Saturday, 12 December 2009

Tea and grasshoppers.....!

What's green, crispy, quite greasy and very salty?
A big juicy fried Ugandan grasshopper!!!
Think I'll stick to Pringles!!

Mid-November is marked by the arrival of lots of grasshoppers and people get very excited....everyone at work was eagerly awaiting them! Along with white ants they are considered a real delicacy and highly nutritous, they're eaten as a snack. They are called 'nsenene' in Runyankole.

They can be bought already deep fried from street hawkers or bought raw from a street seller (displayed on plastic sheeting on the ground) - they're cheaper this way. you can have them with or without their wings and legs, the latter being cheaper. Needless to say, I've not yet mustered the courage to taste them...... they look really greasy (though there are many more reasons why I've not been tempted!) - I assumed they were deep fried but was told they are dry fried and that they have lots of natural oil!

Some of the grasshoppers are caught naturally usually by woman and kids foraging in the grass, but most are trapped at night using a system which consists of strings of outdoor electric light bulbs, reflective metal sheets and metal drums. The idea is that the grasshoppers are attracted by the naked light bulbs, they then fly into the metal sheets and fall into the metal drums!

Patricia and Francis enjoying some grasshoppers with morning tea!

Yuuuuummmmm.... (not!!)

Grasshopper traps

Friday, 30 October 2009

Invasion of the ants.........

Over the last 2 weeks there's been quite a lot of rain, which means lots of mud as most roads off the main roads and out of town are dirt roads. It also means most of the top layer of dirt just gets washed away, so the roads are now full of huge potholes and ravines where the water flows down and across the road. Most roads have some form of drainage channel on either side but these often get blocked and it's quite common for them to overflow in really heavy rain.

One very unwelcome result of the rains, for me anyway, is the arrival of swarms of white ants. These are not your everyday little ants and in fact they don't even look anything like ants as we know them. I've heard of them referred to as flying termites but they're commonly know as white ants, as they have quite large white wings. They usually live in the termite hills but when it rains and the temperature drops they come out looking for warmer shelter, but they don't last too long when the rain is lashing down and usually die pretty quickly, discarding their wings everywhere. It's quite common to see piles off wings on the road sides or around houses. To many people these are very welcome visitors as they are considered a delicacy and a good source of protein when roasted or ground into a paste - in Masindi they were very popular and it was a common for people, especially kids to go foraging for them after the rains. For some reason they're not very popular in Mbarara, they prefer a nice big juicy roasted grasshopper instead!

Recently the white ants have taken a liking to my house and on a few ocassions I found some wings and dead bodies scattered around the living when I got up in the morning - I soon realised that they were getting in through a small gap under my front door, so I blocked up the gap with newspaper when it rained. However, last week it rained during the night and I hadn't blocked it up and so imagine my surprise when I walked into my living room the next morning and found this sight......................

Many of you reading this will know I'm not a big fan of creepy crawlies of any kind, so to say I freaked is putting it mildly! They were all over the floor, some dead, some still wiggling away - unfortunately (!) once they've lost their wings they die pretty quickly and are not too lively!

The pile I swept up ......there were piles of wings outside the front door too!

Salome, the girl who manages the compound thought that the security light right outside my front door was attracting them, fortunately since I've turned it off at night I've not had a single one!

It's a commonly held belief in Uganda that the rains also bring the 'thieves' out at night. When it rains heavily the electricity often goes off so everywhere is in darkness, also the sound of the rain against metal roofs is really loud, so it's difficult to hear if someone is lurking around. Last week, Patricia got up during the night to take her nephew Elijah, who lives with her, to the outside latrine as he wasn't feeling well, when she got back to her house (2 rented rooms)  two guys told her not to scream or talk and proceeded to take her TV, DVD player (which didn't work), 2 mobiles (almost everyone here has at least 2 phones for different networks), a blanket and unfortunately a very expensive microscope she'd bought the day before for her brother who's a doctor. She had borrowed the money to pay for it, and now her brother is refusing to refund her - it cost about 3 months salary. She reported the incident to the police, who took a statement but have done little else, it's unlikely she'll see any of her stuff again. I felt so sorry for her, she works so hard at the project, and is looking after her young son and her nephew while her sister is studying full-time in another district. I bought her a cheap promotional phone as I didn't like the idea of her being alone with 2 young children and no means of contacting anyone.

