A Travellerspoint blog

1 minute of our Outreach

Whilst Bighair is eating bushrat and hiking mountains, here is what we have been up in the last few weeks

apologies for the badly made film, media communications is not my forte- I can't even figure out how to made this link come up automatically- (where are the Hawaii media team when we need them)

Anyway, it sums up in one minute some of the things we have been doing whilst remaining in Arua, and hope to work on together when Bigbeard returns. He is due back next week so we are really, really looking forward to that. A month seems a long time to be apart, especially with sketchy sporadic speakerphone anthill phonecalls.

Hope it works....


Posted by africraigs 11:06 Comments (2)

things are getting better...

(Are they?)

One of the popular songs we hear often here is a chorus which says umpteen times ‘things are getting better’ which is of course accompanied by lively dancing and super enthusiastic singing and clapping. In some ways I admire the optimism and positivity, but this week we were visiting the TB ward (codename for HIV ward) in the local hospital, and we look at death and hopelessness in the face, I couldn’t help wondering how people can see such desperate and bleak situations so frequently in Africa and still maintain that things are getting better. These patients aren’t getting better, and even if they leave the hospital alive, their lives back home probably won’t get much better.

If I’m honest, it makes me wonder how our Christian message of hope, love, peace and joy can trump all of the sadness and desperation that we see around us. I ‘know’ it has to, otherwise it is the most depressing thing ever. I guess I am realising more and more that our faith has got to impact peoples’ physical situations as well as their spiritual needs.

Unfortunately for Bighair, his time in remote S Sudan is not ‘getting better’- his stash of toilet paper is running out, and there is none to be bought, there are rats in their bedroom, which nibbled his team mates foot in the night, and 2 of the team stumbled across snakes in the accommodation. So, I am thankful that me and Amelie are not there- (on a shallow note, potty training using local leaves would be messy and gross) but it does make me think about the people who live there and face these challenges every day of their life.
I hope that their lives here on earth will get a bit better, I don’t know what ‘better’ might look like for them- employment maybe? Or health? Or simply having enough?

On a brighter note, doing our local outreach here is going well (minus David's absence) and I am enjoying it much more than the lecture phase. It is refreshing to be out in the community and involved with the local kids...


Posted by africraigs 07:39 Comments (1)


Making a mountain out of an anthill

I remember when we were in Kisumu 2 years ago and were trying to learn Kiswahili and we were learning about how the greetings were literally translated were about 'the news'. The news from the family, the news from home, the news of the weather, the news of work, the animals, the children etc etc.
..In the last few days I have come to appreciate why the literal translation is so relevant in this culture...
Bighair and the team left at 4am on Monday morning, on a long and bumpy journey to an ungoogleable remote place in S Sudan somewhere in the mountains.

It turns out it is so remote that phone signal cannot be found, other than walking miles to an anthill and perching in a funny position and then picking up a bar of signal if you're lucky. Needless-to-say, I hadn't heard from Bighair for a day or 2 (although it felt longer than that!) and was quite simply, desperate for news. News on anything really, the weather, the location, their sleeping arrangements, whether anyone had been bitten by jiggers yet, the team dynamics, the community, their activities, and of course, to share me and Amelie's (less interesting) news (potty taining updates, new words, our local outreach schedule etc etc.)

But yesterday David managed to give the driver a letter packed with news which was great to read, and picture life there a bit- a super dodgy border crossing, a few near road accidents, a long hike, and a remote mountain tribe in desperate poverty drinking copious amounts of home brewed beer. It made me miss David and the team, and really hope that whilst they are there, they can be bringers of good news to the people there, whether through practical actions, or relationships, or dramas or whatever.



Posted by africraigs 11:40 Comments (2)

Monstrous Moments

(and time in the Wilderness)

I can’t believe we’ve survived the lecture phase! We finished the 12 -week lecture phase today, and start our ‘Outreach’ phase next week.
This means the end of what has slowly become a ‘typical’ day here:
The Gong

The Gong

...gongs to announce the communal meal of posho, rice, beans and green, the end to each day in our classroom, with our African classmates who either look incredibly bored and disengaged, or have very very long personal or third party stories…




and the end of tieless interpreters for our deaf classmates

This week is the end of our community work duties, slashing, DSC_0008.jpg caption cleaning the latrines, and also the end of dormitory life here, where our neighbours sit outside our window making tea and toast on a tiny paraffin stove, talking loudly late into the night…

weird antics of our neighbours

weird antics of our neighbours

It sounds clichéd but these three months have really challenged and stretched us in many many ways. Amelie has a great story called ‘When Mum Turned into a Monster’, unsurprisingly about a mum who gets increasingly stressed and on each page develops a long green tail, claws, bulging eyes etc, until at the end she is a fire breathing monster, who slumps onto the chair and sobs to her children, ‘I’ve become a monster’.


In some ways I feels that this period has turned me into a monster (especially at night time when the neighbours talk loudly outside our window…) But then, more encouragingly, this week we were reminded in class about how Jesus’ time in the Wilderness was his preparation time, and how it is often in the ‘wilderness times’ that we grow. Maybe, alongside our monstrous moments, this has also been a time of preparation...
Preparation to understand Ugandans and this culture better. Preparation to look at ourselves and see how we function (or don’t function well) in teams, preparation to see how we resolve conflict and preparation I guess for whatever the next chapter brings…

Amelie and lovely Lilian, the nanny

Amelie and lovely Lilian, the nanny

Posted by africraigs 12:31 Comments (3)

Spoke too soon

This was a weekend of firsts! Arua had its first official race- advertised as a ‘marathon’ but it turned out to be 10 km. Several of our classmates & BigHair registered, and on Sunday morning, we excitedly set off to watch/ take part in the big race...

Here in Arua, one of the main modes of transport is a soft cushion on the back of a bicycle (a ‘boda’). Boda Boda

Boda Boda

As we set off, Amelie’s little foot got caught in between the spokes of the wheel, which meant bike quickly ground to a halt as Amelie’s high pitched screams filled the air.

We are so thankful for trustworthy medical friends in Arua, who cleaned Amelie’s wound and dosed her up on painkillers (and dosed us up on strong coffee and banana cake). But today she was still in lots of pain and can’t bear weight on her foot. So, today Amelie had her first x-ray, which thankfully showed no break, just bad bruising.

Amelie's protective sock...

Amelie's protective sock...

We are so grateful she was wearing her pink plastic crocs to protect her feet from being completely mangled, and also that we are in a town where medical attention can be sought if needs be. It reinforces that we would really not feel comfortable taking Amelie to a remote mountain tribe in South Sudan with no health care, for 5 weeks for the ‘Outreach phase’ of this training in a couple of weeks time…

David made the race (the advantage of being in culture with many late starts) and enjoyed his first race in Africa. The inspiring part, according to David (unfortunately I didn’t get to watch as I was consoling Amelie and eating banana cake at the time) was that some of the winners of the race were teenage girls, running in bare feet along the dusty tracks.

It sums up some of the most admirable traits we see in this culture- being resourceful, being determined and persevering against the odds.

Posted by africraigs 11:09 Comments (3)

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