And then there were 12.

Rachel spent the night being very unwell (turns out Sarah is a very understanding roommate) and has sadly been confined to bed, hoping to join the team in the afternoon if the sickness etc eases. Uganda isn’t the best place to be so poorly, but Rachel is thankful for such a caring team.

Meanwhile…. (& there is some irony here) it was a day of things seemingly wanting to multiply all around…

TEACHING

Today was t-shirt decorating day! We were touched to see some of the children wearing their shirts from the last trip in 2015, which goes to show how precious this clothing is to them. Ruth, Tim, Matt, Sophie and Karenza coordinated each class group in turn, and the children loved designing their shirts – donated kindly by Martin and Sue Greenland at LogoWear. As the day wore on it became apparent that we were going to be about 25 shirts short, and it was hard to pinpoint how this had happened, other than the pupils numbers we’d been given not being entirely accurate. Maths genius Matt set about keeping a tally as we went along, and our 25 deficit dropped to 18, and then 5! The team raided all the spare uniform and found 5 white shirts that would work just as well, but mysteriously, the team got to the end of the last class and found there was no deficit at all – in fact they had 1 t-shirt spare – work that one out!

MEDICAL

Sarah and Val are clearly pushing for world records. Val has now distributed 374 doses of worming medication, and Sarah somehow manage to see THIRTY patients in the morning alone! – Sarah said it almost shouldn’t be possible, but just as she felt convinced she must be running out of time, she’d look at her watch to see that wasn’t the case – if anything, time was stalling (or multiplying, depending on your perspective). Among the patients she saw was Rita, a student at the school who we suspect has either had polio or has cerebral palsy – it was hard to know for sure, but she was happy to leave Sarah complete with a walking stick and a pair of shoes. Sarah is now on the look-out for a better fitting pair of shoes before we leave. Val also kitted out as many bare-footed children with shoes/flip flops as possible – and soon rumbled the canny kids of P3 who were hiding their shoes hoping to get a newer pair!

FEEDING

Not part of the initial plan, but finances permitted us to provide every child in the school with a hot meal of beef stew, rice and beans. Many of the children show signs of malnutrition so every meal makes a difference. Pastor Steve Musisi witnessed a school child give the t-shirt she’d designed that morning to a village child, as she guessed it’d make it easier for her friend to sneak in and have food undetected – which is both utterly beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.. Hard to say how many children were fed in total, but it’s fair to say more than a few village children were within the number, and not a single scrap of food went to waste.

MEN

Derek, Ian and Andy had another busy day out in the community, incorporating having lunch with the village elders. This gave them a chance to share the vision of Reed People, which was accepted and by all accounts they got on like a house on fire. In other news, they were also back out in town, and later on, Derek had an opportunity to pray for healing and saw an instant change in a young boy. They’ll be able to tell these stories in much more detail when we get back!

WOMEN

While Rachel was at the guest house in bed, Clare and Jo started getting organised for the afternoon. We put the word round, but it remained to be seen how many women turn up! Clare and Jo were sorting the packs into suitcases according to whether they were sizes small, medium or large, and again, she says the packs just kept coming – as she thought we were at capacity, another bag of packs would appear – in total they counted 301 complete packs, and an additional 114 spare sanitary towels – this doesn’t include the packs kept separately for the boarding students, the teachers, the pastors wives and daughters and the ladies who run the school kitchen! Amazing work, UK, amazing work.

Steve Musisi kindly did the long round-trip at lunchtime to fetch Rachel, who was desperate not to miss the women’s meeting. She spend most of the afternoon lying on Sarah’s physio bed, but was at least able to attend the meeting itself, even if she couldn’t speak as planned. Jo did an amazing job of addressing the women, of which we estimate numbered around 250. You can’t imagine poverty until you witness a room erupting in spontaneous applause at the mention of a flannel. The women collected their packs (Ruth did a brilliant job of diplomatically assessing them by dress size!) and as they spilled out into the village clutching their packs you could sense an element of taboo had been lifted. Tim (who like all the men had done their best to stay well away!) went to the bus to collect some water, and as he stepped back off was somewhat surprised to be greeted by  a group of topless women trying on their new bras – there were breasts, knickers and sanitary towels being waved around everywhere, in what can only be described as a hugely liberating afternoon for the women of Lumpewe.

How we love these people.