Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Come on girls!

Celebrations for International Women's Day.....girl power!

A very large stick insect on the outside (thankfully!) of one of the mosquito screens in my house

Last Sunday was International Women's Day - it's never been a day that I've given much thought to over the years or that I was even particularly aware of. But here in Uganda it's a big deal and there were lots of celebrations to mark the day, even in Masindi. The women from the local police force, prison service and army as well as various womens groups and girl's schools all congregated in the football stadium to march, wave banners and generally show off how empowered they were! They then stood in the sorching heat in the middle of the stadium for ages while numerous 'very important people' made lots of speeches - speeches are very important here! The weekend newspapers were also full of articles championing the empowerment of women in Uganda. There's still a mighty long way to go to match UK standards, but at least it's something that's openly discussed if not always practiced.
Recently a group of the hotel staff were watching the tv in the bar, the volume was off, so I couldn't work out or see what they were watching but figured it most be the UK premier league football, as it's really popular here. On closer inspection it turned out they were watching an African wildlife programme on the National Geographic channel. They were fascinated by lions chasing and killing buffalo and antelope - for the majority of them this is the closest they have or ever will get to seeing wild African animals. It amazed and saddened me because just 2 hours drive away is one of Uganda's most famous national game parks that's full of elephants, giraffes, buffalo, antelopes, crocodiles etc, but yet they had ever had the opportunity to see them all for real, they have probably never seen them in a zoo either. To many local people the park is inaccessible because of cost and transport, although compared to UK attractions it's not that expensive, but to most Ugandans it's well beyond what they could afford to pay.
The power has been been on and off quite a bit for the last week and a half, it's the worst it's been since I arrived. It was supposed to be getting better as Masindi has recently been connected up to the main power supply at Kinyara, the sugar plantation and factory about 20 minutes outside the town. But I'm becoming used to the kersoene lamps now, though I do have a really good rechargable electric lantern as well.
It's 12 weeks now since I arrived and I'd like to say it flown by but it hasn't, it feels like I've been here so much longer. Even the 4 new volunteers who arrived just over 2 weeks ago feel as if they've been here ages. I'm missing home, family and friends and things that are familiar to me much more than I ever thought I would. I feel quite far away from the 'real' world here, though with the current economic climate it's probably no bad thing but at the same time it can be quite isolating, thankfully I have the internet which keeps me in contact with people and what's going on in the world.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Life begins......

Ugandan-style birthday cake (lots of icing)!

I hit the BIG 40 (it's hard to believe I know!) at the end of last week, so I'm eagerly waiting to see if the 'life begins' addage is true (watch this space)! Though it was pointed out to me that if it is in fact true, then why do we have to put up with the all the rubbish of the first 39 years! (thanks Ian!)

I celebrated in Kampala with all the new VSOers -Stephen, one of the new arrivals also had his birthday last week. We went for a fantastic meal at a lovely Indian restaurant in Kampala, called Khana Kazana. The VSO Progamme Office had kindly organised a cake and cards for the two of us.
Some of the new VSOers

Cutting the cake with Stephen

The power has been off for 3 days now, though it did briefly come on for about 40 minutes earlier this evening - this is the longest it's been off since I arrived. There's also been quite a bit of rain over the last few days - I think the rainy season has arrived!