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Clare's Tales of Uganda

Clare (ACA)
Moyo Babies Home and Redeemers Children's Home, Uganda

16th October 2012
Life is as entertaining here as ever! My days are still spent working on the accounting systems with the accountant and playing with the kids.

I obviously prefer one of those things a lot more!! Having said that, the work I am doing continues to be very interesting. In the last week, our work has mainly involved preparing the budget for 2013. In order to do that we had to look at the costs of the last year and try to estimate how much money is needed next year. It was a sobering job. In Uganda, there is incredible inflation of prices. In Kampala, the capital, prices do not change as frequently but here in the North West, prices change daily. Currently, there are nearly 20 babies in the home and they are very expensive to feed.

In comparison to the price of other goods, milk for babies is so expensive. The shops know that this is a necessity and price accordingly. The amount of money spent by the Home on milk alone is quite startling but it is due to constant price increases. Soon, the situation will be that the Home cannot afford to take on any new babies as they are just too expensive. Additionally at any major occasion, prices will increase, therefore the Sisters need to start buying clothes and as much food for the children for Christmas now before the major price increases. I find this whole thing really crazy but it is the way of life here. Almost nightly, the current price of a bag of sugar is discussed!

Ugandans are very religious people and as I am effectively living with nuns, religion is a big part of life here in the Home. We say prayers before every meal and before every journey. And Sunday mass is obviously a big deal. So being the only muzungo in the village, there was a lot of commotion as I entered church on Sunday. The accountant of the Home, Vuni Henry Alfred (yes, he has three names and likes to use different ones at different times), is a very religious fellow and is a member of the Church choir. So before mass he suggested that I sing in the choir.

I tried to explain that I am a dreadful singer but he just laughed, as he does most of the time – sometimes because things are funny but more often than not because he doesn’t understand what I am saying. When we went into church, he seated me in a pew towards the front and I thought I was safe from choir duty. Had I looked around at that stage I could have saved myself, everyone around me had song sheets and musical instruments, I should have ran. Instead, I stayed put and hoped that somehow my singing voice would be better in Uganda than it is back home (those that know me/have heard me sing will confirm that I have an awful voice, that really should only be publically heard in karaoke after a beer).
But I stayed and tried my best! It was actually great fun – the choir are very enthusiastic and there was some swaying and clapping and cheering throughout the songs. However, I did struggle when we had to sing songs in Madi (the local dialect of the area). Especially as quite a few of the songs are not included in the song book – so I just have to try follow what everyone else is singing and wing it. I did get a few odd looks so my improvising must not be right at times! Two hours later, mass was finally finished (yes, the average mass time is two hours here, and the Church is packed from start to end…they really are devout Catholics). The choir have now welcomed me into their group (they must have very loose standards for new members) and I attend choir practice twice a week now and sing with the choir every Sunday!!

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