Heart for Uganda

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Greater Appreciation

Posted on September 7, 2010 at 7:00 PM

As Antwain and I begin to settle into our new lives in Uganda, I am struck by the numbers of times each day that I smile/chuckle/shake my head at the differences between Uganda and America. (And I figure such moments will continue for the rest of my days in Uganda). My Ugandan sister, Joan Faith, will often jokingly remind me “TIA” (This Is Africa).


Presently, we are settling into our new home in Kajjansi, which is a small village outside of Kampala. Kampala is about 6 kilometers from Kajjansi, and it is the capital city of Uganda. There are several sections or homes within Kampala that would have relatively similar conveniences of American homes (perhaps minus the dishwasher and washer/dryer). We even visited one of 2 shopping malls in Kampala (where there is a wealthier international population) that looked like it was plucked from anywhere in America. However, mostly Kampala has open markets, specialty shops, or small stalls for businesses.


In comparison, Kajjansi has one open market and then small shops (for food and basic necessities) along the roads. All of the roads are soil, and the only form of transportation within Kajjansi are boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis). Our new home in Kajjansi is modest with a sitting room, toilet room, shower room, 2 bedrooms, and kitchen. There are many amenities within our home that other homes do not necessarily have; however there are differences from our home in America. I have not reached the stage where I have missed or minded any of the differences, but they are many.


Electricity… Most places in Kajjansi have basic electricity (although not always working). Yesterday we had electricity for no more than 1 hour, which is a common occurrence. Our home has electricity in every room, which I understand is not always common in most homes in Kajjansi. You must turn outlets on/off as there are some power surges that could destroy things continuously plugged into an outlet. There are no street lights in Kajjansi, so when it is dark, it is dark (especially when there is no electricity).


Water… The majority of Kajjansi gets their water from bore holes (water pumpers) or from ground wells. People fill up their jerry cans (yellow plastic containers that can hold from 1-5 gallons of water). They use the water from the jerry cans to bath, cook, boil to drink, clean, wash clothes throughout the day. Typically it is the chore of the children to fetch that water for the family. Fortunately our home has indoor plumbing (however no hot water). We must “cook” our water before drinking. However, water is not always a given either, as we awoke today to now water (and don’t know when it will return).


Bathing… Most people in Kajjansi bath in a round basin. The art of basin bathing is one that takes some practice to master. Essentially you get wet, soap up, and then rinse off using hands or cup to wash yourself. For me, washing my hair is the trickiest. There are some homes (such as ours) that has a shower room (essentially a small room that is tiled and contains a drain); however few would have hot water. Hot water requires a separate small tank to be installed, which you must turn on before your shower to receive that hotter water.


Food… There is a variety of food in Uganda. Most are non-processed, so the shelf life on eating it is short. However the eating is much healthier! Lots of banana, potato, rice, beans, vegetables as the staple for cooking. Most homes in Kajjansi do not have refridgeration; however, our home has the option. People typically cook what their family will eat within a day’s time. Most homes will cook their food on a small grill cover over a charcoal filled clay pot. Fast food restaurants have not inhabited Uganda, so eating out is done in small cafes or roadside stands.


Laundry…All laundry is washed by hand. There is a 3 step process to washing clothes, and it is more difficult than it initially looks. The kids at SMK have taught me the basics of washing, and only practice will enhance my skills. Clothes air dry in the sun on clothes lines or in the grass, whichever is more available. The people in Uganda are fascinated with the washing machine and dryer. However, only large hotels, businesses, or some boarding schools use machines for washing.


Transportation… In Uganda there is no such thing as a “quick trip” anywhere. Since we do not have a car here, we either walk or take a taxi (which is a mid-sized van which can hold over 20 people). The taxis (much like a bus system) will take you to various locations along a particular road. However, traffic in Kampala is very congested, and although there must be some traffic laws, I have still failed to understand them. Banks do not have drive up teller windows. Food can not be purchased through fast food windows. Very few parking lots can be found in the area, and no parking in front of businesses.


Last night Antwain said he liked our new home, which is the grandest compliment it could have received. We have recognized that there are certain provisions that we must make here in Uganda to remain happy, so we will continue to make them.

Categories: New home