Saturday, September 29, 2012

Some pictures from Uganda

Here are some different pictures from the last few days here in Uganda:

Children that live around the Village of Eden

A boy from around the Village of Eden

Two "Bush Women" found at the Village of Eden

"The corn is as tall as I am!!!"

Can you carry a bag of cement on your head?  They loaded 20 bags like this!

Selling peanuts on the shore of Lake Victoria.  I love this photo. . . 

Fishing in Lake Victoria

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Ugandan Wedding 101

We have just hired a social worker here and he is engaged to be married in December.  We asked him to explain the marriage process here in Uganda.  Here goes. . .

A guy finds a woman he wants to marry, he then goes to the sister of the bride - to - be's father, her aunt.  This aunt is given gas and a cash gift discretely.  This is to "motivate" her to present the groom to the bride's parents.  She goes, talks, negotiates and finally the father of the bride concedes to meet the groom.

The groom goes to a formal meeting of the bride's parents and the entire clan/tribe.  The groom is not allowed to speak, he must take a representative (preferably an older man) to speak on his behalf.  The bride's family asks questions about the groom, his rep answers (so you better have a good rep).  There are also envelopes with money handed out strategically and discreetly to members of the family and clansmen.   The meeting ends and the groom returns home.

A few days later, he receives a letter from the brides parents agreeing or disagreeing with the marriage of their "baby girl".  If they agree, the groom returns, now able to speak to them personally and he negotiates a dowry.  In the case of this social worker, they told him to "just come as you are".  He had to take 40 women's dresses, 30 men's gowns (the father is Muslim), a leather couch, rice, sugar, a baby goat, and other odds and ends.  This was the dowry for his wife.

They also have to give a gift of money and gas to the brother of the bride and make him sign a paper stating that he received his gift.

Now, everyone is happy and the two love birds can FINALLY set a date for the wedding.  In this case, it will be in December 2012.  The social worker says he is already 50% married, just waiting on the actual church service for the other 50%.

He said that after doing all that work he will think twice about divorcing her!  He said that only love would motivate someone to go to all that trouble!!

Oh, yeah, the groom has to take the permission letter from the father of the bride and from the brother of the bride to the wedding in case someone tries to protest the marriage on the big day - it happens all the time!!  So, all you future grooms and brides in the U.S.A. that think wedding planning is hard, imagine doing it in Uganda!!

Here is photo from a wedding we attended back in 2009 here in Uganda.  It was at least 100 degrees that day.  The groom had a guy whose only job was to wipe the sweat off the groom's face every few minutes!!

The bride took about 1 hour to walk 50 yards!  Another wedding custom.

Richard Kowalske officiating.  Notice the white people behind him.  That is where we all sat, as guest of honor!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Malaria and Baby Dedications

Hello all,

On Friday, after I posted the previous post, I started feeling pretty bad - I had a headache that would not quit.  In the afternoon, I went to a local clinic for a malaria blood smear test.  They said I had "scantly" malaria.  This we took to mean that it was just starting.  Yes, for those wondering, I have been taking my prophylaxis!!!  They are not 100% effective.  So, I started on the malaria treatment - 3 days of Lumartem.  I took the last dose today.  I rested and pretty much just sat around all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. I am feeling much better today, Monday.  I know that there were many people praying for me - thank you.

Sunday, I was going stir crazy - there is NOTHING to do here at the mission house and no where comfortable to sit - just the bed and a plastic lawn chair.  So, I decided I could tag along with Brenda to a baby dedication at a bush church - just not do anything that required much energy - besides helping Brenda drive (avoid pot holes, cows and people - the usual Ugandan dirt road hazards).

We arrived and the people had been waiting on us!  The would not start the service without the guests of honor!!  They had us sit in the front, on the stage in front of everyone, right behind the pulpit!  They did some formal introductions and began talking about the guest speaker, how she was such a blessing, etc.  I was wondering if maybe they were using the wrong pronoun (they do that a lot here).  Then, they turned to Brenda and asked her to come forward to preach.  Brenda looked at me and said, "This is totally unexpected, pray for me."  She did great!  (Her disclaimer was that she "shared" not "preached" - women don't preach).

 Then the chairman of the district preached and began the baby dedication.  He went through the formality of bringing up the father, then the mother.  Then he asked who would give this child to God.  He looked at me and told me to come up!!  I am really caught off guard, wondering what in the world this means.  I was handed the baby and I have to stand there as the pastor addressed the parents.  Then I hand the child to the pastor, he prayed, handed it back to me and I stand there again, wondering what is going on.  Then the pastor motioned to give the baby back to the mom - RELIEF!!

