Saturday, August 31, 2013

Week 25 A Trip to Southeast Uganda.and A Service Project

We are surprised and humbled that we've had 10,333 page views of our posts as of today -- just under 6 months into our mission.  Thank you for your interest and your prayers for His work.

First, an update on Martin who showed up on our front porch a couple of week's ago.  Our neighbor doctor looked at his leg ans said he would lose it, if not his life without immediate care.  We wrote home to family and received generous donations to get him admitted, cared for and fed.  We visited him 28 Aug.  He met the two elder missionaries who administered to him and gave him a blessing the first nite we found him.  I spoke to the nurses on Monday.  Martin had been scheduled for skin graft surgery that day but the doctor cancelled it because the wound was healing better than expected.  Today we learned his condition was upgraded to "good".  The doctors and nurses are amazed at his turn in good fortune. Update...visited Martin 1 Sep.  He was allowed to walk on his foot.  The hospital staff are absolutely amazed!  This is all a miracle of the power of the priesthood and the faith of the elders and this young man.  What looked like was going  to be a 6-9 month stay in the hospital may be a lot shorter.  Martin is behaving himself, not sneaking out to Gulu town at night as he did during his previous 3 month stay, before he was nearly healed.  Nurses very happy.  We give no spending cash.  He knows that if he acts out, starts skipping out, not following orders, we will cut him off. We can't  take care of someone who will not take care of themselves.  We just take care of hospital expenses, which aren't much and his food costs.  Somedays we provide all his meals.  At other times a restaurant across the street prepares him food at our request.  Breakfast is hot water, sugar and a hard boiled egg. or porridge..about 2000 shillings.   Dinner is greens, beans and perhaps some fish or meat or chicken...about 7000 shillings.  Most folks in this area only eat two meals a day so that is what we get him, plus some fruit, milk and a snack.  Today the elders visited him at his request to teach him the Gospel.  They met with another young man who  had come close to loosing his right arm due to infection.  He wanted to be taught as well and today requested that they come again to teach him more.  We have also become friends with others in the surgery ward.  We wish we could do more to help them.  Their wounds/infections are heartbreaking, especially when you see the condition of some of the young children, but their positive attitude and great faith teaches us each time we visit.
Service Project Pam was involved in.

Several women from the Bardege Relief Society (church women's organization) assisted  the African Promise Foundation one day last week. Twenty LDS Young Women and adult leaders from America spent two weeks in Uganda providing various types of service.  One of their projects in the Gulu region was teaching school girls  about female hygiene and distributing to them personal hygiene kits.  African Promise does this service every year to different schools.  The volunteers raise their own money to participate.

We traveled with them to two rural schools, one sponsored by the Catholic church, the other a government school. 

Before our journey, some of the American group display a hygiene kit.  Each bag contains four specially made washable sanitary pads, panties, with unique liners, ziplock bags and soap. (The pads and liners are made from a special super-absorbent fabric and most were made by Relief Society Sisters in America.  A stake Young Women's group made the bags and assembled the 300 kits.) In many places throughout Africa girls miss  on the average five days of school every month because they lack effective hygiene products.  Many have not been taught about the changes taking place in their bodies and have unusual misconceptions and unwarranted fears.  This education with the kits has resulted in improved school attendance, better grades, and increased self-esteem and confidence.
 Prior to the meeting with the school girls, the American team play games with all the children -- games like Duck Duck Duck Goose, Red Rover, London Bridges, etc.  The children LOVE all the games, including just chasing them around the field.  They squeal with delight. By the time we arrived at the second school, the rain was coming down in buckets.  It didn't stop this group of Young Women nor the native Ugandans from some great "football" (soccer).   
 School girls in one of the classrooms picking out their kit.  Each girl also received a letter from an LDS Young Woman in America; some of the Ugandans wrote notes back in return.  Pictures were taken of each girl with her kit to be given to the Young Woman in America who provided or assembled.  Some of those instructing these school girls were the very same age, as young as our thirteen year old granddaughter! I was really impressed with their excellent presentations. Our Relief Society sisters helped with the translation, as well as with distributing some of the kits.  In addition to the kits, each student received a couple pencils.  These came through a young boy; instead of presents for himself at his birthday party, he requested pencils.  He sent enough to supply both schools.
One of the classrooms where the girls were taught about personal hygiene and were presented with their kits. The girl on the left is holding a letter from one of the LDS Young Women who helped make or assemble the kit. This school is an extremely nice school supported by the Catholic church as well as AIDUSA. A rarity is that there is even glass in the windows and the rooms have doors! All the benches/chairs were donated to them this year from America.  This is a HUGE contrast to the government schools in our region, likely due to the devastation from 23 years of warfare.
Some of the students for an "assembly" under the trees to thank us and sing some songs to us. In return our group sang some old ballads to them. 
A USA Young Woman with our Bardege Branch Relief Society Counselor and President.
The school's headmaster introducting each person, comparing names with theirs. It was a L-O-N-G day, and a l-o-n-g bus ride, but everyone had a wonderful time, knowing a lot of good was done. You can access more information by going to and Both are excellent organizations.

