Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Huw's blog - A tourist Awakes

We had a great time when Huw visited last week and asked him to write a blog for us:

Its not every day that this could happen and it must have been a great floor show for the children as they flocked to see the muzungus make fools of themselves. The road up the hill was really rather gentle, if quite long, but what had caused the matattu to come to a final slithering stop was the mud - the red clinging treacherous Ugandan country road mud. The mud was very slippery and the hill was very long and now the muzungus were pushing. The timing could not have been better - the school had just finished for the day. In seconds we were engulfed by bright chattering laughing faces and crisp clean purple cotton shirts and dresses. Hellohowareyouimfine, again and again and again. Hello man, how are you? I am Huw, who are you? We answered happily, and laughed at ourselves, ridiculous in swimming shorts and T-shirts, still wet from this morning’s White Nile rafting. Our exhilaration and euphoria persisted, the red mud would wash, the banter with the children felt sparkling and who would not be moved by such a sea of smiling laughter. Soon we would be in a nice warm shower, bathing in the glow of self congratulatory well being.

Then Jan, working here for a year now, the old hand, whispers urgently in my ear - Huw, do you see the boy with the huge spleen. That one with the big abdomen in the blue T-shirt. No. thats just malnutrition, the one next to him. See him, with the red shirt. See him. And I saw him. And I saw that not all the children wore the purple cotton and carried the school notebooks, and that although most had the happy smile a lot had stick thin limbs and swollen abdomens. And I saw the sunken eyes and tiredness of hardship and malnourishment in their faces. And behind them, on the fringes, were the quiet ones, reticent and watchful. And then those peering round rickety house fronts or through dark dark sacking covered doorways and window openings. What about them?

The hill was long. Too long for the children who slowly gave up the pursuit. The grinding poverty now all too obvious, the muzungus, quieter now, trudged on with sandals and feet choked with the cloying red mud, until kicking and scraping we tried in vain to clean our feet before struggling back into the comfort of the matattu. As we did so, the white MRC four wheel drive pick up eased comfortably by. Through the open window came the quiet sly mocking of its Ugandan driver, “Welcome to Africa

This is entirely true. After all as Jan would say “In Uganda, all muzungus are millionaires”

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