Jenny's Uganda newsletter 1&2

Kia ora e hoa. Well warm temps continue and we are in a great house with basic facilities but perfect for us- cold shower but fine in these temps!

I cooked up one of my omelettes for each of us last night with yummy local veg- tomatoes, onion, local cheese, green peppers.... yum.

Yesterday we went to a preschool with about 25 children- learning their local language and english- using slate boards and chalk. In a hut with mud floors, basic wooden desks and no resources. From things people gave us to bring we were about to give each child a dress, skirt  or shirt. Also knickers, pencils, balls to kick, skipping ropes, sunhats..... They had a ball in the playground kicking balls, skipping, running and chasing...

Seeing their faces was a treat! Such gorgeous smiles, sang us  heaps of songs, clapped heaps...  and joined in with us singing 'This is the day' and in maori  'Tenei te ra.' Very humbling.

Today we went to 3 homes with children with special needs- blind, deaf and cerebral palsy caused by malaria. These and other children get support  through the Foundation eg meds to help with preventing epilepsy, hearing aids, physio to help with building muscular strength, special chair to give physical support....

One young deaf man now 17 was given a goat 4 years ago and now he has bred them up & has 13. Next step is to sell them and buy a cow- better outcomes  as can get calves to sell, milk and meat. Can mean a better house with this better income... Foundation supported him with a new bed, mattress and blanket.

I am  a bit distracted as we are setting the budget for next year with guidance from a guy from UK who is a volunteer adviser- accountant! He is a gem- been here for 3 weeks- all at his own expense.

Progress is being made!

The work being done by Rwenzori special Needs Foundation is incredible! I am soooo impressed. One local  guy and his mother have got all this going and it a real credit to them. My friend Dot in Inver is backing them- so looks like lots more cheese roll making coming up!

Having a great time  learning so much! Of course I know how blessed I am - but this confirms it for me even more!

More adventures ahead for the next fortnight.

We are all on fire for Rwenzori-= so watch out Dot and Lois say!

Go well and feel free to pass on this email to nayone who might be interested.

rangimarie, Jenny

Rwenzori newsletter 2/ 14 July 2016

Kia ora e hoa ma, Well it is still a pleasant 26 degrees. We are settled in to a house together – basic but comfy beds, toilets- in fact 2 and 2 cold showers – but fine as it is so warm.
We have had very full on days, going around seeing the offices, families, schools, gardens, pig farms etc.
What a huge amount of work the Rwenzori Special Needs Foundation (RSNT)  are doing with a  minimum of staff. Project Manager Daniel and his mother ( who is a school principal & is actually doing the equivalent of ERO visits this week!), set up this wonderful scheme in conjunction/ with support of Dot Muir from Invercargill.
On the smell of an oily rag they are doing amazing things. They have employed a Social Worker and two people who train teenagers on vocational courses eg tailoring, hairdressing.
Over the last 2 days :- we went to see several families who had a child with a special need. These  included being deaf, blind and having cerebral palsy all resulting from malaria when they were tiny children. Also a 9 year old with epilepsy who can attend school now RSNT is supporting with medication.

Brian who is deaf is now 17 was given a goat at age 13 by RSNT and he now has 13 beautiful  animals. Thinking of selling them for a cow! He is a full time farmer. So proud as is his mother.

The others are getting support in their homes and parents being guided with options, physiotherapy, exercises and basic needs like assistance with school uniforms. RSNT social worker is a young woman with a heart for these children and  has a degree from  Kampala University which qualifies her to assess, refer on etc. She seems to be the link in connecting them with services the families may not know about, and getting them to appointments, supporting them at Drs and helping with explanations. She is on a minute salary but worked here as a volunteer for about 3 years as she is so committed- she saw her niece with hydrocephalus   and how a social worker could have helped so much.
We went to a pre-school as well- 3 classes from 4-6 years. Classrooms tiny with 4year olds on a mat on the dirt floor and older ones with basic desks. Very limited resources eg 2 posters. Learning English and their own language – using a slate board and chalk. Some of the children had awful coughs. Their lovely shiny faces, winning smiles, and flashing bright eyes totally won our hearts! We gave them the dresses, hats and shirts which Myra from Invercargill had given us. Just tried them over their school uniform and they kept them on!  So proud. Then we had the footballs, soccer balls, wee bats and balls, pencils, skipping ropes, - they had a fab time playing, laughing, kicking and of course we joined in. They sang us some of their songs and we sang ours- especially ‘This is the day- Tenei te ra.’’They joined in too.
We met the volunteer UK consultant accountant who has been here for 3 weeks finding out about RSNT and making recommendations about how to be accountable. Keep accurate records and making very dollar spin as far as possible for RSNT. He was a real trick and kept us all on our toes. We helped with a budget for the next year and made some commitments to support them some more from NZ- so watch out cheese rolls brigade! He went home today feeling very pleased with the results of his time here and how he had met all the commitments he had made to help RSNT. He will keep in touch by email and support over the year as needed for advice.
He gave me the left over time on his modem stick so I am very spoilt.
Today we had a day off and went to local caves   with stalactites and stalagmites along with a lovely waterfall and our guide told us of the stories and myths associated with them and their history. They are trying to develop Fort Portal in to a tourist area around some of these natural features. We then walked for about 2 ½  hours  up hills and down dales( across farmland – banana plantations, cows, veg gardens ….. ) and around old volcano craters and lakes as well as up a very steeeep hill to get good views. About 26 degrees! A secondary school had its students out for the day too so we talked with them- apparently they all speak English as well as one of four local dialects.

