Aug
2011

05
Mountains of the Moon
Posted by
August 5, 2011
by Jeff Rogers

We arrived safely in Fort Portal and are enjoying our new hotel…Mountains of the Moon. It has hot water!

Although this, too, is a poor part of Uganda, the area immediately surrounding the hotel area in Fort Portal is a bit more upscale. The hotel itself is probably five star for this area and a welcome change.

The grounds are very open and grassy. The lobby and restaurant are airy and there is nice outdoor patio areas for chillaxing.

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Dinner is in an hour. Tomorrow we go on our safari excursion.

 


Cross Country Trek
Posted by
August 5, 2011
by Jeff Rogers

Our trek across the Ugandan countryside was a long but interesting drive. We passed through dozens of small towns along the way.

You know you are approaching a village by changes in the roadway. Each small town is bounded by speed humps. There are two sets of four tightly packed speed bumps to slow drivers down to about 50 km/h and then one bigger and wider speed hump which requires less than about 30 km/h or all the bus occupants go airborne. Our average travel speed in open spaces is about 90 km/h (about 55 mi/h).

The straight-line roads between towns are asphalt one lane in each direction. They drive on the left side of the road here (a British colonial influence) which means the driver in on the right side of the vehicle. The left lanes of the roads leaving Tororo are very potholed and bumpy because of the weight of the trucks that leave there full from the cement factory. The right side is less potholed since they return empty.

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The towns are clusters of maybe twenty storefronts near the roadside. Typically there are shops for general supplies, food market, cell phone supplies, clothing, bicycle repair, a wood furniture maker, an iron works gate maker.

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There is also typically a meat butchery where slabs of animals are hanging in the open doorway or on racks.

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The wood maker is usually sawing logs and planing boards using hand tools. They typically have a range of wooden coffins leaning against the wall for sale, too.

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The countryside is very green, in general. There are many scrub trees in all directions and the ground is carpeted with green grasses and small leafy plants. In larger open spaces there are field crops of rice, bananas, coffee, tea, papaya, and corn, primarily. There are other crops which I cannot identify.

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In the field you will often see a few tall mounds of dirt maybe six feet tall or more. The dirt is freshly piled like someone just put it there. These are actually very large anthills with a very busy colony of ants inside. The people encourage these anthills as they consider the large ants a food delicacy. (Earlier in the week we were taught how, and offered a chance, to stir the nest by rubbing our thumb and fingers together…but we graciously declined).

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On the roadside there sometimes people chopping the weeds using special machetes with a sharpened bend tip. Many bicycles and motorbikes can be seen hauling materials and water.

We saw several baboons along the roadside (a few times) during our trek today.

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Our bus driver, Paul, uses his horn often and repeatedly to signal and warn people we are passing or coming through.

 


Packing for Fort Portal
Posted by
August 4, 2011
by Jeff Rogers

Tonight we pack up to leave Tororo. Tomorrow we head for Fort Portal at 7am. We have a ten hour bus ride from east to west across all of Uganda. Tom is hoping we will arrive in a record 9-1/2 hours, but we will see. Our goal is to arrive by 5pm so we can do a little shopping and have dinner there. Otherwise, it maybe chicken-on-a-stick from a roadside merchant.

It is raining some tonight as we head to bed. If the weather is still poor in the morning, it will take longer.

On Saturday we do our safari excursion. We’ll spend two nights in Fort Portal.

We think this may be our long awaited next hot shower…something we have not had since we’ve been here. No water pressure and only a dribble of warm water has been the norm…we get clean quickly.

 


Baby Tender
Posted by
August 4, 2011
by Jeff Rogers

It is not uncommon for mothers in the village to ask us to hold their babies. They lift and pass them over to us…especially to the young women in our group.

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They are beautiful little ones.

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Even Cameron got in on the baby tending action today.

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Bukirayi Well Dedication
Posted by
August 4, 2011
by Jeff Rogers

Today we went to another village, about an hour and a half away, for our final clean water well dedication this trip. This was Pastor Wilber’s home town (the True Vine Church pastor). The village sponsor was Robin, a person from Texas, who has visited Uganda and this village often and become a sponsor for their new well.

We were greeted by children singing.

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There was a brass band and grass skirt dancers. The was a red carpet runway with fabric arch and flowers (like a wedding) for our arrival. The village community, especially the women and children, were very happy and excited about our visit. Again, many government dignitaries appeared to be noticed as Water4Kids did the dedication.

We walked to the original water source and then went to the new bore hole to dedicate and bless the well.

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The children were asked to make the first pumps and then they filled their water jugs and bottles.

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We enjoyed another village made lunch of goat, beef, chicken, rice, and chapatis.

 


Kachwari Well Dedication
Posted by
August 3, 2011
by Jeff Rogers

Today some of us went to the True Vine center for medical outreach. Over 400 people showed up to be seen by the two doctors who are in our group. Amy and Anette are sisters who volunteer their physician services and administer diagnoses and medicines.

