Tuesday, July 24, 2007



We’re leaving soon. On the whole I can’t wait. But there are a couple of people who’s future I’m worrying about.

One of them is Florence.

She’s a nurse who came to work at Hope just after my arrival. I thought her appointment was a mistake and didn’t take to her at first. During the ‘rationalisation process’ in May several members of staff were sacked. Florence survived by the skin of her teeth. She came to see me the following day, told me how much she needed her job and asked me what she needed to do to keep it.

“Make yourself indispensable” I replied. And she has.

Why does she need the job so badly? She’s twenty something, has two children of her own (aged 6 month and 2) plus two more that are her husbands by one of his other wives who ran away. When she married she was unaware that he already had two wives and a handful of children, and he’s married again since her. He hits her, and the kids, doesn’t give her any money and refuses to use condoms despite his multiple women.

So, recently she left him. She could only do this because of the £9 a week she earns working for the clinic. With this she has to pay rent, employ a house-girl for childcare, feed herself and four kids and pay for medicines when they get sick. I have absolutely no idea how she does it. She doesn’t know how she is going to manage to pay for their schooling but is determined. “I’ll manage, somehow.” She says if I ask.

Now she knows me she’s lost her reserve. She’s actually warm and clever and funny. I’ll miss her and I just hope she’ll be OK...


The 27th Comrade said...

Sad isn't it? Her story, I mean.

james said...

Hi Jan,

When are you leaving Uganda? Could you e-mail a date to james.allport@vso.org.uk please.

Many thanks,