Four nights...four cities
all south and southeast of Gulu...largely because you really can't go to any city further north in Uganda than Gulu.  We stayed in Kampala, Jinja, Mbale, Lira.  Most of these pictures will be of the Mbale area and the pictures, naturally, will not do justice to what we saw.

Kampala...headlines news.  These is typical related or corruption.  One of our Branch Presidents in Gulu estimates at least 70% of the adult population has HIV.
He's got 12 wives now...just wants 8 more.
This is the "Rain Forest" between Kampala and Jinja.  Good asphalt but dangerous at night as there are many people walking.  Moonlight doesn't reach the road and very hard to see people and bikes.

Jinja...the head of the mighty Nile that flows north to Egypt.  In the display window was this little boy...just sitting on display, I guess.

Jinja window shopping.  A Ugandan nativity scene.
On the street...fellow playing a homemade wooden xylophone. (Akadinda)
Found this fellow in a shop trying on sandals.  I knew right off where he was from but I asked him anyway..."Alabama", he said.  I told him he was my kind of redneck.  Has 2 planes he flies over here with geo equipment looking for energy reserves underground. 
Sunset on the Nile in Jinja.
We stayed with another senior couple in Jinja.  She had placed this on her master bedroom door.  Ah, yes.  Football season begins today!

And this sign on our guest room door.
Up the hills/mountains outside Mbale.  This is corn/maze the locals are drying on the asphalt shoulder of the road.
A restaurant/lodge where we had lunch.
Name of Lodge.  The altitude shown is not correct.  More like 7,000m.
Water falls everywhere you turned to look!
Next time we come here we will walk behind these falls with a guide.  It was a heavy rain while we were there.
At another lodge just down from Sipi.  Wet hair from mist of water fall and a little rain.
Native plant...lush, rich, thick foliage every direction.  This and the beautiful savannahs are what one normally thinks of when he thinks of Africa.

Ladies selling their green bananas...matoki.  Pretty good stuff when cooked up properly.  These ladies carry these on their heads from the mountain sides to the side of the street.  I tried to pick the largest branch of bananas up in the middle..weighed at least 50 pounds.  Couldn't lift it, let alone carry on your head.  These are STRONG women.
Balancing a small branch on Pam.
Lodges for rent at the falls.  Some single, some double, some like a small suite, some dorm style.
This banda might cost $90 but includes two meals.
Inside a single banda.
Multiple beds in a dorm...perfect for visiting grandkids...hint, hint.
Doing a little viewing. Not a clear day or could have "seen forever"

The picture looks like the falls are small, but they are not.  Everything was so beautiful.  We loved being in this lush area of Uganda.

Nobody in California has a view like this lady does. Sold us onions, bananas.  The beams cross each other and are eventally filled with mud.  This house is partially constucted.  It is on edge, I mean EDGE of a cliff.
Onions drying in the sunlight.
 You can see the mud stuffed between the timber.

More of Mbale from on high.  It was breathtaking. They have hand gliders up here.  Wondering if our mission president would approve?
The children know how to work.  This one is washing clothes.  I'd be scared to death if he/she were mine.  One step in the wrong direction and off he goes down the mossy rock to who knows where.  This is no slow moving stream but a torrent of water.

Natural waterfall/spring.  Water is channelled through a bamboo shoot to fill up a gery can to drink, wash with.  Little naked boy got scared when we stopped to take picture...ran towards his mom.
 On the road up the mountain.  These roads are superb, nothing like those around Gulu.
 This is a head cushion made from banana leaves the locals use to balance items on their heads.

 Typical houses along side mountain road.
As far as the eye can see...maze plants, banana plants, coffee trees.  We saw some gardens that ran nearly straight up the side of a hill...maybe a 75 degree angle up.  Father in Heaven is pleased to see how the people use what he has given them to prosper on.

Half way up the about that?!   I saw a UAA license plate the other day.

University of Alabama Africa!

 A tippy tap in the mountain.  This is what our two branches in Gulu are doing for a Mormon Helping Hands service project in the area.  This one is missing a bar of soap that should be hanging from the horizontal pole that one uses to wash hands after using the latrine.  Step on the stick at on the ground there and the gery can tips over, pours out just enough water to wash hands.  A major cause of disease here, unclean hands, as you can imagine.  Our two branches hope to put these in various neighborhoods or community centers around Gulu.  Will take a community/neighborhood captain to keep the can filled with water and the soap on the string.  Keeping the soap from being stolen will be the biggest problem.  Lest we be too judgmental of these people, is it any different than the pens, paper clips, copies, time, etc. people steal from their employers in America?

Back on the valley floor....looks a lot like Wyoming just west of Cheyenne.  Huge boulders rolled up against each other.

That's all folks!