By 9 a.m. the grounds were swarming with Children of Peace orphans in their yellow uniforms. They then dispersed to their various classrooms for supplementary schooling. This extra day of school has made a big difference to their grades. There are classes for Primary 1/2 to P7 and a joint secondary class (S1-S5), which is not so well attended as some of the students are at boarding schools in Mbale and elsewhere and only come during the holidays.
Two Home Visits
At lunchtime, teacher Jane and I walked to the centre of Konokoyi, the village where the BLC is located, to visit the caregiver of M— B— J—. He is a total orphan, and his blind auntie looks after him. She remembered me from last February and seemed delighted to greet us. Her first complaint was that the kitchen was too small and the latrine needed fixing. Both seemed fine to Jane and me. More credible problems were bedbugs and insufficient food. The auntie gets some assistance from the association for the disabled that she chairs but we decided to recommend that M— B— J— be given extra rations of posho or beans to take home on Saturdays under the Children of Peace feeding program. Auntie recounted how she had asked the project for food and been given two slices of bread. She found this hilarious and said she would not ask again. I joined in the general mirth. To feel properly fed, Ugandans need a large quantity of starchy food. Bread may seem a novelty because it is relatively expensive, but it goes nowhere in satisfying their appetite.
After school lunch of rice, cabbage and beans, Hellen and I took the school truck to the Bududa trading centre. The students stood in the back while Hellen, another teacher and I squished into the two front passenger seats. A matatu took us to Bubulo and then B— B—and I squeezed onto one pickipicki (motocycle taxi) while Hellen got on another one. The path up the mountain was very narrow and steep. At times it was so potholed and rocky I wondered if we would get stuck half way up. The house was spick and span but the child’s bedroom was in an appalling state. Although he did have a bed, the thatched roof overhead was full of leaks and, upon inquiry, B— B—produced the mosquito net he had been given by the project, still in its original packaging and unopened! His father was prevailed upon to promise to look for grass to re-thatch the roof and B— B—said he would use the net. The latrine lacked a roof and one wall and the water supply was a filthy puddle that dries up in the dry season. On the positive side, B— attends Saturday school regularly and was placed about 60 out of 200 according to his school report. He has been receiving the school lunches paid for by the project.
Back in Bubulo, poor Hellen broke one sandal. She hobbled with one bare foot to the mattress shop, where we picked out three medium quality mattresses, which we will pick up for three of the Children of Peace.
On the way home, I came across a couple in the middle of the road at a bend. A sack of coffee beans had spilled and the man was sweeping them up off the mud while the woman picked them up one by one.
Another Wet Evening
I ended the day as before sitting on the terrace in the dusk listening to the rain drumming down on the corrugated iron room. It always sounds as if it is raining harder than it really is. This is supposed to be the beginning of the dry season but there is no sign of the daily downpours letting up. As we were instructed by a retired teacher on a walk, Bududa has reliable precipitation – reliable at least in quantity it seems, although not in distribution throughout the year.