mandag 10. mai 2010
Most often I would just feel like this for a short time and then snap out of it. I always came back to the certainty that my parents love me and would be devastated if anything should happen to me, or if I got lost. When resuming the normal mind-set I’d feel silly for even thinking that they wouldn’t care. After all, they are my parents. Parents love their children no matter what, right?
If it is right, though, some parents have great difficulties accessing and expressing such an unconditional love. I never knew just who these parents were, what they looked like or how they behaved. I’ve never met a parent who simply does not care or want their own child. Not until last week.
100 %We’re about to take off, almost ready to go
50/50 nervous and excited
That’s why I’m cleaning up so
Walking to our transport I’m looking over at you
You’re now 20 % excited
Fractions of fear are pressing through
When reaching the place I used to lived, the excitement is no longer there
I’m nervous and fearing, what will I meet?
Anticipation fills up the air
We find the aunt’s place, we sit there and wait
You want and need to see your father
No matter how high the rate
The father finally arrived, hardly greeting his son
80 % disappointment
Most of the hope was now gone
I look at my father not looking at me
My friend tries to meet my eyes
Why won’t he?
We talk to your father, try to open his view
To make him see all the good things
That are moving inside of you
My father said cruel things, as cruel as can be
Claiming there’s no way a good man like him
Could be the real father of a brat like me
He made a gentle offer, though, giving me some land
He’s willing to fulfil his lawful duties
But I don’t think he’ll ever again hold my hand
As if your father hadn’t said enough to hurt you beyond repair
His last words were:
“I know that on many issues, I can currently not see clear.
But of this I’m most certain! I absolutely, 100 % do not want that boy around here!”
I was rendered speechless, rage bubbling inside of me. All I wanted was to take my friend out of there, away from his father, away from the rejection. I wanted to cry and yell at the father and just knock him down for being so awful to this amazing, young, vulnerable boy. However, it would merely cause more problems and hardship from the father, so I kept the 14 year-old mood-swing-behaviour to myself, clenched my teeth and tried to just be there for my friend. And God knows he needed all the support he could get, being called a social deviant, a thief, a hopeless case and hearing that his own father would rather see him in prison than in his home…
We left about thirty minutes after the father had left us in the aunt’s place. The boy had to be allowed to finish crying. When we went, we were all disappointed and quite shocked (except for the CRO resettlement-officer who’s more used to this and has experienced cases that were far worse than this one). When we got back to CRO, the boy didn’t even speak. He was so exhausted, he fell asleep. While he was sleeping, we contacted an aunt. We were going to try our luck there the next day. Nothing to do but hope and pray that it would not lead to another rejection!
torsdag 29. april 2010
In Ugandan schools they are found pretty much everywhere. They are there to inform, guide and educate the children in a variety of “subjects”. Like all other signs, there's a reason why they are put where they are and that they are saying what they say. By reading the signs in a place, you can tell a lot about said place. About what sort of information people in the area need to be acquainted with.
The signs contain information on the matters that are important and a large part of people’s lives that people still need some help in handling. The signs also say something about what the people with the power, the “sign-purchasers”, think is important. Let me illustrate with some pictures of signs from Nabuyonga Primary School in Mbale, Uganda.
A friend of mine from the UK told me about a friend of his who is a water engineer. The engineer started a major project in a rural area of Uganda that was very much bothered by diseases from unclean water. He installed a water-cleansing system so that all the people in that place could access clean water free-of-charge. No more cholera and other awful diseases from water! Genius, huh? But after some time, he went to check on his project and found that no one was using the new system. He could not understand why the people refused to use the healthy water.
There was one major aspect that he hadn't considered; how much foam will the cleansed water produce when washing clothes compared to the dirty water? The answer was easy, the new water made less foam from the same amount of soap when washing clothes than the old water. The people were then left with three options;
1. Use more soap
2. Have clothes that are less clean
3. Keep on using the old water
Number one is not really an option, because soap is very expensive. The second one is not an option due to the internalized notion in the people that cleanliness is EXTREMELY important! Then, there's only one option left.
A little bit crazy, huh? But that's just how important it is to be clean!
