Saturday! Where is the week going?
Today is all about feeding and football (but not concurrently; guidelines suggest waiting an hour after eating before participating in exercise). On the journey in, Matt pumped up the 4 footballs – one green, red, blue and yellow. To our disappointment, the red one appeared to have a slow puncture, so Ian lobbed it out of the bus window to a little group of utterly delighted boys. Hold on to that thought for later.
We planned to distribute the bags of food at 2pm, yet people had been sat in the heat from 9am, such is their desperate need to be fed. Hard to imagine being prepared to wait 5 hours for a carrier bag containing beans, rice, flour, salt and soap (which will last an average family a week), but we mustn’t underestimate the hunger these lovely people endure. Each bag costs just under £5 for us to produce, and we’ll have at least 300 available for the families identified as being in the most severe need. Others will receive gifts of one or two of the items, but it’s expected around 600-700 families will benefit in total – Jo believes the project has spent £3000 on food altogether, and that includes feeding the children yesterday – all in all, probably not far off £1 per head. Most of us spend more than that on a coffee.
We took over a classroom and, led by Andy in singing, a robust team made up of Reed People and our Ugandan friends started dividing up the food and soap into green carrier bags. The green bags then reached Derek, who was on quality control to ensure each bag was complete, and he then kept a tally on the blackboard. Meanwhile, the (now completely packed church with not even standing room) were treated to the a film depicting the life of Jesus in Lugandan to help them while away the hours waiting – for some this may have been their first experience of anything close to a cinema.
Thanks to Derek’s meticulous counting (you can take the man out of the army…) we packed up 300 full bags, 207 partial bags, with 114 bags of flour, 90 bags of beans and 91 bars of laundry soap remaining! The heaving church were treated to a short address by Andy (now known locally as ‘Evangelist Andy’, which we think needs to be adopted in the UK) after the film, and many people responded to the gospel message he delivered.
In groups of twenty, people began to file towards the classroom to collect their green carrier bags of aid. Unbelievably, in another demonstration of everything around us multiplying, we were able to feed every family represented in the heaving church, as well as donate TWO bags to each teacher, pastor and kitchen lady… and we still have around 60 bags remaining as well as the surplus flour, beans and soap. The gratitude in the faces of our Ugandan friends was so humbling, even though we know in reality it’s just a drop in the ocean of what they actually need. We decided to donate the surplus flour, beans and soap to the school, and plan to give the remaining green bags out from the bus as we pass through other small villages tomorrow! While the parents were collecting food, Sophie and Karenza delighted the children with bubbles – even as the heavens opened and the much-needed rain started to fall; who says us Brits are fair-weather bubble blowers?
Matt ‘Ronaldo’ Mutton was out in force on the football pitch, as the school team (guest starring Matt) went against the village team, in kits kindly donated by Hindolveston FC. The match was a huge crowd puller, with much chanting and coming from both sets of fans (which we choose to believe was honourable and in no way derogatory at all), and every player was awarded a medal at the end; simply for being there and taking part.
In other news, Jo met with two women who had trekked TEN MILES to see us, having heard they may be able to obtain sanitary towels, and we more than happily gave them what they needed. Agent Clare performed a covert operation with fellow agent Rachel to smuggle suitcase into the girls dormitory as we heard one of the boarders had nowhere to store her clothes, and Sarah visited Owen at home, accompanied by Clare. Owen was delighted to see Sarah, and Sarah was able to gift him some blankets wed brought out to make sleeping on the floor more comfortable. She also left him a physio ball, and a whole of love.
We were several miles into a bus ride back to the guest house when we drove past a woman… carrying a precious green carrier bag on her head. How far she had walked for those supplies we will never know, but a little further down the road we went past a little house… where 5 small boys were still joyfully playing with a slightly broken red ball.