Our final word from Kampala
on Hoggs in Uganda (Uganda), 08/Sep/2010 18:52, 34 days ago
With only five days to go until we return to Scotland after this amazing year, it seems appropriate to follow the example of other VSO bloggers and to reflect on the highs and lows, and to list what we will miss and what we are looking forward to at home in Scotland.The year has been a package of adventure which is difficult to unpick. It has generally been much easier and more successful than we could ever have imagined. Most of our day-to-day life in Kampala has been very straightforward, we live in a very nice house in a lovely compound, the weather is always like a very nice summer day back home, we shop in supermarkets once a week but go to the market for wonderful fruit and vegetables. We eat at nice restaurants, we socialise with other volunteers and have had had great trips upcountry on safaris and to visit other parts of this beautiful, lush country. We have learned African dances and African songs. Our placements have been real jobs using our skills and providing opportunities to learn new ones. Uganda has been a great experience but as a way of life Scotland certainly wins hands down.The Highs -Of the placement:Getting one nurse to an international conference in Vienna with a scholarship to present two posters, and another to an international conference in Australia to give an oral presentation.Having two students from the Institute of International Health and Development at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh working on research projects started by Reach Out (and having one excellent dissertation finished and another in progress).Having a day of meetings with staff from Reach Out, Makerere University School of Public Health and the Institute of International Health and Development in Edinburgh to discuss and initiate a three-away collaboration Going into the slum communities we serve to visit mothers and babies and also sick clients, and see community nursing African style, with no welfare state, no social workers, no running water and no sanitationSpending time with volunteers in the north of the country, visiting rural communities and health centres Bobby has experienced generous appreciation for his work on the Health Management Information System and travels home with the assurance that there will always be a welcome and work here should he return. Socially:Spending Christmas with Hamish and Morven on safari in Murchison Park.Having David on safari and spending a day in the clinic at Reach Out.Having six other sets of visitors to stay with us.The Lows -Of course there have been some frustrations, but I think the VSO training in the UK and in-country must have been successful and we have been gently brainwashed into reconceptualising difficulties as challenges (a favourite VSO and African word) and perfecting the art of turning negatives into positives. So in fact I can’t really think of any lows, though plenty of challenges, and positives that started out as negatives!Barking dogs through the nightBlack choking exhaust fumes Miles and miles of road works on dusty roads with speed bumps every 50 metres.Frequent power cuts The dangers of road travelWhat we looking forward to -Having close friends around, with shared histories and with whom we have so much in common.Hills to climbBeaches with a sea breezeThe SeasonsConcerts, theatre, dance and operaSinging and playing music with friendsPavementsMeetings taking place as planned and starting on timeDriving without having to worry about potholes, horrendous traffic jams and seemingly no highway codeThe Scotsman in print rather than on-lineWhat we will miss -The gentle, courteous manner of soft-spoken UgandansPineapples, mangoes and passion fruit The Matooke LorriesSitting on the verandah having a waragi (local gin) and tonic after work birdwatching as the sun goes downStarting work with yoga, reflection and announcements in the compoundBeing able to have meetings outside in a shady spot under a treeThe Friday evening get-together of VSO volunteersSunny days and balmy eveningsSundays spent swimming at a lovely outdoor poolBBC World Service and Focus on Africa every morningThe wildlife and especially the birdsWe are sorry to leave all our new friends in Uganda but hope the opportunities will arise to see many of them again. We are looking forward to seeing all our friends and family back home.