NEWS LETTER FROM JULIANNA BALL
I arrived in Entebbe, Uganda, at the beginning of September 2007 and stayed in Kampala with the Project Trust Representative for a few days to get used to this new country. The four months I have had here have been really good but also at times very hard and I had to face some real challenges but found ways to overcome these.
I'm living in a home for disabled children, this has its good and bad points. I don't have to travel to work but on the other hand you are always 'on call' and when a child ran away at three o'clock in the morning I had to go out and look for her.
The home for disabled children is in a village called Budaka, this is also the name of the district. The people here speak the language of lugwere which I'm slowly learning.
The home is situated down a dirt track where 4 schools are situated :a girls first and primary school and a boys first school and a technical school were they teach wood and metal work. Also down this track are traditional mud hut villages and children come running out to ask for money or sweets. Further more there are also the local Catholic Church, a convent and the local medical clinic situated along this track. My house is a good size and I share it with another volunteer and she is from Ireland. We have two bedrooms, a sitting room, a kitchen and a flushing toilet, which only flushes if there is enough water but usually we have to carry the water from a near by bore hole. We take baths in a bucket, this was interesting at first but now I'm used to it. When I do manage to get a shower it is great.
Washing is also interesting as I have to do this by hand and it is very boring so I only do this if I really have to, but I do get help from the children here as they think I'm not very good at washing my clothes.
My food mainly consists of rice, pasta, potatoes and vegetables and it is very cheap from the local market. A tomato is one pence and a bunch of unions is three pence, a kilo of potatoes is twenty pence. We also go to the nearest big town for shopping which is called Mbale. We also eat chapattis and you can eat a portion of chapattis with egg for sixteen pence.
We mainly drink boiled water but also coke, sprite and fanta and sometimes beer and for the beer lovers there are several brands: Club, Bell, Neil, Special or Tusker.
I mainly travel on foot but if I have to go further I use a local taxi, which in fact is a mini bus that gets cramped full of people. Where they are only allowed to take fourteen people there can be as many as thirty on a mini bus. Sometimes I travel by boda-boda, which is a motorbike or by bike taxi.
Uganda is a very friendly place and people are always willing to talk to you. They have really long greetings and different areas have different greetings and they are very impressed with you if you know how to greet someone. Everything is done in African time which means that if someone tells you it takes one hour it will take at least two hours. This was very frustrating to start with but I have got used to it and it has probably made me more patient.
My main job at the Budaka Cheshire Home is to look after the well being of the children, helping them with their home work, playing sport and games and doing crafts.
I also teach at the local boys primary shool, which is good fun but sometimes the boys are cheeky, especially as you are a white person.
At the moment I'm on holiday as currently the schools are having their long summer holiday. The schools closed earlier this year as the Queen visited Uganda.
I have been travelling around Uganda and have been to Kampala, the Sease Islands in Lake Victoria, celebrated my birthday in Jinja which is my favourite place as it is so calm and peaceful. Travelled to the west side of the country for Christmas where I joined other volunteers and we barbecued a pig. We went back to Jinja for New Year and did some white water rafting. At the moment I'm still in Jinja and doing some volunteer work in painting a village school.
Wishing everyone a happy New Year and thank you for all your support.
My address is: Budaka Cheshire Home, PO Box 146, Mbale, Uganda. I can be e-mailed by clicking here