Where to start? I’ve been having WiFi “issues” here in Uganda, and also — despite having a “universal” converter plus one I picked up in South Africa — a converter issue. It’s been like, you know, the 1980s.
Juliet and the Kajanssi Rotary Club have treated us to a wonderful time. First, Julie — my African sister — her home, she says, is our home in Africa. I stayed with her two years ago when I was here with the District 7780 cultural outreach, and it is because of her leadership and obvious competencies that the Walter Foundation has invested in the technical training center.
Along with Alex, another Rotarian, she met us at the airport on Saturday night and we went out for dinner – fried tilapia, from Lake Victoria. When I say fried fish, I mean the whole deal, head to tail. Then to her house, and to bed. But not for long.
Sunday morning we were up early for a road trip. Enid — one of the RC members from two years ago — showed up in a van, and we set off, stopping along the way to pick up or at least meet with various Rotarians, including the Assistant Governor and Governor Nominee Ron. It was Sunday morning, and the radio was blaring soft-rock African gospel music. You can’t make this stuff up. By now we were a parade of several cars, and given the state of Ugandan roads, it was probably inevitable that one of them developed a flat tire.
We finally reached the Rotary Technical Center, now under construction. The local people and chairman of the local community were in force, and there were speeches. Many speeches, times two, because everything was translated into or out of the local language for us. We admired the buildings, and planted trees to mark the future entrance of the center.
And oh, yes. Juliet has been the driving force behind this project, and she has taken much time off from work to make it happen. I had arranged a Paul Harris Fellow for her – the funny thing is that she had checked her Rotary account just recently, and noticed that she had “more” credits than she thought. So she had just fired off an email to TRF telling them to “fix” their mistake. For once I am glad that TRF is so slow in getting back to Rotarians who send emails like that. Anyway, suffice it to say, she was very pleased, and so, I am glad to say, was the entire club, which broke out into a rousing rendition of “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”
And then to the existing primary school, which was built with Catholic money and has been around forever, but has grown in the past few years as a new head teacher has made the program more enticing and so more parents are enrolling their children. Most recent development — new since I was here two years ago — is an apartment block for teachers, so that they can live as well as work at the school. More speeches, more translations, and by now we were well behind our schedule.
Some of the Rotarians returned home; two cars drove on to Jinja and lunch. By the time lunch was finished it was nearly 6:00 p.m., and by prearrangement, Julie took Frank and me to a five-star resort on the Nile. It is owned by a Rotarian, and she had arranged with him to put us up for the night. Meanwhile, the Kajannsi Rotarians bunked somewhere else, I never did learn where. We watched the sun set over the Nile, and quickly went to bed.
Monday morning Julie, joined by Peace, another of the Kajannsi Rotarians, joined us for breakfast. We went to the Source of the Nile and a boat trip on the river, and then made our way back to Kampala.
Back in town, Julie took us to lunch at a restaurant where we could enjoy Ugandan food — Makoto (mashed banana), rice, sweet potatoes and “Irish” potatoes, green beans, spinach, chicken, beef stew, ground nuts.
We had an appointment with Ernst and Young, who Frank has hired to do an audit of the Technical Center project, and also tea with the District Governor. And then to Enid and Alan’s future retirement home; a (mostly) vacant lot with a view of the Lake and a picnic supper arranged by Enid and enjoyed by the entire club.
And only after another sunset, another big meal, another set of speeches by the Kajannsi Rotarians did we return to Julie’s home, exhausted, and sated, and filled with African cheer.