Rachael’s volunteering (Part 2 of 7): Update from Patongo

Hello everyone!

My time in Patongo is going really well and I’m getting used to things here.

The living situation is not as comfortable as Musanze but it’s not big deal! The town is small and has nothing in it (have taken a couple of photos of the main street for you). It’s not quite as pretty as Musanze although the surrounding area is very nice!.

It is quite hard to get fruit and vegetables and it is baking hot the whole time with not a single fan or air conditioning unit in the town. Having said that, I’m living in relative luxury compared to most. I’m living at the only hotel in town that has electricity (plus generator in the evenings) and running water and I have my own bathroom with shower (cold water only, although in 30C+ who cares!) and flushing toilet (but oddly no basin).

Food has been ok, but not that special. Last week we had chicken and chips and last night we had goat with rice and cabbage cooked with tomato (a real treat – much easier to get goat meat than cabbage), but most of the time we have beans and rice.

There are 2 European guys staying at the Kurnget too – a Spanish/English guy called Alex who is the engineer overseeing construction at the new youth centre and Michele, an Italian guy working on a UNICEF project with the government to review how the judicial system treats young offenders. They are both spoiling me as I’m settling in so I’m very lucky!

I went to Kitgum, the most accessible larger town, at the weekend to have a change of scenery and that was really nice (although the journey was tough – it is only 100km but it takes more than 4 hours with stops! The road was terrible and all the time you are basically roasting in a small minibus that is supposed to be carrying 14max but has more than 20!!).

The centre of Kitgum is more developed (see pics) and has a couple of decent supermarkets and banks and it is easy to get most things there. The place we stayed at had a swimming pool which was wonderful given the heat!!

On Sunday morning we went for a walk and were surprised to come across the most beautiful church just outside the town centre. Then a couple of guys playing checkers using bottle tops – must have taken them a while to get a set of identical orange and red plastic lids as the local people don’t buy sodas generally.

Tonight, Alex and I, together with David (the director of the youth centre), have been invited to the home of 2 sisters, who live close to the centre, to have dinner with them to celebrate their brother’s return to education. The older sister had been abducted and lived the bush for 12 years where she had her eldest daughter.

She washes clothes to earn some income, including mine (yes, sounds lazy, but you try getting layers of coppery-red dust out of clothes with just a bowl of cold water and a bar of washing soap!!) Plus I want to give her some income – I am paying slightly over the odds at UgSh 5,000 (£1.30) a week for my laundry.

Anyway, lunch hour is now over, so back to work!


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