Life is really hard for the majority of people here, but somehow they manage to not let it get them down - Patricia was still her same smiling and bubbly self, well at least it appeared that way to others, but it really is tough for her.

Patricia outside the office with flowers she made

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Kato and Kakuru

When twins are born in Uganda they are often given traditional names meaning first and second born, but what these names are depends on which region the parents come from and if they're boys or girls. Now for little James and Jeremy, this gets quite complicated - they were born in Mbarara in the South West, Lucy their mum is from Hoima in the North West and Sam their dad is from Lira in the North. So in effect they could be called any of four names. In the South Western region James is called 'Kato' (meaning first born) and Jeremy is called 'Kakuru' (meaning second born). Lucy is also a twin, so is known to most people as 'Nyangoma' (first born) and her twin sister is known as 'Nyakato'. It gets slightly more complicated when it's one boy and one girl, as the names given depend on which of them was the born first - Patricia was explaining this to me yesterday, but I kind of lost the plot after a while!

Jeremy 'Kakuru' on the left and James 'Kato' on the right - don't they look cute.... James looks so much like Lucy it's amazing!

There was a big open air trade show in Mbarara recently, which attracts vendors and businesses from all over Uganda, and even Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. Healthy Child Uganda is a project in partnership with Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) and each year they hire space at the show and allow HCU to sell their community made handcrafts there. It was a perfect opportunity to display and hopefully sell the flowers, I was inundated with them so really needed to shift them in order to pay the local communities.

Now, in principle an open air show in Africa sounds lovely, except when it's held in the rainy season and yes, this unfortunately means running the risk of getting wet, and very wet, saturated in fact, we got. On two ocassions our tent was actually blown away, the second time it landed on top of the national electrity supplier's tent, they weren't amused. On the last day, the wind and rain was so bad the entire stadium looked like a scene from a disaster movie with tents down all over the place and floods of water everywhere.

 Patricia 'manning' the stand, along with a medical student from the university who was doing free blood pressure tests. Patricia kept herself busy making flowers for Teddy, the project manger, to take to friends in the UK

I knew that Lucy would like to go to the show, but unfortunately with two little babies and no money for non-essentails, her chances of going were pretty slim. So when I suggested that I would take her and the boys as a 'treat' she was absolutley delighted. She'd not been further than 10 minutes away from her 2-roomed house in over 2 months, so was really excited about going out for the day and having the opportunity to show off her boys! So with Lucy dressed in her best 'kitenge' (top and long skirt made from traditional fabric), Sam spruced up and the boys dressed in their best outfits too, off we went! We got lots of 'funny' looks walking around the show ground, especially when peopel spotted the 'muzungu' (me!) carrying a Ugandan baby in my arms - they're too little to be strapped around the back yet....I can only imagine the hiliarity that would have caused!

Lucy, in her best clothes with Kakuru (sometimes known as Jeremy or Jeramiah) and Kato (sometimes known as James or Jimmy)! They even had proper nappies on for the ocassion!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Where's the groom?!

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend the introduction and give away for Harriet,  one of the girls who works in the VSO office in Kampala. The introduction and giveaway ceremony is part of a traditional Ugandan marriage ceremony. Traditionally, there used to be 3 events - the introduction, where the girl takes her husband-to-be home to meet her family; the giveaway, which is held at the home of the girl's parents, it involves her family officially 'giving her away' to the husband's family and then finally the wedding ceremony. These days it's quite common for the introduction and giveaway to be held together on the same day.

