Day 19 and 20: Quality weekend

First of all CONGRATULATIONS to all European University graduates this weekend. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the ceremony. As a little gift to myself I booked a weekend at Bunyonyi Overland Resort.

Saturday morning the UK cyclists visited the Child Africa school, as usual a whole show was prepared. The kids sang, danced and performed wonderful as always. Mark has been a sponsor of one of the children, Brenda, for 8 years, she is in secondary school now. Mark had never seen his sponsor child, so the moment she walked into the gate was very exciting. There were no words needed, however Mark gave a short speech and expressed how touching it is to see that Brenda is doing well, when she finishes studying he wants to take care of another child. Isn’t that wonderful?!  I wished there were more people like him!

Elly was playing in the brass band, although he needed to concentrate on his instrument he was looking at me and smiling the whole time! So proud with his new shoes. During the performances he came up to me and said: “Larissa I really want to thank you for what you have done for me, I appreciate it so much. So please let me do something in return.” As a gift he wanted to show me his rabbit, he took a bodo bodo-bike and went home to his grandfather’s place. Unfortunately he wasn’t back before I left, I should have known 30min in Africa means 1h30min. I hope the other kids will deliver him my message!

Around 11 am Barbra and her friend dropped me at Bunyonyi Overland resort.  Last week I made a reservation, tent nr. 8 it was.

 Reading, relaxing, tanning, eating, walking, “people-spotting” and sleeping… Just two things bothered me: First of all the waiters (can I have your facebook? email? I shortly and rather rude answered “I don’t give it to strangers” otherwise they would have kept on asking). Secondly the receptionist, he was really unfriendly to be honest and so slow! For the rest it was perfect, I really needed some time for myself, not that I don’t love to be around all these wonderful kids and teachers.  Paddie and Isaac visited me in the afternoon, too bad they don’t know how to swim. I didn’t want to swim alone (for those who don’t know: I fear fish 😉 )  plus the lake is the second deepest in Africa, it reached 900 meters, you never know what’s down there 😉 !

During the night there was heavy rain.  Some annoying crows and other birds woke  me up early in the morning, but my bad mood quickly disappeared when seeing the view right from my bed over the lake, it was magical, although still some raindrops were falling out the sky. This wasn’t how I imagined my Sunday to be.  I was hoping that after my English breakfast the sun would beat the clouds, unfortunately this didn’t happen. As I didn’t bring warm clothes with me, I found my way back to Kabale center earlier than planned.

In Kabale I went to the market with Paddie and helped Mamma Saturday cooking. Cooking the African way 🙂 in an African environment, as a tiny little mouse passed by!

Again it was a great weekend, although I would have loved to see more sunshine.

Day 18: A day of giving and receiving

Wonderful smiles, happy faces and grateful people. When I came to Uganda, I travelled with 3 bags full of clothes, shoes, games and balls. Until now everything was stored in my room, but today I felt it was a perfect day for sharing!

The Child Africa football team gathered and I gave them brand new footballs! You should have seen their happiness. Many thanks to the sponsor of these brand new balls, the kids and sport teachers loved it!

Some other clothes I divided among students. A skirt and pants to Catherine and her older sister, a short to a teacher, some cloves (Kabale is cold in the morning so don’t think this gift is useless 🙂 ) to two kids and finally a short to Brenda. But there is still a lot of stuff left in my room! It was difficult to give the presents to the kids, everywhere someone else is around. But the good thing is that there is no jealousy, they are all happy for each other!

After lunch we went with P5 and P6 to the city to welcome the Danish sponsor, Mark. He arrived with 15 other people by bike. With this initiative they are raising a lot of money for charity. They were all touched to see our students with placards, singing, clapping and dancing. Oh yes there were tears, even I still find it very touchy every single time!

On our way back to school, I walked besides Elly. He is a P6 student, he is a bit reserved, although he always comes up to me to ask about my country, football and my family! Today it was the first time I noticed his leg and his old shoes. I didn’t want to ask too much about his leg, but he told me that he had an infection, so he needed to be operated. He is not able to wear closed shoes, his leg and foot often swells. Then I started to ask him about his family, he still has both parents although they live outside the city, it’s too expensive for them to travel to town, so Elly never sees them. He always stays at school, except holidays which he spends with his grandfather, who is old and has very little money. I felt so bad and I couldn’t stand seeing him with these sandals, they were almost two sizes too small and totally broken.

After school I went with him to a market, we took a bodo-bodo together (moto-taxi) it was the first time Elly drove one. We stopped on our way to buy a soda and a banana, that already would have made his day, such a smile! But the story continues… at the market we found the perfect shoes. Elly wasn’t able to express his happiness, but his smile just said a thousand words!

After this wonderful day I am in need of a good meal. I decided to go to the “White Horse Inn” hotel. On my search for a bodo-bodo, a man came up to me on the street, he is a teacher in one the primary schools in Kabale. He saw me on the “Day of the African Child”event and told me how much he appreciates what I am doing! What a great compliment!

