Sunday, 30 August 2009

Uganda - MOH Day 3

Some people might say that a rest day, directly after the initial work day, is a little, lightweight, and frankly, i would have agreed with you before we actually came out here and did anything. However, we were all blessed that today is Sunday, and we couldn't work today, even if our already calloused hands would let us.

This allowed us to spend the day exploring the surrounding area, which started with a 1 hour rally/bus drive to the nearest town of Jinja. Jinja is home to the source of the River Nile as well as the burial site of Ghandi (though no one could quite explain why, answers on a postcard/email/twitter, much appreciated).

A brief boat trip took us up river, where we able to clamber up onto a small island and from there see the water ripple and bubble as it rose quickly out of the ground beneath. Before the river reached its current height, the source was a spring that would rise several feet out of the ground, now though, if you didn't know where to look, you may miss the swirl and negative currents as the Nile continues to grow.

Post river exploration, was followed immediately by a lunch at a local hotel. On Toby's recommendation, we all ordered a Tilapia fish. They are a local delicacy of these here parts and we were all curious to try the kind of fish you can eat 98% off. "Don't eat the lips" we were told by our guide, which raised several questions of A) whether fish actually have lips & B) Whether other parts of its anatomy such as the eyes, are free game (it is by the way, and is a required taste to say the least).

After a hearty meal, we were whisked off to the Jinja Rapids, which is a true force of nature to behold. We rather Britishly kept our distance from the river edge, apart from a few keen photographers, and watched in disbelief as a young guy threw himself in from the top of the rapids, and rode the river down to the calmer waters, all for a princely sum of 2000 shillings (approximately 60p), only aided by what seemed to be an inflatable yellow ball, which he rode expertly through the rocks. Clearly bonkers.

On our way back, we stopped off at Lugazi Market, which is a fantastic amalgamation of fruit stalls, fish mongers, clothes shops and fridge shops and anything else you may want. We mixed in as best you can when you are clearly white, rich and dripping in camera gear (me especially), but gradually we were welcomed by the vast majority of the town and ventured about to take in the various smells and flavours. Mark experimented with some Yam, which i'm fairly sure he wont be doing again.

As the sun began to set over the town, we made our way back to the hostel to another tasty dinner courtesy of our cook Irene who had worked her magic on a chicken that had been given to us by an appreciative local. You don't get fresher than that, not even at Morrisons.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Uganda - MOH Day 2

Our first full day on the site, has rendered the vast majority of us, utterly shattered. The 9 of us started work at 9am sharp, with mild trepidation that we were simply going to get under foot and generally be the useless 'mzunga; or whiteman.

This theory was quickly despatched as were split into 2 groups and set to work clearing up bricks, organising materials and generally getting stuck in. A few of us were lucky enough to learn some rudimentary brick laying skills. The heat made things particularly tough, especially when i was asked to help collect some more cement, which lived a 10 minute walk away, and required a climb back, up to site, which was exhausting, made worse by the fact that the 15 year old did two turns on the wheelbarrow to my one - i could not hide my envy or mild embarrassment.

We all gradually found our comfort (or non comfort) zone and slogged it out until lunchtime, the highlight of the morning being a small group of very little children, no older than 5/6, joining us to separate and move broken bricks from new. The image of the kids, clambering over piles of rubble, desperately keen to help, is an endearing and lasting one, the video footage and pics are well worth a look, which I shall load up tomorrow (once I've stopped faffing with the photos...).

Lunch was well deserved and some of us decided to enjoy a drumming and dance show, put on by the primary school. Toby and I, returned to the site and helped the remaining workmen, finish off some brick work and helped construct some scaffolding, that would have turned the stomach of any UK health and safety inspector. The work was quick paced and tiring, as the brick layers demanded more cement (delivered up a ladder in 'Wok' like bowls) and additional bricks, that were delicately 'thrown' up to the worker.

By the time 5:30 arrived, i was balancing on some of the aforementioned scaffold, learning to lay bricks, and both Toby and I, felt very chuffed with our work.

As a thank you to the group, the builders offered to take some of us down to the village to watch the Man Utd/Arsenal game. We gathered with most of the male population from the village, in front of a 28" TV, and was in awe of the noise and dancing that surrounded us, when Arsenal scored, i genuinely thought someone had been killed the noise was so shrill, but no, it was but a man, removing his shirt and whooping with joy. Just your standard Saturday night in Buikwe, Uganda.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Uganda MOH - Day 1

Its been a long, long day, but ultimately hugely agreeable. The flight from Heathrow left on time and fortunately it wasn't fully booked, meaning more room for people to relax, myself included. Thanks to a combination of the new Star Trek movie and 3 free seats, the flight went very quickly and we were soon landing in Entebbe.

Our group was swiftly guided to our mini-vans for the hour long journey to Kampala, where we changed some of the Queens sterling into Ugandan Shillings. We congratulated ourselves for navigating the Ugandan bank system with a strong coffee at the supermarket, where we also collected some vital provisions, including numerous bottles of Cola and M&M's.

We arrived at the village of Buikwe, where we are staying at the local school and were immediately blown away by the surroundings. The countryside is beautiful and not even the 10 minute thunderstorm could dampen our high, but sleepy spirits.

We were guided around the school by Andrew from International Needs and met some children who were in over the holiday to study for their exams. Further exploration lead us to the site of the new building, which has grown considerably since Toby's last visit, but still requires a lot of hard work to complete, which we will start in earnest tomorrow morning.

After a full and tasty chicken dinner, our post cuisine coffees were disturbed by a sizeable and rather hyperactive bat, who insisted on doing laps of the hostel living room, to which all manner of techniques were employed to catch him including some of the worst 'towel bull fighting' i have witnessed together with Toby trying to verbally encourage the bat out of the room..... which did not work.

The bat is still in here as i write this. I am going to bed and I'm closing the door behind me.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Dog & The Butcher - Jonathan Holt

This is a great little short film, beautifully designed and with some lovely character design, the dog is great and the whole look and feel reminds me slightly of the 60's Tom and Jerry cartoons (when Tom was regularly seen as an evil genius and Jerry had a car.... odd). Thanks to /Film for flagging this up.

The Dog and the Butcher by Jonathan Holt from Jonathan Holt on Vimeo.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Trowbridge Village Pump Festival

Trowbridge-27, originally uploaded by neile2007.

It was only a week ago that we were huddling from the rain, trying not to spill our 'old rosey' cider on each other. Trowbridge Pump is a brilliant little gathering (well, not quite little) with some fantastic alternative/folk & country bands from all over the place.

Sorry to say i can't remember who this particular band is, but it was fun that much im sure - more picks on my Flickr if you fancy it.