Sunday, August 30, 2015

More harvesting

It was a busy few days in Lormoruchbae. Harvesting maize, sorghum, green gram, and sunflower.  I've yet to find a specific job for women in Karamoja that I wouldn't describe as back-breaking labor. Even sunflowers. Though beautiful to look at, they are a lot of work for very little gain. After months of planting and weeding comes the hard work of keeping the birds from stealing all of your produce. We hike out to the field and try to find the flowers that are ready. There seems to be a very limited number of days between mature and too late. Mary told me it is because this year was so dry, the flowers are drying too fast. We cut down the stalk, most of which are over six feet tall, remove the heads and carry them back. Then they have to be laid out in the sun to dry. Then threshed, some of which you can do by hitting the heads with a stick but some of the seeds need to be removed by hand. Most of the seeds are just consumed at this stage. But who is satisfied after a meal of sunflower seeds with the shell still on?! So, then it has to be pounded to make paste and rinsed to remove as much of the hull as possible then that watery, oily, gritty paste is used as oil in foods. Yummy! 
Putting them out in the sun to dry

After threshing
Making a paste (hulls still on)
We also harvested green gram. Which left my hands bloody the plants are so spiky. They explained this was also because it was so dry this year.  Green gram is a little like lentils and a really good protein source in their diet. But also very hard to harvest. This plant has an interesting method of seed dispersal.  Though not nearly as interesting if you are trying to contain the seeds. The little seed pods are a bit twisted and as they dry they become practically spring loaded. So when you attempt to pluck them off the plant if you don't have your hand wrapped around them the tiny beans go flying off the plant and there is no getting them back. 

Also harvesting pumpkins and gourds. 
And sorghum. Because of the abundance of this grain is seems the whole village is permanently intoxicated right now. Sorghum is used primarily for making beer. And it is the thing they have all grown the most of. And the home brew they make is so thick they drink it like porridge. And, like porridge, they have it for breakfast .

Celebration with the TBAs

One of my goals with this new birth attendent's program is to value these ladies who have so much to contribute but yet are so under valued because they are women. I had to write a grant application and here is how I described it:

"One of the issues that prevents the gospel from taking root in the villages of Karamoja is that women are not empowered, in fact the opposite is true. They are demeaned and devalued. They disregard gospel presentations because they don't believe they have any decision making power.  Women overall have very little autonomy, however an access point is through women who are already birth attendants (TBAs) as these women do have some standing within the community. We aim to value these women who are serving as TBAs. Through group meetings and trainings their knowledge base can be expanded with the intention of the threefold benefit: 1.) Reduction of overall mortality and morbidity for pregnant and nursing mothers and neonates.  2.) Empowerment of the TBAs within the skills they can provide for their own communities so that others see their wisdom and value. 3.) Increase of trust and a foundation for the sharing of the gospel and discipleship so that the disciples can become those who disciple others. "

Putting them on immediately
So this week we had a little celebration of how many lives they've made a difference in. They got shirts which they really enjoyed.  They told me now they have a "uniform" so people will know they are really trained now. They also got soda and cookies. They were surprisingly excited about that too.


and soda

This is how they wanted their pictures taken. 

I told them they had to smile to show me they liked their shirts. 
Headed home

Monday, August 24, 2015


A quick shout out to all of my various translators today. Because without them I'm only talking to myself.
On the right, Mary. She lives in Lormoruchbae and often goes with me to Nakayot.
Kodet. Not actually a translator. He is CLIDE staff but he gets stuck translating for me more than anyone else. 
Judith (and son Ezra) who is also CLIDE staff. She has some medical training so is extremely helpful. 
Betty. She is a former Timothy Student so likes attending CLIDE programs. 
There are several others, Sokoku, Petua, Lomakol, Mary and David. Sadly, I just discovered I don't really have pictures of them. Please pray for them as they have to put up with me and my strange ways of doing things so often.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Harvesting in Lormoruchbae. Long days of hard work but it means food in the granaries! 
Sorting the harvest
Cant stop working even to feed the baby...
Notice that nice group of men watching us work while sipping beer? They did practically nothing all day.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The random pictures on my camera....

I ride my bike quite often. I wear long skirts quite often. It is actually quite surprising that these two things haven't meshed this poorly before now. My knee is pretty sore though the scrapes are pretty superficial  and the bruising on my right leg is pretty painful so standing for long periods is troublesome.

All seven baby rabbits are growing and if possible are getting more cute. They are almost completely weaned. I'm planning on giving mama rabbit and a male (not one of these) to Ken and Janet along with my rabbit house while I'm on furlough. They are going try rabbit breeding, which is a good income generating activity here as a rabbit for eating will sell for more than a kg of beef.