This whole day makes me feel so happy. As my title says “giving and receiving” I gave things but received so much more!!! When I’m looking back at the pictures of today tears are running down my cheeks ( which shouldn’t be happening cause I’m at the restaurant). Such a lovely day I will never forget, let’s hope my meal will be as good! Just ordered: “Tilapia Veronique”: poached fish fillet in rich creamy sauce, served with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables”.

Great day to start off my weekend!

Day 17: Another day at Child Africa

It was a lovely sunny and rather relaxing day. The whole morning I made placards  to welcome the sponsor in the most enjoyable way! The kids from P3, knew that I would be coming to their class so they constantly came to ask whether I was ready. After lunch I entered their class, they were having Local Language and Literacy which wasn’t so interesting for me, instead I had some fun outside with others and went back for their last hour of arts.

I laughed so much with one of the deaf students. This little guy is the funniest guy I know. He always walks around school with a happy face and screaming out some random sounds. He also likes to hit other students, but nobody cares. Today he walked around with a stick ready to attack everyone who came his direction. I was sitting on the bench and enjoying the whole show. He is deaf -mute as well as mentally retarded, nevertheless he is always happy and smiling, it’s lovely to see! When I explained him (in my best sign language) that I wanted a picture of him, he scared  away all the students and was ready to pose!  Isn’t he lovely?! I tell other kids not to walk around with a stick or hit fellow students, this kid just cannot do anything wrong in my eyes 🙂 !

Today I also wanted a picture of Catherine, so my mom and erik could have a look at their “sponsor child”. When I called her, she came up to me and kneeled down, I really find it horrible when these kids do that, but that’s the way they are taught to behave. It makes me very uncomfortable! Erik and Mom say hello to your new daughter: Catherine 😉 !

When sitting outside, a teacher came up to me with THE question of today. Please read carefully it was so funny! “Larissa, did you ever act in a movie?” My answer was a short no. “Are you sure? Because once I saw a movie called Titanic and one of the actresses Rose (Kate Winslet) looked just like you. Are you sure it’s not you, because I think in movies the actors get different names”. I had to explain him that sure it’s not me and that names are changed, on top of that he still doesn’t believe that it’s a true story 🙂 !

As you can see every day there are funny stories to tell, I’m laughing so much here!

Day 13: A magical day at Lake Bunyonyi

Wow  wow, Lake Bunyonyi exceeded all my expectations. In the morning when we drove up the lake we stopped by a little house, Julie wanted to greed a woman whose grandchildren went and some still go to Child Africa. It was so so sad to see this woman, she is very old, not capable of taking care of herself and nobody feels responsible for her. She looked terrible, but mostly very miserable. A few years ago her children left her with many grandchildren, she took them all into the house until they were able to look after themselves. Right now nobody (nor her children or grandchildren) takes care of this old woman, she is incredibly poor and barely has any food or water. On the picture you can see tobacco, which she grows and sells in exchange for some food. The little bucket had just a few centimeters of water, which she will use to clean herself.

No water, no drinks, no food, no nothing, she desperately prays for rain which will fill up her little bucket. I felt so bad, how can her family treat her like this, after everything she has done for them!

After this sadness, the day could only get better. And it definitely did! We drove up the hills and went to a beautiful hotel with the most amazing view: Arcadia cottages Lake Bunyonyi.

After some relaxing time we drove down, to another hotel/restaurant which was even more beautiful. Bunyonyi Overland Resort, located right next to the lake. From there we took a little motorboat to one of the islands. First we passed a little island, just a few metres wide with one tree in the middle. This island is called Punishment Island, in earlier days unmarried pregnant girls were dropped here and left to die of hunger. Now you are probably wondering why they didn’t swim to another island? Well, the fathers weren’t that stupid they tight up the daughters who were able to swim. Many girls drowned, however others were saved by fisherman or poor man, who wanted a wife but couldn’t afford to pay the bridewealth.

Most of the other islands you can see on the picture have a hotel. We went to Bushara Island Camp, they showed us the cottages and tents, all with stunning views over the lake.

Next it was time for lunch, we went back to Bunyonyi Overland Resort, where a delicious meal was waiting for me: grayfish (fished from the Lake) in a vegetable sauce with potatoes. Because the hotel is so beautiful, relaxing and has a lot of facilities I decided to go back next weekend. We went to have a look at the cottages and tents, I fell in love with tent number 8. All tents are positioned on high poles and offer a great view.  But number 8, oh boy, the view from that room is the most amazing, so we went to the reception and reserved for Saturday night. Although it’s a twin room they will charge me a single price, let’s hope it all works out! I’m already looking forward to some relaxing weekend by myself, even though the hotel always has tourists and especially pack backers.

I assure you, if you ever get the change to visit Uganda, do not fail to pass Lake Bunyonyi. It’s definitely in my list of “most beautiful places ever been”.

Day 11 and 12: Let the weekend begin

Friday

Unfortunately internet has not been working well since Friday. There’s always something: mousses, no hot water, no electricity and Friday evening I even found a horrible insect in my bed, luckily it was dead. As you see it’s never boring here 🙂 !

I’m glad the weekend arrived, time for a little break. Friday it was my last day at the nursery section, top class. Before school started all the kids gathered to dance and sing, so early in the morning and so much energy already!

