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  1. KUMI COMMUNITY FOUNDATION FEBRUARY 2020 DIARYTuesday 18 February 2020As I ate my breakfast, I could hear Obwongo clattering a plastic chair on my veranda. I would ignore him so his next tactic was to walk back and forth past the window until I gave in only to find he had finished the drum I didn’t particularly want and he was half way through making two acungos which I didn’t want either. Door to door salesmen plague more continents than ours but I do enjoy his visits as there is nothing anywhere which slightly resembles his odd character! Today was fieldwork with Alex still driving and we started by calling in to Adesso P/S to ask the spina bifida boy to come for his crutches in the evening. We were meeting Ruth in Soroti who had planned the day and, as I wanted to follow up some of our homes, we started our visits with Elamu Sam, the post-polio cobbler whose tricycle had changed his life. Another man, an amputee, showed us his prosthesis which did not fit well as the stump had shrunk and he had padded it out with old mattress foam. We did not manage to find out where he had had the limb made but it didn’t look like a Kumi one. As the foam served its purpose, he would remain with it as it was. No Health Service here to review and make adjustments! Next to see was Namusabi Paulina, the old lady who used to live on the leprosy unit in Kumi Hospital until the residents were integrated back into the community. She was sitting in a small hideaway to keep out of the sun and was camouflaged by the long grasses and plantain leaves. What a warm welcome she gave us as she is happy when she finds her friends in the hospital haven’t forgotten her and we mentioned them one by one to refresh her memory. With soap, salt and sugar from our stock gratefully received, we left her with her broken wheelchair in our car. We had given her a new one in November but she was not happy as she could not propel it herself so we would mend her old one and return it to improve her independence. Still in town, we caught up with Antony who we have supported through his education and he still has his crazy idea to make ice cream in Moroto! I have given him the benefit of the doubt for too long as he had lived through horrendous atrocities as a child and was surely mentally scarred. However, there is a light on the horizon as he had applied for jobs in hotels in Kidepo National Park in the far north. In downtown Soroti where the engineering works are situated, we visited Hands in Service, an NGO which makes window frames, beds, anything metal. The sparks were flying from the welders and the noise was deafening. The men’s black skin was shining with sweat and we stepped cautiously over the metalwork to reach the section where the man makes tricycles for us. During the Wheels for the World distribution, we had identified six clients who would benefit more from a tricycle than a wheelchair and, as the three I had bought to have if required were given out in the first couple of hours of the first day, I realised that even more would be needed. Another three were required and these had to be paid for so the materials could be bought and the tricycles manufactured. I also had a shopping list for Gilbert, the deaf and dumb young man who wanted some joinery tools and who we met in Omatenga last week. We entered a hardware shop reminding me of a TV programme back home which, if I mention “four candles” to those from UK, will no doubt bring a smile. A G-clamp, a ratchet brace and bits and so the list went on. A few extras the pleasant man thought would be useful were paid for and he would escort us to a shop where we could buy those which were not in stock. A thick grid separated the customer from the shopkeeper presumably for safety but I helped myself to a claw hammer in a dilapidated cardboard box on the floor so I suppose she was safe from attack. Now I have to find a way to find the young man again! Last but not least, we had to see little Faith, the 8 year old born with brittle bones and, again, what a welcome we were given! She now attends school in Primary 1 with her mother or sisters taking her each day in her Motivation wheelchair. Her mother is more relaxed now she knows the child’s medical condition and is aware of the care she must take in handling Faith. She also sleeps on a mattress with a mosquito net and she is definitely one of our favourites with receiving our support. A donor has offered to complete payment for the plot her mother has bought which helps her financial situation so the family’s life has changed dramatically since the day we met last November. I gave her a soft toy rabbit so she pulled its ears and tail and announced, “It is not real!” Back at the Guest House, tired and very dirty with the dust, I enjoyed a cup of tea and a shower. Geni was doing her homework outside her mud hut with the chickens at her feet until a storm arrived and the torrential rain caused much activity with washing on the line to be brought in and the windows to be closed. I later found Geni in a room off the kitchen, lying on her tummy on a table with a phone tucked by her ear while she helped her friend at the other end with the answers for her homework! How life is changing here as well as in UK except for those who we visit whose lives seem to be still very biblical. So thought provoking and similar in so many ways with the differences in people’s lives throughout the world. Herbert didn’t come for his elbow crutches.

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