I slept well last night and woke up in a great mood.
I've been thinking a lot about Jolly Mercy. While the teaching methods might not be what we would chose and there is definite room for improvement, the school is giving some really underprivileged children name go at life. For many of the boarders it takes them out of unsuitable home environments and provides not only education, but food, safety, medical care and counselling.
Many of the students have been slipping Leckie and I notes. Most introduce themselves and contain pictures. One asked for sponsorship though.
The other volunteer has left so with only Leckie and I in the house I decided to give cooking breakfast on the camp stove a go. It was only eggs and beans but being that I hate cooking and camping I was quite proud of myself.
I listened to the radio as I cooked. One woman had phoned in and was having a massive rant about government corruption. Times sure have changed since the Amin days. The DJ's response... "You are very good at shouting."
We went to visit Mariam to let her know she was going to have a latrine built. I met Marian last time I visited. She had 3 children, the eldest of whom has cerebral palsy. Mariam's husband left her claiming she must be cursed to have had such a child. When I was there last her husband's family were trying to evict her from the house. CALM involved the police though and Mariam is now allowed to stay.
When we arrived at her house though she was not there. The eldest child, the one with cerebral palsy was near the house, just sitting in the dirt. Marian was nowhere to be seen. Israel said that she would likely be digging in the field for money and would have to have left the child at home. They're really not that far from the main road and it felt awful leaving again without having found Mariam or being able to contribute to the safety of the child.
We went instead to see the chairman of the village. This is essentially the chief. Before we discussed Mariam he walked us around his place showing us some ingenious things he has done.
He keeps cows, uses their manure to produce gas for cooking and lighting, uses the left over manure sludge to fertilise banana trees, uses the bananas to make wine which he sells to local bars. He even makes gin and produces his own hay to feed the cows. He's so self sufficient. It was wonderful to see what people can do with so little. Before we left he had us sign his visitor book. Anyone who is anyone in Uganda has was visitor book in their house or office.
We then went in search of the contractor who we will hire to dig the pit. Along the way I was considering what else we could do for Marian. CALM do a pig and seeds pack. The pig fertilises the garden and feeds off the produce with the rest being eaten by the family. It's very sustainable. However, Mariam is Muslim and so won't keep pigs. This got me thinking, the worst situations I have seen here are Mariam and Musa - both Muslim. With the fairly recent Al Qaeda problems here I wonder if there is an element of Muslim families not receiving as much community support as others.
We found the contractors digging a latrine nearby. It was absolutely amazing and terrifying to watch. The latrine pit is coffin shaped and about 40foot deep. This one being 30feet deep so far. The materials they are using are a plastic bucket, rope and pulley. As they dig down, they dig foot holds in the side, then someone climbs down into it to dig, with the other man pulling the full buckets up. It's dangerous work as the walls do sometimes collapse. So scary. We talked to them about Marian and they say they can start Tuesday.
After this Israel hijacked us and took us to meet his mother and we watched him does maize in her field for half an hour. No idea why...
Later on in the day, as if on cue, someone started talking to us about Muslims. He said that he liked Australia because we don't let Muslims in and that all they do is start fighting and set bombs. Hmm. I figure in these situations it's best to say nothing, but it has furthered my curiosity about whether religious tensions are at play in some of the greater poverty situations here.
Back at school we laid out an plan to see CALM's most at risk families on Monday and Tuesday (with the main focus being on those that could do with small business start up - super sustainable), making donation purchase on Wednesday and distributing/carrying out activities on Thursday. It will be an awesome week.
Some other things today:
* The kids kept poking my sunburn amazed that my skin changes colour when touched
* A teacher at the school told the kids Leckie was going to die because tattoos cause cancer
* Saw the biggest fish I've ever seen. It was as thick as me with a mouth as big as my head
* We realised that there are no clocks in any of the classrooms so the kids have no way to tell the time