All entries for Thursday 28 June 2007

June 28, 2007

The ten bed mattress man

I have just got back from Mulago Hospital, it took an hour and a half to do a trip that would have taken 10 minutes in a ‘special’ aka a taxi. I did pay a tenth of the price so I suppose in the time = money ratio it was fair enough. Whilst stuck in traffic I saw approaching from a distance a whole load of mattresses, initially I thought that they must be on a motorbike and I was suitably impressed by the manoeuvrability, however, as the mattresses approached it became clear that they were bouncing up and down in such a movement that even on the bumpy road of Kampala could never be associated with a motorbike. As carefully given away by the title, it was actually a young gentlemen carrying no less than 10 carefully balanced mattresses on his head I was suitably impressed and he had certainly made the traffic jam more interesting.

I also did my random sampling, I carefully calculated the necessary stratified sample sizes and then, with the aid of my assistant who is a small boy at Mulago, he selected the names from a hat. Obviously, due to the nature of random sampling, none of the staff members that I wanted to talk to were present. So its back again to Mulago tomorrow but I can avoid the nightmare traffic this time and get a Hospice car.

Just as a small side note: whilst you are stuck in the numerous traffic jams you will be approached by a preacher, and they will ask you ‘have you been saved?’, depending on your honesty you can choose to reply ‘yes I have been saved by Jesus’, this might encourage to them to leave you alone, but its more probable that they will preach to you anyway just to assure that you ‘have really been saved by Jesus’. I have never been so thankful for having to study GSCE RE as I have been here as a few solid St Mark quotes will usually convince them that I am a true fan of Jesus.

Ggaba and rugby

This saturday I managed to squeeze in another small trip to the edges of Kampala. The guide book described the market as being similar to the 'Gold Coast in Ghana', now Ive never been to Ghana, but Id be very surprised if Ggaba was like it! Ggaba takes about 15 minutes to reach but is very different from Kampala city, for a start you quickly see that people have less money. Also its a port town, which means loads of fish, for those of you that are 'into fish' there was a 40kg Nile Tilapia being weighed when we were there.

After having a small wonder around Ggaba market, which didn't really sell anything different to Kampala markets with the exception of all the fish, we tried to find somewhere to sit. We found 'Hotel Ggaba', which only charged us 30p to go and sit on some rusty chairs- cash back. It was actually very nice, there was grass, chairs, monkey bars and a pretty nice view across the lake. For those of you that are 'into birds' there were lots of them, eagles, kestrels and heron types. It was all very chilled out.

We also spoke to some children in Ggaba, much like in Kampala there is the desperate searching for a 'sponsor' to pay school fees. After primary school children must pay to attend, so if their family cannot afford it, then they must try and find someone else to, if not: no school. Unemployment is huge here, with many students failing to find work, so those who don't attend school have little chance of finding employment in the future. I don't know what the solution is here. Individuals can be helped if the school fees are paid by foreigners, but this isn't a sustainable solution. Like so many countries the children are desperate to learn and in England we have to impose prison fines on parents to encourage children to go to school! Perhaps this is the solution: swap the truants for Kampalan children desperate to learn. Everyone's a winner.....

After Ggaba we went to watch the Uganda v Namibia rugby match. It was amazing. I did question if perhaps the pitch was smaller than a standard international pitch, but this just meant that you could see more. There was plenty to see with the ref getting caught up in a tackle in the first 15 minutes which meant that he had a pretty bloody face for the rest of the match. There was a brilliant atmosphere and when Uganda came back from behind everyone went crazy, and when they won everyone flooded the pitch. I wasn't expecting this reaction so I was nearly trampled in the process! The only thing that seemed a little odd was that the Namibia team nearly all looked like white public school boys. Don't know if anyone can shed any light on this?

June 2007

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