Wheels in Uganda -- Phil's Blog, Days 8 and 9
Thursday 5th July - Day 8
Started the morning with what seems like a routine now and I have it down to a fine art, so I can afford to stay in bed an extra 30 seconds!
Now, this was effectively the last day here as on Friday we will be traveling home. As such this means the blog won’t be read out in our team time, unless of course we decide to take over a portion of the plane to sing some songs. So for this blog entry the team won’t see it till they get home... hmmmmm... freedom at last to write what I want without the fear of sudden death from the rest of the team.
Anyway, team when you read this I’ll be safe at home and have hired trained security guards etc... so no point trying anything.
So...the day started properly when we all headed off down to the RILD offices to see if anyone was going to turn up even though it wasn’t an official distribution day. Glenda and I were going to stay around longer as we were going to do some house visits whilst the rest of the team were going to head off into Kampala to experience the markets.
Yes, the rest of the team were slacking... Of course again I am joking!
We did see a few people before the team headed off and whilst I was replacing the brakes on a wheelchair, Glenda was sorting some crutches out for someone else.
We then headed off on some home visits, and the plan was to see people who we had given out wheelchairs to in their home environment. I was taking some video so we can at some point share what it looked like.
The first place we stopped was to see a young man called Nicolas.
We were told he was between 19 and 24 -- no-one seemed sure but he was the size of a 6/7 year old I guess. A small room, I guess the size of a garden shed, and this is where Nicolas sat in his chair.
At the time I was focused on getting the scene on video but now I remember the details I am left almost speechless. (For those following the blog you would realize that's very unusual.)
The reality is.... well.... it's sad, really sad. On one hand we have provided a chair so that Nicolas wasn’t on the floor, was sitting up and could be wheeled outside, so that's of course fantastic news and thats why we are here.
However it’s pretty shocking. I am pausing right now, just thinking about how to describe it. You have to see it to believe it I guess and when you do unless your heart is really hard then it may well break. Mine broke and continues to break seeing this sort of thing.
Yet saying all that, Nicolas was happy from what i could see and what his Granny said. His parents had died if I remember correctly. Nicolas was smiling.
His Granny was 80 years old and she had started a school for non-disabled children which we also looked round. She plans to develop it so she can manage children with disabilities. Pray for her please! When I am 80 I only hope I have her faith, compassion and drive.
Next stop was to a girl with CP (I think) and it was a chair I had helped Pip on I believe. What struck me is how they survive on so little.
The girl was a little upset (I guess seeing me who would blame her) but we then moved on to the next visit.
The next and final visit was to Latifa. He was a boy who had come on the first day and we had been unable to finish his chair on the first day. We finished it the 2nd day however. His Dad ran away when he was born, I am assuming that he thought he couldn’t cope.
Latifa’s mum however is with another Man now who’s building their home. It’s basic to say the least but I remember Latifa as he was always smiling.
He was lying in his bed when we came but I am hoping he regularly gets out in his wheel chair. Again reflecting on it now I am blown away yet again by this little boy's reactions. As far as I can tell he was happy. When you smiled he would smile and laugh. Geeee... I am just trying to contemplate that.
In England many young children don’t even laugh when they have everything they could ask for, xbox, ipod touch etc. Here was a little boy with nothing who needed constant care and he was smiling away.
Perhaps it's time some of the youth of today got out here and started appreciating what they have. (I’ll of course try and remind myself of this when I get back to my day to day life).
So, challenge time again. Next time you're feeling glum.. or wishing you had some new gismo, gadget or handbag (for the ladies, of course) then remember Latifa or Nicolas and change your perspective on life. Then.. pray for them and others like them as well as their families friends and guardians who look after them.
We headed back to RILD after that where we found two more people hoping for wheelchairs. One of them said to Glenda that she was really hoping to go away with a wheelchair and we were happy to oblige even though we didn’t have that many chairs left.
So work completed... It’s a little anti-climactic and again I sort of expected it but knowing that's it for another year is a little sad for me. We had children who didn’t get chairs this time, so please pray that Wheels can get hold of smaller chairs for the next visit.
Glenda and I then headed back to the hotel where the rest of the team were waiting. They had a fascinating tine in Kampala with all the chaos of the markets.
Time for a swim and getting ready for our evening out at a BBQ with the RILD team. We even had a new member of the team. A good looking youngster had decided to join us, although it could have been Anna dressed up with some make up on, I couldn’t be sure...
At the BBQ we had a selection of meats and some salads. Chickens here cost around 7000 Ugandan Shllings which is about £2 - Yes, another Random fact from me. That is quite expensive here though. They don’t separate the chicken like we tend to do in the UK, e.g. Breast, Leg etc. They tend to just cut it all up in smaller bits. Our chef for the night worked in Nandos! Yes they have a Nandos in Kampala, but strangely no MacDonald's. Not that it mattered really.
