Last day! Another cool night and morning – guests come and go in this simple guest house but the staff are good and the place is quiet with a number of missionaries also using it.
Yesterday the three of us (myself, Fred and Joseph) spent the day at Lake Victoria Hotel which was not busy, which it can be nowadays compared to seven years ago. There are now many expatriates working here for the UN and using Entebbe for R and R. They work in Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, Chad but are either based in Entebbe or come for a rest – all nationalities.
The Lake Victoria Hotel is good as they have excellent WiFi (faster than home) and the only place I have found in Entebbe that I can send photographs. We can also be here all day and they do not mind, and there is plenty of space to be alone which is a rare experience for the Africans.
We worked all morning on various CRESS matters and then took the afternoon off – Joseph took a much needed rest and sleep I hope as he seems tired. Living in South Sudan is very tiring – there is nowhere he can go to be on his own, few comfortable chairs, no leisure pursuits, no beautiful gardens or rest houses.
Dirt and stifling heat at the moment and the roads are atrocious so all journeys take about four times longer than they should and are extremely uncomfortable. To get anything done is an effort as so many events conspire to make progress very slow. So for Joseph, this is the only comfortable break with some peace he will get all year but tonight they both leave (even though I said they could stay another night). Joseph has child number six to find a school for so he will do that all day on Thursday and then travel back overnight on the bus. No wonder tiredness is a feature of life not helped by a poor diet. One of the basic roles of CRESS is to help reduce stress on our leaders so they can actually do work that is effective and delivers results.
Inspite, of all these negative forces I do continue to see improvements in the families CRESS supports. The CRESS children I saw at Romoggi were looking well, they had put on weight and held their heads high. The parents including wives do look better than seven years ago and certain individuals who CRESS has given financial support to for medical matters no longer need it – they are eating a better diet and know to make this a priority. Several of the families have chickens and eat eggs and chicken – this never happened seven years ago.
They also all have water filters and I noticed some such as Charles Kenyi have their own water bottle which they bring to avoid drinking unfiltered local water. We stopped at the home of Archdeacon Elly Mawa, his life was saved last year by CRESS funds delivered by the team in September enabling him to go straight to Kampala to access treatment for Hepatitis B.
This is all good but how long will it last I ask myself? On Saturday I walked into Wudu town and took photographs of the deserted homes, closed Equity bank, closed shops, empty compounds and unkempt fields on the drive in. The whole place was in a far worse position than when I had first seen it in September 2009 so this is a country that was on its knees then and now has gone so far back it can only be described as a failed state. There is no sign of any government input – very very sad – many many people left last November / December and continue to do so – they have moved into refugee camps in Yumbe, Moyo and Adjumani.
Virtually all the children CRESS sponsors have been moved to schools in Uganda by their parents and the fathers and some of the mothers have stayed back. The church leaders in Kajo Keji are still in their jobs and living in South Sudan it is just their children they have moved out to relatives or will send to boarding school in Uganda. Bishop Emmanuel and Cecilia are doing this – all three children even young Anne Juwan will be at boarding school in Uganda. – a few are staying but most have gone. Some of the older children are going to Comboni Secondary and we just pray this wonderful brave school can continue and not too many children will have been taken out already. The children go back at the beginning of February and CRESS has some money to give this school to help them buy maize and beans as they cannot take pupils if they cannot feed them and their greatest cost is food not the wages of the staff. This shows a lot about the countries level of development with food coming from Uganda.
SO what is happening is they are preparing for the worst i.e. war in their area but for the moment it’s peaceful in the Kajo Keji area of South Sudan and CRESS led by Joseph will continue business as normal and funds will continue for the education of the children in Uganda. But we will start to take steps to prepare for evacuating if case we have to – the CRESS leaders are desperate for us to purchase a vehicle that can sit at Romoggi and be used if they have to take their equipment out of the office and the clinic. CRESS will aim to help them with this if funds will allow. The CRESS offices would be based in Arua as some NGOs have already done but this will only be a last resort measure – for the moment it’s business as usual.
Bishop Emmanuel and Joseph will go and visit some of their people in the refugee camp in Yumbe, Palorinya and Rhino refugee camps to see how they can help. CRESS is able to give some funds for this following the successful appeal from Fred Taban just before Christmas – so we wait to hear how this goes.
I still sense God’s hand very much on CRESS work – the meeting with Simon and George on Saturday at Liwolo was the single most encouraging event that has happened to me since I have been doing this work. To have two UN people arrange their programme so they could meet me (representing CRESS) at Liwolo in order to personally thank and congratulate us on a “most unusual“ (in their words) project was wonderful. So we do not give up, we continue to work waiting to see what other surprises God has in store for us.
Today is another day similar to yesterday – work and then rest. I shall go and have a manicure with the sweet Ugandan lady in her salon at the hotel – the cost 1/3 of home and with Hillsong music playing from her computer – yesterday it was a pedicure! Joseph will enjoy comfort and a few hours on his own and Fred will sit watching the world go by.
So over and out from me before I take the 16 hour journey home that used to be eight hours until BA withdrew their direct flight – so please pray for rest!
Fred and Joseph send their greetings and thank you all for your love, support and prayers you have truly transformed whole families and given these great people the chance to lead others up out of the prison of crippling intractable poverty – the adventure with us all continues.
Caroline Lamb from the Airport Guesthouse
Founder and CEO