Sunday 09 August
We woke up both knackered and nervous, knackered because we were up past midnight the previous evening practising as 47th Ballybrack Gospel choir and nervous because we had to perform ten songs at the church service that day. The service was in Living Hope Primary School. We arrived at the school at ten and for the first time ever there were no groups of kids running towards the bus cheering our arrival.
As we neared the school it was evident the mass had begun. Either that or they were having some sort of rave. We caught glimpses of people dancing, cheering, clapping and bongoing. We entered and sat interspersed amongst the locals. Soon, we too were crazy dancing and getting into the spirit and I have to say we were all enjoying ourselves.
Several of the villagers got up and thanked the Lord for all he had done for them, including thanking him for sending us visitors to the village to help them. It was very moving. I know I myself had tears in my eyes. Then the preacher Justine got up and interpreted the bible reading. All the locals had bibles, pens and notebooks (which had been supplied for free from some drugs company) and were furiously taking down notes. After the 'Tribe of Judah' choir and the Kids sunday school songs, it was 47th Ballybrack Gospel Choirs turn to take the floor.
It went very well and we sang our hearts out. We were worried that our songs would seem boring and montone in comparison to their lively singing and dancing but they seemed to go down well. In particular Brona's rendition of 'Oh Happy Day' went down an absolute treat.
Afterwards the villagers thanked us and performed a local tribal dance to show their gratitude. We rounded off the mass with heartfelt genuine hugs with all the locals. The level of warmth and love shown to us was truly overwhelming.
After mass, all three hours of it, we were given a tour of the local village of Luzango. It's a small rural village beside the school and the poverty was so clear . We visited the midwifes house, the teachers dwellings and Pastor marias house. The houses were, by and large, simple one roomed dwellings with little to no furniture. Some were mud huts and some were made of brick. The villagers all grew crops such as papaya, pineapple, bananas and coffee sometimes to sell but often just to survive on. Most of them also kept a few chickens or goats.
We caused quite a stir in the village but everyone was friendly towards us. We took a jaunt down to the village well. It was a good fifteen minutes walk from the main part of the village. I met two of the fifth class girls from the school, who were carrying over ten litres of water between them. Myself and Laura took a container each off them and they really were very heavy, especially for ten year old girls, half our size.
All in all, it was an eye opener. Even the teachers, who had university educations, lived in small basic huts which they rented for 20,000 shillings. Considering their monthly wage is 30,000 shillings, it leaves very little income left for food or clothes. Essentially they are living on 3 euros a month (or 10,000 uganda shilling).
You can understand why its easy to feel like a millionare over here. We're constantly whipping out a few thousand euros and spending it on a drink of coke. Three cokes is the same as all the money a teacher would have to feed and cloth his family for an entire month. After the tour of the village, we returned to our hotel on the hill and felt all the more grateful for our comfortable beds and banana flavoured food.
Well thats all folks...bye for now.. Ailbhe