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 toput 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