MONDAY 1 APRIL 2019
1st April and it was also April Fool’s Day here so I was on my guard!
My final day had come round once again and, with my last ounces of energy, I prepared for a day of field work with Ruth who we picked up at her home in Soroti. I gave her a hologram picture of Harry Potter’s famous steam train which fascinated her beyond belief! Passing through town, I commented on the online betting adverts above so many of the shops which must be the last thing to encourage amongst the majority of people here. We started by picking up Nakamume who had lost her leg in a road traffic accident a few years back, had an artificial leg fitted but then she had fallen and broken the leg. Ruth joined us to take her to Max’ workshop where two young amputees were already having prostheses fitted. Okwalinga, aged 20, had been born without a lower leg and Omongin, aged 22, had had his leg amputated following a snake bite when he was ten years old. An old man, not on our list, was walking out of the workshop with his new limb as we arrived.
It was to be a day of visiting “my” children and we started at Jamellar School where we entered Emodu’s class. The children all stood up and chanted “Good morning, dear visitor”. Emma is the boy seriously burnt when young and has been worked on by the Interplast UK team. He is doing well at school and he was proud to show me his report. A lovely lad and I am hoping we have been able to give him a future accepted by the community instead of being an outcast due to his disfigurement. It’s been a long journey to get this far but I am very proud of his achievements and he is so enthusiastic to do well. We had taken all our students some provisions and Emodu also needed 2,000/= (40p) to have his shoe repaired so we left him with a broad smile on his face.
Alikod is a young teacher, newly qualified and working as a volunteer for two years before he can consider advancing his qualifications. He enjoys his work very much and is teaching science at primary 5 level. The Headteacher spoke highly of his abilities. He shares a room for accommodation and gets his lunch as well as receiving a small allowance each month. I had a parcel for him from his sponsor at home for which he was very grateful.
Then on to Edonu who has been a struggle for us for so many years and who has finally made it with only his final papers to collect this coming Friday. He has a mind of his own and hasn’t always followed our advice so heaven knows what he will do. We have suggested he finds employment in a hotel but this is often not easy in Uganda especially when he went far to Moroto to do his internship. He wants to start an ice cream business in a remote part of Kabarameido where they have no great need of ice cream and often no power but I fear he has not thought it through. (Let the people of Moroto have access to far more essential items than ice cream, Edonu, please!) We hopefully deterred him from this once we explained the pitfalls. He has managed to rent a relatively nice room (I have seen far worse) and he seems to be managing adequately. I do believe that he has achieved almost as mucl as I had anticipated but I would have liked a more positive outcome.
At St Francis Primary School for the Blind, we found Adongo who has been blind since birth and who has been a pupil at this school for many years. She did not speak or socialise with others for a good three years and so it has been an uphill climb to reach P6 level. Now she is a confident, pleasant teenager with a good command of the English language and, although I do not expect great academic results from her, I know her life will be considerably better than living in the bush in an isolated land of darkness and silence. Walking to the vehicle hand in hand with her, she whispered that there was something she needed; a new box (this is a tin trunk with padlock for her belongings) as her present one was broken and anyone could help her/himself to the contents. Ruth would bring her one in the morning.
In the adjacent secondary school for the blind, I caught up with Lazarus, another of my boys, who has passed his Primary 7 exams and has started his secondary education. He is a different kettle of fish from Adongo as he has good intelligence and ambition to become a teacher for the blind. Now almost a young man, he stands tall, confident and is grateful for the support he has received to get this far. I asked if there was anything he needed and he quickly replied that he could do with a black belt which Ruth would deliver with Adongo’s tin trunk. What would I do without dear Ruth, I hate to think. She is like a mother, no, in fact she is their only mother and treats them with as much love as if they were her own.
Our duty was done and now we could catch up with old friends who, on asking if I could mention them on Facebook, declined so maybe news of them can be in my written diary but not social media!
Back home for my last evening and thank goodness I was one step ahead with my packing as I had many visitors; Francis, Sam, Paul, Modeste, John, all wanting to say good bye.
Finally, I closed my door and used my torch indicating that my day was over.