Oh, one is supposed to stay in school and finish education? In Norway, this is a given. All children go through at least ten years of school, and all have the opportunity to attend for 13 years. Most young people understand that education is important in order to have a decent life in the future. If they don’t, they probably have parents who do, and who will push/force them to continue if they’re thinking of dropping out. In Uganda, the situation is quite different. School is expensive. Furthermore it deprives the family of a source of income. Even though he or she is just a kid, they can still contribute to the family’s upkeep. When they’re in school, it’s more difficult to contribute to the income. So for some, the parents do not provide the supporting voice which encourages the children to stay in school when times get tough (this does, of course, not apply to everyone, many parents support their children going to school very keenly). And times can really get tough for the Ugandan kids, with strict discipline, very hard work and, at times, harshly direct feedback from the teachers. Therefore, it’s actually quite necessary to have these kinds of reminders around the school compound.
onsdag 31. mars 2010
tirsdag 30. mars 2010
lørdag 6. mars 2010
Kirk Franklin - Could’ve been
With no Clothes or shoes and nothing to eat
It could’ve been me
Without your loving, tell me where would I be?
Me in the cold wind
No house, no job
Outside and alone
Trying to look around
Where would I go
Can’t somebody help me?
Tell me what do I do
torsdag 18. februar 2010
Our total spending today was 0,- UGSHX. We were invited to a missionary family for dinner in the evening. They live far out on the other side of town, but we walked (for one and a half hour) to get there and they drove us back.
Silje: This is going great! It’s so good not having to worry about what to buy or whether to walk or bode (take a boda boda / motorcycle taxi).
Marthe: Yep… It’s looking good. It leads to conscious choices.
We spent 2000 today. We bought 4 eggs, onions and yoghurt.
Silje: I’m not feeling too good. Think I’m sick. I have very little energy and appetite and would have loved a Del Monte juice (at 3600) and a movie (3000).
Marthe: It’s still going ok. No problem.
Our total spending today was 57 000. UGSHX. This was spent on bodas, consultation and tests.
Silje: turns out it’s not all that easy to limit the spending to 1000 UGSHX/day when you get sick. I have malaria.
Marthe, on the other hand, has been very good and not spent any money today!
Even though I’ve been quite bad regarding my spending, I think I deserve some credit for carrying out a night survey (walking in the town centre from midnight until two) with malaria!
Total amount spent today was 1700 UGSHX. Wise as I am, I went to work today. Good idea! But at least I didn’t think I’d manage to walk to work. Therefore, I spent 1000 UGSHX on boda. In addition, for food, Marthe bought chapattis for 700.
Today, we spent 800 UGSHX. I stayed home the whole day, enjoying my malaria. In the evening, Marthe and I had a lovely pineapple at 800 UGSHX.
We spent 2700 today. (Yes, it’s ok because we’ve saved up the excess amount earlier this week) We had lunch in Namatala for 1200 (really full and marvellous lunch!) and bought Blue Band (butter) at 1000 UGSHX (to make cake for tomorrow) and two eggs for 500 UGSHX.
Total amount spent today was 4500. We visited a Ugandan friend called Brenda today. On the way to her place, I managed to break my shoe, but a nice chap along the road fixed it for 500 UGSHX. Then, we went to the Internet, spending 1400 UGSHX. We got plenty of food at Brenda’s place, so we didn’t really need anything when we came home. However, we were left with so much money, so we bought sugar for 1200 UGSHX and a roll of toilet paper at 400 UGSHX.
If my math is correct, this means that apart from my major splurge at the hospital (bodas, consulting and tests), we spent 11 400 UGSHX (ca 35-40 NOK) between us the whole week. Meaning we even remained with 3600! Haha! We made it, sort of. If you count in the malaria-expenses, on the other hand, we blasted our budget big time, ending with 68 400 UGSHX (ca 200-210 NOK). Either way, it’s not bad. Nevertheless, it proves an important point; it’s fully possible to live on little… until something unexpected happens. The 1000 UGSHX / day-life can work out, but it takes nothing to mess it up. One little “bzzzzzzz; mosquito-bite” and you’re out. Good experience, though.
søndag 7. februar 2010
My previous flat in Drammen
2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room, bathroom
7000 NOK / month
4 girls (with approximately 12 000 between them from “Statens lånkasse” every month)
We had to stay two people in one bedroom and use most of our scholarships just to pay the rent. It was fair. Nevertheless, I think we all wanted a bit more space at times. In addition, the bathroom was a bit icky. It looked like the floor was starting to rot some places. From time to time, there was also some water seeping from the floorboards in the kitchen floor. Our flat was on the first floor of a house, on the ground floor there was another apartment. We were not exactly thrilled about them. They acted and looked a bit suspicious. But it was ok, we had a good lock on the door and we even got a second lock to ensure our security further. Still, I did not like sleeping alone in the apartment.
