Today was a day full of surprises.
We set off from the White Castle hotel on time, heading for the Arua teacher training college to see if Caroline could meet with the wonderful principal Gladys to see if they could offer teacher training to some of the CRESS sponsored students. While we had a quick look around the gardens we bumped into an unexpected new friend. We have seen little wildlife since arriving – except for the wonderful yellow weaver birds nesting above our quarters at the hotel – but today was to be our day.
Our new friend was a tame monkey who instantly took to Danda, allowing himself to be stroked. In fact when she stopped the little monkey chirupped and demanded more – how sweet! But we couldn’t stay longer with the monkey because the conferences were calling. By this time we had named the monkey Caroline in honour of our CEO, and Caroline number 2 clearly thought that her renaming entitled her to a seat in the wonder van because she leapt in and made herself very comfortable. We didn’t know how to get her out, so had the bright idea of bribing Caroline number 2 with a biscuit. However she proved less susceptible than her namesake, grabbed the biscuit, lay down and started to go to sleep. One of the college’s gardeners tried to help by grabbing Caroline but she simply burrowed into Fi, obviously sensing her maternal instinct. The two of them instantly fell in love and much love and fondling ensued – photo evidence attached. But sadly we did have to gently usher Caroline number 2 out of the van, as our responsibilities at the conferences were looming.
Anyway both conferences were completed to great aplomb. Fi’s teaching is of such importance here because almost everyone carries a degree of trauma because of the things they have gone through. She teaches them how to overcome the effects of trauma both in themselves and in others, to enable people to heal and get better so they can focus on going forward well. Coming back 18 months after the first set of trauma training, we were able to see some real improvement in some of the delegates’ emotional health, as well as hear stories of children who have received CATT support. We ended the conferences with a ceremony where the delegates were presented with certificates amidst many speeches.
Our gracious friend Francis left at lunchtime to drive home to Moyo amidst many goodbyes to lead a conference of his own. He works tirelessly in the camps to tell children about Jesus and bring hope, and leads a big team who run weekly clubs for up to 1,000 children at a time.
Sadly there was a break in at the office overnight; thieves used bolt cutters to break into the brick built store and stole the two best motorbikes. The police were there when we arrived but it seems unlikely the bikes will recovered which leaves the staff very short of transport. We’ve suggested maybe having a guard dog as the two tiny kittens that have unexpectedly taken up residence in the office wouldn’t scare anyone away!
This evening we shared a sumptuous dinner with the bishop’s staff, the CRESS team and the Flame team who have been running a trauma and healing conference in Arua. There was a particular lovely reunion for Caroline with Val from Flame; they first met in 2008 when Caroline visited South Sudan for the first time with Flame, following which CRESS was founded.
Tomorrow is Fi and Pippa’s last day as they are travelling home on Friday. They will pick up the MAF flight at lunchtime, while the rest of the team visit Imvepi camp to see the agricultural projects there.