26th August 2006
Them: Africa is full of black people right?
Me: Err... Yeah...
Them: Why would you be wanting to help black people?
A conversation I had prior to leaving for Africa
This is all about some black people I met in the small village of Kitale, which is located about two hours drive west of Kampala.
I met them as part of an outreach I was doing (more on this later) to find out what sort of problems people face in Kitale.
Mama Africa is over eighty years old.
Many of her sons and daughters have passed away after contracting HIV/AIDS. She looks after many of her orphaned grandchildren.
In recent years, Mama Africa has contracted Elephantitis. Yes, that's the same disease that the Elephant Man had. Elephantitis is mosquito borne disease that causes your bones to grow in a distorted fashion. At the moment, the Elephantitis only effects her feet. She says that walking is quite painful.
Mama Africa is a jovial lady and has not let her circumstances get her down. She is always smiling and joking. If you say a Luganda phrase like Jebale (well done) she bursts out laughing. A truly wonderful lady.
He is one of the lucky ones in the village in that he gets two meals a day. One type of meal he has is a fish bone soup. The fish bones are purchased from the market for ush2,000 ($NZ 1.66). He is glad when he has fish bone soup.
The other type of meal is boiled kasava with a salt and water sauce. He grows the kasava - a carbohydrate rich root vegetable - in his garden. He wishes he could afford a sauce to go wish the kasava.
He used to eat bananas, but maggots have long since ravaged his crops. He could not afford to buy a commercial pesticide and does not know how to make a natural pesticide.
He had some goats and some sheep, but had to sell them to pay for some medicine.
He used to grow a commercial coffee crop. He had to stop because the price of coffee plummeted. "That doesn't really matter," he says with a chuckle, "As the landlords sold the land I was using anyway."
Well, something like that anyway. He speaks no English and I speak very little Lugandan, so we had to use an interpreter.
Salongo Kigozi Joseph
Joseph lost two sons and their wives to HIV/AIDS. He looks after his six remaining children and six of his orphaned grandchildren.
This type of story gets repeated time and time again in Africa. The middle generation gets wiped out by HIV/AIDS and the older generation ends up looking after the younger generation.
Joseph is a farmer. He has maize and coffee crops. The bottom falling out of the coffee market has not helped. He struggles to control the pests on his farms. He cannot afford commercial pesticides. He sometimes uses cow dung and ash as a natural pesticide.
He earns ush500,000 ($NZ 415.28) a year from his crops.
She has no permanent job or income. She occasionally does some digging at local farms to earn a bit of money.
She is trying to put her kids through school. She can only afford to send four of her six children to school. The fees are ush15,000 ($NZ 12.46) per year.
Christian struggles to get good drinkable water. She uses about five jerry cans of water per day. A jerry can of water costs ush50 ($NZ 0.03) at the borehole. She drinks the water from the borehole but knows she probably shouldn't. The borehole is a three miles away.
She sometimes gets water from the well, which is only two miles away. The water from the well is free, but of a much lower quality than the borehole water.
It is very difficult for Christian when she or her children get sick. The hospital is very far away, expensive and poorly stocked. The most common health problem her and her children face is malaria. It is particularly hard on the children. The eyes of the children often get very itchy and will water profusely for a week or so.
2005 and 2006 Malcolm Trevena.