Others in our group went to True Vine to interact and play with the children. The students had just finished exams (like finals) and were on holiday starting today. Our group played basketball, volleyball, painted nails, drew pictures, jumprope. A few of the girls in our group had their hair braided by the Ugandan children.

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Another team went to dedicate a clean water well in Kachwari village about one and a half hours away. When Water4Kids (an extension of Hope4Kids) shows up to dedicate a well they are never sure how the village will have prepared to welcome them. For today’s welcome the village pulled out all the stops.

We were greeted by cheering and music by women and men dressed in exceptionally bright matching dresses and fabric.

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They had many homemade instruments including foot bells, flute, guitars, violin, shakers, etc.

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They also built a xylophone from wooden planks and placed them on palm tree rails over a dugout pit. It was over eight feet long and was played by five people simultaneously.

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They made a lunch for us and insisted we stay to eat. It is always a little dicey for Mzungu to eat food made in the villages. Remember, no electricity, refrigeration, no well water yet…you get the picture.

Nevertheless, we had a delicious meal of rice, banana mash, meat (beef), and chicken. We used only our fingers to eat it. They also served this meal to the entire village after we were served. Angie said it is a rare occasion that the entire village would be fed. Most people here have any meat maybe once a month.

They had many dignitaries from the district and government levels of leadership since this was one of the first wells in this district.

We walked to see the original water source and then we dedicated, blessed, and began pumping the well before turning it over to the village for use and maintenance care.

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We received a goat and turkey as an appreciation gift from the village.

 


God is Good!!!
Posted by

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

by Darlene Skarda
I’m supposed to be home but yesterday didn’t end quite as I had hoped – sleeping at home in my own bed!  We had a nice flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, customs was fine.  Immigration threw away an apple I had left in my carry-on bag from our 2 day stay in Amsterdam 2 weeks ago and then it was downhill!  I arrived at Gate A 20 for 3:58 pm flight to Phoenix – looking forward to the last leg of my trip.  The sign at gate indicated that the flight was delayed, coming from Seattle, and we would leave at 5:20 pm – 1 1/3 hours late but not bad still getting us into Phoenix about 6:45 pm.

About 4:30 pm they announced that our plane was on the ground, they would deplane and clean it and we would be off – maybe even before 5:20.  About 5:00 they announced that our plane had been struck by lightning coming from Seattle and they would need 4 hours to check it out or find another plane.  About 5:15 they announced that the flight was cancelled and we should all go to Gate A43 to get re-routed.  It was a mad scramble to Gate 43.  We waited in line about 2 hours – standing the whole time as there was no place to sit. I was rerouted at 8:30 am Tuesday morning to Salt Lake City and then transfer to Phoenix and should be home at noon.  They gave us hotel vouchers for Best Western Gateway Inn in Romulus, MI and there was a shuttle to/from there and $6.00 vouchers for dinner and breakfast.

The hotel is decent – has a nice pool but I only have my carry-on luggage and very bare essentials.  Delta did give us “survival” kits so at least I could air out the clothes I now had on for almost 2 days and had a T-shirt for pj’s.  I went to the airport early and was amazed that the hotel shuttle was totally full with  people standing for the  trip.  The good news was that they assigned me seat 1A so I had breakfast in First Class on that flight.  We got to Salt Lake City in plenty of time for the flight to Phoenix and the gate was right next door.  That flight was supposed to leave at 11:20 am and get to Phoenix at noon.  About 11:15 am they announced that a light had come on in the plane and they needed to check it out and we would leave at 1:00 pm.   I thought here we go again!  I went and had lunch and came back at to see that the 1:00 pm departure had been changed to 5:00 pm.  I did not want to spend the night in Salt Lake City.  I talked to the agent at the gate and told her I saw there was a 1:55 flight  to Phoenix and could I get on that.  She did get me on that so I finally got home to Phoenix about 2:30 pm and amazingly my luggage beat me to the airport and they were happy to get it out as it was taking up a lot  of space with two 50 lb. duffle bags.  One bag belonged to Hope4Kids and was full of a lot of other  duffle bags that are used to take the  dresses to Uganda.

One final note:  My daughter Amy was not feeling too good the last few days in Uganda – figured she had contracted some “African revenge”.  I gave here Imodium and that helped but she still said her stomach hurt.  When she showed me where I told her it might be a gall bladder problem.  She went on Tuesday and had an ultrasound and sure enough it was.  She had surgery yesterday (Thursday, July 28).  It was outpatient surgery but still serious.  We were all just so very, very thankful that it didn’t come on her the first week of the trip and that she could get home to get help.  God is good!!!-

 


Farewells
Posted by

Monday, July 25, 2011

by Darlene Skarda
We arrived at Schipool  Airport in Amsterdam about 6:30 am this morning.  Nice flight – I think I slept a couple of hours and feel pretty good.  Amy, Tristen, Andrea and Sydney fly to Minneapolis from here and then home while I fly to Detroit and then Phoenix.

