cream cheese with coarse black pepper and tomato, Um yummy!!! I had put them in a square plastic tub with a fitting lid this morning and so was not suspecting anything gross. Not concentrating I took a bite and out of the corner of my eye I saw a herd of looked like the bits of pepper, having had a conference and deciding to march out of my sandwich at the first opportunity. However on closer inspection, this herd was what I want to describe as microscopic animals, which of course they weren’t, otherwise I won’t have been able to see them! They were tiny, so tiny, about the third of the size of an ant or smaller and dark brown or black. They were everywhere, in the box, in the sandwich, and when I took the top of the box escaped all over my desk and are now having some sort of party running up and under my computer keys and up my arms to my neck. So gross!!  I tried squashing them in my sandwich so I could not see them, but it was the thought of them, still being there even though I had squashed them. Still I have crisps so I’ll eat them, but what are they?? My mission now is to find out if I bought them with me from home, as extra protein! Or whether they are here at work and got in during the morning when I wasn’t looking. I now have the psychological itches! After work I asked my friendly oracle, Donald, what these horrid little things were and he said they were ‘called obusiisi (said o see see) and they like sweet things and walk in straight lines’. He said ‘they would not disorganise my stomach or what’. ‘They like cheese and will surround it seriously, Ah!’ Apparently there are ‘other kinds, bigger ones that live on the road and cross it, cutting you. They are the size of ‘… ‘a cat’’ I ventured, ‘no’ … ‘a goat’, ‘no’. ‘I am looking in my head to find it but it is not coming’ so I as yet do not know what size the other sort are! Just as well I think! I like sharing but there is a limit!

I have had the plumber in twice this week already. This has been a new experience try to communicate with workmen. I know I had a table made but I was the one giving the instructions, but is totally out of my control and we have encountered several cultural differences. He seems to be a nice guy, but so very very thin.  He came to mend the shower Laura uses as very little water was coming out of the head. It would started like shower but then disintegrated into a miserable dribble of water. First of all arrived when I was in the middle of a two day power cut and he refused to be given the lantern. After leaning on the wall for about 10 minutes in the dark with an adjustable spanner in his hand he said I had to pay him. I then contacted the landlady, which he was not keen about, to find out why it was my responsibility, but it was just another example of trying to get money after Christmas. Trying to understand the situation, plumbing not being my forte at the best of times, he told me ‘don’t use hot only this one cold’. This was not what I wanted and said so, very nicely of course so he rang the landlady who said she would come but didn’t and so after about thirty minutes and 20 cups of tea with four spoonfuls of sugar in each mug he left. He then returned. That was Friday but he returned with the landlady, Rose, on Sunday night and they decided that they would change it for a shower stick (a shower on a pole rather than a hand held one). Last night Monday he returned again to fix the shower stick but again only a miserable cold dribble of water came out.  He was there for about three hours when Rose turned up who also was not satisfied with this dribble of cold water and went next door to check the water pressure in their shower, but had disconnected the heater as they couldn’t afford to heat the water. On her return she decided to put this shower stick in my bathroom. I was alarmed as I have water which can be hot and comes out fairly well under the circumstances, but thankfully it didn’t work there either, so they are coming back on Thursday to cut off a bit of the shower stick to make it shorter and replace with a bit of PVC pipe. If I have understood correctly the shower will be fixed to the wall between 3 and half and 4 feet from the floor. Even a munchkin would be too tall!!! It does mean that I am going to be too tall for something though which is good, but how useable will be shower be? When asking the landlady this she said ‘I don’t like to be defeated and if it works it doesn’t matter if it’s not useable’. Definitely a cultural difference here I think!! Actually this explains a lot and understand more about some of the strange things I have seen and had to use. I find it all quite funny really, because all seems so surreal, but that’s life here.

One amazing and good thing, but worrying and sad of how it came about, is that we now have a light bulb on the stairs which we have never had before. It was like walking into the belly of a whale when you returned home after dark, but now we have light, but it was only because Rose nearly fell down the stairs which was worrying and sad, but we have light. Hooray!!!

