Wheels in Uganda - Day 3
Saturday 30th June - Day 3
“Shocking” shower still not fixed but I am getting used to the cold waking me up in the mornings. I didn’t sleep much though due to a bad sore throat, I’ll try not to mention it too much as the team may think it’s just an excuse for me to avoid singing in Church tomorrow! Gordon signed us all up to sing in front of the church, so please pray for us all... as we may need it!
Anyway once again we head off to the previous days distribution point across from the RILD offices. It was a challenging day as we were faced with quite a large number of children but we have a real shortage of small chairs. As a result this means we have to say no to some of them. The only thing we could do was measure them up for the next time Wheels comes back here. We do get some advance measurements for the people registered but there is no guarantee that those are correct so for the OT’s to be able to do accurate measurements will help next time.
It’s of course really sad when you have to turn people away so please pray for those we had to say no to today and I really hope that they get a chair the next time Wheels is here.
The rest of the day was made interesting due to the rain, meaning we had to all manage to squeeze under the marquee that RILD had provided. At one point there was a river of water down the main road but the team managed to continue distributing chairs and crutches with little room to swing a cat.
The little boy came back from yesterday and we managed finally to sort out his wheelchair with a little creativity and a quick trip to the local wood store just up the road. A small piece of plywood late, (costing less than £2.50 or 9500 Ugandan Shillings) and we had the chair all finished.
One lady who crawled in, waited patiently on the floor until Pip managed to fit a wheelchair for her. We heard lots of “woop” sounds and I wondered if something was wrong but in reality she was just very very grateful for the chair, she was almost singing with joy.
To get home some people use the Matatus, which are small minibuses which drive predetermined routes. You simply flag them down and they are usually crammed full. Another alternative is the Bike Taxi - Basically a small motor bike and rider. I think you can flag them down but also call them up when needed (I’ll have to find out exactly how it works). You then get on the back and get taken where ever you want just like a taxi would in the UK. But not quite like a taxi in the UK as you're on the back of a bike with no helmet! The lady who was full of joy on receiving her wheelchair left on such a bike, wheel chair and all. Yes you would be amazed at what they can fit on the back of a bike. Sometimes they ride with two passengers as well as luggage, and you have to see it to believe it.
Mary also had another similar case where they put some wood extended out of the back of the bike to take the wheelchair as well as two passengers. You may think that it would be ok as they presumably are only going a short distance, however in one case today 30 miles was the journey one man would take to get home - add to that the roads aren’t quite like the smoothish surface of the M3 and you hopefully start to get some idea of just what an experience it must be.
Anna "MCSP BSc. Hons" as she has now asked me to call her rather than the “one pretending to be a Physio” loves the idea of the taxi bikes - she’s hoping to make it big in London by introducing such a scheme. I think she’s forgotten about helmets and UK road laws, so perhaps she will have to stick to being a physio after all.
Generally most of the people who are waiting for chairs are very patient, I am constantly amazed that they just sit and wait for sometimes hours on end waiting there turn. In the western world we don’t wait for much anymore and so it’s perhaps a lesson for us all to be a little more patient.
Dinner was nice and we had pumpkin (though we debated if it was a marrow or other squash) pieces of chicken and a bean stew with rice and potatoes. Followed by water melon for those who like it. I guess sometimes I’m fussy about food (I am sure Pip and Anna MCSP BSc. Hon’s - yes I am going to indulge her for a little while - would say I am really fussy when it comes to food.
We chat about a lot of different things in the evening and after tonight's rehearsal session for singing at Church tomorrow, we discussed the worst foods Glenda had experienced on Wheels trips. Apparently mashed potato and spaghetti in the Ukraine for breakfast doesn’t go down well or fried eggs fried the day before, but offal seemed to rate the highest on the list.
We also chose to debate the usage of “Pants” tonight. As a northerner Pants to me are well Pants, southerners would perhaps say trousers. But for me Pants are what you put on top of underpants ! We also discussed pretty quickly afterwards if I would include these discussions in the blog, and I guess you have the answer to that one already. I am hoping it allows you to share in some of the things we get up to!
Anna the Physio (thats the end of the indulgence otherwise I’ll refer to myself as BEng (Hons) - not in Wheelchair fixing by the way) also mentioned her shower gave her a shock like mine. She must also be like me and daft as a brush since she also decided to touch it again just to be sure. Thankfully for her it didn’t shock her again so it’s either luck or some very interesting electrical wiring here.
We did end up talking about what is middle age (as apparently Helen thinks I have either reached it or worst still past it!) as well as more interesting and important topics like the contents and calorific values of drinking chocolate! We ended on a high note by discussing pensions at which point the team all headed for bed and I started on the blog.
Gordon had complained or commented (not sure which) that the hot water used for the coffee tasted very gingery. Once most had gone to bed Glenda investigated more and it turns out that the hot water wasn’t hot water but ginger tea from what we could tell. No wonder it tasted gingery...
Anyway another great day. Some highs and lows (with not being able to give chairs to everyone that needed them). As I have a particular soft spot for children (even though I have none of my own) so its quite sad for me to think about it. Life of course is very different here than back home, I am amazed at how they live on such very little yet the children interact with here always seem happy. Most love having their photos taken and with digital cameras it means I can show them instantly what they look like. I even had a small group of children who live next door to the RILD offices doing a dance for me.
On that note I’ll ask again for prayers for those who left without chairs; For those worse of than ourselves (yes there are a LOT of them!); For the team to keep them strong and in good spirits and if I may for a quick prayer that I’ll sleep tonight and my throat won’t hurt too much. I need my singing voice for tomorrow.
Night again at the end of day 3.