There are a strangely large number of baby things on my clothes lines lately. The birth kits program is really taking off and I had to go to the second hand market last week to get receiving blankets and newborn clothes. I'll be taking 50 kits up with me for our next training.
I've mentioned before that each month I place an order for more than 1 million shillings worth of meds so the pharmacy gives me "bonus" drugs. This month was enough ferro and folate (the two key ingredients in  prenatal vitamins) for 10 pregnant women for their whole pregnancy! And as no one here starts taking it as early as in in the states I expect this to treat more than twenty women. A really nice bonus!
Thus concludes today's unnecessary blog post. I'm headed to the village right now and will be there until the weekend. However, I've heard the roads are really bad so we'll see how far I make it. There maybe more relevant blog posts possibly next week (hopefully). 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


My friend Rachel got the Ugandan version of a rotisserie chicken- cooked whole over a grill in Arapi.  Doesn't that look appetizing?! Nice and fat, plenty of neck!! Even still has some extra bits inside for added flavor.
On a completely related note I have so many meals that I'm looking forward to having while I'm back in the states! Very few of which will contain rice, beans or cabbage.....  

Monday, August 17, 2015


It is time to get serious about my next home assignment. Tickets have been purchased and I arrive back in GR on September 15th!! I can't wait. It will have been 2 years and 2 months and I know in my head that it isn't actually that long but it feels like it has been a long time.
I'm looking forward to catching up with all of you and spending time together!! I'm scheduling now so let me know if we can do something together. (Go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee, I will even spend an hour cleaning your pantry with you if that is what you need to do.)

Friday, August 14, 2015


Elisabeth is still hanging in there (wrote last about her here) but she is having a lot of pain, getting quite a bit weaker and is struggling more. Life is hard here no matter who you are but life is really hard when you are 90 years old, have no living family, and advanced cancer. Please be praying for Elisabeth.  She told us she is often lonely and hungry and always in pain.
I've been to visit her twice this week. She reports a bit of relief from the pain at night with the meds which is good. We also brought her a radio to fill her empty hours. Brought food and fire wood too, to try to make a little less work for her but she still needs her water to come from the borehole that is a ways away from her house and she still has to do her own cooking.
A few interesting things we learned while sitting with Elisabeth: She really wanted to be in school but her father took her out to care for the family cows. It was a catholic school because when she was school age Uganda was still a British Commonwealth so all the schools were run by the English Church. She thinks that she remembers that her first born child was about 10 years old when Idi Amin was in power (He is the crazy dictator of the 1970's who is known for insane human rights abuses and the death of upwards of 500,000 people.) One of her children died of illness but the rest were killed in the insurgency of the LRA in the 1980's. I'm in awe of the things she lived through and survived to tell us about. I can not even fathom....
These pictures don't show it well but she is a really joyful lady, laughing and smiling and can't stop telling us how much she appreciates all we are doing for her.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Not getting stuck anymore!

Last month I took the plunge and sprung for mud tires to replace the all terrain tires I used to have. This is blog worthy because the past two trips to Karamoja have been like going in a completely different vehicle. I love it! This picture is funny though because the mud was caked on all the way up to the roof but instead I took the picture after I washed it.

Spending some time contemplating this blog..... my posts are headed downhill fast aren't they? I'll try harder tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My headlights are on?

I'm back from Karamoja so have a few posts milling around but they aren't ready yet so I have a humorous anecdote for you in the meantime.
Monday morning I left the village around 6:30. It was really foggy so I had the headlights on. I left Lormoruchbae with 13 people and all their luggage and made my first stop in Lorangachora to unload some of them around 7am. Someone came up to me while unloading and pointed out to me my headlights were on. Here, everyone is concerned with conserving energy because they have so little of it and they understand how miserable it can be when it runs out. And so few people drive they don't understand that headlights are actually not like flashlights and that I don't actually have to worry about running out of battery as long as the truck is running. The belief that your headlights will drain you battery is so prevalent that some drivers won't even turn their headlights on until it is fully dark so you need to be more cautious around dawn and dusk. Anyway, this guy told me my headlights were on. I thanked him and forgot about it. I headed to Matany to drop off some people there. Between Lorangochora and Matany I hit a chicken. I tried to swerve but the fog was still very heavy and the chicken was stupid and I saw a puff of feathers in my rear-view mirror. I wish this wasn't a common problem on the highways of Uganda but it is and I was just happy it wasn't a goat or a cow. Anyway, got to Matany and while unloading was told again that my headlights were on. It was only 8:30 am and the fog was still heavy so I just nodded and told him I knew. I made my last stop in Kangole around 9am and dropped the last few people in my vehicle off in the town center and was actually told one more time that my headlights were on. I just turned them off to get people to leave me alone. I drove over to the CLIDE office and while there I discovered that the chicken I had hit was still embedded in the grill of my truck. Only here will several people point out to you that your headlights are on and fail to mention that you have a dead animal right between them.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Seeing as how I've started something with crummy pet posts here is another one. I keep chickens for the fresh eggs, occasional meat and mostly to give away because chickens are the best Christmas present here. Right now I've got three mothers with seven chicks at various ages. It has become rather time consuming getting everyone fed, keeping the mothers from killing each other (they can't tell their chicks apart) and convincing the cat he needs to go hunt something else.
The youngest three. 
A slow hatcher. 

Team work.
Hoping a chicken nugget will escape.