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St Valentine’s Day

  1. KUMI COMMUNITY FOUNDATION FEBRUARY 2020 DIARYFriday 14 February 2020St Valentine’s Day and the least smooth day I have had so, with spirits low, I approached the supper table to find a glass tumbler filled with pink bougainvillea blossom! I was elated and so touched that someone had thought to do this! At the start of the day, I woke as usual and caught up with some paperwork before the temperature rose beyond comfort level when I realised that there was the sound of repetitive birdsong. No, I was mistaken and the phone was ringing and it was not yet 6.30 am. Dave informed me that the vehicle was an hour late to take them to the airport. Panic stations! I threw on my clothes, called Peter and we raced into town in time to find the team had managed to acquire two vehicles, one for them and the second one for their luggage. The first bus looked alright but the one with the luggage looked decidedly dodgy and would it reach the airport without a breakdown? As they left, the original driver arrived stating that there was plenty of time to get to the airport, his excuses were the most crass I have ever experienced and I hope the company who has never, ever let me down crosses him off their books forever. I hate to think what the atmosphere was like on the bus as the thought of arriving too late to catch the flight was unthinkable but they did finally make it. Their message telling me they were going through security was such a relief. That was the start of my disrupted plans as we had planned a day of fieldwork but Peter was suddenly in demand to collect a couple of the hospital Board of Trustees and we were grounded. Secretly, I was not disappointed as I had to admit that the ten days had taken its toll on me and a day of relaxation was welcome. The translators needed to be rewarded for their invaluable input to the team’s efforts and I could visit Christine and Wilson, the paraplegics who had received wheelchairs but were admitted on the ward. Wherever I went, there was praise for the work of the team and I am proud to have played a part in their visit. If given the opportunity to return in a couple of years (even better, next year), they are confident that there will be more than enough patients in need of chairs. This visit, they have managed to see more patients than in any previous WFTW mission, so they tell me! Back at the Guest House, Harriet and I planned the rest of my stay which is very brief and, at last, I could relax. What could I have for lunch as my resources were limited? I bought some cheese made by a Dutch farmer in Mbale but the bread was so dry and the cheese like plastic. Better than nothing as it certainly filled me. I could have added Ugandan jam but that would have been worse. I only have to think of the nearby poor children who go to school on an empty stomach and who hope they will have a bite to eat when they get home. Maybe or maybe not! It is moments like these that I start fantasising and I imagine a pavlova, a Snicker bar, a plate of ice cream, toast and marmalade! The day was hot with the thermometer registering 88 degrees F but the humidity was low. I could even lie down for a while and have a snooze! I would catch up on my photos and diary today and tackle my spreadsheets and data base tomorrow! Darkness soon came and I had a visitor, my friend, Janet, who is HIV +ve and I have always thought of her as being of equal age as I am but she is, in fact, the same age as my eldest son! The sickness has taken its toll. She begged me time and time again to help her with school fees for her daughter to attend tailoring school but I stood my ground as to help one opens the flood gates and I do have to adhere to my criteria of children with disabilities. I managed to give her a couple of pairs of my old trousers and a crocheted blanket instead. Hard but wise. Supper time and I reached the table to find these wonderful flowers gracing the table! The mashed Irish and cabbage tasted so much better but the cheese sandwich remained heavy on my stomach! Bedtime and how much more exhausting is a day without a purpose!Photos:2,3,4,5 are recipients of wheelchairs, the latter two being ex leprosy sufferers. The final photo is of Benjamin in the workshop making a hand splint.

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