Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Goodbye Kiyumbakimu (of sorts)

Evaluation Camp in Kampala with the other VolunteersThe Holy Stone! OOooo Check out the balancing rock!
'African Technology' Digging a Bore Hole by Hand! Crazy Fools! This is only 20m of what will be a 100m hole!
Playing around with the kids on the last few days! They have all got this obession with trying to pick us up!
Sseguya & Jay planted our first Matooke (banana) Plantation!
Last Lunch. Goodbye lunch with Sseguya and Mona at the local Pork Joint.. Mind the food posioning!

Jay & Char Say: So it’s over! We have now left Kiyumbakimu Children’s Village after six months and are about to start off on our travels.

Since New Year we haven’t seen too much excitement - just getting on with the usual business of running the orphanage and playing with the children. There has, of course, been lots of loose ends to tie up, projects to finish and things to get rolling. We have been handing over lots of things to the other volunteers Mona and Anna, who will continue to look after the project for the next six months. They will also be joined by a new volunteer, also from the UK, within the next three weeks. She’ll be staying for a year, ensuring continuity for the place. Our good friend Grace has been volunteering in Kampala for the last six months at a mentoring and human development organisation but wants to experience the ‘village life’ (!) so is also coming to help out for a month or so, and she’s a trained social worker – very useful!!

Work on the website is still continuing slowly as we keep getting messed around by the hosting company; a child sponsorship scheme with ten families is nearly finialised and an interview for a project manager fell through after the candidate wanted three times the salary we were offering! One of the few major new developments is that the contact in Italy who is helping us with the child sponsorship has also raised some money to pay for us to have our own bore hole at the orphanage. This is great news as we currently spend a lot of money paying for water collection from the well. The well for our community is very hard to access and causes many problems. Therefore a new bore will solve our problems, but we will also have the well open to the community at certain times, helping them also. The 100m hole is being dug completely by hand! Crazy – ‘that’s African technology’ as our boss said – but its very impressive – they’ve dug 35m down in two weeks already!

As our leaving date fast approached we realised that we had not visited the one ‘tourist attraction’ near our village – so an hour and half walk later Mona, Ssekulima and us got to ‘the holy stone’ – a big stone balancing on another big stone! Holy because it’s a traditional ancestral religion site. Doesn’t sound that great, but its pretty impressive and has some beautiful views. Also Ssekulima climbed a tree on the way and got us a bag load of free mangos on the way! Sorted.

Our last few days were spent saying goodbye to various people and as a result eating good food (and some not so good..! see below!). It was strange as it was goodbye but not really as after our travels we are coming back for a final week of real goodbyes. We had two mini parties – one with the children and all at the orphanage, where we bought a chicken and some pork (from a supposedly Muslim butcher!). That was really nice, but got a bit emotional, and it finally hit home to the kids that we would actually soon be going and not coming back! That was hard for them and us - as we’ve been through a lot together – from living in terrible conditions to coming to us for school and now living with us for the last few months. We also had a small party at the house of our boss’ family, where we stayed for the first three months. It was also Mona’s birthday so double celebrations. All was good fun, but that was a real goodbye to a couple of the kids as when we come back they will be away at boarding school. They’ve been great fun and good friends since we’ve been here, so was sad to say goodbye. And finally we had our last lunch at the brand new ‘restaurant’ in our village. The new Pork Joint (basically a room in someone’s house) was where we said farewell to Sseguya, our legend of a best friend.

So then after our sad semi-goodbyes we headed to Kampala for evaluation camp with all the other volunteers from around UG – our time has been a real mix of highs and lows and we obviously had some critical words to say (mostly about lack of management) but also many positives.

Unfortunately on Saturday night Charlotte became really sick and was up all night. We headed to the mzungu doctors on Sunday and after being charged an exorbitant price he thankfully told us that it wasn’t malaria – but very bad food poisoning! She has been pretty sick the last few days and laid up in bed. We have therefore had to delay our start to the holiday, but only by one day. Not the best timing – and that good food clearly wasn’t all that good.

So now we’re off. Leaving all our worries behind! As we said, it was sad saying goodbye, but we are coming back and really we’ll never be able to leave the place properly behind. Its made too much of an impression on us. We’ll always be staying very much in touch, especially considering how attached we’ve become to the kids and we know we’ll be back here as soon as we can afford! The last six months has been an incredible experience and something we will never EVER forget. Whilst it has definitely been the hardest thing either of us have ever done we have not regretted it for one second and, being cheesy, made us learn so much about so many things! Its been one hell of a six months! Thanks to everyone who has stayed in contact and kept us involved with life in the UK – its meant a lot!

So now here’s to beaches and mountains and hours squashed in small sweaty minibuses! Bring it on!
Take care, and see you all fairly soon,
C & J xx

p.s. we’ll try and blog as much as we can when traveling but we don’t know how much we’ll be able / how much we’ll be arsed! J love you all x

p.p.s. we both have new mobile numbers, drop us an email if you haven’t got them yet.

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