This is the 5th visit to Masaka from St Aidan’s Longueville. St Aidan’s has a new Pastor with family commitments and was thus unable to make the journey, and possibly not until 2016. As it was 2 years since our last visit five of us decided to make a short visit to renew acquaintances.
On each Sunday we attended the 5 hours of church, a 2 hour English Service, a 1 hour Sunday School classes for all, then a 2 hour Luganda/English Service. On the second Sunday one of our party gave the sermon on “Trusting God” – as usual, she was very good, held everyone’s interest. It was also her birthday and Pastor Elijah encouraged everyone to write her short notes of encouragement. All were well received.
71 beanies were made by members of the St Aidan’s congregation, more, we thought, than required for the 41 children in the Child Survival Program (CSP). They all went in double quick time. The extras taken up by other children in the family and also the occasional mother. Now the mothers are keen to make more clothing and we are busy buying the crochet hooks, patterns and yarn (none available in Masaka) to send.
There was also a session with the CSP Mothers showing how to crochet handbags from throw away plastic shopping bags. This mother had her bag finished the next day its design modified to make a shoulder strap .
BlessingSchool is a primary school associated with the FullGospelChurch. Last time we were there they had acquired a plot of land adjacent to their current property. In the 2 years since we were last there 7 new classrooms have been built. Teachers and students have made the bricks for the project, a brick kiln built on site for the purpose.
Members of St Aidan’s had made over 550 bookmarks, one for each child in the school, a koala or a kookaburra on one side and a word of Christian encouragement on the other. Many of the children wore them as lapel badges. We were also pleased to see a small library of reading books purchased with money we had raised for them.
With rich volcanic soil and a regular, although seasonal rainfall, food production is no problem. However safe storage has been expensive, and spoiling of food due to dampness and insects common. Food can become very expensive very quickly if the rains are late or insects get the crop. The use of inexpensive food preservation has been examined.
At a U3A lecture about a month earlier we learned of a project in Masaka assisted by Quaker Service Australia. This, the St Jude demonstration farm introduced the concepts of environmental farming, permaculture and food preservation. We were interested in their solar food dryer (ultra low tech) to preserve fruit and vegetables in times of plenty. We took a local carpenter to see the device and he is making one for use by our project members ($80). The CSP is excited at the prospect of not only preserving their produce but also the possibility of the mothers starting a small business in food preservation. One of our number investigated plastic grain storage bags which will keep grain dry and insect free for up to 18 months. These are available locally but farmers are often unaware of the availability of some of these new products.
We visited friends made on previous visits, took messages and gifts to sponsored families. Two sponsored children were to attend boarding school in Kampala, so they were taken shopping. Ugandan women, like all other women the world over, love shopping. Also did some gift shopping with the sponsored children’s mothers. On the current exchange rate shopping is not expensive. The price of food can be as low as 10% its cost in Australia or lower. Other items are usually below 50%. Gasoline is unfortunately about the same price as here.
Assistant Pastor Philip of the Full Gospel Church in Masaka and Janet his wife, who works for Compassion, are building a house and living in half of it while 700 chickens live in the other half. This is all part of the survival strategy that our Masakan friends must follow.
Birth control can be a problem. The pill is available but in this 3rd world country they are old stock which can have unpleasant side effects. Tubal ligation is expensive requiring hospitalization and can be dangerous. The result is large families that most people cannot afford and has a serious effect on women’s health. The subject of vasectomies was brought up and investigated. We had heard that the subject was a cultural taboo but found the father of one of the sponsored children who had fathered 8 children in 8 years was interested. Finding it involved an operation in a clinic lasting 15 minutes with a recovery of another 15 min at a cost of $30 Australian he was convinced and booked himself in for the following week. The pastor of his church when told booked himself in as well. They live around 80km from Masaka – their major expense was travel costs. Our members helped with the surgery cost. They remarked that they were praying for some solution to their problem and they knew of several others who would have it done.