Scottish Charity Number: SCO36069

15th September 2011

Final Reflections – Family Life in Uganda by Keziah Berelson

Home | Footprinter Reports | Final Reflections – Family Life in Uganda by Keziah Berelson

Hazels Footprints Quarterly The Final Quarterly!

Wow. Bananke. Ive been home for just a month today, and it feels like a year ago that I was in Entebbe airport, struggling to get my mats, my fivefoot mingling stick and my banana fibre hat through customs! I left Uganda, my home away from home, and its impact on me I cant see going for a very long time.

My last few months were spent running reading classes for p7 pupils at St. Noas, ending in some hilarious conversations about wanting to be sailors when the boys grew up difficult in a landlocked country, but not impossible, Im sure! We went back to St. Judes, the nursery school that we taught in for our first month, and said goodbye, by helping out with painting the façade of the school, which was great fun, particularly getting the kids involved, and some adults too from men waltzing over to show us how its done to giving teenage boys paint tattoos saying I love Mama. Classy.

Other than our school duties, we spent most afternoons generally bumming around the trading centre. Myanzi trading centre is one of my favourite places to spend an afternoon. Kids run around playing with plastic- bag footballs, the rolex men start heating up their charcoal stoves, and (if theres electricity), the barbers and hair salons play some cracking tunes, giving the whole centre a buzzing feel. Ill head down, taking the main road down, and as in any centre or village in Uganda, say hello and greet everyone I meet, whether I know them, or greeted them an hour ago. Its a part of Ugandan culture that I love, and will try and bring to British society even in the most diluted form of smiling at a stranger at least.

Another Ugandan cultural tie that I hope to keep with me is the sharing and caring view, that all the Ugandans I have met, take. It comes from the rather different concept of families that they have. Marriage is not such a big institution as it is in Europe, and as such the family unit, is an almost entirely different thing altogether. Mums will send their kids to stay at sisters and grandmothers, if they feel that they will have better opportunities in those districts. Which creates large families with less blood links in them, yet who still treat each other as sisters. The terms cousin sister and Aunt Mother, are in common use, and when discussing about someones nieces or cousins, they tend to have very little knowledge; unless they are living with them but will know all the ins and outs of all the neighbours children. This means that ultimate, when you step into a Jajas house they will treat you as their child, and this is so lovely. Its also seen in not only the elderly generation, but also among kids, where, without being told or asked, they will share any food or treats they have with anyone else, something really nice to see in a culture here of bratty toy-hoggers (namely myself at two!).

The times that Ill most remember from my last few months in Kisweera, were the incredible leaving parties that both schools threw for us. From St. Noas slightly intimidating corridor of children leading to a giant emblem of Buganda, to the beautiful mats weaved by the Mums of St. Judes p4s. I will forever be grateful for what I learnt from my time spent teaching in Uganda, the faces and things that I saw, the conversations which ranged from varieties of bananas to the appropriate way to sit on a motorbike, spoken in English and Luganda. And I hope that I can go back and re-immerse myself in that incredible culture once again.

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