Well, I think nothing will surprise me ever again as my journey to Tuskys was fraught with things going on. Firstly, I was stopped by a lady who I had met once ages ago and she wanted me to put her in touch with a butterfly farm in the UK. She took my number because she wants me to go to tea, presumably to discuss butterflies! After the drainage ditch over which I have to jump or stretch, there is a small hut which I am not sure whether is a house or a shop, it may be both. It is about 2 metres by about 1 metre. There is one small window to the left of the door which displays various samosas in vearying states of decay.  On one of the short sides away from the road is a lean-to shelter under which the ‘grubby’ men and sometimes a less ‘grubby’ women sit and talk and cook their meals. The procedure goes like this, I start! ’Good Morning, How are you?’ ‘Hello, we’re fine. How are you? ‘I’m fine thank you’ but all takes place while I keep walking. That is the end of it, unless they are there later then the whole thing is repeated, but today… oh, dear! The conversation was had but… this new not grubby and quite good looking man said after the initial greeting ‘And how are you, hey’, in a sort of lilting sort of way and I should have ignored it, but stupidly I turned round. By now he was on his feet and wanting to shake hands. Being even more stupid I retraced my steps and shook hands with him. I felt like a princess who had been grabbed by a frog who was trying his last ditch attempt at being kissed. The more I tried to release my hand the more he held on, staring into my eyes. Uncomfortable or what! By this time I was stunned and a little shocked if I’m honest, and my mind was racing like a Formula One racing car in over drive, as to what I could do without making a scene. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the ‘grubby’ men looking at us which didn’t help matters and he had sort of glinting eyes!!! I decided the best tactic was to be very British and polite, but by now I had lost the plot of the conversation, I had been too busy hatching an escape plan, because when I came too so to speak, I heard him say’ How can I contact you?’ ‘Oh, you can’t I’m very busy.’ ‘Will I see you again’ and stupidly, because I always have to tell the truth which is a real down fall in situations like this, I said’ Oh, yes I often come this way’. Although my feet are small they were now well and truly wedged in my mouth!  ‘Oh, yes you are small and pretty and ……’ ‘Well,’ I said’ I must get along to work now or I will be late.’ Oh, we will meet again and then we can chew’. No knowing and being even less interested in any chewing I tried to forcibly remove my hand which he then grabbed back again and kissed. I was right he was a frog after all, but sadly for him will never be a prince!! I am now going to avoid the short cut and walk up the road for a while until he has either forgotten or has gone.

Despite everything I am happy and sort of feel at home here, but I have realised there are two sounds and one treat that makes life even better. The two sounds are the swooshing sound that ‘skpye’ makes as it connects to the outside world and the beautiful sound of deafening silence, when it rings in your ears, as Ntinda, in the part where I live, is very noisy several nights a week.  This is because I found out that I live very near one dance hall and not too far from another one and a brothel masquerading as a ‘women- only hotel’, but why this should be noisy I have no idea. The treat is listening to the Archers Omnibus on ‘itunes’ every week while I knit, without a rug over my knees, I might add. It’s funny what just adds a little something to life, isn’t it. When I was still in the UK it was the Alpacas which I named Enie, Meanie, Miny and Mo!

Love as always Claire


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12th January to 19th January   

Chloe decided to relent and get the 9.00 am one instead.  We later heard that the 6.00am had crashed and the majority of people had died.

claireI have found an amazing new reason/excuse for being later for a meeting – my boda driver didn’t turn up, was late or got lost. Delete as applicable. A new take ‘on the dog ate my homework!’ I needed to go to the VSO office to discuss a situation with Lillian, the person I go to get advice. I won’t bore you with the details, but a couple of tricky situations occurred at the same time and I needed advice before they turned nasty and ugly which both had the potential to do. My boda driver was indeed late and when I asked where he was he said ‘I’m coming’ then he rang me and said he was on the’ Kyambogo University Campus under a mango tree’. How vague is that! Anyway, he eventually turned up and I got to my meeting about 10 minutes late which is quite good in Ugandan terms. Lillian, true to Ugandan form, was nowhere to be found and then about 15 minutes later I had a message saying that ’she is in a meeting with a new volunteer and could she possibly borrow three of my minutes’. It was more like 10 of my minutes, but who’s counting, and at least we met and hopefully things are on their way to being solved.

We are in the middle of an electric storm, I love it! It starts like a tiger stealthily stalking its way round the hills with a slow steady growl in its throat and as it prowls about, the growl intensifies until it pounces, strikes, and roars at its unsuspecting victim. Then it’s like the whole of nature succumbs to its threat and cries out for mercy. The tiger continues its threat and the crying continues until the tiger grumblingly relents and the crying quietens into sobbing, eventually dying away as the tiger wanders away into the distance waiting for its next opportunity to pounce. Sometimes though, through frustration the tiger, either feeling proud of its victory or finally admitting defeat, suddenly growls and lurches forward again for the final time, until silence! Nature quivering in its wake. So majestic and powerful; but how little are we in the scheme of things when there is so much natural energy? Exciting!  For company though the tiger brings with it horrid little storm flies and mosquitos which act like little dive bombers invading, nipping and gorging on any bits of uncovered flesh. This triggers in me a sort of weird irregular clapping routine as if accompanying some unseen musical tune or rhythm, suddenly shouting out ‘Got it!’ or ‘Missed it’ adding a type of chorus line.

