Tagged: bodaboda

A TRIP TO NAKASONGOLA

SHARONSmukke Sharon // Beautiful Sharon

*English version below*

I fredags tog Teacher Aggie og jeg en tur nordpå til Nakasongola for at besøge familien til en pige, Sharon, fra vores skole. Af forskellige årsager har Sharon været væk fra skolen i over et halvt år. Det er svært at få fat på og kommunikere med familien, så nu besluttede vi at tage derop selv. Vi skulle med taxa (som mere er en varevogn, der bliver brugt som mini-bus) og chaufføren havde fortalt at turen ville tage 7-8 timer. Vi forberedte os derfor på, at skulle overnatte en enkelt nat, da jeg ærligt talt ikke bryder mig om at rejse om natten her. Af en eller grund virkede Aggie dog ikke særlig begejstret for at skulle overnatte deroppe, men hun accepterede.

Vi mødtes kl.6 fredag morgen. Trods det tidlige tidspunkt var der et mylder af liv alle vegne. Turen til Nakasongola foregik et pænt langt stykke ad asfalterede veje, men efter et par timer skiftede vi til bumpende jordveje. Turen gik dog langt hurtigere end chaufføren havde forudsagt. Efter to en halv time blev vi sat af ude midt i ingenting, og derfra skulle vi med boda boda resten af vejen. Der var én boda, og vi var tre personer der skulle videre. Normalt kører man en eller to personer. Men der er som bekendt en første gang for alting, og således fik jeg også min debut med at køre fire fuldvoksne mennesker på én boda. Og uden at fornærme nogen, så lad mig bare sige, at jeg ikke var den med den største popo.. Køreturen var 15-20 minutter i et meget tørt og øde landskab. Smukt på sin helt egen måde. Rødt jord er sædvanligvis et af de mest karakteristiske træk ved Uganda, men her var alting snarere gråt og hvidt med lidt sporadisk grønt hist og her. Undervejs prikkede Aggie mig på skulderen for at fortælle mig, at boda-manden i øvrigt gerne ville giftes med mig. Han fangede mit blik i sidespejlet, smilede stort og lavede ”thumbs up”. Tanken om at slå mig ned med en smuk ugandisk mand (og hans sikkert endnu smukkere børn – han havde fire i øvrigt døve børn!) i en lerhytte i dette smukke landskab blandt kaktusser, mangotræer og bomuldsplanter strejfede mig et kort øjeblik. Men helt så simpelt er det vist alligevel ikke..

Vi kom til Sharon’s landsby og den tredje passager hoppede af. Aggie og jeg fortsatte på boda gennem krat og støv og nåede frem til Sharons hjem. Helt øde lå et hus og et par  lerhytter hist og her i det fjerne. Vi blev mødt med smil og åbne arme af Sharon, hendes mor og hendes tante og vi blev hurtigt henvist en siddeplads i skyggen under et stort træ. Sharon var glad for at se os, og hun kunne stadig huske lidt tegnsprog. Hurtigt myldrede det med familiemedlemmer, og jeg må ærligt indrømme at jeg ikke aner hvor de kom fra eller hvordan de vidste, at vi var der. Som sagt virkede stedet meget øde. Det gør altid stort indtryk på mig at møde familier her. Denne gang ingen undtagelse. Og sikke en familie – fyldt med skønne kvinder!

En gammel og karismatisk oldemor til Sharon var en de første der stødte til. Hun var dårligt gående, blind på det ene øje og kunne knapt nok holde det andet øje åbent. Hun var klædt i en smuk og falmet grøn gomesi (ugandisk kjole med spidse skuldre, der mest af alt minder om en balkjole – se billede her), en lysende grøn perlekæde om halsen og et mørkegrønt tørklæde foldet fint omkring hovedet. Hendes hud var rynket og tør og næsten hvid af alt det støv, der konstant hvirlede i luften. Sharons bedstemor var der også, og hendes mand ligeså – altså Sharon’s bedstefar. Dertil var et par andre kvinder, og jeg undrede mig lidt over hvem de alle sammen var. De fleste var tanter hvoraf de to var koner til Sharons bedstefar. Jeps – det viste sig nemlig at manden har tre koner! Sharons mor var der også. En smuk og tilsyneladende ung kvinde. Så jeg blev noget overrasket da hun fortalte at hun har 6 børn! Sharons far er væk, og har været forsvundet siden oktober. De ved ikke hvor han er og om han overhovedet er i live.

