A Travellerspoint blog

England

treading water & feeling a bit out of the loop..

(First week back in the UK)

overcast 14 °C

We’ve been back in the UK a week

.. and already ticked- off some of the essentials; deep, hot bubble baths, play parks, my sister’s hen do, bridesmaid dress fittings, cheese, wine and nice brown bread consumed. David says that coming back on 'Home Assignment' is like getting a vehicle MOT since there is the dentist to visit, a de-brief planned, doctor's appointments and even physio to get done.

Beautiful Turkey

Beautiful Turkey


Turkey

Turkey

Last week on our delightful (!) Turkish holiday en-route to the UK, Amelie learned to swim. Turkey was a great stop-over for a rest after the intensity of Uganda but before the appointments and catch-ups of the UK. There was a pool next to the apartment, which meant we were in the water every day, and one day she saw a 3-year old jump in and swim, that was it… Armbands were off and replaced with a feisty determination. It was a bit daunting to watch as she frantically doggy-paddled through the water, her face mainly under the water, and the visible relief as the felt the security of the wall.

Proud swimmer

Proud swimmer

Coming back to the UK this time round has felt a bit like Amelie’s swimming- I feel and probably look like I’m flailing and drowning, but hope and trust I am slowly getting to the other side.

It’s not that anything is massively different or difficult than what we remember, but it is the seemingly inconsequential things that I need to consciously remember again; like how the ticketing queuing system works to buy kids shoes in a crowded shoe shop just before term starts, or how to drive in a polite British manner, observing the rules not the assertive Ugandan way, not needing to greet people, nor say ‘sorry sorry sorry’ if someone drops something, and realising that I urgently need to get a phone, as phonebooths seem to be a dying a death...

So many things seem to jump out everywhere that just seem so different to the 'normal' we’re now used to…

  • Charity shops- after several months of clearing out and de-cluttering our home in Uganda, and even the tattiest/ broken item being taken and used by someone, poor David was in for an embarrassing shock when he and the kids struggled to the local OXFAM with bags of stuff from me and my almost-married sister.. an old lady grumbled that they didn’t need or want anymore products and he should take it elsewhere. A more sympathetic lady saw David’s face, the over-laden buggy and the whining munchkins and took the bags from him. To David’s mortification, he heard the less sympathetic lady mutter ‘I wish you’d told that man to take his bags, it’s a load of junk, I’ll have to give my hands a good wash now…’
  • Garden Centres- places where plants and tools are for beauty and enjoyment rather than just for survival.
  • Fathers attentively playing and tending to their babies.
  • Middle- aged couples holding hands.
  • Having gluten free’ snack options for kids in the church crèche.
  • Having child protection policies, ratios, training for volunteers, lesson plans even for Sunday school teachers.
  • Not needing mozzie nets nor worrying about a life -threatening illness when the kids have a slight fever. Having the peace of mind of highly trained medical personnel close at hand in case anything goes wrong anyway...
  • Drinking from the tap!
  • Trying to get rid of small change rather than trying to accumulate it.

We are staying with my parents for the next few weeks and we were amazed at the polite letter from the council warning they would be doing roadworks for the next few days and were very sorry for the disruption. After spending the last year with the dirt roads all over Arua being dug up by huge Chinese trucks, mounds of mud being dumped on the road and diggers and rollers steaming towards me with no warnings, it all feels quite neat and organized.

It is good to be back in the UK, and of course so special to reconnect with family and friends over the next few weeks and to be here for all the
‘dynamics’ of the wedding prep, but it is also much more overwhelming than I expected, and so if you see me making awkward Uganglish cultural blunders and looking like I’m drowning, I probably feel like I am, so please help me out xxx

sisters

sisters


Most of my family together again

Most of my family together again


bake-off Hen soon to be MRS

bake-off Hen soon to be MRS

Posted by africraigs 23:47 Archived in England Tagged home family transition confusion support_network Comments (8)

teddy bear cakes and fabric conditioner

(12 things to enjoy in our last few days in the UK and a reason to go back to Uganda)

