Uganda – Day 7


So we start the long journey home.

Things I have learned In Africa…

1. You can survive on a lot less water if you have to. I drink loads at home but due to being worried about having to find toilets I restricted my intake a little.

2. I will never, ever complain again about the toilets at Greenbelt. This week I have pee’d in some truly grim places – most of them have been a simple hole in the ground with a cover you shift out of they way and you squat like nature intended! I have learnt that when you have to go you just have to get on with it!! I have also learnt it is much easier to wear a skirt or a dress when visiting rural communities.

3. I have learned that rice, beans and chapatti are a very acceptable lunch. Don’t bother with t he chicken – it is so scrawny it’s hardly worth the hassle!

4. If you want your evening meal to come on time them place your order at breakfast.

5. The children are beautiful. They are curious and at times shy but they love seeing themselves in photos. My happiest moments this week have been sat surrounded by children.

6. A Ugandan welcome is like nothing else I have ever experienced. It is generous and loud (Ugandans are very quietly spoken!) and participative. They love a good party it would seem!

7. It is entirely possible to carry a full load on a motorcycle. So far we have seen one motorcycle carrying four adults. Other times they have been loaded up with banana stalks, about 40 pineapples, barrels or something, sacks of flour or concrete and mattresses. We have also seen live chickens and pigs strapped to the back or the bike.

8. This week I have discovered that he Ugandan women are amazing. They are resourceful, diligent, very hard-working, creative and above all else they are committed to their families. Very often grandparents are caring for grandchildren as their parents have died. They are incredible.

9. The people in the rural communities are often incredibly poor but their generosity is shaming to those of us who have so much. In some of the places we have been we have been given food, drinks, gifts of chickens and eggs and fruit and veg. We have also bought mats and craftwork but sometimes we have been given more than we paid for!

10. Above all else this week I have learnt that community is what makes VSLA work. The groups run on trust and accountability to each other. Without that trust the group will not be successful.

This week has been life changing. I think a tiny piece of my heart will stay firmly here in Africa and it may just have changed me forever.



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Uganda – Day 6


Our last morning in Kyotera started with rain. Just a little bit but it dampened down the very dusty roads. It would be a nightmare if you had bad asthma. Each bathroom in the hotel has a large bowl in which you can wash your feet which is very useful by the evening.

This morning we went to see four individuals to hear how they are using VSLA to fund their businesses. The first one grew coffee and matoke. She had taken a loan out to pay for fertilisers to improve her yield and at the end of the cycle her share went to pay school fees.

The next one we saw had bought a motorbike which her son was using.


The third one is was so inspirational. She was looking after 6 grandchildren after their parents died. She was so excited to see us and she was delightful to receive a This is Epic T-shirt. She had used a loan to pay for erecting a new kitchen shelter. She was wonderful and the kids were so entertained to see themselves on the pictures.



Then we went to see a group. Once again we received an amazing welcome! We always have to introduce ourselves and they love it when I say this is my first time to Africa but Dad takes all the glory when he says he is here with his two daughters. They absolutely love that!!!

More African dancing, some by my sister, more singing, more ‘ayayayaing’ (such a Ugandan sound I can’t really explain it!).

The local area councillor also made an appearance dressed in all her finery. She was lovely and spoke very good English. What was so amazing though was that she had been a Compassion Child and she was now in a position of privilege and influence.

We ended with a meal of roast pork and delicious roast potatoes! Of course we had to buy a pile of vegetables and fruit to take away. We have packed a few unripe avocados into our luggage but the jeep is full of pumpkins, avocados, mangoes, nuts, tomatoes, piles of delicious sweet bananas and a pineapple. Not to mention Frank the chicken who is going home with Adrine today when she is going to give him a good home in her soup! The rest of the goods will be given to the drivers and Henry and Adrine who have done such a brilliant job of taking us around the groups.


I am currently in the van on the way back to Kampala. I am tired and my eyes keep shutting but I don’t want to miss a single thing. We have just stopped at the Equator and seen the water run straight down the plug hole. Cheesy but it had to be done!


Amazing Uganda. I think it will forever hold a special part of my heart.


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Uganda – day 5


The days have been so busy but generally full of awesomeness.