I have been reading a book by Dr. Nick Wooding who took over as medical superintendent from Ian Clarke who built a medical centre in Mokono, which is a few miles away and is where Donald and Generous live. Ian also went on to build a hospital at Kiwoko in Luwero, which is about an hour and half away from Kampala. Ian is very well known in Kampala as he has done many things to try and improve health care and he is a local counsellor for the Muyenga district. In this book, by Nick Wooding, there are some rules of the road, of course not official ones, a spoof on the driving here, but they are so true!

Blind overtaking. If you are overtaking, make sure that it is on a blind corner or just below the brow of a hill.

The killer coach. Right of way belongs to the strongest. If it is a cross-country bus (the killer coach), vacate the road.

The sacred cattle priority. Cows are unversed in the Highway Code, knowing only how to use their horns. When roaming the highways and verges they have rights of way and rumination.

Save electricity. Do not switch your lights on when it is dark – this will waste the battery and give away your position to oncoming vehicles.

Use every special sense. If it is night time and a single light approaches, listen carefully for the sound of a truck with only one headlight working.

Blind your opponent. Put your main beam on when passing a vehicle. This enables the next oncoming coach to make a blind approach.

Never ask directions. Most people in rural areas cannot drive: if asked for directions they will send you down a narrow pathway (entirely scriptural) when there is a very large road close by.

Electric rule. If you are giving someone a lift, be careful when they say they are just going down the road- the ‘just’ can turn into 50 miles.

Take a picnic. Taxis are only licenced to carry 14 passengers in the first layer: luggage may include fish, DIY articles, hens and the odd cockerel. You will not go hungry or unsoiled.

It’s the vehicles fault. If something goes wrong, it is never the driver or the rider’s fault.

Don’t stop at accidents. If you hit someone, never stop to help or you will be lynched. Go to the nearest police station and ask for sanctuary.

I have experienced all these situations either as a boda rider or a car driver and referring to number 9 when I was in Fort Portal at Christmas I saw someone putting a goat in the very limited space behind the back seats. They sort of folded it up and put it on top of all the bags and suitcases, but this took a minute or two as it is tricky to fold up a goat sufficiently to go in a space about as big as a 70 litre suitcase. As soon as the driver folded up one pair of legs the previously fold pair would pop out again and so it took 3 men to get it in – two, one for each pair of legs and one to shut the door. Poor goat not only did it have to suffer this indignity and discomfort, but it was probably someones Christmas dinner!!!  

Chloe who lives in Ibanda in the Westen region, says the only time she prays is when she is on a ‘killer coach (number 2). I am hoping to go and visit Chloe some time.  I already constantly pray on bodas so wonder if ‘killer coaches’ will have the same effect. It was a miracle really a little while ago Chloe was going back to Ibanda from Kampala and she was going to get the 6.00 am coach and Brenda from VSO said to her ‘don’t get that one get a later one. You don’t want to have to get up that early’. Chloe said it was ok, but Brenda was adamant so Chloe decided to relent and get the 9.00 am one instead.  We later heard that the 6.00am had crashed and the majority of people had died. What a good thing Brenda was adamant and Chloe decided to change her mind.

villageMy role at the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) is to try and introduce, and in a way re-educate, NCDC staff, teachers and various officials to the notion that all children are entitled to an education through providing inclusive strategies and embedding these in practice. The secondary curriculum has been re-written and to some extent inclusive practice has been considered e.g. for the visually and hearing impaired only; However, there are a lot of amputees, people of all ages even the very young, as the access to antibiotics/penicillin etc is very limited and very expensive; other forms of physical and mental impairment/disability are also prevalent. There are special schools, but these are attended by many students with no impairments or disabilities as the fees are a lot cheaper. The new curriculum has to address the needs of all students from large inner city schools to small far flung rural schools who may not even have the luxury of a school building. Although this was taken after the war in the north of Uganda some schools are still not too dissimilar even now.

  The general consensus is that there are 5,501 secondary schools in Uganda and 1,919 of these are privately run, although this is not a confirmed figure as no-one really knows not even the Ministry!!  Eventually 2 teachers in each of these schools need to be trained in inclusive teaching practices. However, the training of NCDC staff and others has given me quite a lot of insight into their personal beliefs and traditions and I thought I would share some of what I have found out. I apologise if this is gloomy, like ‘Eeyore in his gloomy place’, but it is the reality of Ugandan life and what I and many other people are working with and are up against.

Ugandans in general, believe that mental illness is attributed to evil spirits and curses and that the cure requires either the services of a witch-doctor or powerful injections. Considering this is mainly a Christian country this seems amazing!

