Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Percentages or Blog?

I'll start with the excuses shall I ? The ones about why I seem to have almost missed my April Blog slot. Well I've been busy. I know, so has everybody in the entire universe. But I still feel it is an excuse that can be aired. Also I've been ill. Now I thought I had bronchitis and aggravated asthma, but turns out it seems, I have a worse case of Procrastinitis. Technically, the bronchitis issue has been over for a number of days. I fully intended getting this blog written during the Easter holidays. Well, actually I was all set to start on Easter Monday. But then....... Next I had the rest of the week, but then ..... And now it's Tuesday 29th April. I'm back to school, holidays over and I really should be doing detailed preparations for a lesson on percentages, tomorrow. In fact, it is the prospect of the percentages that has finally pushed me into blog action. Percentages or Blog? No contest!

Kirundi dancers at the Easter Fayre

The end of term was thoroughly blighted by my dodgy breathing apparatus. After fending off many offers to be tested for a variety of interesting illnesses, I had to give in and visit the doctor. Medical visits have to be almost top of my list of  'Most Hated Activities In My Life'. But I have to say I was relatively impressed with the Burundian Health care. I suspect it had a lot to do with the fact that I could afford to pay for my care. Nevertheless, it was very slick. First, I had a consultation with the Doctor. Who spoke French. Which I don't speak. But that's great, because my brain stayed in the car park. Fortunately, my chaperone spoke very good French and tolerated very well, the fact that although she thought she had taken a 51 year old woman into the hospital, it turned out, she had accompanied a jibbering heap of nonsense. So the Doctor says I need an x-ray. What do we do? but go back to the desk. Pay for an x-ray 10,000 fbu ( about £4.00). Walk down to the x-ray room. Have a chest x-ray. Wait 30 mins for it to dry. Walk back to the Doctors office, clutching said x-ray. Doctor looks at x-ray. Prescribes medicine. Done! No 3 day waits for appointments. No waiting for results to be returned to the surgery. All done and dusted in less than 2 hours.
However, the jollity ends there. I was also condemned to 'rest'. In my book you go to the doctor, get medicine and go back to work. But oh, no. The doctor had said (in French) that I had to rest. It seemed that I could not claim ignorance of this order, as an argument for continuing to go to work!
The littlest Burundi drummers I have ever seen!
 Big problem we were just days away from the high spot of our year, the Easter Fayre. There was so much to do and I had to stay at home 'resting'. Needless to say, I had to learn (not for the first time in my life) that the world will not stop spinning just because I am not taking part. In fact my class and the staff of the King's School pulled together and did a fantastic job. I was allowed to go and sit and pretend to be helpful for a few hours on the day. It was great to see everybody, enthusiastically working to produce our second and best Fayre so far!
The first week of my holiday had been planned for a very long time. My house mate from September to December 2012 (Rachel) Who married Isaac in January 2013. Moved to Uganda in January 2014. At Christmas they visited Bujumbura en route from the USA to Kampala, ready to set up home and await the arrival of their first child, in mid March. We decided then that I would go and visit in the Easter holidays. Baby Mubezi would be just a few weeks old and I could go and be surrogate grannie. I'm not a seasoned traveller. I have made it from Leicestershire to Burundi, I know. But my list of travels is actually quite short. Whilst in Burundi I have only left the city on a handful of occasions.
So, I had been eagerly anticipating my venture to Kampala, Uganda.
Sadly, on the day he was due to be born baby Elijah Mahoro Mubezi died. He never made it outside the safety of his mother's womb. He gave no warning as to why he wasn't going to join us. His dutiful dad, Dr Mubezi had listened to his heart beat in the morning, but at some point later in the day, he left his body behind, skipped this part of life and went on to better things.
So I flew to Uganda with a heavy heart. I wanted to be with Rachel and Isaac, but was also aware that I would be facing great sadness. There was nothing I could do to make it better. Nothing I could say. Just stand with them in their grief, for a short time. Elijah has left a huge hole in their hearts. But Rachel and Isaac have shown enormous strength and faith, in dealing with their loss. Sometimes it is so, so hard to understand 'why' things happen the way they do. Both Rachel and Isaac believe that God has a purpose in all things. It's extremely hard for them just now to make sense of His plans. But I want to pay tribute to the outstanding faith and trust they continue to place in God, in the face of their overwhelming grief. They are holding on to His promises and refusing to be shaken to the point of letting go. It was an honour and privilege to stand with them, if only for seven days.
Handing out stickers to the children in Village.
Whilst in Uganda I visited Village. It is the rural area of the country, where much of the population lives on subsistence farming. Again, my understanding of life was rattled and shaken. I was humbled by the honour and respect I was shown. Isaac's elderly mother went to great lengths to make sure we were given the best of everything she had. People who have so little, but do not seem to begrudge giving it away to those of us who have so much.
Uganda also saw an enormous shift in my previously held concepts of the 'Easter Chick'. You know the little yellow, fluffly thing, that pops up on cute cards, made by small children.  It always looks so cheery, having popped out of it's little egg and looking forward to a fun packed life of Easter and chocolate. Well, in Uganda there were lots of Easter chickens. They were packed in crates, stuffed in plastic bags (with their head out of the top), wedged in cardboard boxes, hanging off the back of bota botas, swinging from the handle bars of bicycles, in sacks under the seat on the bus. I didn't see any looking terribly chuffed with their situations. In fact most sounded quite displeased by their plight. I think that was possibly down to the knowledge that they weren't destined for chocolate consumption. They seemed to know that the consumption was going to involve them.

Isaac's mother
Kampala is a city I won't forget in a hurry. It's one hugely redeeming feature was that everybody was driving on the correct side of the road (in my humble opinion!). Another positive, it has proper supermarkets. Like proper, proper big supermarkets. However, never have I seen so many people crammed so tightly into such a space before. It is a seething mass of humanity and the associated transport used by that humanity. At one point I was sitting on the back of a bota bota ( moped) weaving in and out of the nose to tail traffic. I so wanted to be able to capture the moment and show everybody who knows me. I wanted to say, look at me, in the middle of all this. A 51 year old grannie from Hinckley, Leicestershire. It was exhilarating to think that I am still able to push the boundaries of my comfortable existence and do something outrageous and new.
So that's it really. That's most of what happened in April. Although I must also point out, that there have also been lots of ordinary times. Getting up a 5:30am, going to work. Marking books, exams, writing reports. Sitting at home in the dark through power cuts. Reading books, playing endles rounds of solitaire, because there's no television. Eating rice and beans for three days in a row, because I haven't managed to get to the shops to buy anything else. Blogging is very much the 'highlights'. There's lots of normality in between all the excitement.

I'd like to just end by asking that if you are a praying kind of person, remember Isaac, Rachel and Elijah. They have a long hard journey ahead of them.

Our feast.

The Fish market, Kampala.

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