This morning we visited six different individuals who are part of VSLA groups and who have been saving and some of them have also taken out loans.

It is pretty hard to explain how significant the VSLA group is to their lives. With the money they save and borrow they are able to improve their lives significantly.

The First Lady we visited today has managed to save and.l borrow enough money to have 12 pigs which she is rearong for market. She is also growing vegetables in her garden.

The other people we had seen had bought a a solar panel and one was paying the school fees.


This afternoon we visited a second school and took them a Solar panel which was fitted whilst we were there. Suddenly they had lights in then classrooms which amazing. They gave us such a spectacular welcome with dancing and singing. The school was started with 50 pupils in 2013 and now has 248.

I can’t believe we only have one day left of trip. It has been amazing in every way.




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Uganda – Day 4


Another really busy day.

This morning we went to see a group and then to meet some specific members to see how VSLA has benefitted them.

One of the ladies we visited had borrowed money to build a well so she didn’t have to keep buying water. She used the soil she dug out of the well to make bricks to build a kiln. She also keeps pigs to pay back her loan she had. She has big plans for the next time she gets a share payment and intends to build a cover for a well. She done as an inspiration.

This afternoon we went to visit St Leonie’s School. It was funded initially through a VSLA group who paid for a headteacher. The school started in 2013 with 36 pupils and last year it had 186 pupils.


It was amazing! We had such an incredible welcome with dancing and singing. The pupils prepared a drama for us and then a full traditional dance. Even the little tiny children were taking part. Their dancing is incredible. They manage to shake their hips whilst keeping their upper body really still. Incredible.


We took out some school supplies with us as well as giving some money to Adrine who works for Read to buy more. It was a very exciting time for the school.


I have loved seeing the children. They are beautiful but so very poor. Most of them are dressed in rags but their families are aspirational for a better life. This is Epic helps them to reach those dreams.





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Uganda – Day 3


This morning we had the privilege of visiting an Action Audit. This happens at the end of a loan cycle and is when the saved money is repaid to all the members along with their interest.

This group has 30 members and is their first cycle. Their share price was 2000
Ugandan shillings and their end price was 2500 shilling. So that meant they had a 25% return on their savings. That’s considerably better than you get in a Western bank these days!! This group was made up of 29 women and one man.

We were once again treated as honoured guests. Dancing and singing on arrival and even more dancing when they were presented with their savings and share money. My sister and dad were presenting the money and they both had to dance.


It was wonderful and joyful and such an exciting morning. The women talked about how saving their money gives Them Independence and credibility and completely empowers them to have high aspirations.

The members talked about what they are going to do with their payouts and many of them intended to buy land, do house improvements or pay their children’s school fees.

We were then tested to more singing and dancing entertainment before being served a tasty and generous lunch. It was slightly bizarre when the DJ started playing a Peter Andres a ‘Mysterious Girl’ followed by a Will Young song!

This is what This is Epic do. It is obvious to see the different it can make to families living in poverty. This is why VSLA is vital to poor communities.

This afternoon we went to a group to see how VSLA is working. The group performed a hilarious play about the impact that the savings group had on their lives.

Then we went to visit two separate women who have borrowed money, both for house improvements. It was moving to hear how their lives have been changed by VSLA.

Amazing day. Exciting and moving all rolled up into one.




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Day 4

Table planning

This was the way I planned the table settings for my Dad’s party this week – much the same way that I did table plans for our wedding!

My last couple of posts have been quite short. I am trying to work out how to use Flickr and WordPress on the iPad so that I can blog when I am in Uganda. I won’t do my pic a day until I get back but I am goi g to blog about the journey.

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Day 3

Cat sofa

Betty has the right idea.  She is treating The Mister like he is a sofa in front of a roaring fire. Sensible cat.

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Day 2

Testing to see how easily I can upload from my phone.

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A year in pictures – Day 356

End of work!

I’ve made it! Today was the last working day of the year and it was such a relief to get there!

Now I get to do Christmas cooking and prep and get things sorted. Finally it feels like I might be able to start enjoying Christmas.

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A year in pictures – Day 338

Knitted Nativity.... and Wonder Woman

The knitted Nativity is out again.

I told The Little Miss that I was going to take a picture of them but she insisted on photobombing.

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