Familien er meget fattig, og det viser sig at være årsagen til, at Sharon ikke er kommet tilbage til skolen. De vil gerne have at hun skal gå i skole, men de har ikke penge til transport. Og nu hvor faren er væk er situationen blevet endnu mere vanskelig. Vi snakkede frem og tilbage om hvad vi kan gøre. Livet deroppe er ikke nemt. Og at se hvordan Sharon kommunikerer med sin familie knuste altså mit hjerte en lille smule. Ingen tegnsprog overhovedet og en meget lille forståelse mellem Sharon og hendes familiemedlemmer. Sharon er 12 år og der er masser af fremtid i hende. Men hun er nødt til at komme i skole. Vi endte med at blive enige om, at Sharon kommer tilbage til BDI og at hun så bliver hos os i alle ferier med undtagelse af den lange juleferie på to måneder. Ja, det betyder altså at Sharon i løbet af et år skal være hos os i ti måneder og hos sin familie i to måneder. Det lyder voldsomt for os i Vesten, men det synes som den bedste løsning her – medmindre Sharon skal leve et liv i isolation i hendes landsby.

Efter et par timer blev vi hentet af en ny boda. Igen måtte vi være fire mennesker, om end den ene denne gang var et barn. Til gengæld havde vi denne gang også en høne! Vi måtte køre til en større hovedvej for at fange en taxa. Det betød cirka 25 kilometer ad støvede jordveje. Varmen var ekstrem. Normalt er det en lettelse at køre på boda fordi man så i det mindste får vind i håret. Men her; det var som at have en meget varm hårtørrer blæsende lige ind i ansigtet hele tiden.

Endelig fremme og efter en halv times ventetid kom en taxa. Vi blev mast ind på bagsæderne; mig med hønen på skødet og Aggie med Sharon på skødet. Folk steg hele tiden ind og ud, og på et tidspunkt hvor vi var flest, talte jeg i alt 20 mennesker. (Det skal måske lige tilføjes at der på alle taxaer står skrevet, at de må have 14 passagerer med..) Plus vi have en seng og andet habengut på taget. Aggie og jeg forsøgte at tale sammen trods vi sad på hver vores række og at det er svært at bruge tegnsprog når den ene sidder med ryggen til. Men, hvor der er vilje er der som bekendt vej. Aggie virkede som sagt lidt beklemt ved at vi skulle overnatte i Sharons landsby. Efter at have set landsbyen forstod jeg hvorfor; der var vitterligt ikke meget andet end lerhytter og nogle simpelt byggede huse – om end det også ville have haft sin charme at overnatte dér! Men det var slet ikke dét, der var årsagen til Aggies tøven. Næ, hun afslørede nu på hjemturen, at hun havde hørt historier om kannibalisme deroppe! Så ok, jeg var måske også meget glad for ikke at skulle sove i en mere eller mindre frit tilgængelig lerhytte omgivet af potentielle kannibaler..

To timer senere nåede vi sikkert frem til Kawempe, og herefter gik det videre på boda til skolen. Ungerne var glade for se Sharon igen og vice versa. Jeg tog hjem da solen var ved at gå ned. Jeg var træt og trængte mere end nogensinde til et koldt bad. Sikke en dag. Varm om hjertet og med et smil på læben gik jeg tidligt i seng, faldt i søvn og sov som en sten til næste morgen.

Føler mig umådelig taknemlig, heldig og glimtvis virkelig lykkelig over at være her.

