JO IN UGANDA
I thought you may like to catch a glimpse of the JENGA office, our HQ where our strategic plans for ‘world domination’ take shape ? We have 3 offices with 17 desks and a boardroom in the centre of town and it’s bursting full at present with 12 Ugandan staff, 3 long term British volunteers, 4 new short term volunteers & a guest! It’s always a hive of activity and a focal point for our many partners, other charity workers and numerous visitors who have heard about us & need assistance or simply drop in to say hi.
Personally I’ve been really trying to savour my days here as I know they are limited for this current season of my life. I’ve been enjoying the cool early mornings in my garden, filter coffee in hand, watching the amazing African birdlife. We have a family of hamerkops nesting in our large mango tree; they are extraordinary looking birds and apparently build the biggest nest in the world strong enough to house a human! We regularly see hawks, parrots, kingfishers and a beautiful array of tiny brightly coloured Ugandan birds; awesome!
Mbale is a particularly beautiful part of Uganda, which itself is a stunning country. Mbale is nestled in the foothills of Mount Elgon, which straddles East Uganda and West Kenya, and so wherever you are in town the mountain range is in view. Even from my own home I can see the mountain and I shall engrave this image firmly in my mind to remain with me even after I’ve left. The surrounding area is very fertile and green and makes for wonderful scenery. Just amazing!
The world of JENGA continues to be a busy, exciting and immensely fulfilling place to be. The breadth of activities and partnerships we are involved with is huge and ever growing. One never knows what opportunities and challenges may present on a daily basis and the saying ‘there is never a dull moment’ is most certainly true of life in Mbale. This newsletter reflects on some of the JENGA programmes and activities I’ve been involved with over the past month.
Community Health Promoter’s (CHP’s) Training
As you’ll recall from my last newsletter, JENGA have trained over 180 CHP’s in our 4 key communities. This involves a full time programme on the basics of Community Health. This week my colleague and I taught 35 CHP’s on essential First Aid including how to manage acute bleeding, broken bones, shock, burns, convulsions and choking. Although a serious topic, we had much fun with role play and practical demonstrations, such as bandaging and the recovery position. It is so fulfilling imparting knowledge and skills to such a keen group of students eager to learn such topics that may literally make the difference between life and death.
This month we were able to give away 10 goats to each of our Women’s groups. The group members were extremely excited and appreciative for this gift from JENGA. I thoroughly enjoyed driving the pick-up, collecting the goats and taking them safely to their destination.
A goat brings many benefits; once it reproduces the new kid (baby goat!) can eventually be sold at the market and therefore generates income. This cycle continues so each group can keep one goat and sell one goat and so on. If a goat produces twins, the second kid can be kept and at an appropriate time be killed and used to feed up to 40 people. Most the people of our communities rarely eat meat, possibly once a year, and so to have some goat meat is a great blessing. In addition, a useful side product is that the goat’s ‘business’ is a perfect natural fertiliser for the land producing bumper crops!
So, all in all, a really beneficial and much valued gift for our JENGA women.
Visit to the local village
I’m not sure what your experience is when you pop to your local village but recently I had a wonderful time visiting my friend Lornah who has begun a new ministry in a nearby community. I had a fascinating time savouring true rural Ugandan life. We went to the local water source, as seen below, where women collect their daily water requirements in plastic jerry cans. This particular woman was 8 months pregnant and carried a 20 litre container on her head and a 10 litre one by her side! The water source is literally a natural pool complete with lily pads, frogs and tiny ‘mud’ fish providing water for the entire village. We enjoyed eating delicious fresh mango; below you can see many children throwing sticks into the tree aiming for the ripe fruit.
April is a very exciting month!
April sees the arrival of some very special JENGA guests ? A good friend of ours, Jonathan has come for 2 weeks to assist us with IT in our office. He’s an expert in this area and has been such a blessing with trouble shooting the ongoing computer hitches. Also the end of the month sees Martin Williams visiting us again. He is JENGA UK Chairman plus a very good friend of mine from Canterbury and it will be great to have him in the heart of the JENGA team once more. To add to all this is the visit of some VIP’s; my brother, his wife and their 3 children!! It is with much excitement and anticipation that I shall meet them at Entebbe airport on 13th April ? I can’t wait to have them here in Uganda introducing them to the JENGA team and ministry, showing them all the beauty and fascinating culture of my lovely second home. They come representing my family as special guests to taste and see a little of what I have been involved with in Mbale and I’m sure will have a life changing trip. Please pray for them; that they have a safe & really wonderful time.
I continue to request your prayers as I prepare to leave Uganda in June. This is a huge season of transition for me. I still have no real vision or direction for the future at present but trusting that I am in God’s Hands and He will lead me to new and good pastures. Thank you again for all your kindness and support to me; what a difference a friend makes! Keep me posted on your news too.
Much love, Jo