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DAY FIVE FRIDAY 8 MARCH 2019 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY Me “Today is International Women’s Day, Josep



Me “Today is International Women’s Day, Joseph. What about International Men’s Day?” Joseph: ”You have today, we have all the other days!”

A public holiday here in Uganda, one of many throughout the year!

The day was dull with overcast skies, reminding me of our summer Scottish camping holidays in years gone by. Harriet, Landheer and I were going out for a different sort of day. In town, we bought boxes of salt, soap and sugar for our stocks for next week. The heavens opened and my raincoat kept me dry from the torrent. I’m sure Kumi Hospital missed out the rain which so often happens and where it would be most welcome. Then, we made our way to Ngora High School where we were hoping to meet up with two of my children, Leah and Emmanuel. Being a holiday, they were on the playing field watching the semi-finals of a football match. Leah is in her final year and Emma in his first year with both enjoying their education and grateful for the support they are receiving. When Leah finishes, the plan is that she starts a nursing training course but she came out with the surprise news that she now has higher ambitions to become a clinical officer, one which is beyond our reach. Often, though, it is possible to move up from lower qualifications until the role of doctor is achieved. It will depend on her own determination.

The main purpose of the day was to find the family of a friend back home. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine found a letter in her loft from a penfriend of her daughter’s who happened to live in Kumi! With some detective work and enquiries, we found her home, a most impressive group of houses and land. Her father had been the Founder and Director of a local school and was obviously of some status within the community. He had died in 2014 but his wife was still active but cautious about receiving us with our strange tale. Once she had our reassurance, she told us that they had had twelve children and the penfriend was recently married to a Dane. Life can be full of coincidences and this was once such occasion.

Returning to Kumi, we called in to see Hadija to see how her charcoal business which we set up in November was progressing. Disappointingly, we don’t always succeed. Her mother-in-law wanted her to leave the home as we had given her daughter-in-law the money and not her. (The wives usually leave their family home and live with the in-laws which can so often prove to be far from cordial and the wives are forced to leave the home). Looking past the ragged curtain of the minute shack of the husband, wife and two children and seeing and smelling their situation for which I have no words, I would have been delighted to have had an excuse to escape. We left her with soap, sugar and salt which would be gratefully received.

We returned to Kumi where the sun was fiercely beating down and I sat to read my book in the shade on my porch. Then Obwongo cycled up with his friend, Ocopoo, and that was the end of my peace. Ocopoo had a £1 coin and wanted it changing thinking he was about to receive a fortune. He left probably to see if he could get a better rate but, no doubt, he will be back as I was being more than fair! Obwongo brought two drums he had made having made the presumption that I would want them. I shall buy them in time but he must wait while I deliberate on the matter. The tombola on our Open Dy on 1 June (please note!) will give you a chance to own an Obwongo drum which I can assure you is an excellent prize!

Then the children came in their swarms, all aged below five and incredibly amusing and appealing but my peace was shattered until my bedtime at 11 pm which was before theirs. Aby had given me packets containing home-made balsa wood planes which kept them amused for hours by colouring them with their names and drawings as well as flying them.

Being International Women’s Day, the men would cook our meal and so Pius beheaded two live chickens and singed the feathers on the open fire causing me to think that the supper was burnt. Hanneke and I (mzungos) and Anne, Kevin and Moddy (Ugandans) sat down for a delicious meal albeit rather late as Hanneke and I had to wait until 9.30 for the Lenten prayers to finish by which time the food was not so hot!

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