Traditionally the first two of the three ceremonies are paid for by the brides family and the wedding ceremony is paid for by the grooms family. This is after the 'bride price' has been agreed - the money that the groom's family pays to the bride's family as payment for her! The price is calculated in cows, even though most urban families wouldn't actually hand over cows these days, it's be the value of a certain number of cows - apparently fresian cows are far more valuable that the traditional ankole (big horned) cows. I was having a discussion about all this with Nasser recently, he's getting married soon, and we agreed that in effect the groom's family pay for everything - they pay the bride price which is used  by the bride's family to pay for the introduction and giveaway ceremonies and then they also pay for the wedding ceremony!!

So in true Ugandan style the timing of the event did not quite go as plan - the invite said it'd start at 12.00p.m but I'd been told to get there for about 2.00, I arrived with two other VSOers at about 2.30. We were seated in a small room in the family house  with 2 other non-Ugandan guests (the Ugandan guests ate outside somewhere apparently) and given vast amounts of traditional food for lunch.

The decoration of the home compound was spectacular, with numerous white tents for all the guests and there were many of them, each one decorated with swags of really colourful fabric (pink and green - two colours are chosen to represent each of the two ceremonies), there were arrangements of fresh roses everywhere, a huge cake on display and lots of young women walked around in brightly coloured lime green dresses - some of these were Harriet's sisters and friends. There were also 2 MC's, who kept everyone informed about what was going on, everyone except us as we couldn't understand a word.

The event finally began about 3.30 with the arrival of the groom's family, they were greeted by the girls in green who gave each one of them a green corsage to pin on their clothing. They then proceeded to walk to a tent that was reserved especially for them.

The day was marked by many traditional rituals, such as the groom's family having to 'guess' who the bride was from a line up of girls; the bride having to 'search' for her 'man'; the handing over of numerous gifts to different members of each family, many of them having traditional symbolic importance. It truly was fascinating, the female guests were dressed in wonderfully colourful outfits, there was lots of entertainment and very little alcohol consumed by anyone.

Waiting for the arrival of the groom and his family. There was also another set of about 8 girls in different costumes who took part in the actual ceremony.

One of the MC's in action - that's the groom's family's tent behind him

Traditional dancers provided entertainment throughout the day
Traditional dancer

Harriet searching for her 'man' amongst the guests in the groom's tent.
She was dressed in green for the introduction ceremony.

Having found and identified him, she gave him a different corsage and he came to sit at the front of the tent with Harriet, though she was only remained there for a short while. She spent most of the event sitting on a mat on the ground in front of her family's tent surrounded by her 'matrons'

Harriet, to the left, in the second of her two outfits, this one pink and turquoise was for the giveaway ceremony. The accompanying 'matrons' also changing costumes twice.

And finally, a picture of me with Harriet, after the gifts were presented. It was the only time I got to speak to and have a photo taken with her - it was only brief, as the MC kept telling her to hurry up!

It was a lovely day, probably hugely expensive as well, and I think a quite a posh 'do' as traditional ceremonies go.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Photos from Lake Mburo

Lake Mburo is a small national park about an hour and a half's drive from Mbarara on the way to Kampala. Below are photos from my trip there in September - the VSO cluster meeting for our area was held there and it was also a goodbye trip for 2 volunteers who were leaving a few weeks later.

A very large baboon near where we were seated having breakfast

Waterhogs have got to be one of the ugliest creatures, but at the same time there's something quite cute and amusing about them!

Skull of a water buffalo

Lake Mburo is one of only two places in Uganda where it's possible to see zebras, and there are lots of them here. Many people had told me that they can often be stopped from the road when driving to and from Kampala, but I've never been lucky enough to see them, until last week when I saw them going and coming from Kampala on the bus.

