Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Along with the birds, I was awoken to a soft, gentle, and invisible chanting this morning. It
drifted into my room on the cool early morning breezes that are typical for Uganda.  Starting
before 5:30 AM, these haunting sounds crossed my balcony, floated into my room, alerting
me to another new experience.  The crescendo of this chant rose as time passed until it was
coming through a loudspeaker announcing the rising of the sun.  This is the Muslim call to
worship.  Uganda is @15% Muslim,

After breakfast, which included some of the sweetest, most delicious pineapple I have ever eaten, we headed off to the morning market in Masaka.  This market was a lot less colorful and exciting and a lot more eye-opening, practical and depressing.  It served the local community.  Gone were the colorful garments, music, and the push of the entrepreneur.  Replacing it was a monochromatic display of homemade pots, tools, sensible items such as recycled gas burners, pieces of hardware, fruits and vegetables, live chickens, fish, and some old jeans.  Most of what we saw was of a utilitarian nature, with nothing frivolous or catering to tourists.  There were many recyclables - items once used for something were now being made into useful items with a different purpose.  We were told that this market is usually much busier and diverse and there were children scampering about everywhere!  If they could walk, most were without accompanying parents or adults and they loved to chase the "mzungus”.- that would be us - the white people. 

While in the market, Michelle commented to a woman how cute her baby was.  The woman immediately took him off of her back, out of the sling and handed him to Michelle.  She then walked away without a word (either Ugandan or English) - disappeared - gone.  We all congratulated Michelle on her good fortune but after the laughter died down, the mother was still no where to be found.  This little boy settled right in, put his head on Michelle’s shoulder and seemed perfectly content.  Michelle, on the other hand, was getting a bit concerned, as were we all, when finally the mother reappeared and collected her baby.  This whole scene pretty much illustrates the attitude towards children - there is little concern for their whereabouts or of strangers and safety seems to be forgotten altogether.   While this is difficult for me to comprehend, it is a different mindset of a culture where life is tentative and unpredictable.  I will never get used to that perspective.
A group of students from the Blessed Sacrament School arrived to do some community service.  They were celebrating their Silver Jubilee and decided to honor it with cleaning up the market area.   I must say it is a bit distressing seeing so much garbage and general trash here.  Ditches are filled with plastic bags, paper, minimal food garbage, and the general detritus of a community.   There doesn’t seem to be any awareness of this litter and garbage, yet people can be seen sweeping the front of their homes and washing their steps into their homes whilst they are otherwise surrounded by trash in the surrounding ditches and alongside the road.  If it cannot serve another purpose, it could be found discarded and ignored. 

We proceeded to Tekera, another school located outside of Masaka.  It is run by two Canadians, who came to Uganda and then couldn't leave without doing something.  Tekera is located far off the main road, unlike Mbiriizi.  After driving down bumpy, red clay, dusty dirt roads we arrived at an oasis.  Tekera is a working farm school with small fields of pineapples, banana trees, and vegetables.

They also have a little store where handicrafts made by the students at the school are sold.  A very large percentage of their beautifully made baskets left with me!  Evidence below...

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