As all medical treatment has to be paid for, and there is no medical insurance, many people, even those living in the towns, still go to traditional healers a ‘basawo’. This is also the term used for a qualified doctor, health worker or any other medical professional. Anyone can set up a clinic and offer services as   there is no quality control and no training is required or competence needed. Many people have their jaws broken while having teeth extracted for example. They think the only cause of coma is Malaria and so give the patient Quinine injections which does not help if you are experiencing a diabetic coma for example and so many people die. If children have facial defects then tomatoes are tied onto their foreheads and the offending side of the face is caked in Earth. One mother burned all the way around her child’s head because the people in the village told her the child’s head was the wrong shape and that burning the head ‘all around’ would help!! Because many Ugandans believe that external forces control the physical world they are very sceptical about immunisations and so diseases like measles are rife.

80% of the population of Ugandans live in rural areas, hence number 7 above ‘Never ask directions’. The majority of these people even now do not go to school and have quite different beliefs. They believe that you mustn’t kill a snake because if you do lots of little ones will come out it to replace the dead one.

Uganda has the second highest fertility rate in the world, with an average of 7 children per mother. 70% of children are born at home and by the age of eighteen one in every two girls has had a baby. If the woman thinks the birth is going to be tricky or difficult, they delay seeking medical advice because of the cost, and instead take various herbs to try and soften the bones of the pelvis in order to ‘let the child out’. These beliefs are not just confined to the rural areas as one would expect as ‘educated’ people hold these beliefs too.

Giving blood is not a regular occurrence because of the risk of HIV and AIDS. In an unscreened donor the risk is 6% that the blood will be contaminated and even in screened donors the risk is 2% because there is a period when the virus is active, but antibody levels are too low to be recorded.

Women are often seen as commodities. The man owns everything and the dowry system helps to perpetrate this. A man and a woman can be very good relationship before the dowry is paid and then she becomes his possession, the women mostly become beaten because he believes he owns her. A woman’s children are also the man’s property and if he dies they, the children, are passed on to his family, together with his wife’s possessions. 

Weddings are very expansive lavish affairs costing millions of shillings, from 5 million upwards. I know this is not much in English money about £1,250, but when a teacher earns on average between 150,000 to 200,000 shillings a month (£37.50 to £50) should they be lucky enough to be paid at all, 5 million is a lot. Between 500 and 600 people at least will be invited and before the wedding takes place the local community meet to give pledges and contributions towards the cost, but this does not cover it at all. Many couples on return from their wedding cannot even buy a bag of sugar (which is seen as sort of yard stick as it is the most basic necessity of all food and everyone should be able to afford this if nothing else) and remain in debt for many years. Should the couple, sadly break up and go their separate ways, sometimes they can still be paying for the wedding for many years afterwards.

So you can see that the majority of Ugandans live a very hard and difficult life, not only physically, but are torn between wanting the conveniences and beliefs of modern day and world, but still wanting to hold onto their traditional beliefs which at least involve little or no cost. Therefore they are in the difficult situation of not being able to afford the material things or medical care, but still needing help and advice; and so turn to traditional ways – all the time watching the divide between the haves (Europeans) and the have-not’s (Uganda and Africa generally) getting bigger.

Therefore, you can see that my role regarding inclusion is no mean feat and understanding the culture and beliefs is just the first step. Since arriving in Uganda I have tried to understand and find out about the culture and the way life works, but it has taken longer than I thought to make any progress in my role; I am gradually gaining peoples trust through showing genuine interest in them as people, trying to learn ‘Luganda’ and working in the community being engaged in community projects. Through understanding, gentle sensitivity and regard for other ways, I have learnt a lot which has helped me find a balance; understanding how to help adapt and develop the curriculum in order to address the numerous needs without offending or running rough-shod over everything by imposing European ways.

I have started working for a community project called ‘Tomorrows Heroes’. It is a small charity run by a husband and wife and they help ‘street boys’. I help on a Sunday afternoon between 2.30 and 5.30. I was told there are usually about 50 to 60 boys who turn up at the Deliverance Church in Gadhafi Road, but last week there were about 120 in total, as about 50 or 60 boys from the near-by slum arrived as they wanted to ‘join in’. No-one is turned away and although they are not really ‘street’ children their needs are also great and so are being helped. I will keep you updated as to what I do and how things go. It is certainly very interesting, but so awfully, awfully sad that there are so many young boys/men in these situations, but so much hope and expectation at the same time. My question is what about ‘street and slum’ girls as they are very vulnerable and at risk!

Thank you for reading these notes again this week and for your continued prayers and support

With love and thanks as always

Claire      xxx

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