This is a crested crane, the national bird of Uganda - it appears on the national flag and the national emblem. I saw this one outside of the park - I had thought they were quite rare, but have seen quite a few of them since. They're the most amazing looking bird. I'm not much of a 'twitcher' but Uganda is certainly the place to come if bird watching floats your boat.

Traditional long-horned Ankole cows -they're very common but they still amaze me everytime I see them

The tented hut in the park, I shared with another volunteer - it was pretty basic, just 2 single beds with mozzie nets, the communal toilets and shower facility were in a separate building beyond the tents. The camp fire in the background was lit for us by one of the rangers - it keeps away animals such as wart hogs or hippos, we also sat around it after supper having a few beers.

View of the park and lake

Some of the volunteers getting ready to go on a quad bike safari, they said it was great fun. I decided to sit it out on a big comfy sofa in one of the park lodges with a fresh glass of mango juice!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Speeches...speeches...and more speeches.....!

On Saturday last I attended a function in a small parish about an hours drive from Mbarara. The reason for the function was to award the prize for the 'Healthy Home' competition which was organised by the parish CORPs. It started out as quite a small affair with just a few parish councillors and a representative from the local government at parish level, but in Uganda such events often turn into rather big and important affairs. In the end representatives from all levels of local government throughout the district were invited, as well as the local Mbarara MP. Needless to say her attendance drew a very big crowd.  The competition is for all homesteads in the parish, they are judged on the cleanliness of their compound, the sanitation facilities, energy effiecent cooking and overall general hygiene. The winning house was on quite a big plot, it was a simple house but the place was immaculate! The function took place at the house. The prizes included plastic jerry cans, crockery and glasses. The MP also donated 2 boxes of laundry soap that was shared out amongst the winners and the CORPs. 
Now, I'd been warned that in typical Ugandan style there would be lots of speeches, and I certainly wasn't dispappointed and what I had expected to be about 4 hours long turned into 7 hours! It was due to start at 1.00, with the MP arriving at 2.00, but unfortunately it poured with rain (its the rainy season) for over an hour so proceedings were delayed. When eventually the event got started it, the winning couple appeared in their best clothes, everyone was seated on wooden benches and the CORPs entertained us all with songs, puppet shows and a short play about the benefits of attending health centres. This parish also has a group of Young CORPs - village kids who use songs and drama to put across health messages.
On reflection it was a good day, but at the time it seemed like it was never going to end. The Ugandans 'LOVE' speeches and they're a really import part of any function or meeting, in total there were about 5 speeches and although I didn't understand a word of any of them, I was told later that they basically all said the same thing! I was the only 'muzungu' at the function, so to most of the people there I was an object to be stared at and for the kids to touch - they like to grab out and touch white skin!
 Welcome song - CORPs and Young CORPs 
Items for auction, raising funds for the CORPs. Local crafts and fruits, there are also 2 live chicken in the photo, beside the basket with the pineapple
Speech No.1 District speaker - he was also the auction master
The MP's appearance drew a big crowd
The winners of the Healthy Home competition - good to see I wasn't the only one losing the will to live whilst enduring all the speeches. Apparently there was no particular reason why the husband and wife chose to wear white. Quite bizzarely no one had any idea why the husband chose to wear protective glasses the whole time! Apparently he was 'posing'!!
The Young CORPs in action
Speech No. 2 - the MP (in red dress)
Speech No. 3 - District Village Volunteer Co-ordinator
Puppet show - these are used to teach health messages,  it's not only the childrn who enjoy them, the adults love them too. This little girl was entralled by the puppets, she kept walking back and forth in front of the audience trying to work out what was going on - it was obviously the first time she'd seen such a thing, she kept trying to peek behind the curtain!
Tour of the compound  - showing off the latrine and tippy tap
Speech No. 4 - thank you from the CORPs
Speech No. 5 - local government representative

Monday, 31 August 2009

More flowers....!

