Leg 3: Our life in Bushenyi

For those of you hanging on by your fingernails to hear about the next leg of our Uganda journey, my apologies. I’ve been busy trying to remember what I do at my job and un-explode our apartment. One room at a time… Aso, I’ve been completely enchanted by this:


I only started knitting on it last night, but before that I was carrying it around, calling it endearing things. It’s a ball of Opal Sock we picked up in Johannesburg, South Africa, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Uganda. I’ll get into what we did there later, but for now let me just tell you about the last leg of our journey, and a little bit about our every day life.

So after our sick day, when in the evening Jared was happily able to keep down some rice and mysterious kale-like substance, we got up at the crack of dawn:

to drive to Bushenyi. I think that if you click here, you’ll see a map with a blue dot that’s Bushenyi. We drove in from the east (right side of the map), on Mbarara-Masaka road. Then at Mbarara, we turned right, onto Mbarara-Bushenyi road. See how that road ends? Well it doesn’t, really. It just stops being awesome. It goes from this “highway”:

To something that looks the same, but about 30% of the surface area is potholes. Thankfully we were in very competent company:

The fellow in the foreground is the Health Coordinator for the Diocese of West Ankole, our destination (the seat of the diocese is in Bushenyi). More on this great guy later. The fellow in the background is Geoffrey, our terrifically competent driver. Even though we were jostled and bounced about a bit more than we were used to (I had to stop knitting halfway there and napped to ditch my headache), we made very good time and felt very safe.

Our home for the next nine days was a place called the Mothers Union in Kampala. Mothers’ Union is an interntational organization with chapters in all sorts of countries, that works under the Anglican church, and is committed to lovely things like empowering and educating women, women’s health, caring for children, teaching entrepreneurship, and other things. This becomes much more impressive when you realize that the work of this group in the diocese of West Ankole is carried out by TWO (count ’em) social workers with the equivalent of an associates in social work. We had the privilege of getting to know one of them:

This is Lilian, whose grace and shining inner beauty and cheerful friendliness totally defied my mediocre photographic abilities to capture. I pretty much wanted her to adopt me immediately after meeting her, which I suppose is an appropriate feeling towards a Mothers’ Union worker. We later found out that she does in fact have three adopted children, in addition to her five biological children. (This is impressive even by Ugandan standards: the “proper” number of children to have, according to folks I talked to, is very consistently six).

Anyway, the Mothers’ Union has a sort of conference center outside of Bushenyi, and that’s where we stayed. They have a big hostel building, a dining hall, a big meeting hall, a staff building, and another little house, all separate buildings scattered about this fenced-in compound. It was beautiful – green mowed grass and carefully kept gardens that we often went for a turn about while we were there. We stayed in the little building in the back, which had a couple of suites in it, but we had it to ourselves. The beginnings of the baby sweater and I could not get over the incredible view we had from our front porch. We enjoyed many an afternoon and evening in the cool shade of our porch, listening to children singing at the boarding school next door, watching cows and goats meander over distant fields.

We woke up to incredible views as well, as shown above, around 7 a.m., and to more children’s songs, which never got old. The weather in the morning was crisp; you wanted a sweater unless you were standing in the sun until about 11. It got fairly hot in the afternoon, but the heat was dry enough that shade was sufficient relief. Then once the sun went down, again around 7 p.m. (life at the Equator: unexpected!), it went back to being cool. We were shockingly surprised to find relief from muggy Maryland at 0 longitude.

The bugs were, for the most part, not too terrifying. (There was one thing that was like a cross between a slug and a fly that had me flipped out pretty badly.) However, we did have a nest of these freaky waspy things outside:

Could have done without that, but they weren’t threatening. I just tried not to think about them.

We averaged about four meals a day. Breakfast was at 8 or 9, lunch at 1 or 2, evening tea at 6 or 7, and dinner at 9. I had to retire one of the skirts I brought because I kept having to wear it higher and higher on my waist, which I found demoralizing. But the food was amazing; there was a lot of variety, and I’m sure we didn’t try everything that is special to Uganda. We didn’t get that much of the famous Matooke (boiled mush made of green bananas), interestingly, but we had meat at every single lunch and dinner, which was very surprising. I wonder how expensive it was?

My favorite meal was evening tea, shown above. The uniquely flavored tea was served with hot water and hot raw milk (from down the street); I liked to mix them about half and half. I loved every bit of it, and if anyone has a cow, I am looking for a source to feed my new raw milk addiction. That was probably the main source of my ascending skirt waist, but I really don’t care. We always ate all the biscuits, which nearly always spoiled our dinner two hours later, but it was so fun to have a little late afternoon treat. We learned that it’s typically served around the time that kids get home from school.

We were incredibly well taken care of, and if/when we go back (God willing) I would love to stay at this place again, and perhaps get to participate in some of the Mothers’ Union work. It would be neat to go into the field with Lilian or Karen (the other social worker) one day to see them in action, though we don’t speak Lungyankole. What they’re doing is so valuable, and so intrepid, and so wise, that I’d love to support them just with encouragement, since I don’t have that much else to give.

Tomorrow I promise, you’ll get to see some of what we actually did!

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