When I talk with the locals at the projects we visit, what strikes me most is how equal we all are, really. For a brief few minutes, there is a human equality whilst sharing a story, or food, or a joke. I felt this whilst I was rolling beads on Saturday with Emily, a 12 year old girl from the Acholi community – we had a conversation, she laughed at my attempts at bead rolling, and then clung to my arm as we later walked to play games. It was fun!
Yet we’re also so unequal. Well, our situations and opportunities are. As I said goodbye to Emily, I knew that she will normally spend her days rolling beads, despite wanting to go to school. It’s such a shame that there aren’t more opportunities for this girl with a twinkle in her eye. Just like last term, she doesn’t have the £35 for school fees this term. But Emily is fortunate because she has a job, and she isn’t smashing rocks at the quarry with all the risks involved with that.
Today we met more equal people, also in very unequal situations. This time we were visiting ‘SNAP’ aids project, and during the afternoon we were visiting a few families at their homes. Outside a brick built home of 2 small rooms, we talked to a widow with AIDS whose children are supported by the project. Helen hugged her as she said “we’re both mothers”, and as they hugged each other I walked away to hold back the tears.
But I don’t just feel sad being here – there is so much love, hope and joy from the people here. They give a lot, and are extremely generous and hospitable. The SNAP project is run out of a local church which runs a school for 320 children, supports many of their families, and hosts medical treatment whenever possible. In time, they want to expand to run a full medical centre and all sorts of vocational training for the young school leavers. It is very inspirational listening to the story of how the project has grown, just like listening to the many project ideas of our host, John: cows for biogas (freeing up women from the heavy burden of cooking all day), rainwater harvesting (stopping the need to walk miles for water) and construction technology (easing the cost of building) and more.
So this morning at SNAP our team split into two and ran some classroom activities – a mixture of learning and games, just like at St Joseph’s last week. The England vs. Uganda football match ended at 1:1 at full time, then at lunch Pastor David had organised a lovely cooked meal, with rice, beans and pork, then bananas and some more ‘jack fruit’. Yum! (But more than slightly awkward with all the hungry children looking in through the empty window frames.)
He gave some formal introductions to all his school staff and his family who posed very seriously for a photo, before some of them joined us for an impromptu conga line! (These white people are a bit odd.) They gave us each a bracelet his family had made with our names on too. It’s very strange being treated so well for simply turning up to run some games at the school. So many strange things, but I love it here.
I’ve gone on long enough…. Love to you all from all of us. But especially from me to my family.