The first morning we have woken to sun, a pleasant surprise but we had a long drive ahead. Patrick arrived promptly at 9 and we left for Rakai, an hour and a half drive at best. Today Eriab was driving us (the best driver in Uganda) the road is tarmac but there are more potholes than many of the murram roads and despite Eriab’s excellent driving we were an hour late arriving.
We were greeted by the new pastor, Amos Friday, who is also the Archdeacon. Carmen had met him many years ago when he was training at Kijjabwemi. He has only been in post for six weeks and is currently living in the office as the pastors’ house requires renovation.
We met church members including Justine the parish treasurer who is a wheelchair user (we cannot imagine how hard life must be in this environment in a wheelchair) and were formally welcomed over breakfast.
Then a short walk up the hill to Rakai School, still every bit as dilapidated as we remembered. Pupil numbers are very low, but this is only the second day back and they are anticipating many more by next week.
Christophe the headmaster welcomed us and showed us around the school.
Of three water tanks only one was in use, the other two require replacing, water has to be collected from the lake 5km away and hippos are a real threat here. This, however, is the least of the challenges, the walls require plastering and painting, the mud floors need cementing, and a veranda needs building to protect the foundations from damage. The wooden doors and windows are in a sad state and need replacing.
Many of the children were barefoot, a sure sign of poverty, and the variety of uniforms suggest any second-hand uniform that could be purchased was better than none.
There was corn drying on the ground outside, they grow maize to make porridge for the children who are also required to contribute 10,000 UGX (£2.50) or 10kg of maize, if they fail to contribute their dues, they do not get porridge. This may be the only meal of the day for some.
We headed back down the hill where we could see the Eucalyptus tree plantation provided by CHI and the church coffee field, this will be a very lucrative crop once the plants mature.
Then back in the cars for the half hour journey to Kaleere, in distance it is not far, but the road is terrible so once again Eriab’s skills were put to the test.
We seem to make a habit of arriving late in Kaleere, however, all the community were waiting for us outside the church. We had a look around the school which CHI had contributed to when it was being built. Sadly, the floors and walls are in a poor state of repair and the mud veranda is almost completely washed away. We heard how 2 classes study in the church and another class study under the tree.
In the church we found members from all the groups that have been supported by CHI, the elderly, the loan group members and the Neighbourhood Kin Group, who volunteer to assist the elderly with cleaning and household chores. The introductions and formalities over we heard about some of the challenges the groups were facing and then spent some time with the community outside the church. In no time at all we were heading for home, no time for a swim tonight.