We visited Daniel’s home tonight- one small room with a bed, cot for his 18 month old daughter, a table, and cooking facility was a charcoal burner with one pot. Everything else was communal eg toilet, shower, washing facilities…. Dot went in there and found it very emotional seeing the way he lives. This one room is behind their wee clothes ‘shop’ run by his wife, all rented.  Humbling.
Just keeping you all posted! Please circulate to others who might be interested.
Thoughts and prayers,
Rangimarie, Jenny, Lois, Dot, Alison and Margot

On Tuesday, 12 July 2016 3:27 PM, Gillian Swift wrote:

hi Jenny, wish it that warm here! another good frost last night.  Packing all finished, Jamie & family in Wellington.  I think they have a house to rent in lower Hutt.  Gosh I will miss them.  Enjoy yourself and take care, blessings Gillian

From: Jenny Campbell
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2016 5:53 PM
To: Corwin Newall ; Steve and Mandy Newall ; Adrianne Stewart ; Sandra Romero ; Fiona Newall ; David and Chris Henderson ; Gillian Swift ; Bruce & Sonya ; Sr Judith ; Marie Lockie ; Carmen Campbell ; Stephen Price
Subject: Re: On my way from Sydney!

Yes now in Kampala & 26 degrees. Stayed in hotel overnight with huge canopy to keep mossies out- I heard one! Huge dinner- I could not eat it all- fish rice and veg. We had ahd lots of meals on planes of course. Saw several movies- well parts of them- between nodding off!

Very tired after 27 hours of travel- but have done it before so know I will be fine by tomorrow! I love sitting at airport watching people. All full of shops with 'stuff' though! No recycling in Dubai airport!

Had a walk around local suburb last night ( Sun) -  very noisy, lots of stalls trading and quite a rough area- big drains to catch water when it pours obviously- heaps of big vehicles, motorbikes and few bikes, Chldren loved Hi 5 to us!

No dogs or cats that I noticed.Very green here.

Feel free to send around other who might want an update. Not sure how well connected to email we will be at next place- where we are at the Rwenzori special needs project- hopefully doing some 'work'!

Heaps of interesting people in queues doing great  things around the world.

Sandra- baby???

Off by van to our  'work site' to day- about 5 hours away- Fort Portal. The van is one Dot organised by raising money in Southland. it goes well. Driver picked us up at airport and negotiated traffic with ease= plenty of practice I figure.

Hope to keep you posted as I go. Of course was still writing articles for newspaper from Sydney- even managed to send with help of foreign currency young woman! What a gem.

Go well and safely as we are! Hope frosts not tooooo bad at home. Fab seeing family at CHCH airport too- thanks for coming!

Rangimarie, blessings hope and joy to you all,


Jenny's Uganda newsletter no3

 Newsletter 3 from Uganda-    bit long sorry but last one before I hit home on Thurs!

Hi family and friends. Not sure where the last 2 weeks have gone but  it is count -down to home now! Leave Fort Portal on Mon to Kampala overnight and plane Tues to Dubai. Home Thurs night in time for Enviro Southland Awards! Thought we were home Fri- so that’s a bonus!
3 of group going on a safari from Sun. We have had one day off going to the falls, caves and walking over- up and down- volcano craters but since then it has been all go!
3 days visiting families in their villages with a child with special needs and looking at goats, pigs and cow raising projects alongside veg gardens- with young people who are making progress and been in the scheme for a few years now ( Rwenzori Special Needs Foundation =RSNF-started in 2011 by Dot Muir of Invercargill). They so proud of what they are doing supported by their families- often mother, aunty or grandmother taking care in a 2-3 roomed brick hut with a mud floor- clean but basic. Cooking and washing done outside and water carted daily in plastic containers – often by the children. No grumping- just part of what they do!
We had two full days with the open air assessments with 3 Doctors from Kampala. General practitioner, Ambrose, eye specialist Nelson ( keen to come and see our Nelson!) and Steve, orthopaedic. Also had OT from a Child Development Centre, Patrick or David, helping with future therapy needs. We sat on the grass on mats under the trees  or tarpaulins – one day in a public park next to a school with over 400 primary pupils and were able to use one classroom for eye specialist, and next day outside at a country medical centre with one room for eye specialist.