We then had a RILD/Wheels debrief and discussed the good elements as well and discussing things that could have been done better. Generally the good working relationship between RILD and Wheels meant things went smoothly and the Wheels team tries to be as accommodating as it can.
As such I’d like to thank (and I am sure the rest of the team would agree, Eva & William, Titus, Dan, Daniel, Max (our Driver), Chemoi, Eddie, Kerin, John-Francis, Davey and all the extended RILD team/familes. Thanks for their hospitably, support, organization and friendship.
Of course it wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Please pray for them all and pray God will bless them so they can grow the work they are doing here.
BBQ over, we headed back to the hotel for our Team time.
The past days blog was read out and I reminded the team they would have to read this one when they got back home so they should perhaps be extra nice to me. Fat chance of that!
In fact Mary, normally the quiet reserved one, had been teasing me over the past day or so. I had originally been nice to her so I am not sure what I did to deserve it. It could have been Roy’s influence who was again on fire with his quick remarks. Pip, the Ninja, as we often call her for her stealth, ability to hang from ceilings and walls unnoticed and her almost unparalleled martial arts skills. So good were these skills we never actually saw her performing any of these feats, she was obviously too fast.
Anyway, Pip was also dishing out the comments today and Anna was equally verbally beating me up.
I can take it.. and I know they were only joking (right ?).
I realized it was all my fault, even though Anna blamed Pip for making a comment about me on the plane out here, thanks Anna, but I suspect it was the result of a well oiled team who trusted each other. We had not only done some good work (well I think so) but we had been able to do it in a fun but loving way.
Glenda used the old line of “best team ever”. I guess she has to say that to avoid rebellion, but from my perspective it has been great. Glenda as always has been fantastic as a team leader and I will of course miss that should I go (hopefully) on another Wheels trip. Her successor has some big boots to fill!
A special message for Tim (Glenda’s boss) when you read this if you read nothing else please read this... “Glenda, best team leader ever !”
I wish she didn’t have to retire and I will shed a tear for the end of an era (even though this is only my third trip. I will miss her although I am hoping she will be on other tips. I’ll also miss her electrifying bug catcher that makes a great noise when it succeeds in doing its job. (Sorry Pip another few mossies became extinct tonight)
P.S. Tim it was all my fault. Glenda.. does that get you off the hook now?
We have had a lot of fun and if making Glenda cry with tears of joy is a measure of this then well it can’t be bad and as I keep mentioning that despite this frivolity we have been able to do God’s work I hope. We have also had fun with those from RILD and most importantly those wanting Wheelchairs/Crutches etc. I think more than previous trips I have seen people happy and smiling as a result of getting a wheelchair.
So THANKS GOD for making this all happen. Thanks to all my team mates. I mentioned this yesterday that I will miss you. I’ll miss the camaraderie. Who will I be able to tease now..?
To those reading, thanks again for your feedback. As you know from these blogs I am the most humble of all the team so your praise really was of no surprise to me. Seriously though it was really nice to see/hear some comments/feedback that the blog was a way for you to feel part of the distribution.
I am hoping it's helped you share in what we have done here. There will of course be pictures and some video to follow but I am hoping it's given you at least some insight into some of the things we do. The happy and the sad.
Thanks for the prayer. Please pray that the team will get home safe and any dodgy bellies will be sorted asap. So .. I’ll possibly do another blog tomorrow when we are at the airport but that would be a short one I suspect.
Anyway, pray and keep praying for the work Wheels do in Uganda as well as Kenya, Ghana etc etc. I hope I get the chance to blog again, that is of course if I get asked to go on another trip.
I think I have said enough anyway and it's way past my bed time.
And with some tears in my eyes I’ll say night all for the final time.
Friday 6th July - Day 9
So.. its Friday and I write this from the Airport in Uganda as we await our flight back to Heathrow via Doha. I can’t really believe its almost over and from a distribution point of view it is. This trip seemed shorter than normal but we did travel longer to get here having to stop off in Doha on the way. I am going to say just a few words, remembering the Pastor/Preacher on Sunday. I’ll try and keep it short and sweet though as I think I said most of what I wanted to say yesterday.
In summary it was a fantastic team and I am really privileged to have worked with them and generally privileged to be able to help the RILD team here in Uganda. Thanks so much for their support and I pray they will grow as an organization.
Thanks so much to you the readers who have supported us from a far with your prayers and thoughts. We will soon be back (hopefully) in the UK with our friends and families. Perhaps we have been missed... ? Then again perhaps not
Thanks so much to Glenda, our fantastic leader. As she takes retirement later this year I am hoping that doesn’t mean no more trips with Glenda and hopefully I’ll be still be able to go on more trips with her in the future. You are an inspiration to me!
Final thanks.. to the boss of course. God that is. Thanks for keeping us safe and for everything you provide for us. Please keep us safe now as we head home back to our friends and family.
So.. thats it for now. Until the next time.. (assuming that if there is a next time they let me near a keyboard again to write a blog of course!).