******

Friday Teacher Aggie and I travelled North to Nakasongola to visit the family of a girl, Sharon, from our school. For various reasons Sharon has been away from school for more than six months. It’s hard to get in touch and communicate with her family, so now we decided to go up there ourselves. We went by taxi (which is more like a van used as a mini-bus) and the driver told us the travel would take 7-8 hours. We therefore prepared having to stay for one night, as I am honestly not fond of travelling at night here. For some reason Aggie though seemed kind of uncomfortable having to stay over night, but she though accepted.

We met Friday morning at 6 am. Despite the early hour, there are a myriad of life everywhere. The first hours of driving was along paved roads, but then we switched for bumpy dirty roads. The travel to Nakasongola though went much faster than the driver had predicted. After two and a half hours the van stopped in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. We got out and the taxi left. Now, we needed a boda boda the rest of the way. There was only one boda but three people needed a ride. Usually you go one or two people on a boda. But well, there is a first time for everything – and this was my first ride being three grownups plus the driver. And without offending anyone, let me just say that I wasn’t the one with the biggest butt.. The ride was 15-20 minutes in a very dry and kind of desolate landscape; beautiful in its own way. Usually Uganda is characterized by its red soil but here everything was gray and white with a little green here and there. While driving Aggie suddenly tapped my shoulder telling me that the driver wanted to marry me. The driver met my eyes in the side mirror and smiled big while giving me “thumbs up”. The thought of settling down with a beautiful Ugandan man (and his probably even more beautiful children – he had four deaf children!) in a mud hut in this unique landscape of cactuses, mango trees and cotton plants caught me for a moment. But well, it’s not that simple after all..

We came to Sharon’s village and the third passenger got off. Aggie and I continued on the boda through brushwoods and dust till we reached Sharon’s home. Completely deserted were a house and a few mud huts here and there in a distance. We were welcomed with smiles and open arms by Sharon, her mother and her aunt, and we were quickly invited to sit in the shade under a large tree. Sharon was happy to see us, and she could still remember a little sign language. Quickly other family members came to join us. I must admit that I wondered where all these people came from and how they knew we were there. As I said, it seemed like a very deserted place. Anyways, it always makes a big impression on me to meet families here. This time was no exception. And what a family – so many wonderful women!

An old and very charismatic great-grandmother of Sharon was one of the first to arrive. She had a hard time to walk, and she was blind in one eye and could hardly keep the other eye open. She was dressed in a beautiful and faded green gomesi (Ugandan dress with pointed shoulders, that most of all resembles some kind of a prom dress – see photo here), a bright green pearl necklace and a dark green scarf beautifully folded around her head. Her skin was wrinkled and dry and almost white because of all the dust that constantly whirls in the air. Sharon’s grandmother was there too, and so was her husband – Sharon’s grandfather, that is. Add to this a lot of other women. I wondered who they all were. Some were aunts and then I learned that some of them were the wives of Sharon’s grandfather. Yep – it turns out that he has three wives! Sharon’s mother was also there – a beautiful and seemingly young woman. So I was very surprised to learn that she has six children! Sharon’s father is gone and has been missing since October. They do not know where he is and whether he is alive.

The family is very poor, and it turns out to be the reason that Sharon has not come back to school. They want her to go to school, but there is no money for transport. And now that father is gone the situation is even harder. We talked back and forth about what we can do. Life up there is hard, and it broke my heart a little to see how Sharon communicates with her family. No sign language at all and a very poor understanding between them. Sharon is 12 years old and there is plenty of potential in her. But she must go to school. We ended up agreeing that Sharon comes back and that she stays with BDI in all holidays with the exception of the long Christmas break of two months. Or put in other words; during a year Sharon will stay at BDI for ten months and with her family for two months. It sounds kind of harsh for us in the West, but it seems like the best solution here – unless we want Sharon to live an isolated life in her village.

After a few hours another boda driver came to pick us up. Again we had to be four people on a boda, though this time one of them was a child. But this time we also had to carry a chicken! We had to go to the highway to catch a taxi. That meant around 25 kilometers on dusty dirt roads. The heat was extreme. Usually it is a relief to drive on a boda because at least you then get wind in your hair. But here it was like having a very hot blow dryer blowing hot air straight into your face all the time.

