Field Report September 2014
Patrick German and I visited Uganda for two weeks in early September. The purpose was to examine all the activities in detail and be able to document all the projects on video, including interviews with the project leaders.
On arrival at Entebbe airport, we were greeted by IRFF Uganda director, Robert Mwogeza, WAIT Uganda leader, Tadeo Buyinza, and a number of WAIT members. We were driven to Robert’s home in Kabuuma, outside Kampala, arriving quite late in the night.
The next day was spent going through our two-week schedule, discussing costing for specific activities and trips we would be making, and Patrick and I were able to rest a little.
Early next morning (Saturday, 6th September), we packed the vehicle, and headed for Iganga with the Mobile Medical Team. En route, we picked up Paul Isabirye, headmaster of Prime Academy Kigulu, a close friend of IRFF and WAIT who offered to come with us on this mission.
As soon as we arrived at the community village, we set-up and started removing jiggers from the children, as heavy was imminent. On finishing this work, we drove to Paul’s school for lunch, after which the team put up four tents – our home for the night! Later, we had tea, followed by supper around the camp fire. Luckily, it did not rain that night; we slept well, without being swept away by heavy rain or winds!
On a personal note, I served as a ‘medical assistant’, helping the team by going around with antiseptic solution, cotton wool, healing oil and safety pins when asked for. Patrick was busy filming and photographing the work being done.
Removing jiggers requires care and patience. The team first wash the children’s hands and feet, and using safety pins and cotton wool immersed in antiseptic solution, painstakingly remove the parasite, and then apply healing oil on the hands and feet.
The next day we drove to Jinja after breakfast and packing the tents and vehicle. We went to the ‘Source of the Nile’ and enjoyed a boat ride on Lake Victoria. We then returned to Kabuuma, after hitting heavy traffic along the way.
We took time on Monday to thoroughly plan our visit to the National Police Academy in Masindi the following two days. We woke up early, and started the long journey. On arrival, we were warmly greeted, taken around the academy grounds (saw agricultural projects), offered lunch, and later found out that the original plans had changed. Instead of running two half-day seminars for officers and cadets on consecutive days, we ended up doing one concentrated event to all the police men and women, totally around 2,500!
The WAIT team performed, Robert gave a talk on IRFF, and I spoke on the value of abstinence before marriage, and encouraged the policemen to be role models, and stay faithful to their spouses and family when they are sent away. After taking photographs and saying our goodbyes, we departed for Kabuuma, arriving well after 11pm on the Wednesday (10th September), as we had a ‘free day’, we decided to run a WAIT Trainers Workshop. The content included the WAIT history, the Rules and Development Levels, and a discussion on going forward in Uganda. Umar, Connie, Sandra and Sharon were then declared “WAIT Trainers” in front of Robert, Tadeo and Patrick. WAIT UK will cooperate more with WAIT Uganda in supporting workshops and helping to raise funds.
The following day we continued to work on documentation, and were able to interview Robert on his work and vision for IRFF Uganda. Later, we decided to drive to Kampala, but at the first stop, we discovered that the car battery had died. We lost time trying to get the vehicle started, and ended up purchasing a new battery.
We got up early next morning, and drove to Masaka, where we spent two days visiting schools and also some jigger removal. Along the way, we stopped at the Equator line to take photographs.
We visited Butale Mixed Primary School, meeting the staff and children. We were given a tour of the agricultural side of the school before we sat down to remove jiggers from children. Compared to other places, the situation is quite good here because IRFF and WAIT have supported this school before, including the building of a new latrine. We were introduced to the school’s Junior WAIT Club which is well set-up and supported by some of the teachers. We ended our time here having lunch with the teachers. We offered the school a donation on behalf of IRFF and WAIT.
We then settled down at the house of Tadeo’s grandmother where we were warmly welcomed. In the morning, Patrick and I assisted the two young boys living there to fetch water from the nearby water supply.
After lunch, we went off to Equator High School, where we were welcomed, given a tour of the school, and then took part in a fairly long programme that consisted of performances by the school students as well as WAIT, and a number of talks given by the director of the school, the headmaster, Tadeo, the head of Education for the district, and myself. At the end, Florence Naluwooza (a performer with the WAIT team) introduced the Girl-Child Project she runs, and distributed sanitary pads donated by friends from the UK. We then headed back “home” to Kabuuma.
On the Sunday (14th September), we attended a church service at Peace House in Kampala, after which we stopped for lunch in town before driving back to Kabuuma. We sat outside, and talked about future plans, including raising funds to support the work we’re doing.
We visited Destiny Junior School the next day, and greeted the headteacher, Jessica, the other teachers and the children. We also had a good look at the water pump and tank, and the neighbouring land we are trying to purchase. Later that day, we worked on documentation, and also designed a WAIT Uganda membership card.
On the Tuesday (16th September), we focussed on the Kabuuma Joint Family Project. We toured the area, looking at the chickens, pig sty and the community centre, where the hair salon and tailoring work is carried out. Robert talked to us in detail how the project is run. We even took measurements of the large empty room where the future IRFF office and sanitary pad machine hoped to be housed! We had further discussions under the mango tree outside Robert’s home; we picked oranges, and enjoyed their juice a bit later.
Wednesday was a sad day! We learnt of the passing of Tadeo’s grandmother who had been hospitalised for a while. We offered prayers, and following a discussion, decided to pay for the burial costs on behalf of IRFF and WAIT. Despite the circumstance, both Tadeo, and his sister, Florence, agreed to be interviewed about their work with WAIT Uganda and the Girl-Child Project respectively. We cannot thank them enough!!
We then headed for Destiny school for the grand opening of Beverley’s Kitchen and our lunch invitation. We were welcome by Jessica and some community leaders, parents and teachers. After the ceremony, the children (class by class) performed to us. It was lovely! We then enjoyed a delicious lunch together.
Our final day (Thursday, 18th September) was special in two respects: first, we held our final discussion – on the way forward by looking at the achievements, challenges, and future plans of all the projects we support; secondly, we were treated to another delicious meal (mainly thanks to Connie) of fried Tilapia (lake fish), chips and salad. That was our “final supper” so to speak, and soon after, had to leave for Entebbe airport. Robert’s family all came to the airport to give Patrick and me a wonderful send-off!
Report by Marshall de Souza (WAIT UK Director)
You can watch a brief video made during our stay here: