Saturday, September 4, 2010

This is Uganda

We have been holding back on our blog about our trip to Kamuli and the water project turnover (see blog Aug 15th).  We have talked about the trip and the adventures but not the turnover ceremony held at one of the schools that benefited from the project.

As we pulled into the school yard of Lwanyama Primary School we were greeted by hundreds of children, at least it looked like hundreds.
Some were playing instruments, some where dancing, all were pretty excited to see the Muzungus
Many parents and community members had started to gather.  We greeted the mothers and this grandmother, all of who were dressed in the Ugandan national dress.
The children gathered on one side of the yard all dressed in their school uniforms even though school is in recess for the term.  They were very polite and organized, sitting together in anticipation of the festivities.
It was a big occassion apparently as Her Honorable Rebecca Kadagu,Deputy Speaker of Parliment came to be a part of the ceremony.  Rebecca is from Kamuli and is their representative in Parliment but she has also been appointed as the Deputy Speaker, a prestigious position especially for a woman.  She is a "doer" working very hard to help the people of her district.  She was present to acknowledge the value of the gift given to 19 schools in her district and to say thank you to us for bringing the project to her area.
We cut the ribbon on the latrine, we washed our hands at the washing station and we assessed the work done on the rainwater catchment system for the school.
The LC5, Steven Mubiru was also there representing the area.  He is the highest ranking, elected officer in the district.
We were escorted to seats in the yard and seated next to Her Honorable Deputy Speaker.  She is a delightful woman who obviously loves the people she serves and it is obvious that they love her.  In fact she is known through out Uganda as a very active official working hard to improve the lives of the people of Uganda.  When ever we mention that we met the Deputy Speaker Rebecca everyone knows her name and says only good things about her.

We sang the Ugandan National Anthem.  It is a beautiful song about hope and good things to come.

Ugandan National Anthem
Oh Uganda! may God uphold thee,
We lay our future in thy hand.
United, free,
For liberty
Together we'll always stand.
Oh Uganda! the land of freedom.
Our love and labour we give,
And with neighbours all
At our country's call
In peace and friendship we'll live.
Oh Uganda! the land that feeds us
By sun and fertile soil grown.
For our own dear land,
We'll always stand:
The Pearl of Africa's Crown
The anthem is sung on every occassion and everyone knows the lyrics.  They sing it with heart felt enthusiasm.  We can't help but sing along as it is a great anthem.
Her Honorable Rebecca asked me why the new latrine only had 2 stances for the girls while the boys had 3 stances plus a urinal.  I told her I had asked that same question of Hannington, our monitor.  Seems someone was thinking like a boy. but be assured, that won't happen again.

The program was long but very entertaining with the children singing songs and reciting poems about hygiene and sanitation, about being strong and studying hard, about being clean and pure.
Over half of the children were without shoes.  Most all of the children had on uniforms but many were very worn, missing buttons or in disrepair.  They were clean and neat and very well mannered.  They performed with great gusto and always with a wonderful smile.
A young woman came out on the field and danced while the children sang about even though you may be disabled you still can dance and sing.
She performed the traditional Ugandan dance with a wrap around her hips which accents the movement of the hips.  The dance looks quite difficult and is very energetic.

It is tradition that when the children dance that you give them coins (small denominations ).  You tuck the coin in the wrap around the dancers hips and then you can dance with them showing your enjoyment at their dancing.

Elder Barlow was so touched by the message that he jumped up and placed some money in her hand and then he couldn't contain himself and started dancing with her.  It wasn't long before the LC5 was up dancing and a lady came and wrapped a scarf around Elder Barlow's hips so everyone could see his hip action.  I was filming the scene and never did get a still picture of the dancing but you can see the dance on Youtube at Kamuli water project turnover ceremony

Her Honorable Rebecca had us stand up and presented us with presents, A purse made from natural plant fibers and then theyproceeded to dress us in the Ugandan national dress.

A Gomesi for Sis. Barlow
and a Kanzu for Elder Barlow
Traditional dress and traditional bow from a woman to a man, actually you are suppose to kneel and wait for the man to take your hand and lift you up.  That got a great roar from the crowd with much warbling and cheering.
Not  very flattering outfits on Muzungus but traditional and seen where ever you go in Uganda

Betty is the community mobilizer that makes sure the community takes care of the gifts given them through water and sanitation and she also trains the community in good sanitation practice.  Hannington is our project monitor or our eyes on the project when we are not there.
Music for this occassion was very unique and included a wooden xylophone, drums and an interesting fiddle/guitar instrument.  The music was different, very African and surprisingly loud, well they did have a couple of amps to help the volume.
An exciting part of the entertainment was when a character dressed as a woman came out on stilts to dance.  they had on an interesting wooden mask but my, how that character could move on those stilts.  His feet were tied to a bar on each stick allowing him to raise his legs and dance.  If he fell he had no way of jumping off or catchining himself.  But, he didn't fall and he put on quite a show.
He ran towards the children and they all took off like a shot, screaming.  He was pretty scary and larger than life on those stilts.  Pretty amazing!

Of course you can't go to such an affair with out eating and we were given quite a feast of goat, chicken, beef, rice, irish potatoes, matoki, pasta, cabbage and pumpkin. 
We took only a taste of each thing and the server came up to us and told us we were "cheating the meal" by not taking a healthier portion.
The missionaries were given a plate and utensils but everyone else just got a plate.
Two students were assigned to watch out for our every need and they brought us water to wash our hands before we ate.  They were so sweet to all of us and stayed right with us through out the visit.  After eating dinner there were some more speeches in the room where we were eating and I got up and left to get another battery for the camera.  The two girls were standing right out side the door so I visited with them and ended up giving them a CTR ring.  I explained to them that it was meant to remind them to "Choose The RIght".  They got excited as I told them that they were in charge of what they chose to do with their lives and I was giving them this ring to remind them how important it was to choose the right.
As we got ready to leave there was still much dancing going on.  How they can keep this up for so long is the question.  Hannington told us that the parents and children were waiting for us to leave so they could eat.  We got right out of there when we heard that.
Good bye!  Will we ever see you again?

As this project is one the Glenns did before they left we should say thank you Elder and Sis. Glenn for a project well done.  We took care of the gifts, your Gomesi and your Kanzu.  We also got your two live chickens, your bag of sugar can, papaya, oranges and many many thanks for the water and sanitation provided by Humanitarian Services of


Emma said...

That's amazing! Must of been fun. We miss you and hope to skype you soon. :)

Kimberly said...

AWESOME. What an amazing, fantastic experience (other than eating goat). Love you both.

Tiffany said...

The picture with the girls and the CTR rings brought tears to my eyes. You will always be a defender of youth. You were an amazing YW leader and still are!

You both look stunning in those outfits! You are accepted as Ugandan now.

Ben and I have saved the video of Dad dancing for our Sunday night movie. Can't wait to watch it...

Tiffany said...

...okay we watched it! It was even better than we expected. It drew quite a crowd of giggling grandkids around the computer.

Love, funny, fantastic inspiring people!

Angela said...

You look like a present wrapped up in your new clothes. And Farrell... what can I say about that hat? Beekeeper? The video was great! John's out of town right now but when he returns I will be sure to show him. I'm sure he'll get a kick out of it like I did. And you're right Farrell...some things can not be explained. :)