After having spent some months in Uganda, I realise that I did not really have good reasons to worry or be unhappy with anything.
The current home of my twelve-year-old friend in Namakwekwe (Mbale)
1 room (approximately 6 m2)
10 000 UGSHX / month (ca 30 NOK / month)
Mother, younger sister, younger brother, baby brother and my friend (with no steady income)
They are five people sharing one mattress. In their one room, they have a tiny table and two chairs, the mattress and all their clothes are hanging on the walls. When it rains, nothing stays dry. There are small holes all over the ceiling and some places, there are big gaps between the bølgeblikkplater. The neighbourhood is not the best. People are robbed every night; attempts of different kinds of assaults are also quite common. It is not safe to move outside after seven o’clock. Not the most secure place to live as a single mother with four small children. Moreover, they do not exactly have an alarm system or good locks. Nevertheless, they are lucky in one way; they do not have an icky bathroom. They do not have a bathroom, period. In addition, one can look at the price of the room and think; “At least they hardly pay anything to live in this place.” However, 10 000 UGSHX is not hardly anything when you do not have a steady income. If she is lucky, the mother can wash some clothes from one time to another or maybe sell some onions and such to make some small bit of money. Other than that, most of the burden is on my twelve years old friend. He fetches water for neighbours, sells sugar cane and does other petty jobs for a petty pay. All we had to do to get our 3000 NOK a month was to send two letters in a year and attend school. For my friend, attending school and getting the small income he needs can actually come in conflict.
Turns out, we did not actually have a single thing to complain about. Not if we would have compared ourselves to an average family of a CRO child. I am not saying one should feel bad about not living in lousy conditions; one should not be embarrassed or have a bad conscience about living in a nice place. One cannot go around and compare the life in Norway to the life in Uganda. The difference is too big in every way. It would be like comparing a cat and a skyscraper; ridiculously unreasonable (very good example, huh?). Nevertheless, that does not mean one should just shove it under a rug and leave it at that. Occasionally one should stop and think about the ones who are really less fortunate. Think of those whose lives are worlds apart from yours, even though we all live on the same planet. Be happy and grateful for what you have! It surely is all that!
These are some of my girls (Angella Esther, Keem Christine, Loley Joyce and Nampomba Shamilla). They’ve all finished their one year in rehab class. On Monday they got school uniforms and new bags. Now, they’ve completed their first week of formal school. If that’s not motivating, I don’t know what is. Last year they were all on the streets picking what they could find to eat or sell. Now, thanks to CRO, they’re all in school. I have an amazing job!
lørdag 30. januar 2010
Three naive girls, sharing a space
It’s their office, supposedly a safe place
And these three girls love showing trust and grace
To see that a young boy feels trusted when you look at his face
Three naive girls sharing a great deal
And, oh, how great sharing makes you feel
Trusting ex-knick knackers will truly make them heal
Trusting them alone in an office with plenty of things to steal
Three naive girls realized, as they should;
That trusting someone way too much, really isn’t good
When taking something small from you can give his dear ones food
The young boy that you trusted so, he did the best he could
Three young girls, not so naive anymore
Being restrictive with their stuff
No longer over-tempting the poor
Three girls knowing a little better that this world is really tough
The kids are not to be blamed. It’s like putting a Norwegian kid alone in a candy shop and expect it not to sample the sweets. And even though it’s a bummer to have people you trust steal from you, it all worked out for the best. We’ve upgraded our office-security and know that we shouldn’t put poor and desperate people in such tempting positions again. Yet another handy lesson learnt! Thanks, Mr. -------! ;)