Later, they called Brenda up and they dressed her up in the traditional African dress, saying she was "now an Africa sister".

Finally, they brought us warm soda, peanuts, boiled eggs and sesame balls to eat.  We were expected to eat while the congregation watched us from their benches.  It was a way on honoring us.  I ate.  Then we headed back to the Mission House for a nice, lazy afternoon of naps and thunderstorms.

Friday, September 21, 2012

An African Week In Review

We have been very busy this week here in Uganda.

Monday we had meetings all morning, then went to a bush church in the afternoon and measured the feet of 400 children!!  A church in the U.S. has raised the money to buy all the kids shoes.  We got the sizes – those kids have such DIRTY, FILTHY feet!  And, they have huge, flat feet because they are used to walking barefoot all the time.

Tuesday I went with Edith to order the shoes.  First, we converted the American sizes to European sizes.  Then we realized that the European sizes are not consistent – a 17 is bigger than a 20, two size 21’s are completely different sizes.  Not easy when you are ordering 400 pairs!!! The owner is a Muslim man, he was so excited about the purchase he invited me back to his house.  It is a two room cement structure in a “apartment” complex – really a courtyard with two long cement buildings on either side.  Two of his children were sitting in the floor eating posho.  They were wearing the traditional Muslim head covering.  He said he wanted to show me where he lives so I would know I could trust him!

Wednesday we went to Jinja, a larger town about 2 hours away for some meetings.  I made some purchases and then went on the adventure of finding some more waterfalls to take teams to see.  The previous ones, Bujagali falls have since been dammed up.  After making the driver stop and ask directions (this was a process of him parking, getting out, sitting in silence next to some men for a few minutes, then asking without looking at them – no eye contact – for directions.  They discussed it a while and finally agreed that we would pay 5,000 shillings for a man to ride with us and show us the way.  We went flying and bouncing down a dirt road – dodging chickens, goats, children, bicycles and cows for thirty minutes and finally arrived at Itanda falls.  They were spectacular!

Thursday I went to the Village of Eden to check on the progress out there while Brenda stayed at the Mission House to do some other work.  I walked all over that property in “mudders” (black rubber boots) that were at least 3 sizes too big for me.  We went down to see where the fish pond is being dug, then we went to the garden to check on the corn.  Jacob, the farmer, was all upset because the corn is “stuck” for lack of weeding.  I assured him we would hire more workers and get his corn weeded.  He calmed down.  He is a great worker and takes great pride in his work.  He later took me to his house to show me his coffee plants.  I learned all about coffee and how it grows.

Friday (today) I am at the Mission House working with the newly hired social workers. We are training some new workers to keep up with our orphan sponsorship program.  I set up their office yesterday and sent them out to buy supplies today.    I am writing this at 9:23 a.m. here and most of you are still in bed (it is 2:23 in the morning in Georgia) – Get up!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

In Uganda, Africa

I have arrived in Uganda.  We are in Busia, a district on the Ugandan/Kenyan border.   I will be here for a month, leaving on October 4th.

The first morning we went to the Village of Eden site to see the construction progress.  The first dormitory has been built and they have begun painting it.  Also, they are building bases for two shipping containers that have been bought for storage.

The property is very beautiful.  There are birds flying around, the trees and other plants are so green.  There are local people everywhere, sitting, walking, standing, staring at the mzungu’s (white people).  The workers are all so happy to be there working because it means they have a steady job.

The corn is growing well, it is about 6 – 8 inches tall right now.  The gardener is going to plant coffee plants in between the corn plants.  The coffee plants will take longer to grow so they will grow as the corn grows and harvests.

The next day I returned to Kampala, a 4 hour drive, to pick up a pastor that had surgery there.  I took him for radiation treatment, ran some errands and finally arrived at a “hotel” late that evening.  On Friday, I took Arafat, a boy that was run over by a motorcycle 18 months ago, to have a fistulagram.  We waited 4 hours and in the end decided not to do the test due to risk of infection.

Saturday we stayed at the Busia mission house because of all the anti-American sentiments across the world.  We are the only Americans in the village, the three of us!  We are the only white faces in the village.  So, we stayed behind the walls of our compound, out of sight and hopefully out of mind from the MANY, MANY  Muslims in the village.

Today, Sunday, we will be listening to a downloaded sermon because we want to stay out of sight again for the day.  Hopefully on Monday we can resume work as usual.