 


Go with the Flow – TIA ‘This is Africa’
Posted by

Sunday July 24, 2011

by Darlene Skarda
We’re packed up and ready to head home.  The two weeks has gone amazingly fast.  Our bus with Paul is to leave Rock Classic Hotel at 10:30 am.   We had a nice visit w ith Tom over breakfast.  Our Skarda group was on time and we leflt at 10:27 am.

Our first stop was at Jinja, the mouth of the Nile River where we went on a 30 minute boat ride to see the beginning of the Nile -  the longest river in the world.  There were Ugandan “gift shops” on the walk down to the river.  Seeing the Nile was a nice bonus to our trip.  The gift shops are like Mexico – everyone is selling the same things.  At Jinja we met up with Liz who joined us on our bus to the Famg Fang Chinese Restaurant in Kampala – the largest city and capital of Uganda.  We had a nice Chinese dinner and back on the road to the airport.  Before we got to Kampala we stopped at a roadside village and had “chicken on a stick” – 1/4th chicken on a stick and grilled.  It was definitely the best chicken we’ve had here and about $1.50.  I had a front 1/4th – white meat and wing – my favorite.

At the Fang Fang Restaurant in Kampala they checked our purses etc. before we were allowed to get on the elevator to go to the restaurant.  It was a nice place and the  food was good – one of the regular stops for teams returning through the airport at Entebbe.  Before dinner we spent about ½ hour shopping at an outside mall again offering the Ugandan crafts.  Again, they were pretty much the same as we had found previously.

We arrived at the airport about 8:00 pm for the 11:30 pm flight to Amsterdam.  Again my ticket (for the 3rd time) caused problems trying to get checked all the way through to Phoenix but finally got it done.

We have had a wonderful trip – not something everyone would want to do but we enjoyed it in spite of rough, dusty roads.  It was fun to be with Amy, Andrea, Tristen and Sydney.  It has been totally relaxing.  You just have to go with the flow – “TIA” Time in Africa.  No one gets too shook up about anything.

One interesting item at the airport in Entebbe was that while were there (approximately 7:30 pm until our plane left at 11:30 pm) the lights went out at least 6 times.  Apparently that happens quite often as no one seemed alarmed when it happened.  I was just hoping that  the control tower would be operational as we were taking off!

 


Children’s Games
Posted by

Saturday, July 23, 2011

by Darlene Skarda
We had our last “family time” this morning as some of the groups leave at 7:00 am tomorrow to catch flights home.

We went to True Vine where we met our sponsored kids and gave them gifts we brought from home.  We gave Joseph a Bible, a red and a blue shirt, navy cargo shorts, flip-flops with a  sport motif, a Frisbee, a slinky and a small truck/grader set with about 6 pieces.  His English is still quite limited but he appeared to be very thrilled with his gifts.  We also met his older brother, Peter who is in P-7 and his last year of school at True Vine and his younger  brother, Junior who has been in the Nursery School at True Vine and now is in P-1.

The kids all got new shoes today and Elizabeth took lots of photos to update the sponsors.

We went back to the hotel which is about 2 miles away for lunch.  Several of us had ordered “beans and rice” as Beth, one of our Team members had had it a previous day and was telling us how delicious it was.  I normally like beans, took a bite and thought “what is good about this?”  I continued to “pick” at my food which is abnormal for me but I didn’t want to complain.  Then Beth said they “burned the beans” and I knew it wasn’t just me.  It was just one meal . . .

In the afternoon we went back to True Vine for the H4K 1st  Football  Tournament.  It was a   big deal and down to the final 2 teams after I think 18 teams had started out during the week.  They used a Soccer ball and I think it was Soccer but they call it Football.

While we were waiting for the game to start a good sized group of small children had gathered.  I suggested to Sydney that she and I lead them in a game of “Ring Around the Rosie”.  They got the idea of joining hands and we formed kind of a circle and I sang “Ring Around the Rosie”  When I sang “we all fall down” and I went down a little they all hit the  ground and thought it was so funny.  It was quite warm so we did that about 20 minutes and then I reclaimed my chair under the awning in the shade.  We sat there quite a while waiting for the game to start and I actually took a short nap sitting in a plastic chair!

After the game we went to the True Vine Guest House where the ladies there prepared a nice dinner for our whole team.  They worked very hard on it especially when you consider that they cooked it all on their little charcoal stoves or a wood fire.  We had a delicious assortment of rice, spaghetti, squash, potatoes, chicken and another meat I think was  goat.  We also had fruit and I think the pineapple is the best I have ever tasted.

We left after dark.  I was disappointed t hat I didn’t get to see Joseph again as I thought there would be an opportunity to see him in the afternoon.  But the boys weren’t allowed to leave the True Vine campus and it was quite a walk from the soccer field back to True Vine so I just waited and took the bus back.

 
 
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