With less than a week before our flight, life is a jumble of lists and lasts…

this week amidst packing and goodbyes and stocking up and shopping for resources, we are desperately enjoying the little things of the UK before we plunge back into a completely different culture… Someone recently mentioned that when children (or any of us) go through transition, it is helpful to write a ‘list of lasts’ to prepare to leave, so this week I will deliberately enjoy and delight in…

hot and clean water for washing up

ovens which bake beautiful cakes

beautiful sisters to bake with

cute cafes to catch up with friends over a cuppa and discreetly feed Asher

blending in - and having children who blend in (especially now her strange Uganglish accent has gone)

well maintained playparks

wrapping up in coats and going for a walk and looking in on the cosy houses in the neighbourhood

fast, cheap and reliable internet

a church where children have pompoms and flags to help them feel included, and Sunday school teachers who are committed and trained and enthusiastic to share truth with little ones

getting dark and gloomy at 4pm

immunisations which are in date and not fake

the smell of fabric conditioner and the result of machine washed clothes

Someone said last week ‘oh, but presumably Asher and Amelie can be vaccinated against malaria and typhoid?’ hmm. unfortunately not…
and maybe it goes without saying that returning to East Africa with our precious little ones is not a decision we make lightly.

The focus at church yesterday was on adoption and orphans, and encouraging the church to consider their role in adoption and fostering. It was good (and timely) to remember the passion for some of the roles we hope to be involved in when we are back, and the need for people to encourage children that their future is (or can be) brighter than their past.

http://www.oranewzealand.org/where-we-work/uganda/

So much as I hate goodbyes and the thought of leaving loved ones, we push on with the thought of our home in Arua and hopefully our purpose there…

Snapshot of life in Arua...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OaTGE0wH9E

teddy bear picnic

teddy bear picnic

pic 1

pic 1

marathon viewers!

marathon viewers!

DSC_0003

DSC_0003

bye lizzie

bye lizzie

swimming

swimming

soft play

soft play

marathon runner!

marathon runner!

Posted by africraigs 11:56 Archived in England Comments (0)

Welcome Asher Iain Zawadi!

baby Asher Iain Zawadi

baby Asher Iain Zawadi

I’m writing this through the bleary- eyed, emotional newborn haze of exhaustion, elation, love, soreness, relief and shellshock…
we were (and still are!) == thrilled== to welcome our lovely son,== ==Asher Iain Zawadi==== into the world at 4.08am on Friday 30th August weighing 6.7lbs.
Asher is Hebrew/ Biblical for happy, Iain is a tribute to my late brother and means God is gracious, and Zawadi is Swahili for 'gift'...

Asher Iain

Asher Iain


DSC_0097.jpg

Of course, we can’t help comparing the experience of giving birth in Kenya nearly 3 years ago, and with Uganda’s infant and mother high mortality rate and hearing first-hand too many personal stories, we feel relieved to have been able to have benefited from the amazing NHS system and caring medical staff here in the UK…

Claire the wonderful midwife

Claire the wonderful midwife

Some of the more striking differences was…
pain relief- gas and air- during labour…(thank you Lord), though really I didn't know how to use gas and air seeing as it was my first time, instead I used it as somewhere to clench my teeth. Later on during a minor op by the senior midwife, I did feel the benefits of gas and air when I sucked properly on it and David told me I looked like I was cross-eyed and high.

…the paperwork and accountability when we were moved from the delivery ward on one floor to the recovery ward to ensure that the baby we had brought to the ward was the right one. In Kenya we had heard stories about baby swapping, either from people who couldn’t have children and would pay a nurse to steal a new baby, or from a mother who had a stillborn baby and would pay a nurse to swap it for a live baby on the ward. Thankfully, it would have been pretty obvious if someone had tried to swap Amelie when she was amongst her newborn Kenyan peers…

…Then there was the car-seat ordeal when we were leaving the hospital, a baby can’t leave the hospital unless safely strapped into a car-seat, which meant my sweet friend who had come to pick me up and has a phobia of lifts had to run up and down the 5 storeys to fetch the seat… a far cry from bundling into an old banged-up car and holding the new bundle on my lap whilst bumping down the dust road…

Life in Uganda seems far away at the moment, and hard to comprehend life there in a few months with the 2 little ones. I received an email today with a picture of the girl who helps us, Lilian, who is also due any day, and I can't help wondering and worrying for her delivery and circumstances...

There seems to be so much to squash into the remaining few months in the UK, and the last 7 weeks here have felt like a whirlwind of highs with special times with special people, and the challenges of constant packing and repacking and moving... we are so relieved that Asher waited to arrive when we had at least unpacked in Reading rather than arrive on the M6 (or in Doncaster...)

Amelie has coped well with so many changes in the last few weeks- over 10 different beds, a different culture and now a little brother. She has almost lost her strange Ugan-glish accent and loves all the playparks dotted around and stimulating places and things to do... (and we are enjoying the novelty of cbeebies)...
Lovely big sis

Lovely big sis

Legoland!

