East Africa: Journal of a Return. Part 3
For a long time I toyed with the idea of going to my beloved East Africa one more time. This year it happened; from mid-September to mid-October I was in Kenya and Uganda. Thanks to my Mill Hill colleagues it was possible to visit all the places where I have ever lived and worked. It has become a beautiful, educational and rewarding journey.
In Kampala everything was largely as usual with the same rector and employees as 6 years ago. Again a warm welcome. At one point we were together with 5 former Karamoja people, a reunion as it were. That resulted in lots of pleasant talk and I also got to hear about the agony that Joseph Okwara had to go through. Partly thanks to skilled operations (in India!) and all kinds of technical aids that keep his heart beating, he can function again (gently)! His optimism and joy in life probably stimulate him in this.
The director of Huyslinci picked me up to visit the project in Entebbe. It was very nice to see that the project is still going ahead despite the many setbacks and influence of two corona years. Unfortunately, various programs have been closed because major donors stopped their support at the beginning of the corona period. As a result, some employees have been laid off. There is one program left, the education program supported by “Canadian feed the Children ”. They make it possible for about a hundred children to receive education.
The director, the accountant and the coordinator are paid from that project. Unfortunately there was no money for security, cook, domestic help, etc. And because the schools have been closed for 2 years and the brass band has not been allowed to perform for 2 years, no income was to be expected from that corner.
The 3 paid employees therefore decided to share their salary with the rest of the staff and so they can continue. I think that’s admirable and I think we could learn a lesson from them!
The sewing, cooking, computer and hairdressing classes were starting up again. In addition, they have started a goat project to generate some income. Because, yes, money is in short supply. The batteries that store the solar energy are now 10 years old and are beginning to fail. Now people want to use the energy generated by the solar panels directly during the day and no longer store it in batteries. Of course, this requires a conversion of the system.
My old Toyota Starlet, which is over 20 years old, now serves as an organization car because it is cheap in fuel consumption.
Despite everything, things looks hopeful. With the support of the new board, which is very interested, Huyslinci will manage to survive!
On the way to Karamoja at around 6 am: a long tiring trip, but luckily with a good driver! With a sanitary stop in Soroti, we arrived in Panyangara around 1 o’clock, where we could immediately join the group for lunch.
Here too it is hard work to provide for the daily maintenance: a bread bakery , piggery, ducks, pigeons and turkeys, a vegetable garden, making bricks from wood shavings and waste to replace charcoal, etc.
And all this in addition to the overcrowded program of pastoral work. It is a heavy load!!
I had a busy week ahead of me with many visits to outposts and some families. It was nice to meet a young man who, thanks to the help of benefactors, successfully completed high school. He was accepted at university. We were at his house and again I was impressed by the vibrancy of people who live in dire poverty. Hopefully this young man can make a difference in the future. I had received a few second-hand laptops from the Netherlands. One is for him, so that he can at least keep up with the times at university.
Another young man, who has completed primary school at a somewhat later age, has now graduated as an electricity installer. He is a lad with golden hands and I hope that he can earn a living for his family with 2 children. We visited his home, a house that he built himself digging the clay himself to make bricks. It is far from finished, but there is a roof on it and they live in it. The small vegetable garden will also help to bring the daily food to the table!
The atmosphere in kindergarten was electric. It doesn’t happen every day that a white person comes to visit! The children sang a welcome song at the top of their voice.
At the break there was a general run to the water tap, mounted on a plastic tank, to wash their hands. Then they were given tea with sugar and a piece of sweet potato. I was secretly jealous of these kids who were so happy with something so basic !!!
On October 4, we celebrated the Feast of Saint Francis with the renewal of the temporary vow of one of the nuns in the convent. Very pleasant.
Corry van den Bosch MHM