People lined up, sat on the grass and waited for hours with their children. So patient. The Drs were so respectful, engaged, compassionate but straight with the parents/ gran/ aunty in telling them what was needed. Saw about 500 children over the two days- some just needed referral for physio, others glasses, some just diet help, and others urgent needs eg cancer of the eye, glaucoma and cataracts so losing their sight in their one good eye, hydrocephalus and needing drains, along with others with less urgent needs eg club foot needing callipers and special shoe, hunch back needing physio and others needing help with walking because of joint and muscular dystrophy. Parents were so appreciative of being able to be seen by a doctor and to have some hope that their children will be given the appropriate treatment they need very soon.
Now the real work starts with follow ups of about 50 children, 10 urgent cases to be seen by middle of Aug  but with our limited finances we probably can’t help them all. The operations once they get to hospitals are mostly free (except for some big orthopaedic operations on  legs, club foot, …) but the costs which they don’t have the resources to provide for themselves and their child are getting to the hospital, food while they are at hospital along with food for their child, and accommodation costs as well as the costs of the support person eg a social worker while at hospital- who helps with all the forms, language barriers and arranging follow up….  These are the costs RSNF covers so the children can get the operations they need.
We are now working on our priority list and how many of them we can actually support now. Many difficult decisions to be made.
Since then we have spent quite a bit of time on the budget, trying to stretch it even further.
WE bought some material so the vocational sewing/ tailoring students could make some aprons for us to bring home. They made 13 and the straight line sewing and finished products all gave them a real buzz. Photos aplenty of course!  Hairdressing students did Margot’s hair- soooo different from their very curly hair with the tight plaiting which they attach and form buns, top knots or add beads. Mind you they do look gorgeous.

We have been taking our food scraps- mostly fruit and veg peelings – to their centre where they have the garden dug but waiting for wet season to plant. We have been trenching and putting in the scraps to build up the compost and help retain the moisture. There seem to have been short sharp thunderstorms quite regularly at night and a few during the daytime. Luckily we have been inside.
We had one Fri night out- going to a local cultural event- the equivalent of Miss NZ show- about 30 years ago in NZ! It was hilarious and soooo late! 3am home! Granny not up to it! Traditional dances, singing, drums etc. They crowned Miss Tooro –a regional winner for promoting tourism in the area. They are hoping to increase tourism in the Fort Portal area with guided tours to national parks, the falls, volcano craters, hot pools…..
We went to a primary school yesterday which is mainstreamed-about 50 students with special needs eg deaf, blind, in wheelchairs, club foot, or slow learners, were all in regular classes but sometimes they get together in their special classroom for their individual tuition/ needs eg signing for deaf, braille for blind.  The children sang us an action song very enthusiastically and we responded. They all got some pencils ( coloured and lead) which many of you had donated and the children were very appreciative – thank you. Alison had some fire brigade balloons which she blew up and a few children were lucky enough to get one!
It was their lunchtime so we went to the boarding school section for the special needs children- about 22 living there for the term- then go home for holidays. A woman had been cooking the lunch over a charcoal fire- huge cauldron of maize ‘heavy bread’, beans in red sauce. They had a huge bowl of these goodies each and then it was topped off with   huge avocado from their own trees. We have since bought 10 at 10c each! Sumptuous! The children let me have a swing – even gate crashing the queue- I love swinging. In the playground I had them all joining in ’If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands…’etc. They cottoned on really quickly and I had a huge crowd all grinning, laughing and thinking I was ….??? Others did fun things with them too. Principal rang the bell otherwise we would have been there all day! Fun. So enthusiastic and delighted we visited and took an interest. It is next to a teachers’ college so is used for training as well.
Followed up with a drive in to the mountains on a windy road towards the Congo. Mountain streams, terraced gardens with a great variety of crops all hand tilled – real patchwork scenes on steep hillsides. We walked down a steep slope and marvelled at seeing their efforts to eke out a living- many were refugees apparently who had settled a long time ago and are now naturalised.
We visited relatives of the project manager to say our farewells today as the 3 other women went off on their safari and Margot and I wandered around Fort Portal seeing the people relaxing on a Sunday, took in another church service at the Cathedral in their local language. They recognised us of course even though we sneaked in late at  the back – mind you- how could you miss two older very white women in a sea of black faces, in casual clothes with back packs and they were in their Sunday best! They thanked us again for the Mossburn church chalice and paten and did a show and tell and we got another round of applause! – all the way from New Zealand!

I found a ‘Science Centre’ with lots of bird books, books on Uganda and bits of skeletons of various animals eg birds, frogs, elephants, snakes. Students come for projects from local primary and secondary schools- a very meagre library compared with any in NZ but obviously well used! We had an ice cream and watched the locals  - fascinating- as they obviously find us as well – especially children. We have been doing lots of ‘Hi 5s’!
We have a wee bonus now as change of plans getting to Entebbe airport could mean being able to stand astride the equator!
Time to stop- this is my last opportunity to use internet before we get to CHCH on Thurs afternoon.
Please send this missive around anyone who might be interested. Am certainly getting my education extended and so grateful I live in Aotearoa. I am holding the hope for these gorgeous welcoming people. Their hearts yearn for another way and opportunities for themselves and their young people-  but their faith in a God of love is humbling to see.
Rangimarie, blessings, hope and joy.