 At 9 am the top class teacher left for a meeting, but told me she would be back soon. Getting used to the African standards of course she wasn’t back before lunch was served. I was in charge of 26 children aged between 5 and 6, on top of that I didn’t get an outline or plan of the day. These kids don’t understand English perfectly, so you can imagine what a pain it was. If they wouldn’t be so cute, I would have seriously punished them 🙂 . All in all it went quite well, I made them draw and gave them homework. After class I was a dead body, I even took a “bodo-bodo bike” home. As I mentioned in a previous blog bodo-bodo’s in Kampala are moto-taxi, however here in Kabale these moto’s are replaced by bicycles. They have put some kind of pillow for the passengers, which is quite comfortable, plus the ride home costs only 15 euro cents.

Saturday

I thought of sleeping long today, however at 7am Mamma Saturday put on the radio in the hall incredibly loud (I felt as if I fell asleep in a club). 94.7FM, if you ever come direction Kabale, never choose this station, it’s full of talking (I mean shouting) in the local dialect, with only 1 song every 10 minutes. My sleep ended as you can imagine.

The hot shower and sunshine made me forget 94.7FM very fast! I went for a long walk up a hill, to a hotel called “White Horse Inn”, it has a beautiful garden and great view over Kabale and its mountains (on the picture you can see a part of Kabale). At noon I got hungry, so I went to the local market. It was quite annoying, seems like those people never saw someone wearing a ‘short’ dress. Luckily on my way home I ran into Paddie, one of the employees of Child Africa.

In the afternoon, Amy, Lilly (Amy’s cousin from Congo) and I went shopping. I wanted to buy some kind of African dress. Instead I bought a dress which doesn’t look African at all, but at least I bought it in Africa for a “good price” (as the shop owner said) 🙂 . Afterwards we went with Julie to the “White Horse Inn”, the weather was still amazing, so we decided to spend some time up there.

The whole afternoon I was the translator, Amy speaks English and Lilly French they both just know a little Swahili, so they prefer to have me as the middle (wo)man.

Right now they are sitting in my room teaching each other French and English, at the moment they are doing numbers and a little conversation, the accents are so funny and cute, I think I’ll be fired soon.

Tomorrow we will go to a lake, Lake Bunyonyi, everyone told me it’s beautiful over there. I’m very looking forward! Let’s hope internet keeps on working to keep you posted!

Day 10: RaLissa and the mouse

It was a lovely day in the nursery section, middle class, although I’m looking forward to the weekend. It’s been a very busy week, I woke up daily (except Tuesday) at 6.30 and was at school from 8am until 5pm. The whole day being followed, attacked and stalked by the little ones, trust me it’s time for a short break now.

The kids from nursery class are starting to remember my name, even though they pronounce it totally wrong. So meet “Ralissa” or “Lalissa”! It’s so funny, everyone, young and old has difficulties with the letter L and R. One time when the moderator during a meeting said “let us pLay now” I got confused, I thought what??? But when everyone closed their eyes I understood what he meant. The same happens in school: “kids go pRay”!

Even without this R and L confusing I need to concentrate hard to understand someone. They don’t really articulate properly or have totally different expressions.  Sometimes I ask to repeat, however to not make things awkward I’ve set my limit at 3 times, afterwards I just smile, nod and start a new conversation (no idea what is more awkward) 🙂 !

Scaring away the mouse is starting to become one of my daily activities. Now I can laugh about it, but a few hours ago I was sitting on my bed for almost 2 hours with a stick and the door wide open. When Amy saw me sitting in the room she burst out laughing, at least someone had a blast! Luckily it’s gone now, but I’m sure it’ll be back again, so I should prepare and man up a bit!

I didn’t take any picture today, for once I gave my camera a break. I’ve just put some pictures to pretty up today’s blog.

Day 2: Speke Resort

Sometimes a Wednesday can feel like a Sunday: waking up… having breakfast… walking around the hotel… taking pictures… doing a ‘beauty sleep’ next to the pool… But at a certain point I need some action, so we decided to have lunch at the Cassia Lodge. The owners of the hotel are Belgian and were on board our flight, with their two little twins.  The Cassia Lodge is located near our hotel, but the walk is quite steep, as it is located on Buziga hill, one of the highest hills of Kampala. We took the motobike-taxis, it’s not really recommended to take them as some drive pretty wild and “Uganda” and “traffic rules” do not harmonize! Nevertheless, I really wanted to do it… But no fear, due to my mom we drove even slower than a 4 year old can walk 🙂

  The view at Cassia Lodge was just excellent, the food as well, although our tomato-mozzarella salad didn’t quite taste like mozzarella.. But no complaining it was delicious!

In the evening, one of the habits of Brussels Airlines’ crew is to have an ‘apero’, where everyone brings snacks and drinks. This time the ‘apero’ was at the captain’s suite. Afterwards, we stayed in the hotel for dinner. We invited Julie, Rino and their daughter Amy (the founders and owners of to the “Child Africa” schools). It was a lovely evening, I’m glad to have met such wonderful people with incredibly big hearts!