At nearly 80 years old (but still bouncing around like she’s in her 20’s), I can safely say that my Nan is one of the kindest and most loveable people you could ever meet. A thought re-affirmed when Nan’s desert offering a few days ago was an Indian delicacy that was given to her by a random lady in Tesco’s that she speaks to every week…the same random lady who had therefore decided to bring her an abundance of ‘sweets’ to try, from her recent trip to India. Nan, of course, didn't have the heart to tell her that she’s diabetic.
What comes with being so loving and caring however, is the tendency to worry worry worry...about everything and everyone. She still asks me now every time I leave the house if I need a pint of milk to take home with me – you know, just in case I don’t have enough....which has become a bit of an on going family joke. So you can imagine the worry when she knows I’m going to Uganda and on the same continent, there is an Ebola outbreak dominating the headlines...undeniably a horrific humanitarian crisis.
I tried the following:
I tried the following:
· Don't worry Nan, there is (thankfully) no Ebola in Uganda
· They are being really stringent at the airports and borders with health screenings
· It's OK Nan, if it spreads to Uganda, we won't be going
All futile responses. A new plan was needed – so I went to the trusty Google:
Ø Distance from Liberia (closest country where Ebola is present) to Uganda – 2,980 miles
Ø Distance from London to Astana, Kazakhstan – 2,960 miles
Having taught Geography in schools for a long time and still continually having 17 and 18 year old students write “in countries like Africa…” (really????), I have to admit that tarring an entire continent with the same brush is one of my little bug bears…Liberia and Uganda are likely to be as culturally different as the UK and Kazakhstan – yet, when many of us hear ‘Africa’, we assume all 53 of its nations that each have their own people, their own identities and their own stories are the same place??? So, here are some 'fun facts' about Uganda:
1. I’m going there!
2. Winston Churchill nicknamed it the ‘Pearl of Africa’ because of its magnificence
3. It is one of the best banana, avocado, and pineapple producing countries
4. The Lonely Planet selected it as the best tourist location in 2012
5. It’s in Eastern Africa and borders Lake Victoria
And on that note...people have been asking me...
"What will you be doing when you arrive in Uganda”?
During the eight-day trip, we will visit a number of different communities where Water Aid is working, to find out how the work they do is helping the local people. Starting our journey in the Amuria district in the north eastern part of Uganda, we will get to experience what life is like in a pre-intervention area – one where Water Aid hasn’t yet helped – as well as an intervention area, and post intervention area. Later in the week we’ll travel to Kampala in central Uganda to visit more urban communities.
The Water Aid Supporter’s Trip - Uganda 2014 team:
So Nan, if you’re reading this, I hope it has come somewhere close to putting your mind at ease. All I can say is that with only one day to go, I’m just very excited...and you will be glad to know that I’ve got hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes packed - and I’ll even come and get a pint of milk when I’m back in Blighty!