More photos of flowers! This was the 2nd training session for the flower making project, but it was very different from the first one. For starters the group was quite small, only 19 in total and they were all women. This group of CORPs are quite well known - they have set up a women only goat rearing business, they have over 100 goats! They are a force to be reckoned with, believe me. They'd expected about 30 people for the training so were quite disappointed when just over half of them turned up, as it meant they still had to pay the trainer for 30 participants. On the first day, once they realised they were so few, they had a meeting under the tree to decide what they should do, but they finally agreed that they really wanted to do it so agreed to pay the difference from their joint goat rearing account.

The training 'venue' was a scrap of dry land on top of a hill - there was a tiny little hut (the parish headquarters) but it was incredible dark, so we fortunately only had to retreat there when it rained one day. The woman sat on the ground for hours without complaint - it got quite windy at times, so the maize husks were blown around a bit. The conditions were far from ideal, but they did really well amd produced some really good flowers. Most of the woman had walked quite long distances, mostly up hill, to get there - there were very houses within sight and definitely no where to buy food, so they all brought a packed lunch and shared with each other. Now matoke, kaloo (cooked millet flour - resembles a lump of raw brown bread dough!) and maize porridge are pretty hard to stomach when they're hot, but when it's cold it's revolting! I made some banana drop scones to share with them, they went down very well, so much so I had to try to explain in Runyankole how to make them (not easy!), though I think they got the gest of it.

Above: Working under a tree

Above: Hard at work
Above: Singing the CORP song - each parish has it's own version of the song, this one was fantastic. I recorded it but because it was so windy the sound quality is pretty poor. All CORPs wear a blue  HCU t-shirt but this group decided to distinguish themselves even further and made matching skirts.
The flowers have been selling really well, I thought I'd have a hard time selling them but because they are such a unique product, the response to them has been really positive. I approached a number of 'gift'-type' shops in town with limited sucess, but then I visited the biggest hotel in Mbarara, The Lake View - they have a gift shop  (it turned out to be a pretty poor shop) which I thought might be interested in buying them, and by chance I met the General Manager, who happens to love flowers. So far they've bought over 150 flowers and have put them in 5 of their suites (presidental suite included) and the GM even bought some for this office and the housekeeper for her house. When I went back today I suggested he should buy some for his house and he did! It's really odd, because they keep thanking me for selling the flowers and supporting the local communities, whereas I'm thanking them for giving me the business.
Above: Flowers in the presidental suite at The Lake View Hotel - I've put a little card beside them with a bit of project info and contact details on it.... so I'm expecting a phone call from the man himself or the first lady any day now!
Above: These flowers were bought by a small papercraft shop on the Equator - needless to say the equator (about 1 hour outside Kampala on the way to Mbarara) is a great tourist attraction and there's a huge number of traditional craft and gift shops. There was lots of interest but I'll have to visit again as I didn't have enough flowers with me.
There was supposed to be another training session this week but unfortunately the group didn't manage to get all their money together in time - although 10,000/= (about £3) doesn't seem a lot of money, for many village people it's a lot, especially as children go back to school soon and there'll be school fees to pay. We had decided not to use the trainer from Kampala again, as she didn't quite hit it off with the local people, so Patricia and myself were promoted to the role of 'master flower trainers'! I feel a whole new career coming you think UCB would be interested in starting a new course..... how about 'Hospitality & Flower Management  (think of the table decorations they could have!!)
Up date on Lucy, Jimmy and Jeremy! - They're doing really well, seven weeks old today and now weighing 3.9kg each. Lucy is exhausted, it's hard breast feeding twins but it's the cheapest, healthiest and safest option for her and the twins. It's recommended that she should breastfeed exclusively till they are at least 6 months but she doesn't think she'll manage it - the other options are formula or cow's milk. Unfortunately, formula is expensive and with two to feed is not really an option for her, also many mothers are unsure now to use it and often made it up incorrectly. So cow's milk, which is plentiful in the region, seems to be the best option - she'll have to dilute it with water and make sure both the water and milk (it's raw milk) are boiled well. Mothers are told to feed using a cup rather than a bottle as there they will rarely have any means of keeping bottles and teets sterile. More Lucy hasn't left her two rooms in 7 weeks other than to go to the hospital last week for immunisations - she had a young village girl (she said she was 15yrs, but I think she was younger) helping her with the babies, washing and cooking etc, but unfortunately the girl hadn't told her parents where she was and once they found out she had to go back home. Lucy will go back to work in November and wants to have a someone trained to look after the twins by then. She told me yesterday that she'll be working 7 days a week from 8.00 - 5.00 for the mighty sum of 250,000 Ugandan shillings, which is about £75 a month! But even though she has it tough, she's always smiling when I go to see her and she's a really good mother.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Jimmy and Jeremy

