Kasese Welcome

The patch we had put across the whole top of the tent bag Before we left the car in Entebbe had done a great job and there was no sign of damp or bugs.

Unfortunately, the first time we opened the bag, the patch peeled off. I guess, with the car parked in one position all the time we were away, the adhesive just deteriorated in the fierce Equatorial sun. In the same way, the constant rise and fall of the sun in the same position has burnt the paint off the driver’s door in an arc.

Still, being at Entebbe Backpackers provides an opportunity to get back into the habit of my favourite food – chips masala (chipped potato in a spicy tomato sauce), Rolex (an omelette rolled into a toasted chapatti – ‘rolled eggs’) and a banana pancake for Helene. 

We’ve had rain whilst in Uganda before, but this time we’ve arrived at the tail-end of their main rainy season. We’ll just have to see what that does to our travel plans over the next month or so. In the meantime, it brings out a whole new series of blooms and flowers to what we’re used to.

This beauty looks like Animal – the drummer from The Muppets – at the end of a particularly exhausting drum solo (no way I could pronounce, or spell what I was told it’s called). 

 

It’s totally hermaphrodite. The top section is connected by a hinge and closes to pollinate the bottom. If you don’t believe me, go f*** yourself.

On our way to Fort Portal we spent a couple of days at The Backpackers, where we found some more rubberised marquee fabric and contact adhesive to make a new patch for the tent bag. Without it, in the rainy season, the tent and mattress will be soaked every night (it’s working fine so far, thanks for asking). The place was quiet in so far as there were few guests, but busy otherwise as owner John was getting stuck into a building programme.

We helped him move palm trees (to put around the small pool he’s digging)… 


…and repaired our rooftent whilst he took down the trees in the garden to install a new septic tank. Nothing gets wasted. Within 3 hours of the bigger trees being brought down they were being skilfully cut by chainsaw into ‘4×2’ timbers.  

 Barefoot, and with the blade regularly only inches from his toes, after 30 years in construction my Health & Safety head could hardly bear to watch.

We arrived in Fort Portal the following day and camped once more at the YES Hostel, established and run by Carol Adams.  Good job that tent bag is fixed. Rain is definitely on the way.

View from the Penthouse, looking towards the Rwenzori Mountains…  
The main reason for being in Fort Portal was to drop the car at John Wilson’s workshop for the service I’d promised it. Although a Toyota specialist (at this point Land Rover owners are supposed to boo, hiss and spit) he’s done some excellent work for us previously and got us out of a couple of scrapes at short notice. 


All too soon, but eager to arrive, we were on our way back to Kasese to meet with the AmahaWe Uganda team and stay with our friends who run the AWU NGO based in the town. It’s only a small organisation, but does great work with women’s’ cooperative groups, street kids and some vocational training in the Rwenzori mountains between Kasese and the Congo border at Bwera. 

We called Benjamin and asked where we should meet him. ‘We’re behind the Virina Gardens Hotel’ he said ‘We’ll meet you there.

Knowing that Ben could never resist the opportunity for us to buy him a soda, I assumed someone had set up a coffee shop of some sort and he wanted us to try it, although I couldn’t remember anything being there previously. 

We were a bit taken aback when we pulled up. 


The team were getting stuck into day 1 of a 5-day festival (Crusade!) they had organised for the community. Day 1 was focussed on the Youth Group and John (as usual) was on the microphone (as usual) , centre-stage (as usual) with members of one of the 5 gospel choirs they had organised to attend (this one brought in from Congo). 
 

A brilliant atmosphere and clearly as much fun for the attendees as for our team up on the stage (the stage itself built from salvaged timber by our team of Street Boys).  

 There were well over 2,000 people attending the Youth-themed day 1. 

Day 2 would be aimed at young couples; 3 for professional people (teachers, business people etc); 4 for married couples; 5 for the whole community. Each day at least as well attended as the first.

There’s no doubt the crowd enjoyed themselves. They love the choirs, dance with the bands, pay attention to the sermons, participate in the evangelising and the prayers. The highlight in my mind though was the short, simple drama staged by our team. The parable of the Lion, the Rabbit & the Elephant.

Kids here LOVE parables and LOVE drama. They sat open-mouthed and wide-eyed in silence as it began. 

Jethro, the leader of our Youth activities, told the parable… 

…Benjamin, the Executive Director of AmahaWe Uganda was the elephant (see him in his ‘elephant hide’ costume waving his trunk above his head). 

When the rabbit climbed on his back and tried to eat him (you can’t eat an elephant all in one go) the kids loved it. 

Forget the choirs, sermons, bands, etc. Without doubt, the best crowd reaction of the day…