Finally we arrived and after 30 minutes of waiting a taxi came. We were squeezed into the van; me with the chicken on my lap, and Aggie with Sharon on her lap. People got on and off all the time, and at a time when we were most I counted us being 20 people. (I might add that all taxis have a note written on their doors saying they are allowed to carry 14 passengers..) Plus we have a bed and other stuff on the roof! Aggie and I tried to talk together. It wasn’t really easy as we sat in different rows and because it’s difficult to use sign language when one person is seated with their back to the other’s front. As I wrote in the beginning Aggie seemed a little uncomfortable staying over night in Sharon’s village. After seeing the village I understand why; the village was just like a bunch of huts and some very simple build houses – although it would have had its charm to stay there! But that wasn’t really the reason for Aggies hesitation. No, the real reason, she revealed to me, was that she heard stories about cannibalism up there! She wouldn’t tell me before we were going home. After that information I admittedly did feel kind of happy we didn’t spend the night in these rather easy accessing huts surrounded by potential cannibals..

Two hours later we reached Kawempe, and we continued on a boda to school. The kids were happy to see Sharon again and vice versa. I went home just when the sun was setting. I was tired and needed a cold shower more than anything. What a day. Warm at heart and with a smile on my face I went to sleep and slept like a rock till next morning.

Feeling indescribable grateful and blessed to be here, really.

FAVORITE MEMORIES

Some favorite snapshots from the past 6 months in Uganda. Add to these all the snapshots kept in my heart. The people. The work. The struggles. The tears. The love. Oh, the love.. <3

1 KidsBLOG

The wonderful kids! Here Moses, Newton, Leticia and Shanitah.

2 BodaBLOG

The boda rides. Especially those with Rannah and Kiwa..

3 FoodBLOG

The food. The sweet high fat milk tea, the oily mandazi, the mangos, the avocados, the passion fruit juice, the matoke and g-nuts (especially when made by Rebecca..), the greasy rolex, the to-die-for fish, and a million other delights. Some things are just worth getting fat for.

4 IvanBLOG

Ivan. BDI’s action man. I love your smile and laughter and all that’s behind; the wisdom and seriousness. I can’t wait to come back and continue working on ground with you.

9 JoelBLOG

Joel. My workmate. My friend. Stubborn, complex, a silly head, funny and with a very big heart. We sure have had our ups and downs and struggles to understand each other. But we’ve grown, haven’t we. Thank you for all the hard work, the discussions, the laughs and for keeping your patience with me.

5 MarthaBLOG

Martha and Rose. Oh, boy. What an intense three weeks! Can’t wait to go back to Tororo and pay them a visit.

7 RannahBLOG

Rannah. My beautiful banana. I luv u baby.

8 SunsetBLOG

The sunsets.  The breathtaking nature. Uganda truly is The Pearl of Africa.

10 FrankBLOG

Frank. Growing so fast. Last year a little fragile boy. Now a strong and big little man. So sad I missed to hug you goodbye..

BODA BODA!

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Jeg har aldrig betragtet mig selv som en adrenalinjunkie – snarere tværtimod. Tanken om at skulle transporteres rundt på motorcykel – de såkaldte boda bodas – uden hjelm i Ugandas sindsyge trafik, slingrende ind og ud mellem biler, lastvogne, busser, fodgængere og andre boda bodas, forekom mig derfor mere skræmmende end tiltrækkende. Indtil nu!

Normalt bliver jeg kørt i bil frem og tilbage fra skole, men det var ikke muligt i dag. At gå hjem tager over en time, så jeg sagde ok til boda boda. Og godt jeg gjorde; det er jo fedt! Det er overraskende mere komfortabelt end at køre i bil; vejene her er så hullede, at selv en kort tur i bil kan gøre de fleste køresyge. Og så går det stærkt! Wohoo!