Jimmy and Jeremy are one month old twin boys - don't be fooled by the pink hats. Babies are dressed in all sorts of clothes here and they're definitely not fussy when it comes to colour. Their Mum Lucy, lives just around the corner from my house. Before she had the boys she worked as a security guard at Mbarara University so we'd often meet on our walk to work in the mornings. Lucy is 31 yrs. old and Jimmy and Jeremy are her 'first borns' - the Ugandan term for the first child - and as Ugandan mothers go, 31 is quite old to have a first child or children in Lucy's case. She herself is a twin, as is her mother and her grandmother. There seems to be lots of twins in Uganda, it can be quite common for a mother to have 2 sets. Yesterday I met a lady called Doreen, she has just moved into my compound, she too has twins, a girl called Melanie and a boy called Melvyn who are 3 mths old - Melvyn was dressed in a little green frilly dress, so I'm glad she told me he was a boy!

Lucy lives with Sam, the father of her babies in what are called 'boys quarters' - usually one or two rooms behind a main house. She has two tiny rooms - a living room and a bedroom, she does her cooking outside on either a charcoal or paraffin stove and she shares a latrine which is behind her rooms, with about 4 or 5 other people. The bedroom just about fits a small double bed and a wicker shelving unit, the living room is also a tight squeeze with a small wooden sofa, another shelving unit with all her kitchen bits and a tv on it. During the day, Jimmy and Jeremy sleep on a single foam mattress on the floor in the living room. I recently gave Lucy a spare bed net that I had, so they're covered and protected from mosquitoes. At night they sleep in bed with her - babies tend not to sleep in cots, even when they are born mothers will prefer to have them in their bed or on a mattress on the floor.
Unfortunately Lucy doesn't have a lot, so I've been trying to help her out. Sam is not working and I think Lucy probably earns very little money. She had the babies when I was in Kampala doing my motorbike training, so I saw them for the first time when I got back. I'd bought her some baby clothes and also got her two baby sacks, at that stage she had no blankets and very few clothes for them. Her family have been helping her out a bit, but money is tight for them too. It's quite normal for babies not to wear nappies here (disposables are available but expensive for most parents and when there's two even more so), they tend to be wrapped up in bits of bed sheets, just left bare, or they just wee and poop in their clothes, which means Lucy is constantly washing baby clothes, by hand. So when they're picked up you never know what surprise you're going to get. Last Friday Jeremy kindly 'shu shued' (had a wee) on me and yesterday Melanie, from the other set of twins obliged by weeing on me as well - I was told by Lucy that this is good as it means I'm going to have a baby!!

Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months if they can, poor Lucy is dreading this, it's not easy with two, but she's doing really well, though she hasn't left her 2 rooms in the last month. I asked Angella, one of the HCU health care trainers, who knows Lucy, to come with me to check she and the boys were doing ok, Lucy was delighted and was also able to ask Angella lots of questions. Hopefully as long as Lucy continues to eat well and produces enough breast milk, Jimmy and Jeremy should be fine.

