#29 – A special thanks to Lynne and Jim

From Sister JoAnn Geary, CSJ, Gulu:

What a joy it has been having Lynne and Jim with us. And let me tell you they were serious about working – and work they did. As you have probably gathered by now, to accomplish anything here is quite labor-intensive. The tools are very primitive, but they both dug in and were elbow-to-elbow with the guys. The manual labor and the intense heat brought them home exhausted but they recovered amazingly well and were ready to go again in a short time.

On the last working day they provided the food for the morning tea break. Lynne boiled 20 eggs and ordered 30 chapatis from Alice (chapatis are  a tasty flatbread). Alice has a little lean-to down the road, and rumor has it that she makes the best!

They also had something for every one of the workers – they had loaded their suitcases with builder goodies. The guys just loved having them and were thrilled with their gifts. They want to know when they are coming back – me too!

More than anything, I think their presence really boosted the morale of the group. The workers felt proud to be on the job. To have Lynne and Jim from the United States come to work with them  was just the greatest. A job well done on many levels – Apwoyo matek! Many many thanks!

Before Jim left we went on safari to one of the national parks. We saw great wildlife including lions. What a thrill – generally they are very difficult to find – but there they were up close and personal.

After seeing Jim off we headed back to Gulu which only takes about 4-5 hours now instead of the 8-9 when we first came. The roads are really improving!

It has been so special to have Lynne here to experience and share in my life here in Gulu – to see the clinic, meet my co-workers, meet the sisters who have been so welcoming and all the friends we’ve made. We had a very festive African meal with Sister Hellen and the sisters at St. Mauritz where I work. They really rolled out the red carpet!

We took some great walks to town and the market which is very interesting and unique. After walking to town, which took about one and a half hours the 1st time, we took a bota-bota home.  A bota-bota is a motorcycle for taxi – my first! But not alone – Lynne squeezed on with me. The next day I graduated and went by myself!

Will wonders ever cease.

Lynne M. Cooper and Sister JoAnn Geary, CSJ in Gulu

Lynne (left) and JoAnn (right) together in Uganda

All in all I feel very blessed for and grateful to Lynne and Jim.

I hope their time here was as special and  meaningful to them as it was to me.

#28 – I’m coming home!

From Lynne:

One thing I have not motioned: we have all been sick…in some cases sicker than we had ever been.  It turns out three of us had bugs and recovered in a couple of days, but of course, JoAnn, show-off that she is, has Typhoid Fever!  So, needless to say, we are not hanging around with her anymore!  🙂  She is recovering well.  The last three days we have walked into town and taken bota-botas home.

Love to all who have read and commented here. I have not kept up with the questions, but appreciate each of them. Hopefully the additional photos will compensate. It has been a wonderful trip, and I am grateful for the opportunity and for my gracious and generous hosts, the Sisters of St. Joseph.  Thanks especially to Kyle Kratky, who is the production manager for this blog, and to the staff and board of Doorways, who told me everything was going great whenever I called.

Tomorrow I come home to the states.  I will take a jeep ride to Entebbe, where I will fly to London then Chicago and on to St. Louis, and then I’m home again.

#27 – Life in Gulu: meals, ants and the circle of life

From Lynne:

Electricity is a luxury, here, and we eat many meals by candlelight.

place setting around table in Uganda

One of our many electricity-free meals!

The landscape is dotted with huge anthills up to 6 feet high and equally as wide.

giant anthill

A huge anthill!

At a certain time of the year they are invaded by people who like to eat them. We notice that their wings have gone from about a half an inch since we got her to a couple of inches long.

A cemetary adjoining our yard holds the remains of many of the medical workers who cared for people during the 2003 Ebola outbreak, when the case-fatality rate rose to an all-time high of 90%.

cemetery yard in Gulu

#26 – Construction update

From Lynne:

The work around here goes smoothly, and it is interesting to see how the builders perform their craft.

builders working inside

Workers plastering ceilings with cement mixture

Walls inside and out get the same treatment, and thousands of wheelbarrows of a cement/plaster mixture are mixed by hand and carried in.

The Sisters of St. Joseph do a lot of great work, some of which includes funding, like for this clinic:

CSJ Sponsored clinic

#25 – The Camboni sisters

From Lynne:

These are two of the Camboni sisters.  They are across the road and have been very supportive of our friends here.

Two of the Camboni sisters with Jo Ann

Left to right: Sister Cypriana, Jo Ann, Sister Agnes

They have a magnificent garden and raise rabbits, fowl, and a few acres of vegetables, bananas, citrus, etc.

Mango tree

The Camboni sisters have some beautiful mango trees!

Sister Cypriana is from Sudan. She is just learning to drive.  Sister Agnes, who is in charge of the garden and animals, is from Italy, and has been in Africa most of her adult life. She has a turkey, and  she says it is gay.

Turkey photo in the yard

A gay turkey?

She had its partner last Thanksgiving. I am being my most restrained self.

Daniel Camboni was a Verona (Italy) priest late 1800’s who evangelized much of eastern Africa. As a result, this area is mostly catholic and VERY devotional. I have been to mass many mornings, but it is in Acholi. I have been working on my abs.

#24 – Murchison Falls

From Lynne:

We recently visited Murchison falls, which is just a bit southwest of Gulu.  We saw the Nile River again!

nile river above Murchison falls

The Nile River above Murchison Falls

At the top of Murchison Falls, the Nile forces its way through a gap in the rocks only 6 meters wide and tumbles 43 meters (140 ft)!

Murchison falls rushing

Murchison Falls in action - so loud!

The water flows westward into Lake Albert. The outlet of Lake Victoria sends around 300 cubic meters per second of water over the falls, squeezed into a gorge less than 30 ft wide.

There is a big park at the falls, and you can see more great photos here.

#23 – Life in Uganda: baby Sonja and more

From Lynne:

Baby Sonja and Lynne

This is baby Sonja. She is 7 months old and usually rides in a wrap on her mom’s back. It is common to see African women with a baby, two or three little kids and a very large load on her head. Population is a huge issue here.

Esther and Sonja together

Sonja in a sling on Esther's (her mother's) back

This was an agrarian society before all the conflict. Families grew large, took care of their land, which was passed generation to generation, and were self-sufficient. Now many people have been in the camps for safety, and when they return, others have taken up residence on the land.  Having a title or deed is completely unknown, and government officials are not knowledgeable.

busy times in Kamapala

Busy times in Kampala, the capitol of Uganda

There is no industry for jobs, and so few are used to working for someone else. This contributes to the aimlessness many experience.

Asleep on the job

Asleep on the job.

A lot of people have guns here – big ones.  The man above is a private security employee who couldn’t stay awake on the job.