Wednesday, August 02, 2006

more home visits and a traffic accident

Things here are moving right along. Compassion is still keeping me busy. Last week Japheth, our director (similar position as to what Chet Walker has) and I went and did some home visits. We had received word that one of our compassion kids called Bogere, who has been skipping school lately, was living with his older brother because they had kicked the mother out of the house. Apparently the mother has 5 children with the father, who is now dead, and she also now as 3 other children from different fathers for a grand total of 8 children. The last-born has 4 men that could be the father. So the oldest kids decided that the mother wasn't listening to them when they told her that they were poor and shouldn't have any more kids, they're tired of men coming in and out of their home, so they kicked the mother out and she's been staying with the grandmother. They're bigger and stronger than her because they're in secondary school (high school). Now what also happened was that the grandmother came over and got into a heated argument with the sons over the issue and after she made a deeply insulting remark. Now get this, one of the most insulting gestures anyone can make here, but I think it’s especially reserved for elder people and only really deeper in the villages, not in the more civilized towns. This grandmother was so furious about these kids behavior that she reached down, grabbed the hem of her gown and exposed herself to these sons. The gesture is so insulting that it basically means that she would rather they were dead! Upon seeing this they threw a charcoal iron at her (I don't know if it was hot or not), so she came to Compassion and told us to intervene.

Now Japheth went in the morning to sort things out there and found Bogere running away up the hill when he heard the motorbike coming, so we went back that evening and again he wasn't there, but he was eventually found by a sibling and brought back. So, Japheth talked late into the night with the grandmother, mother, and brothers, and he's good at that sort of thing. It was mostly in Runyankore so I couldn't understand it, but what I gathered it was about the mother taking responsibility for her actions and her family and for the sons to honor their mother and the older brother who the younger brothers have reported has been beating them.

On Sunday Jacob was having a meal at the Sky Blue restaurant and hotel when tragedy happened. Apparently a truck and a moped had a head on collision right in front of the Sky Blue. Jacob was the first one on the scene. It happened just a few dozen yards away. Although he was looking in the direction he said he didn’t see the accident, he only heard it and when he looked he saw the moped skidding and saw sparks. Upon arriving on the scene he said there was a bunch of blood and that he thought that the man and the woman who were on the moped had both died. It was such a traumatic thing to see that he just turned away to gather himself. At which point the woman began to move. Shortly after a pickup truck arrived to take her to the hospital which is in a town called Itojo, some 10 km away. I have seen ambulances in Uganda, but let’s face it, they’re few and far between. The man, however, had died. I also just heard that they were reported to be coming from a party so they think that he could have had something to drink.

Now the truck that struck the couple proceeded down the road after the accident. Apparently they were not traveling fast. I’ve talked about this before I think, but in this country they have mob justice. If this truck would have stopped and tried to help, bystanders would have taken the law into their own hand and would have beaten and stoned the driver and possibly passengers to death!! It would have happened! It’s only if the police get there before the mob has their way is the driver safe. Even if someone is hit and you are administering First Aid you can be attacked by the ‘mob’ if they believe you were at fault for the accident!! It certainly can make you hesitate to help in such a situation. Now the driver did stop someplace down the road and someone got their story of what had happened.

I think I’ve told this story before but it’s worth another turn. When I was staying in Luweero for training a few people from our peace corps group was heading to the market when a man ran past them at full speed with a small group of men chasing after him. They eventually caught him and were preparing to put tires around him and burn him to death. And they would have done it too if the police hadn’t intervened to stop them.

My home stay father was a reverend in the Church of Uganda so I asked him about this, if this was the right thing to do. His response was, “well you don’t want a thief running around do you?” The people who would have been doing the lynching, mind you, would have been the church going people carrying out their cultural way of dealing with this type of incident. Every once in a while I read in the paper where a man is burned to death for one such incident. It happens here. Very, very hard to believe but it does. It would certainly make you think twice about stealing something.

My bike broke last week. I was exploring some waking trails behind the Muslim center when the piece that changes the gears in the back, known to the Ugandans as the ‘gear changer’ broke off from my bike. I gathered that this could have been a curse on me from those who were praying behind the Muslim center. So I took my bike and tied it on the front of the bus going to Kampala and spent the weekend getting that fixed. The coffee plants are in bloom right now so for miles on end you smell the most wonderful fragrance! It’s a real treat! On the way back I ended up getting on a bus with my PCV friend Keith by chance and we had several good conversations on the way back while a Ugandan man sat on my armrest and practically in my lap for the 6 hour bus ride back to Ntungamo. They put extra people on these busses. One time there was a police stopping point and the man got on the bus and gave the conductor a fine of 60,000 Ugandan Shillings ($30) which was equivalent to what these men had collectively paid who were riding in the aisle. I thought to my self, if you want to fine the bus, give them a fine! This was more like a slap on the wrist…

I’m working on a photography project of taking pictures of some local homes and shops just to give you an idea of daily life here. I hope to have it up in the next week or so.

2 Comments:

At 02 August, 2006, Anonymous Amber Cowley said...

Fasctinating stuff I'm learning from you, Brian. I'd love to teach my 2nd graders more about Uganda using some sort of connecton with you. Also, maybe my kiddos could raise some support for your work. They're all mostly struggling for money themselves, but some are very gracious. Think about it and let me know if you need anything.

 
At 02 August, 2006, Blogger Amber said...

Since I don't want to post my email online for the whole world to see, put on your blog prayer requests, financial needs, supply needs etc. so that I can share the info with my 2nd grade families. I'm going to be letting my kiddos view your blog to learn, if that's okay with you. You write very appropriately, so they can read what you say. That's nice. Also, don't be surprised if you get like 30 letters one day from some inner city public school in Indianapolis. :)

 

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