Wednesday, January 15, 2014

One week in - by Tim Manson

We finally touched down in Kampala a week ago. It feels like it’s been a long time in the planning so it’s great to be back. Despite three years having passed since our first taste of life in Uganda, it is very familiar. The culture shock is not quite the same second time around but there is still some mental adjustment needed on our part. One of the biggest areas is the way we look at time. At home we would service a car around work hours. After dropping it off in the morning we would take a courtesy car to work before collecting our car at the end of the day. All up the disruption to our usual routine might be little more than half an hour.

Carl (the director of Tutapona) purchased a car for Tutapona which Helen and I will be using for the year. I’m quite excited about it. It’s a former UN Toyota Land Cruiser that seats 9 with a 4.2l diesel engine. It’s the no-frills version. No central locking, electric windows or aircon. The glove box is made of steel- because apparently plastic just doesn’t cut it. It is the manliest car I’ve ever driven (and remember I drive a Wingroad in NZ). Before we start using it Carl decided to get the vehicle serviced. Here’s how it has played out:

Step 1- Carl calls his mechanic Godfrey first thing in the morning yesterday. His phone is off

Step 2- We drive to the mechanic’s shop. The boys there tell us: “Godfrey is not here.”

Step 3- Carl texts Godfrey

Step 4- Two hours pass

Step 5- Around the middle of the day we link up and Godfrey arranges to get the car

Step 6- Godfrey arrives at the house later in the day and takes the car

Step 7- We wait… maybe one day, maybe three

This fairly simple job really was quite the process over here. One small example of the way things work. A phrase we're getting used to hearing is- “It will take some time.”

The flip side of this of course is that people are much more relational than we’re used to. On the weekend Hels and I went back to the village we worked at in 2010. Many of the kids were still there so we spent the day catching up. One of the boys I know well informed me that last time I was here he had failed to take a game of chess off me but “if you have time I can show you I have improved some.” True to his word he made quite short work of me. Another boy commented that I am looking smaller than last time. “If you join us for a game of rugby, I will knock you.” Trash-talk Ugandan style.

 In short, we love being here. Carl and Julie have looked after us amazingly well. We’ve got underway with our Tutapona work and the more we learn, the more passionate we’re becoming about this organisation. Next week we’ll head off to northern Uganda and see the trauma rehabilitation work in action. More on that soon.


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