Going Home
on Sabrina and Geoff Slide in Kamwenge (Uganda), 25/Nov/2010 05:52, 34 days ago
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After being in Kamwenge for almost 20 months, we are preparing to finish our placement here. We are leaving slightly early as we work in schools and the academic year finishes at the end of November. There is then a long break before the new term begins well into February.It is difficult packing up and saying good bye. Although at times it has been very tough here, we have also had lots of fun and feel very privileged to have been able to share in so many people’s lives.Lookng back over our work here and writing our final reports, we realise that we have achieved more than we sometimes thought at the time. Progress can be frustratingly slow and life is tough here. It is difficult to have an impact on health and hygiene when parents know from experience that several of their children will die from malaria and where life expectancy is very low. However, small changes do make a difference and, as education improves, so will health.We will miss· Smiling children shouting Muzungu.· Always being greeted warmly.· Riding our motorbike anywhere we want without bothering with helmets or protective clothes.· Fresh pineapple every day· Delicious fruits and vegetables in the market· Warm weather· The disabled children with whom we have worked in the special needs unit.· The ingenious way in which problems can be overcome, eg when there was no fuel in Kamwenge, a phone call resulted in 2 jerry cans being delivered 2 hours later.· Good Ugandan friends we have made· The amazing volunteer colleagues from all over the world who have a wide range of skills and knowledgeWe willNOTmiss· The rocky, muddy, potholed, mostly non-existent roads.· Mosquitoes and having to sleep under a net· The staple diet of matoke, a type of banana, at every meal· Showering in a bowl with a cup· Frequent power cuts and water shortages· Slow internet accessWe have both struggled with the Ugandan attitude towards children. In the developed world, we are used to children’s needs being a high priority. Here things are different. Children are used as workers from a very young age. As soon as they can walk they are expected to fetch water and gather firewood every day. During the planting and harvesting season, they are sent out into the fields for long hours. Theyare often kept home from school when there is work to be done and are frequently beaten with sticks. We have repeatedly challenged teachers on the use of sticks in schools and although many headteachers want their school to be more child friendly, attitudes are slow to change. Many children, especially girls drop out of school very early due to pregnancy and marriage, and child mortality is very high. Due to the devastating affect of HIV/AIDS, many children are orphans and live in ‘child headed families’. Their main priority is finding enough food for themselves and their brothers and sisters.There are, however, lots of people here, both Ugandan and visitors, who are working hard in difficult circumstances to improve the lives of local people and it is these interventions that give us hope for the future.