Legoland!


growing Burnell clan

growing Burnell clan

Posted by africraigs 12:29 Archived in England Comments (7)

Best (and quirks) of the Brits

oompa loompas, the royal baby, hotpants and strawberries....

sunny 30 °C

There were many things we were looking forward to in our few months in the UK, one was escaping the heat for a bit (especially with the pregnancy), but it seemed the heat followed us back to the UK, and literally as we travelled north in my parents small over-packed fiesta, so did the 30C + heat (combined with standstill traffic and a bored toddler making it a wonderful 7 hour journey up the M6…)

9 of the funny the things that you notice after being out of the country for a while...

1. At the many service stations we visited on the awful journey, we were both struck with how many family units there were, dads spending time with their kids, couples together, dads helping with childcare, dads pushing buggies…

2. After not seeing knees (male or female) for a while, it is strange to see so much white flesh wobbling about- hot pants, mini skirts, playsuits, people are loving the summer sun! It is also strange to realize how much pressure people (especially young girls) feel to have the right ‘look.’ The media isn’t coy about what they believe is the sexiest, cutest look...

3. Adverts on the TV to save abandoned dogs, with the dogs having a voice-over and telling a sob story seems so surreal after being in a place where there is no pet culture and animals are purely functional and often mistreated- text ‘PAWS to 81145 and send a pound a week to save more neglected dogs’ is a world away from the flea and worm infested dogs in our neighbourhod in Arua…! It also seems a bit weird when it seems animals are considered as important as people…

4. Having to explain to Amelie what an ambulance, fire engine, police car and radiator are, and why dogs here look so glossy and are on a lead.

5. How delicious summer berries are, especially with cream

6. All the news about Kate and Wills and the baby prince reminds us about how obsessed the UK media can get about something

7. How strict health and safety rules are (I got barked at today by a man in a high-vis yellow vest for amelie's buggy obstructing an aisle...), and how many people wear helmets when cycling. We also have to explain to Amelie why we can’t hold her at the front of the car when she is tired.

8. How many old people are around- yesterday we saw an old lady whizz past on an electric scooter with a fluffy dog sitting happily in the basket, and it made us do a double take. There is definitely a lot of white hair bobbing around.

9. How refreshing it is to be able to go on a walk as a family and not get hassled...
catbells

catbells

windswept

windswept

I didn’t expect to find so many small, daily things strange, and I’m sure in a few days it will all be boringly normal again, but I wonder how Amelie finds this new culture and all the things which are so different. The other day we were visiting a village carnival with various floats and all sorts of people in fancy dress, including a bunch of orange-faced, green haired oompa lompas, and I watched Amelie’s face of utter bewilderment as she was wondering ===‘is this normal here?’…===

oompaloompa.jpg

Seeing friends and family...
baking with auntie zed

baking with auntie zed


auntie lizzie

auntie lizzie

Posted by africraigs 13:32 Archived in England Tagged lakes people Comments (1)

Hello Uganda...!

'Pack and Go'

Amelie’s travel cot is one of the ‘Pack and Go’ type, and I can’t help wishing our life would be that easy… We have pretty much completed our packing with 24 hours to spare, and my parents may even get their dining room (our packing room) back before the extended family come to eat this evening.

helping to pack

helping to pack


hooray, empty drawers

hooray, empty drawers


packed car

packed car

I guess when you are going anywhere, there is so much to do practically that there is not much time or energy left to think through anything emotionally, (which may be just as well) and it is only now, hiding away quietly in a cluttered study (my Dad’s clutter, not ours, this time) with a cup of tea, I take a deep breath and think ‘What are we doing’?! A question we have been asked many times recently. My old school friend asked me the other day ‘what exactly is your mission?’ and it has been mulling over in my mind since… I suppose in a nutshell our ‘mission’ is the same as it is here- to share the love we have received with the people we meet in Uganda in practical ways. Easier said than done though, and I fear this blog will be more like ‘confessions of a missionary’ than anything else.

First confession:
travelling about and packing does nothing (positive) for our marital relations. We can’t wait to be settled, unpacked and in a normal routine, after seemingly months of travelling about.

Second confession:
Although others can look and think that somehow we are different and have some sort of ‘super strength’ to be doing this, we are definitely very human and have been guilty of acting in unkind and stressed out ways. I don’t think this type of moving round and change is really ‘normal’ for anyone (unless you’re a traveller or a refugee, I guess, although it isn’t a refugees’ choice, really, is it)?

Third confession:
we feel pretty scared with all the uncertainty and change ahead

Well, better pack and go...

Posted by africraigs 13:42 Archived in England Comments (3)

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