Now, I have a small favour to ask...... if anyone reading this blog has any baby clothes that they no longer need or knows of anyone who has, and you are willing to post them to me, I can find a really good home for them. Lucy and Sam would appreciate them and it would really help them out. My postal address is P.O. Box 897, Mbarara, Uganda.

I'll keep you posted on their progress......

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Flowers Galore!

I mentioned in my last post that I was organising income generating training for local communities, well below are lots of photos of the first HCU flower-making training. It was held in Rugazi, a parish in Bushenyi district, about 1 1/2 hours drive from Mbarara. The training took place in a room at the local health centre. It was well attending, 38 participants in total, all of whom were really motivated so much so that they didn't want to leave at the end of the day and many of them carried on making flowers at home or sitting on the grass at the health centre.

There are 2 small visitor's houses at the centre and I stayed there for the 5 days training - I'd been a bit worried what the accomodation would be like but it turned out to be fine, there was even an electric cooker so I could boil water for a hot bucket bath each morning. Patricia, the admin assistant at HCU took a week's holiday just so she could come on the training, she also said she was missing me not being at the office (I'd spent the previous week in Kampala doing motorbike that's another story!) It was great to have her for company and to have someone to converse with in English, we got on well and she enjoyed having lots of DVD's to watch on my laptop in the evenings. Where the training was is pretty remote, and the only 'restaurants' were small little dining rooms, which served matoke, matoke, matoke or matoke! So not a huge deal of choice and as I'm not a huge fan of it my food choices were pretty limited, though the really nice owner of one place did cook potatoes and an omlette for me one day. Avocados are plentyful in the area, they're gorgeous, but by the last day I'd had my fill of them.

The training went really throughout the week, though I did have a few concerns about the trainer as she kept changing her mind about things, such as payment for equipment and buying the finished flowers. Myself and Teddy, the project manager had agreed with her that she would purchase the finished flowers at the end of the training, which would allow the participants to recoup some of their costs. But unfortunately, on the last she had a change of heart, I don't think she'd found a market for them and was a bit spooked by the volume of flowers that had been produced and didn't want to be out of pocket. Some of the participants were annoyed by this, as was I, it put a real damper on what had been a really good week. In the end, after sitting down at a table and putting her head in her arms and crying (!), causing a bit of a scene it was agreed that she would take the flowers back to Kampala and would pay the participants once theywere sold. It was a really weird situation, I fretted over it all weekend as I didn't know if i'd done something wrong and wondering if it was some kind of cultural issue.But when I was back in the office on Monday morning I found out that everyone, like me (though I'd kept it quiet) thought she was mad and totally unprofessional! I was relieved, it had been a long week and being surrounded by people who only spoke Runyankole for 5 days had left me a bit jaded. The next training is during the first week of August and needless to say, I've made a number of changes to the way we work with the trainer.

Some of the finished flowers on the last day

Very pleased participants

More happy flower-makers

Patricia and I hard at work!

Many of the women sat on the grass like this for hours on end

This 'mzee' or old man is 74, he was the oldest participant. He really struggled to grasp making the flowers on the first morning (look at the concentration on his face!), so he didn't go to lunch but kept trying instead and by the afternoon he was on a roll. In fact he was the first to produce a complete stem.

Patricia, modelling a corsage or head piece that I made from the maize husks.....orders for Ascot or weddings kindly accepted!!

Production table! The maize husks are dipped in water to soften them, as well as making them more pliable

This is Gertrude, she's 61 and a real character. She arrived every day with a sack full of banana fibres balanced on her head. She's also been a CORP for over 5 years.

Lydia, the lady in the head scarf, was really good, so I asked her to be a trainee trainer at the next training session at the beginning of August.

This is Apuuli, he's a really hard working HCU employee - he's a field assistant and was responsible for mobilising all the participants as well as sorting out the logistics of the training

What a smile!

The CORP's in each parish have their own anthem, which is all about the work they do. We started each day with a rendition of it, t's a lovely song but they were always so serious when they sang it.