Monday, November 1, 2010

Week Two

The weather has been a mix of rain and heat. This is supposed to be the rainy season here and it does rain, but mostly in the evenings. During the day and especially in the afternoon, it is unbearably hot; and, when it rains, it rains with fury. Last week, I was caught in a rain storm while walking to my apartment. Navigating muddy and rocky streets with countless pot holes and huge cavities filled with water can be treacherous. And, boda bodas (motorbike taxis) are no good in such wet and slippery conditions. I hope I don’t get caught in the rain again.

It was a quiet week. The highlight was a surprise visit from an individual who could not contain her excitement and enthusiasm.

A tricycle recipient’s visit

Biiara Gatrida had called me a couple times during the week wanting to come and see me as soon as possible. She is severely disabled and is unable to walk. She was the first recipient of a tricycle we contributed earlier this year during my first placement here in Kasese. She managed to come on Wednesday along with her 8-year old daughter, Masika. They came bearing gifts - hand-made articles, a basket, a container and a server made from coconut shells, plus, a chicken. A very healthy live chicken! She was beaming with joy as she presented the gifts.

The tricycle has made a big difference in her life as she is now mobile and does not have to depend on others to take her from place to place. Her own business of basket-making and weaving and handicrafts is going well. She also teaches these skills to others with disabilities. In addition, she is working with an NGO of parents of children with disabilities. She shares her experiences to help the children in dealing with their disabilities. Gatrida has another 11-year old daughter; but, as with many other women with disabilities, Gatrida’s husband left her some years ago. Regardless, she is quite content with her life. She could not stop expressing, in her broken English, how thankful she was for the tricycle.

Gift of a live chicken is considered very special in Uganda. It was a token of Gatrida’s deep gratitude. Most Ugandans would have loved to have received a live chicken. They would slaughter and cook it for a feast. But, what was I going to do with a live chicken? Slaughter it or have it slaughtered? The very idea was revolting. So, I gently told Gatrida that I don’t eat chicken. She was surprised, but accepted my word. I gave the chicken away to KADUPEDI.

Thanks, once again, to all my Canadian friends who contributed towards the purchase of these tricycles. Gatrida provides an excellent testimonial about the difference your generosity is making in the lives of some unfortunate people. A special word of appreciation to Margie and Phil Bott of Ottawa who sparked the idea! I plan to see other tricycle recipients to hear about their experiences. I am also exploring the possibility of building on this initiative through a partnership between KADUPEDI, the local organization, and a Canadian charity. Stay tuned!

Biiara Gatrida (centre) and daughter Masika presenting their gifts

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